I was on the stroke ward of the hospital because I didn’t need the ICU anymore but I hadn’t been approved for the rehabilitation ward yet. Now that my trache had gone, it was time to try to get to rehab.
It had been arranged for the Rehabilitation consultant to come and assess me. Dawn (the pocket rocket stroke liaison nurse introduced in earlier posts) came in to give me a pep talk. I had to show off she said. Show him all my new tricks. The movement in my neck and right hand and the little flickers that were beginning in my right foot. She reminded me that he decided whether or not I would be accepted for rehab. The pressure was on.
The next 15 minutes had the power to greatly affect my level of recovery.
Steve and I were quietly confident that he would admit me to rehab based on the movement I already had against all odds. And the fact that I was only 36 years old and a mother of 4 little kids.
The doctor walked in and sat in a chair. He didn’t even shake Steve’s hand. He looked at us and asked what we wanted. We were a little perplexed and Steve asked him to clarify what he was asking. He told us he wanted to know what outcome we were hoping for.
Well he asked. Steve proceeded to tell him we were hoping that I would walk out of hospital having made a full recovery. I can’t remember exactly what he said but he definitely told us we were being naïve and unrealistic.
Steve went on to tell him about the people we had found who had made full recoveries and written books. Steve talked about Kate Allatt from the UK and Australian Pete Coghlan. The rehab specialist was not impressed. He launched into a lecture on how people that write books are the exception to the rule. They are the 2 that recovered out of all those who didn’t. That to pin my hopes on them was futile.
He told us there was no hope that I would make any sort of a meaningful recovery and that it would be a waste of resources to put me into rehab. He continued by saying he thought it was more appropriate to have me discharged to a nursing home.
And with that, he stood up, turned and left the room.
Steve and I looked at each and burst into tears. I had only seen Steve cry twice. But our world had just been shattered, AGAIN. After 11 weeks of positive thoughts, contact with Kate and Pete and research on neuroplasticity, we were suddenly in free fall. Our dreams of a full recovery had turned into a nightmare about a nursing home. I was 36, and looking down the barrel of a life lived out in a nursing home.
We were both bordering on hysterical. Steve held me tight but there was nothing to say. Our hearts were broken.
Dawn came in to see how it had gone and was confronted by a scene she wasn’t expecting. Like us, she had believed I would be accepted into rehab. Dawn told us she believed the consultant was wrong and would seek a second opinion.
Dawn left and re-entered the room 10 minutes later. She asked if we would see a young lady she thought would help to cheer us up. Dawn had spotted her walking through the stroke ward, carrying a harp. Yes, a harp. Dawn assumed she had been paid by the hospital to entertain patients, told her about us and asked if she would come into my room and play.
So in she walked (a stunning beauty) with her her husband and her mother-in-law. She was not a paid entertainer. She was visiting her father-in-law who had suffered a stroke and also played and loved the harp. She had come to sit by his bedside and play. When Steve apologised for the misunderstanding, she insisted she would still like to play for us.
She started to play and it was beautiful. Music has such a powerful ability to transport us to different places. To leave reality behind- just for a while. When she had finished the first piece she asked if we would mind if she sang. Steve and I looked at each, wondering whether or not she could hold a tune.
She began to play and sing and every hair on our bodies stood up. She had the voice of an angel. Steve and I both began crying again as her music wrapped us in a layer of comfort.
After they left, Steve and I couldn’t quite believe what had happened. At the exact moment we so desperately needed comfort, a young lady with the voice of an angel, appears carrying a harp!
My journey is full of stories like this.
And for the record the rehab doctor changed his mind the following day and agreed to send me to rehab.