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Monday 23rd March to Thursday 2nd April

Back to the liver ward I go. Have very mixed feelings about this. Think you get used to being in intensive care with your own dedicated nurse. When you are on the ward you press the buzzer and then wait.

I am quite surprised that the nursing staff are still nice to me! As when I was on the ward before I was not very nice to them, shouting, swearing and refusing to have things done. I made sure this time that I apologised to the nurses concerned.

At last I start to recover – very slowly. Still spend a lot of time laying on the bed, just resting or sleeping. But I also start to sit in the chair for longer periods. 

I am in a ward with three others. Marina (who likes colouring), Sheila (who likes sleeping), and Pat (who likes talking!). We all get to know each other and our regular visitors do too. Amongst the pain and tiredness and everything else they do to you in hospital, that we all go through at different levels, we gossip, laugh and have fun. They are the only people that could even begin to understand what I have been/am going through. New friends 👭👭

A couple of us even move wards together. On the day this happened, my nurse in the morning was called Robyn and after I moved in the afternoon my nurse was called Leah. Can you believe that? Do you think that has happened to any other patients before?

After a few days back on the ward the physios arrive again. They take me off to the gym! Bearing in mind that at this time I have only walked a few steps at a time with help. I have to do some squats and calf raises to strengthen my legs. I have to walk up some stairs. I have to walk on my own. They measure me up for a walking stick! Then off I go at last, back to the ward with a wooden walking stick and two pages of exercises to do. I’m exhausted and aching but with a good feeling that I achieved just a little bit more and nice to get out of the ward for a bit.

Then comes the scary bit. ‘I’ll be back in the morning at 9.30 so that you can join our circuit training class’. Was she really being serious? Me, be up and ready for the gym at 9.30 in the morning? That would have been completely unheard of in the few months before my transplant. If I was even awake, I certainly wouldn’t have been out of bed, and no way would I have been fit for the gym. But here I was, out of my hospital bed and feeling nervous, off I went. As it happened in the end they didn’t have enough patients to run the class, one was going home, a couple were not well enough, one had gone for dialysis. Did I get let off? No. I had to do the 7 different exercises, with a 30 second rest in between, on my own, so I had my own ‘personal trainer’!!!

Soon as I got back to the ward and sat in my chair the doctor appeared and said that I could go home. What?! I had only just learnt to walk again, was very wobbly and didn’t feel too confident on my own. As much as I wanted to go home after all this time, I just wasn’t ready in myself. Luckily the physio overheard and backed me up on this. So the doctor agreed on just a couple more days. So then the physio said ‘I’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll do more stairs so your ready for home’. Nooo, really? Why can’t I rest!!!! – I did it anyway and they were very pleased with me.

I then started to get an upset tummy. Every time I ate just a few mouthfuls I had to try and get to the toilet quick. It went on all day. I was exhausted, aching and didn’t feel too great. I was moved out of the ward to a side ward on my own because they thought I could have Cdiff. This was a horrible time, especially as I had been doing so well. The diarrhoea continued, I had even less of an appetite, I lost weight, I was moved from my friends, the exercising had to stop, I was on my own 😰. Obviously I was then not allowed home.

Thankfully the results came back saying it wasn’t Cdiff or any other infection. They didn’t know what had caused it, ‘just one of those things’. It all started to calm down and I was moved back to the same ward as before but now in Pat’s bed as she had been allowed home for a few days but still had to come back for an endoscopy, poor lady, those things are my worst nightmare. Marina was still there. A new lady called Joyce. And Alex (now another new friend 👭)

Alex was also recovering from her second transplant, but 3 years apart. When we got talking it turned out that she had been in the bed opposite Kate (who I have mentioned in a previous post) when she was waiting for her 3rd transplant. After Kate visited me, she mentioned me in her blog and Alex had actually read this, but didn’t realise it was about me. All very spooky. And also we all live quite closely together! A very small world 🌍

I start to get better. I start to walk without my stick (though still very slowly and unsteadily). My blood results are all good. I am allowed to go home. This time I am up for it.

But one last thing before I leave. I have a massage. The physio’s also do this. A lady called Sally Painting, who also had a liver transplant but has sadly now died, has a trust fund and some of the money from there is used to support this service. So along came George and massaged my legs! Lovely, especially after all my gym visits and stair climbing.

What a great end to my very long stay in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

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