My first night home, I won't lie. It was hard. Not just for me but for Shane too. It's a good job he's strong having to lift me practically in and out of bed to use the toilet. Which for the first couple of weeks was like clockwork at 5am..except Shane was also back at work!
We did "normal" things couples do...we watched a film, I fell asleep before the end as standard! We slept in the same bed for the first time in over a month, and probably the best night sleep I've had!
The hospital beds I had been so used to were firm, and my spare bed which was now my bed downstairs, is very soft. Trying to get out of this when your pain relief has worn off or when you are exhausted is hard work. Poor Shane, one night I attempted to get up three times, which took 25 minutes before I gave in. Half an hour later I had another go. It does get easier.
Sleeping together didn't last very long, Shane spent a good few month sleeping on the sofa. Numerous times I told him to go to bed upstairs! <3
It wasn't all plain sailing, I would sob for hours and go through the what If's and the why me's?
The first few weeks were tough. Shane was back at work Monday-Wednesday and working from home Thursday & Friday. My Mum came Monday-Wednesday and then worked every weekend. It was tough on them both and upset me more than they'll ever know. I was so independent, I don't like to rely on anyone for anything. The hardest thing was letting people do things for me.
I had more visitors than I can remember. But the most special was My Harvey!! I had missed him like crazy!! Caroline boxed him up from the field and brought him to see me. I couldn't wait to kiss and smell him. She unloaded him at the front of my house and did he care? Absolutely not!! This bloody horse is more interested in eating the grass than anything! He does get very mardy if I go on holiday the first few days back he won't talk to or entertain me, if he could talk he would be saying "and where the hell do you think you've been?!".
He was the most gentle, sniffing my legs, wheelchair and my neck brace. Pictures I will treasure forever.
He came again a week later with Sam, this time I think he came around a little bit and tried to get in my house! He absolutely would if I let him, he'd be the first on the sofa with his hooves up!
When I was discharged from BDGH, I was told I would receive a Physio therapy appointment within 2 weeks. Due to the injuries I had, it was decided I would receive physio at home initially. So 2 weeks came and went, my mum chased up the referral, only to be told they didn't have one?!? So we chased the ward I was discharged from, which is like trying to track down the Queen, which i'm sure would be easier! Finally got through to someone who gave us a different number to call..... It was like going around in circles, when we finally tracked down the right people I was then told it was a SIX week waiting list!!!!!! I had already spent 6 weeks in bed at this point. My arms and my legs had shrunk so much due to muscle wastage. It was awful to see and it wasn't me. I decided to fund a Private physio who came to my house. The best thing I have done! She is absolutely worth her weight in gold and got me not only back on my feet but also back on my horse, more of that later!
My pot was coming loose and rubbing against my wrist. I had had 4 pots put on when I was an inpatient at LGI so I know they don't last long! I rang BDGH plaster room who said to come up & they would change it. Transport was arranged via Yorkshire Ambulance Service, I arrived at the plaster room who took one look at me and said they wouldn't touch me as it wasn't done by them. So sent me to book in at A&E for me to see a consultant who would have to make a decision if it was deemed stable enough for them to remove the cast & re apply.
Do you see a theme here?!?!
My 6 week check up at LGI I had geared myself up for them to tell me I could weight bare. Imagine my disappointment when I was told it would be another 6 weeks. I was devastated. I sobbed my heart out. On the plus side all my x-rays came back normal and everything was healing as it should be. I was utterly devastated, and as much as people kept telling me I was still alive and here it wasn't good enough. I just wanted nothing more than to be "normal" again.
2 weeks later I was back at LGI - an hour in an ambulance, for me not even to be taken off the stretcher, for them to cut off my cast and sent me on my way with a hand written letter for the physio, which said "19/02/18 ORIF R Wrist ".
So again an hour back home, on a stretcher. Another day closer to weight baring I suppose!
In the mean time, I am still in my neck brace. Which makes you conscious that people just stare, and they do, I cannot tell you the amount of times my pregnant sister snapped at people..whoops. It's awful, being sat in the wheelchair being a completely different person having to rely on people for everything. To help you dress, to help you go to the toilet and even to help you eat. Everything I drank was through a straw. Cups of tea and coffee through a straw are not nice.
I wanted so desperately to go see my Harvey, just to be normal for one day. Not even to to ride, but just to do normal things like muck out or brush him. My yard owners very very kindly offered to close the yard so I could visit, and not have the 1000's questions off people and asking how I am etc.... I put this off for so long I just had to do it. But I was embarrassed. Embarrassed to be seen in a wheelchair and embarrassed to be seen in the state I was.
Why? I was lucky to be alive!
The yard was closed and only a select few people were there. I spent 2 hours just with Harvey and giving him a brush and kissing him etc. Then he bit my head. Literally if that doesn't ground you what will! He never changes <3
I had a months worth of private physio before I even got a hospital referral. They had spent so long arguing about whether I should be referred to "hospital at home" which is what I was told I would receive in the first place! After THREE 20 minute sessions at the hospital physio, in which, no exaggeration- he gave me a print out of wrist exercises to do!
After I had been home a couple of week I finally could have my hair washed. No lie, this was a 3 person job. I had to lay at the bottom of the bed, one person to hold my head, one to hold the bowl of water and one to shampoo/condition it. Lucky for me, one of my cousins is a hairdresser, she had to cut into the huge matt that was created by me laying flat for so long and the hair rubbing on the neck brace.
I went back to LGI at the beginning of May and had my neck check up. The consultant gave me 2 options, 1) take off the neck brace and examine the neck as an x-ray it wouldn't show up the fractures ...or 2) have an MRI to see if the breaks had fused. He said it was my decision. So I did say I would prefer to make sure it was fully healed so I would want an MRI, to which the consultant told me there was a 3 week waiting list. No thanks get this brace off!!!!! Luckily I only had muscle wastage and tenderness from holding my head and neck in 1 position for 10 weeks.
He let me keep the brace "as a souvenir" and in case I needed to wear it on the first time outside. I did not put that brace back on. It was VILE and not a pretty colour neither! Although it didn't smell too bad as I could now have my hair washed!
Another 2 weeks followed and I had another check up at LGI. This was it. The big one!
They were going to tell me if I could start weight baring. It had been a LONG 3 months since my accident. But not wanting to get my hopes up as I had previously, it was hard. I had been religiously doing my exercises set by my private physio, I was using the Compex machine to stimulate my muscles into working again, all in preparation for me being able to stand. When I went to my appointment, again by stretcher, I was x-rayed and put back into a cubicle with all hopes of seeing the actual surgeon who I hadn't seen since I was an inpatient. But he was busy and didn't take his own clinic, so I saw one of his colleagues who said .....Y E S!!!!!! HALLELUJAH Everything was looking good and healing well. So obviously I asked when I could ride again (don't run before you can walk eh!) and he just stared straight through me, until Shane said "no she just wants to sit on her horse". Another 6 weeks! I immediately text my mum who was on holiday and the physio who was coming to see me the next night. I stood that night on my own (well Shane helped me up) and cried and cried and cried. This was what I'd wanted for SO long. The next night physio lady came and not only stood me up, she had me WALKING. My legs felt like LEAD! SO so heavy but I bloody did it!
Now having no equipment at home is tough - how am I meant to progress if the NHS won't have anything ready. Apparently they wont they just refer you to the Hospital at home team who will come out in 48 hours.....lets try 5 days :( I'm chomping at the bit to get going and I have no equipment ready!
I was eventually referred to the Hospital at home team, and met a lovely physio from the NHS who actually listened to what I had to say and what I felt I could and couldn't do. She came back the same day with a zimmer frame and some crutches. I spent a while using the frame as I felt much more confident using it. The next day, she came back again and had me up on the crutches and practicing stairs. Something I thought would be MONTHS off...nope! I managed to get up okay and had a rest at the top, coming down was another ball game. Something that you think is simple is no longer that simple. Having to think which leg to put down first or which side to put your crutch in. I do not have the full range of movement in my left knee anymore, which still to this day 3 months after first learning to walk again I still cant use well, so trying to put your right leg down first puts pressure on your left knee as you have to bend it more. Not something I bet hardly anyone has had to think about!
I was deemed "unsafe" by the physio to attempt stairs without a professional being there. I then had support workers come in twice a week, plus her session, my private physio and with the help of my mum and Shane, I finally after 2 weeks was safe enough, with someone behind me/in front of me safe enough to use the stairs! Hurrah. I could now get back to some normality. I could go back upstairs to sleep in my own bed!
The support workers continued to come twice a week to go through my exercises with me. After 4 weeks of using the "Hospital at home" service I was referred for hydrotherapy. Again, told a 2 week waiting list which turned out to be 6!
I had worked so hard to try get back to some form of normality, and worked so hard in my rehab to become stronger.
During this wait I had my 6 week check up at LGI and it was the first first time I had seen any of my x-rays. WOW.. I was well and truly broken, and quite scary to see! Again (obviously) I asked if I could get back on my Horse. The junior Doctor wouldn't make this decision without the consultant surgeon being there, so he would ask him that afternoon and his secretary would call me. Not the answer i'd hoped for but I was still hopeful. The physios were so impressed with my progression, from their point of view providing I was safe they couldn't see a problem.
So I waited, and waited and never got the phone call. I chased the secretary up who didn't know anything about it. She said she would chase him up and get back to me. Days past and still heard nothing, I chased her again, still not heard anything at which point she said she would email him. I used to work in a busy A&E department, I know how doctors work-they can go months without checking their emails or post! I asked if she could bleep him to check his email or pigeon hole - obviously this was too much hard work because she would only email him-AGAIN. He hadn't even read the first one at this point!!
More days past, and I am busy googling and talking to people who had had hip surgery to find out how long they had waited etc. I am chasing daily at this point its now a week later and still not heard anything. The last time I could get through to her she told me the surgeon would be leaving LGI and not returning for TWO MONTHS. Is this some sort of joke? Someone else is out to test me.......
So I took the decision into my own hands, along with speaking to my physio, I was getting on! Caroline had some swanky steps made to make it easier for me to get on/off. They are the ULTIMATE in mounting block history!
I rounded up the troops to help and pestered Caroline until I was blue in the face.
I picked a time when it was quieter on the yard and less people around. The last thing I wanted was for people to stare and watch. I wasn't pig headed and I said from the beginning if it hurt, I t would get off. I am not putting myself back in hospital for anything.
With a little cajoling Harvey was eased into position and with the help of Shane, Diane and Caroline, I got myself into position, and ...just mounted........just like that. It was so surreal - a big build up for that?! After a little adjustment of my stirrup irons from dressage length to jockey I walked a few steps, and naturally I just tried to use my legs and nudge him along.
Getting off was harder than getting on. Still having no strength through my hip I wasn't able to swing my leg backwards as you normally would get off. So I made the decision to try putting my leg over his head and sitting on him sideways, and Shane and Diane helped me get off onto the ultimate mounting block. Its fair to say there wasn't a dry eye in the house, and everyone present breathed a sigh of relief when I had both feet back on terra firma. Super Kathy captured everyone's emotions and pictures I will treasure forever.
So I had done it- my first ride back. I had defeated every everyone's expectations.