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The next few days had been a bit nondescript, well as much as they can be given the situation. I had a day on my own, and I needed to get over the whole Costa trip. So, it was time for a solo outing. I had heard rumours of a secret tropical garden, yes, you heard that right.
I got myself ready and wheeled my way to the ward’s reception desk to see if they would let me out unattended. They weren’t pleased with the idea but eventually let me out. I had been told whereabouts to find it, and unfortunately it was on the other side of the hospital. I hadn’t realized how far it was, as to get there as it was all downhill, which in a wheelchair was quick and great fun. Finally, I went past a window in the old part of the hospital and spotted what looked like a banana tree.
This was my first encounter with “accessible” entrances. A big heavy fire door with a small threshold. Holding heavy doors while trying to wheel through isn’t the easiest. Once through, I had a nice long ramp to wheel down, then there I was, boiling hot sun and a tropical garden all to myself. In the middle of Leeds.
I spent a few hours soaking it in and listening to some music before I thought I best get in time for when dinner came round. But remember how the whole way there was downhill?
The first battle was the long switch back ramp that was the only way in and out of the garden. I had made a big mistake.
I hadn’t really noticed the issue with my broken collar bone and ribs so far, but as soon as I started up the ramp, I noticed. It was ridiculous, I just had no power in my upper body whatsoever. I finally got to the flat, middle section and I had to stop and have a rest. It took me over 5 minutes to get there, I was hoping someone would come out and give me a push. They did not. 15 minutes it took me to get to the top of that fucking ramp! And my whole left side was killing me.
I then had to tackle the rest of the way back, which was just a big fecking slope. I managed to get half way before stopping to have a rest and I just sat there in the middle of the corridor in everyone’s way. It took a good few minutes of people walking past before an old man and his wife stopped and asked if I needed a push. I felt so bad that he was going to have to give me a push I almost said no but I don’t think anyone else was going to offer so I gratefully accepted and made it back to the ward.
The next day I was visited by my consultant and his entourage, he had heard about my outing and made the decision that I was good to go home! I just needed to see the physio, a dressing change and wound check.
A physiotherapist visited my house and she said that it wasn’t appropriate, as it had a steep drive, steps into the property and ridiculously steep steps inside. Like I wasn’t aware. She said I needed a ramp and I needed to move my bedroom downstairs into the front room. No, none of this was possible let alone happening. I asked for some crutches, they said no, as they were dangerous for amputees. Which I get, if you slip with them, you’re going down. And it’s going to hurt. At the end of the day you can’t stay in the hospital, so I just had to sign something that said that I accept their recommendations.
A nurse came to do the dressing change, which was a chance to have another proper look at it and see if anything had changed. All the dressings came off this time so I could really see what was going on. Sorry again if you are squeamish.
The large curved cut on the bottom was actually a cut that went up the back of my calf, more than likely caused by the bodywork of the front of the car. When they amputate the leg, they leave a large flap of calf muscle to fold over the end sealing you up hence why it’s now more at the front.
They had scheduled hospital transport to take me home in the afternoon, which was delayed. This was my introduction to the joys that is hospital transport. They said it would be another hour, and an hour later, they said another hour. It got to 10:30pm and they still hadn’t turned up.
I told the nurse that I didn’t want to go home for the first time in the dark in the middle of the night, so I stayed in an extra night, and they came to get me first thing in the morning. I said my goodbyes and gave everyone my enormous thankyous and was wheeled on to the ambulance.
15 days I had been in that hospital. It felt like a lot longer with all the ridiculously low points. Looking back though, the positivity and support of all the staff not just the nurses, really made it bearable. I will forever be thankful to everyone involved, from Alex and Zoe, the paramedics on scene right at the start, to the jolly Ghanaian lady that would bring me cups of tea in the evening.
Unfortunately, now though began the tedious journey of normal life with one leg, rehabilitation would begin.
If you find you need some support, don’t be afraid to speak to friends and family. If this isn’t possible please consider giving the Amputation foundation a shout at amputationfoundation.org or even get in touch with me via my contact page
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