Overall this place of rehab gave me a sense of myself in this new world, the world that held me in a different way. I have a team looking after me, nurses, therapists, doctors all the same, all communicating for my benefit. Suddenly this horrific day that has happened made me something special? Rather, specialized. I’m not sure I preferred this new me over the old me, no of course I don’t, but here I am.
Among all the different therapies I was receiving was recreational therapy. This meant I had to choose one source of interests I have in the outside world. All I could think of was the bookstore. The first outing they presented to me was to Walmart… I turned that down. No way was I going to face the world “like this” for the first time in a place like that. It just wasn’t my thing and it hadn’t been before the accident either. So I waited and finally a chance to go to the bookstore came up and lo and behold I was the only one going! Next thing you know I’m heading into a little minibus with my family, brother, sister and sister-in-law. A trip to the bookstore where I managed to buy some candy that was on sale and a lap tray that might come in handy for certain therapies. I looked at books but we had puzzled out yet how I would be able to read them. We just wrote down the names of some titles.
So that first outing I felt almost cacooned with my family around me. It didn’t seem real, no, it was very real but I was enjoying myself looking at stuff, books, candy, accessories and so on. And the people were nice to me, as if they’d all seen it before and knew exactly what to say and what to do in my presence. In fact we did run into a woman who had been a nurse. So in this city that held this huge rehab facility it was expected that one would run into plenty of people who are familiar with people like me. It was a safe place to be and this was something we realize but I don’t think I fully comprehend how much that feeling of being so protected was going to matter later on.
And other therapy I had was concerned with leisurely activity, I chose art. Reading seemed an unlikely immediate possibility even though the bookstore outing was fun. During art therapy I learned I could paint using a mouth stick. This was a unique contraption that one held firmly in their teeth and on the other end could be attached in any number of tools, including of course paintbrushes. I was not in love with this idea but I tried. It took a few times and it was tiring, unbelievably tiring with my weakened neck muscles. I managed to paint some strokes on a piece of paper and later a terra-cotta vase. I also painted some colorful strokes on a rock to be placed in their garden along with other painted pieces from other patients. I felt both proud and ridiculous all at the same time.
The last type of therapy I received was actually “assistive technologies” where I learned about using Dragon voice recognition and also some phone gadgets that so far have not proved themselves worthy. I was happy to learn I could communicate to the world again but it didn’t change this idea that I was living in some sort of illusion bubble. I could go out in the city because the city catered to people like me. It was easy for me to remain wrapped inside myself and feeling like the world still couldn’t see me as “me”.