Monday, July 1, 2013

Page 10 - A New Phase

            "Parting is such sweet sorrow" I know, ironic words to quote when leaving a place of trauma and chaos and overall negative yucky stuff. But nevertheless, I live, despite this horrible thing that's happened to me, the smile on my face was always due to the fact that I was still alive. So as I was wheeled down to a little waiting plane, heartfelt goodbyes came from all directions and tears were shed. One of my new friends, a young woman whom I bonded with inexplicably through simple knowing smiles stayed with me all the way until I boarded the plane. Of course boarding meant wheeling me on with my portable ventilator on a gurney. This was strangely okay with me. I was looking forward to the flight, the outside air hitting my face for the first time, the movement of the plane. I remember the sun, for the first time in two months, feeling the sun on my face. Simple things become monumental. My boyfriend accompanied me on that flight which was not a simple thing for him at all, but monumental for both of us. Believe it or not I enjoyed my flight to the rehab unit I would be at for the next two months. I even slept a little.

            One of the reasons I landed where I did was because this was one of the few places that would take me as a rehab patient while still connected to a ventilator. Part of my rehab was to be getting me off that vent. This was a world apart from where I had just been. Upon arriving I was met by my aunt/godmother and my brother and sister soon followed. My boyfriend stayed by my side until he was settled in to the long journey back home alone in a rental car. People were there for me, people made sacrifices. I know I'm one of the lucky ones but there was still some fear and trepidation as to what was coming next.

            Next turned out to be the big room with some new bells and whistles that I could never even have imagined. First there was the little TV that rotated on a pedestal so it could be positioned right over my bed and I operated it myself. My first lesson in what was called "sip and puff" technology. By breathing into a tube or gently sipping from the tube I could turn the TV on and off and change channels. This was independence for the first time since the accident. This was huge. I knew then that this place was far and away the absolute right place for me to be. I had struggles ahead, but hey, I now had TV! The next thing I never could have imagined was being given a swallow test by way of feeding me a few bites of pudding, a cracker and something to drink. Presto, I was now allowed to eat solid food! Yes, all the time in the trauma unit I was on a feeding tube, not pleasant and never to be repeated. Having a ventilator means sacrificing a lot more than breathing on your own. But things were going to change here, for the better.


  1. I remember Crista putting her cell phone to your ear so that I could talk to you just before you got on that flight. I remember crying for you, hoping and wishing that this next step in your journey would mean better things. I would navigate my way on public transport to meet you in Atlanta at the rehab center, so proud of your progress. What an amazing person you are, so strong and all the while, so smily.

  2. Dear Cherie - we've never met, but I feel I know you from reading about you in Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson's blog posts. You are the epitome of strength and courage, and I'm sure you will inspire many to keep living, whatever it takes. Last year I went through a serious illness that I'm still recovering from - I know what it's like to fight to breathe and to not be able to even turn over in bed without help, and to have to learn to walk - and swallow! - all over again - and so I can understand maybe the teeny-tiniest part of your ordeal. There were times, in rehab, when I would lie in bed watching people walk, run, skip down the hall and think: "How can they just do that without even thinking abut it?" Well, it took several months of therapy, but finally I was so thankful to be able to walk on my own two feet again, and it is something I will never take for granted again. I wish you all the best in your continuing saga; it's people like you who buoy up all the rest of us!