Monday, 11 June 2012

Turning Purple

Here we go again.
My second physio session.
This time, I knew they meant business. There was that oh so familiar knock at the door, and two cheesy grins staring back at me, as I sat in my hospital chair... almost ready and raring.
I'd slept better than I had the previous nights as I was getting used to my surroundings, and I had the urge within me to just get on with today's session.  So off we went.
The three of us slowly walked out of my room and towards physio room. I'd not been in this room yet, so I was slightly intrigued. To get there we had to walk through the communal area of the ward, where, sat on chairs that were set in a semi circle were other patients. I smiled at them, some smiled back, and some just stared through me, I knew they weren't being ignorant, so I continued to smile until they were no longer in sight. The physio room was bright and airy, with 4 hospital beds lined up against the back wall, with enough space between each, for them to claim their own territory.  Beyond the room, through glass doors, there was a small, pretty looking garden. It looked so peaceful out there.  As it was October you could see a breeze blowing through browning leaves; leaves that were threatening to break free from their branch and fall to the ground, at any moment.There was a bench, set against a wall, slightly weathered, but still sturdy looking, and a table that had seen off it's best days.  A path lead through the garden, and reached a gate, with an old fashioned, black, knocker handle. I'll never forget seeing that modest, little garden. It was friendly and soft and inviting, such a contrast to the harsh, sterilised environment of the rest of the hospital.
After admiring the world beyond the ward, I focused again, on the big task of the day. I was lead to the bed on the far left, helped on to it, and was told to lie down, while the curtains were drawn around us. The senior physio allowed the student to lead today's session. I smiled at him encouragingly... he looked more nervous than I was.
Shakily, he began to go through what the aims of the session were, and thankfully, the longer he spoke for, the more confident he became.
So, as it was, the aim of the session was to, while lying down, attempt to bring my knees up, so my feet were flat on the the bed, and to raise my hips in a sort of thrusting action... This was very difficult. My right side was cooperating, but my left side didn't want to play. The student physio was having to hold my knees together to stop my left one from falling, and we attempted 'the thrust' about ten times. Both physio's had to keep telling me to remember to breathe, as, with the sheer concentration , I was slowly turning purple according to them. After a five minute rest, while I listened to the senior physio quiz the student on the importance and benefits of the exercise we had just done, (she was a task master,) I was helped on to the chair next to the bed. The idea of the next exercise was to practise standing from a seated position, and sitting from a standing position. Never in a million years did I think I would ever find this task difficult! Why should I find it difficult, you learn to stand and sit from the age of one... I'm 21.  When seated I was told I had to position my feet correctly, as I had adopted the tendency to place my feet forward from the chair so that I felt I had more stability. The correct and more natural way to position my feet, was to place my heels slightly under the chair, feet not too close together, so that I got a good, steady push up... It didn't feel good and steady to me. It didn't go very smoothly. I had no strength in my left side, and I was relying so heavily on my right side to keep me stable... But it was a start, and they were pleased with me. The same went for sitting from a stand. I sort of fell in to the chair every time, and there was no skill or control involved at all. I felt my cheeks getting hot. I was embarrassed. I had the mind of a 21 year old and the body of a pensioner. I attempted to gulp back emotion that felt like it was rising from a stone in my chest to my brimming eyes.  Luckily the physio's were discussing, once again, the importance and benefits of the exercise so I was able to take some deep breaths and calm myself down, without the awkwardness of them confronting my sadness.
The student physio could have only been my age, so why was his body working and mine wasn't? I was glad when the session was drawn to an end. I can't deny that my mood had dropped, and I wasn't feeling so determined any more. I didn't let this show of course, I didn't want to make the physio's feel uncomfortable, it wasn't their fault, it was my bodies fault. I just wanted to get back to my room and back to my Mum.
Before I was walked back out of the physio room, I was handed a list of exercises I was expected to do on my own with the help of my family. As the weekend was looming I wouldn't be seeing the physio's for two days and they were shockingly strict when telling me to go through every exercise on the sheet. I was told I could spread out when I did the exercises so that I had enough rest time between each of them... This seemed fair.
Finally I was escorted slowly back to my room, only to be greeted by a small, smiley woman , dressed in green... What now?
I smiled at her, through slightly gritted teeth, as she brightly said to me in a sing-song voice, 'Hello, Rebecca!' She had a quick chat, in passing, with the physio's while they watched me fall in to my seat, and then the master and her apprentice left the room leaving kind goodbye's behind them.
Then I was face to face with the new woman, who I soon found out was an Occupational Therapist. She was a very kind lady, not sickly sweet and over the top kind, but a kindness that was pure and believable. I took to her very quickly. I liked her. So as the OT explained to me, she was there to help me with my arm and hand movement, and also to work on my fine finger movement. She had brought with her a couple of games, one that was called Labyrinth which involved getting a marble from A to B, by using my fingers to control the wobbly board that the marble was on. She also brought with her a small jigsaw, and some cups to practise pouring water, testing my grasp and wrist mobility.  She stayed with me for about 20 minutes and helped me play on the Labyrinth game, and then left saying she would see me after the weekend, and that she wanted to hear that I'd been doing really well on the Labyrinth. I didn't mind that she was talking to me as if I was a lot younger than 21. She was friendly, and warm and she seemed to exude a feeling of calmness.
When she left, a wave of exhaustion attacked my mind and body.  It was nearly lunch time, but the tiredness was so extreme I felt sick. The rest of that day was a copycat of all of the other afternoons that I'd spent on the ward. Snoozing on and off, surrounded by my family who were busying themselves, in their own individual ways...
It was later that night that I decided I was ready to start seeing people, and let my Mum and Chris reply to people who had kept asking when they could come and visit. It wasn't fair to keep my friends and family waiting and worrying any longer. Something in me told me I was strong enough to face the questions... And so, when falling asleep that night, I knew the day ahead of me wasn't going to be easy, but there was fizzing of confidence inside me that was ready to deal with it... Here goes nothing...


  1. Are u still in hospital?? Your such a brave young woman, I've just started reading your blogs and u are inspiration to young and old and I look forward to reading your progress, wishing u all the best and very speedy recovery xx

  2. Found your blog through twitter, I'm a nurse, and as much as I try and put myself in the patients shoes, there's always something you oversee and can't imagine how it feel's especially being so vulnerable. We know patients scared and worried on coming into hospital, going for scans etc, but I think we get a bit blase about the whole matter going through it daily; I will take this and make 'hospital' a better experience for my future patients. Keep positive, your journey won't be short, but you'll be a better person for it, keep your chin up! From one Bec to another x

  3. You are such an inspiration and you have a beautiful style of writing :) keep it up, I'm rooting for you and I know you have the strength to succeed!
    Love Danie B

  4. I found your blog through twitter and found myself reading your posts with tears rolling down my face. My dad suffered a stroke at 42 in 2009 and your posts detailing the night it began really struck a chord with me.
    Unfortunately for him he has barely regained any of the abilities he lost following his stroke, unable to go back to work and leaving my mam as his full time carer, but your posts are an inspiration to people like him who struggle to see any kind of bright side to such an awful situation.

    I hope your recovery is going smoothly!

  5. Hi Becky, it must be odd getting messages from strangers but I too found your blog through twitter and wanted to wish you well and let you know that it is inspiring to read how about how you are battling through this tough time. I am also 21 and was recently diagnosed with a blood clot which has left me immobile for a while so I also turned to my blog to try and see the little positives in day-to-day life because it was scary to look at the bigger picture. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences because it has made me feel like I am not alone in this rehabilitation process; I am the youngest person at my weekly hospital clinic so a lot of what you've said has really struck a chord with me. I wish you all the best with your recovery and hope you keep writing too :) Love Beeta

  6. great post!



  7. Becky,

    30th November 2007 my father had a stroke. The circumstances were almost exactly as you described what happened to you. I have never been able to ask my Dad how he was feeling at the time (he can't remember), but your description of your feelings seems so scarily accurate.

    My father lost pretty much all movement, speech etc but worked hard over 18 months to get most of it all back. The stroke ward and physios were fantastic.

    I'm 44 and I have never written a diary, but for that 18 months I wrote one every day (I thought my dad might like to read it one day - he doesn't) I am however not brave enough to post mine on line like you.

    Good Luck with you recovery.

    Be Lucky