I’m an avid traveller and 2020 has been no exception. This year I’ve travelled unexpectedly to places I’ve never dreamed of like the Transit Hall of the Princess Alexandra Hospital, a bed at the Mater Hospital, and their operating theatre. All good travel includes enduring some sleepless nights, getting lost, a hefty dose of discomfort, placing your safety in the hands of others and being unsure of what to do next. My 2020 trip did not disappoint.
Hostel vs Hospital
I spent two nights in a room with three others, reminiscent of backpacking around Europe and Asia in my 20’s. How’s this for similarities?
- There is no real privacy.
- Everyone is high on some type of chemical substance.
- The man in the bed next to me is snoring like a pig.
- The woman in the bed opposite is sleep yelling.
- The guy in the corner is making all these weird groaning noises.
- I’m still the person with the loud voice who can’t talk quietly even though its the middle of the night.
- People come and go, waking me up, no matter what time of day or night.
- Others encourage me to try free drugs repeatedly throughout the day.
- The shared toilet and shower are always full when I desperately need to go.
- As I restlessly try to sleep I tell myself to just relax and enjoy the “life experience” but all I really want is my own bed and pillow.
- The food is a mystery, you’re never sure what you’ll end up with.
- Transit rooms are dull soulless places, where you’re shuffled between monotonous waiting spaces. I spend endless hours waiting and whiling away the time. I’m positioned in front of a television which is stuck on a channel I’d never watch at home. It feels more like torture than entertainment, and I’m trapped! I doubt if my transport will ever turn up.
Community is where the healing happens
I broke 3 bones in my ankle after sliding down the bottom two steps of our internal stairs, a small fall with big consequences. Suddenly I was in need of some mobility aids. So, while in my hospital bed I reached out through Facebook to the Tarragindi neighbourhood community for some assistance. I knew that there was a great community close by ready to help out.
Hi community I have two requests:
1. Anyone have a wheelchair they would be willing to lend me for 8 weeks.
2. Anyone have experience of using a non slip varnish on bamboo stairs?
By the time I’d been operated on and reached home a day later, I’d been offered a number of mobility aids: wheelchairs, knee scooters, crutches, hoppers and bath stools. I didn’t need the crutches as a friend with five sets lent me a pair.
Within 5 minutes of being home my lovely neighbour, who I used to walk with regularly, delivered a luxury wheelchair, a wedge pillow to sleep with between my legs and a shower wheel chair.
The next morning we collected another wheelchair and a knee scooter, gifted to me by a stranger. Now I have a wheelchair upstairs and downstairs. I’ll ride that knee scooter fearlessly, just like I used to ride my motor bike through the windy roads of Wellington, New Zealand as a teenager….or maybe not!
I also have a range of ideas to help make the stairs slip proof, given that I’m not the only one who’s slid down them.
Sweetest of all was the message from a stranger
Hi Anne, saw your post in Tarragindi community group. I work at home, so does hubby… please reach out if you need any help … its so hot as well ! I’m happy to drop by any groceries etc …. or make the bed etc
This fills my heart with joy
I’m a strong advocate of laughter as part of healing and this card provided a belly laugh. It may well be the best card I’ve ever received.
I’m back at work for the last two weeks of the year, sitting sedately in my therapist chair. Grateful that my job is sedentary and I can continue to work. Thankfully I’m allocated an easy access room and will not have to display my new skill of butt scooting up stairs. My lovely colleagues fetch and carry for me, after all I work in a beautiful space focused on healing.
It’s going to be a tough 6 weeks, managing without putting any weight on my right leg, but its already been made much easier through the help of friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers. I’m well on the way to recovery.
Hopefully I can pass on my stash of mobility aids to the next community member in need though I hope they sit unused and unneeded for a long time.
Merry Christmas to all. May you all be more mobile than me.