At this point a year ago I was still deep in a coma, so there isn’t much action to report there, and I remained so until I “woke up” in what must have been mid-January. Unfortunately, and I hate to disappoint those that are interested, but the aforementioned “waking up” was not nearly as emphatic or decisive a coup as I wish it had been. There was no eureka moment whereby I suddenly gasped myself awake and was fully lucid. Rather, it was a long, slow (somewhat disappointingly so) process whereby I incrementally regained full consciousness over the course of days and weeks. Not long after ‘waking up’, I was relocated to the Oxford Centre for Enablement – the OCE – in Headington, Oxford.
Now the OCE – how would I describe this place?
Whilst being, upon first glance, fairly morbid and not for the faint of heart, this place was awesome and I am so grateful to them for everything they did for me and for how much my condition improved whilst I was in there. Put it this way – upon admittance I was unable to speak and I was still confined to a wheelchair. To all intents and purposes I was still asleep; very much still doing my world-winning impression of a human sphinx. I was even being lifted in and out of bed by a mechanical hoist attached to the ceiling too apparently, but luckily I can’t really remember the early days…probably for the best!
The OCE was awesome, and getting a place there was another huge stroke of luck. This place is almost the equivalent of the Ritz, but for matters of neurology, and once I was in there my improvements came thick and fast. I was a completely different person when I left. I went in there in mid-January, unable to walk or speak, very much confined to a wheelchair, and I came out of there in May, walking, talking and a pretty good resemblance of what had been like before (I hope!)
It’s a real shock to the system spending a prolonged amount of time in a place where there is such a smorgasbord of mental and physical conditions on show. Being in a place like this, first thing it makes you feel is a deep sense of gratitude that your ‘condition’ isn’t quite at the level of most of your fellow patients there. Anybody who came to visit me in the OCE will attest to the hell that E******, a poor Polish lady who was also living there when I was, must have been going through. She had had a stroke (oh please not another – I have met enough stroke victims in the last year for a lifetime!) which meant that, amongst affecting most of her everyday cognitive function, it had landed her with the unfortunate side effect of being able to communicate only in wails and shrieks. A prolonged, pained (it was fairly harrowing to hear) wailing was her only recourse, her only way of communicating; and this became the soundtrack of my time in the OCE. Poor, poor lady!
Being in a place like the OCE, and seeing the kinds of things you see whilst in there has one surefire effect – it makes you so grateful for the sanctity of human life and it makes you appreciate (healthy) life that bit more! It also gives you boundless respect for the medical profession as a whole. They are truly amazing people, those that work in service of the mental and physical wellbeing of others, and you never quite realise it until the shoe is on your foot…
I will delve into more detail about the rehab centre next time I post, as it has been busy busy this end for the festive period. Até logo!