When I was finally discharged from Flinders Medical Centre, it was clear that I wasn’t in much of a physical state to just go back home, AS MUCH as we had hoped.
Eventually, I was transferred from Flinders Medical Centre to Hampstead Rehabilitation centre, where I spent half of a YEAR surviving and just HOPING for progress and improvements.
My physical ( and mental ) status wasn’t exactly “ideal”, BUT their services and therapies were FAR from adequate.
I couldn’t walk because of SEVERE spasticity and cramping in my left limbs.
I had EXCRUCIATING neuropathic ” BURNING ” pain in my right arm, neck, shoulder blade and chest.
My memory was OFF, meaning I didn’t even remember what happened an hour ago.
ON TOP of ALL THIS, I had a stent in my right bronchus, holding my right lung open and fixed up to my body. This stent had complications, resulting in NUMEROUS hospital visits and Bronchoscopies.
I actually remember that during these bronchoscapies, just before I was put to sleep under the general anaesthetic, I silently hoped that I would soon awake in my bed at home, like this nightmare would end.
The same thing applies to when I went to bed each and every evening.
I just would NOT remember the previous day or what happened and where I was when I woke up either in hospital or Hampstead.
The next morning, I’d wake up to a blank slate. Starting from scratch.
Hampstead was by FAR the hardest and MOST difficult phase of my recovery.
The first steps towards some sort of normality were:
I started wearing normal clothes and not a hospital gown.
I began learning and getting used to sitting again.
I began learning how to transfer from bed to an electric wheelchair.
Because I ended up spending just under 5 MONTHS of laying in a hospital bed, immobile, my muscles had significantly atrophied, and I had SEVERE spasticity in my left limbs.
It was so bad, that nurses managed to squeeze a face towel into my hand to prevent my finger nails from digging into my palm.
My left elbow and biceps were so spastic that I would often awake in the middle of the night to find my left hand cramped and pressing into my throat, hence suffocating me.
I lost function in my right arm and hand because I had a brachial plexus nerve injury.
My left ankle was also spastic, whilst my right had very limited control, it was flaccid.
Although I was not paralysed, I had virtually no control over my limbs.
My vision was also impaired. My left eye was short sighted, whilst my right eye had suffered a nerve injury, resulting in no movement, rendering it crossed.
My brain couldn’t render two images, so it stayed closed.
My hearing was good, though, but I became EXTREMELY sound sensitive.
Any sudden loud noise would knock me out.
I would lose consciousness.
I also developed an incredible craving for food. I was always hungry.
This is a common consequence of being in a coma.
I completely forgot what foods I liked and disliked.
For example, I really hate Brussels sprouts.
But when they were served at dinner I would eat and praise how much I liked them and ask for seconds.
I was so mentally weak that I couldn’t have a prolonged conversation, I would just fall asleep.
If someone were to talk in my presence, but not directly to me, I would simply doze off.
I couldn’t laugh OR cry. These are higher brain functions and they were totally absent.
I’m writing this in such detail to show what the consequences of a severe Traumatic Brain Injury look like, and to tell others that it is indeed possible to rise up from such a devastating condition.
To be continued…