Something I haven't mentioned much, and here I digress… I wore a neck brace, a a brace to pick from my tiny neck. It allowed for my ventilator to attach to the trech in the front via a gap. I'm sure from the outside it looked like some sort of medieval contraption. From my vantage point it was uncomfortable and the itch in the back of my head was unbearable at most, at the least it was ever the present. It just became a part of me after a while. I slept with this thing on and I ate with this thing on. And every day I got a brief moment of relief when it was taken ever so carefully off my neck. In order to change the little strap that held the trech in place.
Such were my days as I followed my new routine and gradually met others with the same or similar spinal afflictions. I met a woman who had children who'd been in a car accident, whose husband dutifully stood by her, and brought the kids for visits. I met this one girl who'd lost her sister and barely spoke the language. I met a young boy whose life was only saved by the fact that his MRSA virus attacked an injury to his back. He was paralyzed from the chest down and I believe watching me might have helped him snap out of his own depression. You see, he could use his arms. I saw a lot of people without knowing their stories, but the injuries were obvious, just like mine, or paraplegic. I didn't know individual stories unless I was told directly, but my therapists indirectly discussed the different injuries and how they were sustained. It was mostly men, and it was mostly freak accidents or sports injuries. The few women that were there were like me, car accidents. I saw a lot of neck braces and a lot of trech's.
I imagine there were probably just as many itchy necks out there, I never asked. What I understood was that I was certainly not alone. This was a very different feeling than what I’d had in the trauma center. Although the nurses in the trauma unit were more than capable of making me feel comfortable and even brought out some smiles and laughs, I was still alone in my injury. I now had comrades, even if most of them were too traumatized to be sociable. To be fair, I was too much of a loner to be sociable with the sociable crowd. I wanted to do my thing. Get it done and find a way to get this trech out of my neck and breathe normally! But alas, I got to know people through my classes and through my neighbors in the hallways. Those people made lasting impression on me because their struggles seemed so insurmountable to me. They made me forget about my own struggle which was also a battle. The little things I focused on like a nagging itch were a way to deflect from the larger issues like the reason I wore a brace to begin with. I knew why I was going through the motions and I knew full well what my goal was, but I kept looking away from myself so I could smile more easily.
One long weekend my aunt/godmother visited me and it just so happened the Dr. visited me on a day she was there and announced it was time to take the brace off. This was a historical moment, and it was a thrill to me that she was there. But the most exciting thing about losing that brace was getting to that. itch! My aunt had wonderful long nails and proceeded to scratch my neck and discovered a piece of surgical tape that had been stuck, left behind, as it were, creating this ominous itchiness. With those wonderful nails she got that tape off, and my neck was finally relieved. A small step I know, but everything I experienced in the way of progress was a huge milestone for me. Oh yes, I slept much better too. Without that thing around my neck.