I sat on a wooden chair in front of a computer at the back of the Internet Café. The Occupational therapist (OT) logged into the computer and went onto the Hotmail web page and asked me if I knew my password. I nodded my head again meaning a no. I remember being reluctant to press the buttons on the keyboard because it looked like a huge foreign object. I didn’t know what a computer was or what it was there for and I wasn’t able to use it again.
We then left the Internet Café and decided to go back into the hospital. My head was pounding more and more as time went on because it was the first time I had gone out of the hospital building. The traffic on the roads, horns from the vehicles, bicycles passing by, the sirens from the ambulance and the crowd of people walking around me was just too much. I held my hands over my head trying to block all the noise and the bright day light. Although I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t cry because I knew was with the OT and that we were heading back to the hospital which made me feel relieved. I tried to just hold on, bear with the tiredness and the pain in my head. My right leg was lagging behind even though I didn’t notice and I was exhausted but I kept going. I stumbled over the uneven pavement several times along the way. I often was unsteady and kept losing my balance but I tried so hard to hide it. I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness. In my mind, the only thought I had was to go home as soon as possible so I could go and sit my exams. Little did I know, realise or even understand that things were much worse and that it would take months if not years to even go back to college again.
As I got back to the hospital feeling tired, I went up the lift which I felt scared in. I then came across a flight of stairs which I had learnt earlier to go down. This time I had to climb up them and I couldn’t remember how to do that. The OT had to show me how to walk up the stairs by holding on the railings. I held on the railings, grasping as hard as I could. With the help of the OT, I managed to lift my leg and place the foot onto the next step. I then lifted the other weaker leg slowly and placed it onto the step with a thud. The weight of the right leg felt noticeably heavier and I went slowly up the stairs taking a breath every time which took forever. So many people had to overtake me but I kept going till I got to the top and sighed with relief. Eventually, I got back to my ward and went into my bed. I fell asleep for a few hours as I was very tired.
I woke up disorientated and felt groggy wondering where I was. I thought it was the morning again. I didn’t really understand the concept of morning, afternoon, evening or night. I was adamant that it was time for brushing my teeth and it was time for Weetabix. I wasn’t able to use words to explain what I wanted to do. I used actions like pointing at my teeth and repeating the words like “here” again and again till they understood what I was trying to say. My mum and aunt tried to explain to me that it wasn’t morning and I was not listening till they gave up and helped me brush my teeth. I waited for the breakfast trolley to arrive again but instead it was tea time and I was bit confused when there was biscuit and tea on my table. I looked at my mum and made an action of me using my hands like I was stirring something. She understood that I still wanted Weetabix and she told me it was finished so I forgot about it instantly and had the tea and biscuit instead.
My head was still hurting, the thumping pain just wouldn’t disappear even though it had been more than a couple of weeks now and I was still on strong pain relieving medication. I was fed up of still having the drip constantly attached to my arm ever since I had entered the hospital. I was upset and wanted to go home all evening. My mum, dad, aunt and uncle spent most of that evening trying to distract me from the pain and from me talking about going home. They tried there absolute best to try making me laugh or talk about what everyone was doing at home and feed me dinner.
At 8pm, after I was given fragmin injection, my family would leave to go home. They always stayed positive, never showed any sign that they were upset or struggling or found it hard to cope in front of me. This time my mum stuck a post it note with a list for breakfast and explained to me to give it to the person serving breakfast time in the morning because I still couldn’t ask what I wanted. I fell asleep in pain straight after I was given my medication and the observations were done.
I woke up early the next morning. I could hear all the machines, people moving around, my head was still hurting and my body was stiff. A nurse came up to me and said to me it’s still early and that I should go back to sleep. I nodded my head and kept looking out of the window. The light was breaking through and even though I felt sleepy, tired and drained I kept my eyes open hoping that my mum would come any time soon. Instead a nurse came to observe me and asked me the usual questions, What is your name? Where are you? What is the Prime Ministers name? I didn’t have a clue what she was asking me or have any answers. She wrote something down and then told me the answers and went away after measuring my blood pressure.
Couple of hours later, the nurse came back and asked me if she could change the bed and assisted me to the chair. I fell asleep on a pillow of the chair. I suddenly woke up when the breakfast lady arrived and woke me up. She asked me what I wanted. I pointed at the post it note which was stuck on the side of the drawer and she gave me the breakfast on the table. I slowly ate the breakfast concentrating and trying not to spill it anywhere but some of it fell on my top. Whilst I was having breakfast my mum and dad had arrived to see me.
The doctors did their ward rounds and came towards my bed. They asked me the usual questions…What is your name? Where are you? How old are you? What is the Prime Ministers name? I just looked at them puzzled. There were no words in my head, I couldn’t think of anything and my mind was blank. They then started to point and ask me names of objects nearby for example, bed, table, pillow, window etc. I didn’t know what they were called. I tried to think so hard but no words were in my head. I told the doctors I wanted to go home. They said that once I get better I could go home. I wasn’t defeated. I thought to myself if I knew the objects they were asking me maybe they would let me go home. So I kept pointing at every object they asked me and asked my mum to repeat the word. I then tried to repeat the word even though I couldn’t say some of them at all or not properly I still tried. In a few hours my mum would just point at the table and asked me what it was. I had forgotten. I wasn’t able to remember so my mum had to remind me. I would then try to repeat the word even though I struggled to say the words aloud.
Just before lunch the OT came up to my bed, put a few coins on the table and asked me if I knew what that was. I said no. She said it was 50p, 20p, 10p and 5p coins. It was money and I could go shopping to buy something. I just looked at her baffled and too scared to even touch the coins. The speech therapist arrived a little while later and asked me to look at the clock which was hung up on the right side of the wall. I didn’t know what a clock was so I just looked at her. She pointed at the clock and asked me if I could tell her what the time was. I could no longer read the time on the clock. She asked me then to read the numbers on the clock and I couldn’t do that either. I was so confused and scared. The OT and the speech therapist told me that it was ok and that they would come back later. I thought to myself why do I not know any of this? In about 10 to 15mins the thought just passed away and I was lying in the bed resting. I wasn’t able to process or realise the difficulties I was facing and most of the time thought I was ok and recovering from a bad headache at that time.
After lunch time I was taken into a room by the Neuropsychologist to repeat the neuropsychology test again. As I sat on the chair beside the neuropsychologist, I remember my hands shaking whilst he placed the cards onto the table. They were the same cards as the ones I was tested previously. I had to put them in the correct order of the story. I looked at the pictures on the cards; they didn’t make any sense to me. I tried so hard to put them in the correct order but became frustrated and then placed them however I thought was best. All the tests were repeated again like the last time I had in the previous neuropsychology test. It was painful to go through because I was unable to answer all the questions. I often nodded my head, shook my head said no or didn’t even understand the questions I was asked. I couldn’t describe images on cards, read simple words, recognise simple objects, recognise numbers, remember a sequence of numbers or do simple calculations. I broke down into uncontrollable tears. I felt defeated and confused. I remember the neuropsychologist telling my mum there was no improvement since the last test. He said that I wasn’t able to do complete it and that I won’t be able to do anything. I also remember my mum saying to him that it’s still too early to do another test. I cried all the way back to my bed and my mum told me it was going to be ok and that if she had to do the test she would have found it hard too.
Even though I was so upset, felt defeated, inside me I still believed that I could leave the hospital, go back to college and prove them wrong. This was the day where I decided I was going to give everything I had into my recovery regardless of the outcome in the long term and I wouldn’t give up no matter what any professionals or anyone that knew me thought. As long as I believed I could do it, even if it was the hardest thing I have ever done, I was going to do it. Even though it was going to be tough, I didn’t care, I was going to do anything I could to be able to go back to college. Whatever the speech therapist, the OT and the Neuropsychologist and the doctors told me or any tasks they were going to give me I wanted to complete them by working hard even if it took ages.
It was all or nothing. I had nothing to loose but everything to gain because I had a chance to build right from the beginning again…