PA 13: What Happens Next?

Burning Rubber, Explosive Celebrations, New Beginnings and a Step in the Right Direction.

My kidneys were up and running again, the worry about a resurgence of the infection seemed to be more or less gone and every day saw me growing more confident walking with the aid of the inflatable leg. I could happily get around on crutches and was so skilled with the wheelchair that I managed to stealthily roll up behind one of the nurses in my ward and scare the living daylights out of her with a whispered “hello”.

Making Tracks

All in all, I was starting to feel a whole lot more human again and although I was still being monitored for several things (I can’t remember what they were and am not absolutely sure I knew even back then), my doctors were very happy with the progress that was being made.

It was probably an error to inform me of that because as soon as I heard those words, I was on a mission to move closer to home. Every time one of the doctors spoke with me, this desire would be brought up.
How long until I could go home?
Would it be early in the new year?

With my parents, I had been out of the hospital a few times at this point and perhaps I was getting a little over confident. A few trips to the nearby corner shop didn’t necessarily mean that it was time to return to the shores of Loch Ness.

There is no denying that as I grew stronger and my extra-hospital excursions increased, it had become more and more frustrating to have to return to my hospital bed each night.

These outside trips were a small taste of freedom that every evening would be snatched away as we walked (or rolled) through the revolving glass doors that led back to the ward.

It was some small mercy I suppose that at least we were able to escape the white hallways more often. Most of the time the ward staff were happy for me to not be there (I’m not sure what that said about my relationship with them), all insisting that I get fresh air and exercise.

Although, it was suggested that rolling the wheelchair across grass should be avoided.

They claimed it was because it put more pressure on my chest, but I reckon they were just annoyed by all the muddy tyre marks on the shiny ward floors.


New years eve, or Hogmanay as it is known in Scotland, is always a good excuse to throw a celebration. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to welcome in the new year with singing, drinking and a few colourful explosions.

For us (my family), it felt very much like the closing of a really bad chapter and the opening of a (hopefully) much better one. The fireworks over Glasgow were spectacular from the window of my hospital room and the nurses decided to make a massive takeaway order for anyone in the ward who wanted to join in.

They did however deny me a New Year glass of whisky and when I asked if it was because I wasn’t yet eighteen they informed me that whilst my age was part of the reason, it was mostly because I was less than two months post open heart surgery and my damaged kidneys had only just recovered.

Even so, it was a nice evening watching the skies of Glasgow light up and considering what the next twelve months might bring.

2012 may have been the year I lost my leg but 2013 was going to be the year I got back on two feet.

The Next Step

I cannot remember when this happened exactly but roughly a couple of weeks after the new year the doctors returned to my room to arrange a meeting with my parents and me for the following day.

Normally all our conversations occurred whilst they were undertaking their regular rounds so it seemed a little ominous that a particular time had been set aside. We were all hopeful that it would finally be the conversation about returning home but given the last few months it could very possibly be going the other way.

The preceding weeks had been fairly quiet, I had just been going through the motions of recovery, taking my meds and getting down to the gym every day to practise walking. Most of the machines that had inhabited the room with me had one by one quietly disappeared. Even the antibiotics, though still an intrusion on my day, had become somewhat routine. It really felt like they were gearing up to let me go

Still, there was this lingering sense of foreboding. Could this meeting really be good news?

The following day finally arrived (as it tends to do) and we made our way along the gleaming white corridors to the doctors office. Three people were waiting to speak to us and as we sat down, their well trained poker faces gave nothing away.

“We would like to speak with you about what happens next”

That was a positive opening line.

We then all talked at length about the possibility of me going home, what would need to happen and the things that we would have to keep an eye on. The antibiotics were still a concern and though my parents had dealt with them at home previously, there hadn’t been the added factor of me recovering from open heart surgery.

The elephant in the room was of course the fact that I was, for the time being, only able to get around using a wheelchair. Our home was not yet equipped for that.

That however, would be a problem to be solved by the occupational therapy department.

For now, they were happy with the progress I was making and whilst a little uncomfortable with the idea of sending me home just yet, they would have me moved to my local hospital in Inverness, if that was what I wanted.

And of course, it was.

The Wisdom

  • Progress is not constant.
    I went through a month of milestones after I woke up from my surgery. Coming out of the ICU, getting my wheelchair, coming off dialysis, using crutches, taking my first steps.

    It was a continuous stream of improvements for weeks and then suddenly, it stopped.

    No, that isn’t true, my recovery didn’t stop at all but it settled out. I was practising more walking, my scans were coming back positive. It was all good just a lot slower than the lightning pace of the previous few weeks.

    At this point it became much more frustrating being entombed in hospital. It seemed like all of the big steps had already been taken and everything else was just on the back burner.

    Life can be like that though, a rush of changes (good or bad) and then it settles out for a while and can even feel a little tedious. Sometimes it’s pleasant to just enjoy the tedium for a while because the rush will always return… eventually.

  • New Year might just be another day but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be important.
    Every year we see people post on social media about all of the wonderful things they are going to strive for and achieve over the next twelve months. Sometimes they have realistic goals, other times it feels as though they are being a tad optimistic.

    For me, the new year described in this post was the year I would walk again.

    The old year, with all its pain and suffering, was behind me.

    There will always be those who want to counter these sentiments with remarks about how “it is just another day” and “what is the difference between this and any other night”.

    It might be true that the clock striking twelve on the last day of the year isn’t inherently special.

    And yet, people all around the world have decided that it is. Billions of us, all choosing to believe that this arbitrary moment in time is an opportunity for improvement, or new beginnings, or a better exercise routine.

    A thing is special when people decide that it is.

Thanks for reading folks, stay safe and be excellent to each other.

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