This new experience was going to take getting used to. I had a setback to my speaking ability because before I was allowed to use the speaking valve again, I had to be evaluated on the ventilator. Talk about frustrating! It was only a couple days and I got through it begrudgingly enough. There was so much more going on around me in this new place that I quickly forgot about any inconvenience. However, It was sort of rough timing that I happen to arrive only the day before Thanksgiving! Things were quiet, people were off work and we had to wait… For what we weren't quite sure.
Turns out I waited for the driest most bland turkey dinner I'd ever had! I think perhaps dessert may have been better but I can't remember. I know that my family went out and perhaps had burgers that day. I changed rooms after a couple of days and I was introduced to what would become one of my most popular modes of quick transport, the Hoyer lift. Here the main gear was bracketed to the ceiling as it was a fancy electronic lift and the piece came down with a tug so that I could be strapped in a sling and moved. It was not graceful and it still isn't! And except for the cheesecake the food never got better either. My family cooked in a separate apartment and brought me relief as often as possible for dinner or went to a local market and picked up my favorite, salmon and tomato bisque. The food in-house while meant for nutrition, was not going to help me gain the weight I'd lost being tube fed. So my bony ass was always in jeopardy of falling through the sling as they Hoyer me from bed to chair and back.
Oh yes, the chair! One of the first things that they did was get me a suitable electronically operated wheelchair and then quickly bring me to be measured for my wheelchair. For the next two months this was the way my world would run, everything on a schedule, organized, like clockwork. I was assigned a doctor, a physiatrist that would oversee every facet of my rehab. I would have a team including my nurses and therapists that always worked with me and therefore communicated with each other. I was assigned classes to learn about my particular form of spinal injury. My family also had to take classes, essentially the same ones but also from the caregivers perspective. So now I was suddenly eating and rolling around as an independent "sort of" human being for the first time since the accident. All of this did not come together neatly mind you, there was a huge learning curve for me and my family. But suddenly I was out of the woods of trauma and into the light of rehab. But wow!!
One of the challenges I faced being back in a sitting position was vertigo. It is not easy going from lying down to sitting up straight after so long. Is also a direct result of the damage to my spinal column that I would experience this vertigo. For a long time I did not set up directly straight but had to tilt my chair back in order not to feel dizzy. This was all under my control with the marvel of "sip and puff" technology. This is how I controlled my chair, my TV and called my nurse. There was also a handy gadget at the side of my bed meant to catch all the stray phlegm I coughed up. Gross but necessary, ha ha… Oh the joys of still being on the ventilator. But there was a system set up right away to help wean me from this beast of a contraption. No detail went unattended, yet independence was encouraged from the get go. This place did not push a patient but rather allowed that person's own desire to heal, to steer how each day proceeded. Sure some people were tougher on me, gentle in nature but tougher… But no one ever insisted I sit up straight or attend a class. If I wanted to I could set my own clock but I tried very hard to allow their own clockwork design to work for me.