Today was understandably a bit of a whirlwind as we got ready to go home. Bits of the day went really slowly, waiting around, whereas other bits were so rushed I felt like I’d been whipped up in a tornado I couldn’t stop. Mum came early and left Susanna and Dad getting the last bits ready – I ind of needed her today. I was really glad Stephanie was working on my last day. She probably wasn’t but I was grateful to say good bye as, like Alma and Natalie who were also working that day, she’d looked after me probably the most.
Before I had breakfast, mum made me write out cards for the plastics team, orthopaedics team (me and mum had a debate how to spell orthopaedics but turns out with spell check that I was right!), the ward team, the occupational therapists and the young lady who was opposite me. It took ages as I wanted to write quite a long message to them each and a pharmacy assistant approached me later who didn’t actually know me but said he was really touched by the message in one of them which was really lovely to hear. I just told them that they had given me the opportunity to live an extraordinary life and that I would be back to visit next year but they wouldn’t recognise me with my two perfect legs. I had ward round for the last time – first plastics came and then orthopaedics and I got to give them their cards and chocolates.
We hung around sort of waiting for the vascular team before going for a shower and of course Lindsey came whilst we were in the shower! Sod’s law! The shower wasn’t that hot either because we were having it later than usual. So to bear in mind: if you’re staying in hospital, have a shower earlier just like a school/ hiking club trip!
There was much joy and relief as Lindsey said her lovingly placed PICC line could be removed as I was on oral, rather than iv, antibiotics. I hadn’t managed to get the line wet though with the shower- a minor success! The removal was really quick and painless and afterwards I showed Lindsey the view from the ward, pointing out the Albert War Memorial, the BT tower, the Shard, etc whilst the doctors were in her way to get out. She was effectively trapped with me poor love!
I hung around waiting for patient transport and my medication with the young lad I needed to see not that far off my mind but his mum and I kept missing each other with texts. Alma came over and we had a tearful but happy sort of goodbye and she said that she was proud of me and my positivity. However, an old busy body, who was visiting a patient who’s I’d had a long chat with the night before and always waved at, decided to stick her rather long nose into our little chat. She came over and I thought she was going to give me words I can’t quite remember what she said but she implied that I was reckless, inexperienced and didn’t know what I was doing because I was between 18 and 25 after she asked what my age was. She wondered off as I tried to fight back angry tears ad explain that I was experienced and that it was an accident. Alma, who was just as shocked as me but also really embarrassed, hugged me and comforted me. Mum came up quite quickly and said that we could go for a walk and I was quite glad as I didn’t have to cry in front of the mean lady.
We went to the small day room and I just cried it out – again. Mum was trying to explain to me that she was oddly trying to sympathise with her and Alma but wasn’t treating me like I was my own individual person. I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t at my most empathetic and understanding at that time. I did not have many pretty words for her. Thankfully, nobody was able to hear the profanities being spouted about her. When we came back into the ward, I didn’t talk to her and couldn’t bear to see her, I think understandably – and especially since she was sitting so close, so I asked Mum to draw the curtain that cut them off from us. I think that made my feelings perfectly clear. Thankfully, the lady she was visiting was moved the rehab ward anyway.
Briefly I got to see Nina and gave her the card and chocolates. It really cheered me up as well and I got to say yet again how grateful I was to her that I could go home. To me, she has been the face of the team who has worked tirelessly to get me home which has been fantastic.
Eventually you get a large green bag dumped on the end of your bag with all the medication you take home. It hit me that I would no longer have ket to keep me comfortable and was a bit nervous about how the pain would be the next day. Of course they wouldn’t let me home with ketamine! With the bag, I had the appointment sheets and the discharge form. I then, boringly, booked patient transport for myself for the next week for rehab to home (it had already been booked for today).
I took myself to the toilet as I usually at about 1.30pm, psyched to meet the boy downstairs straight after. I was moving back into bed to get sorted to go downstairs when disaster struck – I fell over. I was probably a bit far from the bed and the bed is filled with air so not the best handrail. As I became a bit unbalanced, I put my hand on the bed that just didn’t help. I fell. I banged my stump. Thankfully, I fell mainly on my left side so I didn’t put all my weight through the stump but I was so worried. It’s such a fragile surgery. I felt so stupid. Visions of staying in hospital another week flew through my head – I knew it had been too good to be true!
The matron and a couple of nurses and my mum all swooped over. My mum blamed herself, of course! Mum assured me that if I had done something to the bones, I would be screaming in agony. I wasn’t even particularly sore or bruised; I was just quite shaken. I felt so so stupid, especially since it was the day I was going home! The dressings were redone and one of the plastics team inspected the stump (after we waited quite a while) and said everything looked ok. I was so relieved and just wanted to see this poor boy I had had to put off!
Caitlin going back to California
After everything was given the all clear, my mum could finally push me to see the boy downstairs. He was such a gorgeous, brave boy but the poor thing had lost one leg below the knee and the other above the knee and also his arms but I don’t know to what extent except that he has a “magic thumb”. He’s such a sweet young man but such a terrible thing had happened that is completely unavoidable and unpredictable. It would be hard to reconcile this at an older age let alone at so young but I assured him that he does have youth on his side and he’ll adapt better than even me. He said, “But you’ve got both,” meaning my legs. I told him about my accident, briefly and obviously with a lot omitted, but also told him about a girl at my primary school who had the same outcome as him and who did fantastically and I assume is still doing fantastically. What he really wanted to hear is that he would get back to school and his friends and to football, which is what she did. I hope I said the right words or said enough but his mum assured me that just him saying my leg and that I was ok was really good for him. I can’t imagine what he’s going through though. He’s still him though and I’m still me and neither illness nor injury has changed that yet so at least we can thank our lucky stars for that.
I know there’s quite a few people who read this blog – does anyone know a friend, etc, who was in a similar position as this lovely boy but is further down the road to recovery? If so, it would be really lovey if you could get in touch.
As soon as I got back on the ward, I was quickly allowed to gather my things and then was practically rushed out by patient transport to go home. I couldn’t believe it! I quickly managed to give my card and a Paddington bear to the young lady opposite me – she had great news as well today that she would be flown home to California on Monday!
We were in the cool taxi thing again but picked up another patient this time who sat in the front. He seemed like a cool guy but was rating left, right and centre about all sorts of things. It is an inconvenience being in hospital and all the things you have to go to but this guy just did not have the patience for it. He apparently tried to escape in a taxi from the ward once the day after hi surgery to go to the shops and was angry that the Matron was annoyed at him when he got caught. He was annoyed at patient transport being early/ late – it is a notoriously unreliable service. He was annoyed with an outpatient’s appointment that had been cancelled but he wouldn’t have known if there had been an emergency where somebody could actually have died. I think Mum almost fainted when he said the I word though – infection. I have been so lucky thus far, touch wood, that all my blood cultures (except one maybe) have come back negative, which everybody, including the consultants, were surprised by. I’ve been on ridiculously strong antibiotics, my friends kept my leg out of muck right at the beginning and Raigmore hospital did such a good job cleaning my leg so that infection has not been a problem. I’ve always been so cautious of anything that might cause infection though, for example, not putting creams that I use everywhere else anywhere else.
We dropped off the man with the I word that fills Mum with terror but on our way home, Mum got the patient transport ever so slightly lost around an estate of houses we both should have known really well. Dad picked me up in the road as our lovely driver drove off and I began one of the most traumatic experiences of my entire incident. I was absolutely terrified as my dad tipped me back, especially since he encountered difficulty because it’s a weird chair. We just about got onto the curb but we had three other steps about 4 steps to deal with. Dad decided the best way to get up would be with him pulling me backwards so I would effectively be facing downwards. We tried it until I screamed at the top of my voice that we wouldn’t be doing it and to put me down! I wasn’t sure whether Dad would put me down so I carried on screaming until he put me down and we turned around so I facing the door. I still couldn’t do it. He tilted the chair onto the first step and I declared I was getting out and unbuckled myself. As soon as I got out, I thought – oops, I should have thought have about this! To be honest, oops was not the exact word I thought.
Mum helped me hop onto the first and I could grip onto the door frame to help with the second one and we were finally inside! Finally home! I’ve got to admit that home was a little tainted by the trauma and Bailey (our dog who’s snuggled in the picture with me) didn’t know what to make of me in my chair but it was so nice to get a Bailey hug. It was also a bit of struggle to get in and out of the back and front room which were the only two I could access.
My room was so beautiful! They’d painted it this lovely green colour which was exactly what I imagined. I had my own single bed with a proper duvet! I had a commode that looked like it could be owned by James Bond because it was disguised in black faux leather. MediEquip also sent a perching stall and a proper chair for me to sit on. I wanted to collapse on my sofa but when I got on it, it actually wasn’t that supportive which was sad.
I’d broken Mum though – properly and thoroughly broken the poor lovely women. Because it was Susanna’s birthday coming up, she really wanted a Chinese takeaway with Mum, Dad, us and Helen. Mum wasn’t really impressed because she was so shattered and ill but we all enjoyed the take away anyway and just being together at home.
Sorry today wasn’t as funny as usual – I think it was just such a whirlwind that I didn’t have time to be silly. Hope you enjoyed it anyway and that you have a good night!