Hca’s…health care assistants…hmmm more like helpful caring..attributes (sorry people starts with P not an A haha).
They were different to the nurses…don’t get me wrong the nurses were excellent..but the Hca’s were there for every catheter empty (oh yes the joys…yep really not pleasant but necessary as at the time my body had decided it was unable to pass water, how inconvenient. Every cup of tea, bed bath, wash, hair wash, one well two really , they touched my heart. As the feeling began to come back into my legs thanks to high dose intravenous steroids, I started to feel more ‘normal’ and more like me not just a patient. One day as I waited to helped to be washed, myself and an Hca shaved my legs! Priorities I know! We both agreed this was very odd that she was saving my legs as they lay there lifeless, but believe me it’s the little things. This was later joined by my mum painting my toe nails bright pink! Well, a girl wants to be a girl right?
It wasn’t all shits and giggles….well erm…the first part yes….this next part dear readers is not pleasant but this is what happened.
As I was bed bound gravity had not taken it’s course, so one day….after I had been taught how to stand up aided (more on that later) we all decided a shower would be lovely for me…what an excellent idea. One way to lose your dignity is to find after days of being pumped full of laxatives is to find this is the time they will work….when you are starkers in the shower for 5 seconds left on your own on a shower seat with panic cord close to you whilst Iwas fetched clean towels ..as I sat covered in shower gel trying to move my dead weight legs…I pulled the panic cord and if by magic…2 Hca’s, and a nurse came running in. With no haste they cleaned me up, got me to the toilet (opposite, it was in the same area) as I mumbled I felt faint and was going to pass out. All I remember if having my blood pressure taken….that was all very surreal…naked….I presume some sort of towel and a blood pressure machine attached to my arm as I sat on the toilet …as it beeped and they fetched me water i felt so ashamed. They were so kind and pleased I had manged to go….the next bit is a blur,but what I do remember is their kindness and as I was taken back to my bed it was if nothing had happened. I was pristine, given a mug of ‘2 swig tea’ and told to rest. The breeze blew through a sun ridden window and a young nurse told me she would keep an eye on me.
As I looked down I was covered in spots…steroid induced acne…and my hair had started to fall out…in clumps….it had come out in the shower…and as I sat in bed and attempted to brush it more and more came out….bloody great.
Around this time….the day before I think…I had stood up for the first time…something I had have just done as I have reached down for my cup of tea..but this was the first time in weeks. Aided with the support of a very tall burly neurological physio therapist and his assistant physio. Also helped by the hospital bed that lifted me up as I clung on to him for dear life. As my legs trembled and my head rushed, feeling faint he bellowed “Good Jane, keep looking at me, good, good” in his strong Swedish/English accent. I never knew such a thing would make me feel so awful. As time went on and I saw people whizzing about their day I began to wonder why they weren’t falling over?
I had become an object of great interest and speculation.The hospital I was in, is a teaching hospital, I had spent many a day having doctors and the students come and poke me, look at me, talk to me, testing my reflexes and sticking me with a tiny pin! Yeah, ow! This apparently was to check my sensations….Question: how are you meant to explain you know that your legs and feet are there…the feelings..sporadic…some pain, some not.
This was a low point. Following being stood up I went straight to sleep, exhausted, “Mrs Cooper” came a soft Asian voice, “can my students still come and see you today?” “no sorry, not today, I have just stood up for the first time and I feel awful, really sorry”. Some time passed, and another voice came along, a different one…one I had not heard before, and a gentle hand on my shoulder. Oh who now i thought, let me bloody sleep. “Mrs Cooper” “call me Jane” “I am Doctor Green” (name has been changed to protect identity) “I am a consultant neurologist, how are you doing?”