19 July, 2013

Where Have I Been ? – Second Episode

It is now almost five months since I made a submission to this blog.
I made a similar statement on 2nd November 2012!

Well there I was at about 4.30 p.m. on Friday 19th of April sitting on a roundabout at Black Rock patiently waiting for an ambulance to take me to the trauma centre at the Alfred Hospital. To my shock-horror, as I was about to enter the roundabout, I failed to see to my right a small blue car travelling on the roundabout. Instinctively, I took evasive action by turning the front wheel of the bike in the same direction as that of the car. This proved to be a wise move as the right hand side of my body collided with the side of the car. Thus, I avoided the possibility of the front wheel of the bicycle hitting the car and my being propelled across the top of the car. In such a situation I may have sustained more severe injuries. My immediate thoughts were: Oh no a car – bloody hell I’ve damaged my right leg – I’ve mucked up tonight’s family get-together to celebrate my 77th birthday.

That evening the family, as planned, met at a Vietnamese restaurant in Highett. I daresay the comment of “Where is dad?” led to some lively discussion. Such discussion would have been aided by the fact that Leanne’s friend Moira, a nurse-in-charge of the trauma centre that evening at Alfred Hospital, rang Leanne to give her a summary of my injuries (broken femur of the right leg and five bruised ribs), and an explanation of how I was coping. Late in the evening Belinda, our grand-daughter, and Patsy visited me at the hospital. I was operated on two days later.

After four days in hospital, I was transferred to the Epworth Rehabilitation Centre in Brighton where I stayed for three weeks. I was somewhat astonished to learn that my recovery program would last for a period of about eighteen weeks. I gradually settled into a program of daily exercises and twice a week visits to Epworth for physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. The first seven weeks were quite demanding as I was unable to put any weight on the right leg, and so to move around I had to hop on my left leg with the aid of a mobile-frame. An average of 320 hops per day and associated exercises brought with it the benefit of my losing 4.5 kgs. During the seventh week the transfer from frame to crutches allowed me to enjoy a more relaxed mobility as I was permitted to put partial weight on the affected leg.

Friends and family, when discussing my accident, commented that my injuries could have been much worse. I concurred with their comments for I was very much aware that the person in the bed next to mine at the Alfred Hospital and Leo, a fellow patient at Epworth, had both sustained more severe injuries in their road accidents. Leo had spent three months in rehabilitation at Epworth and was still in pain whereas I had only spent three weeks and was in no pain. A couple of weeks after my accident I learned from the radio that a cyclist had been killed while travelling on a roundabout!

Where would I be without my loving Patsy who had to care for me at a time when she was doing battle with a mysterious illness. Prior to my coming home from Epworth, Patsy caught a cold and was prone to fits of coughing. As time passed by her chest became infected and she felt very tired. At one stage she seemed to be getting around like a zombie. A visit to her doctor and subsequent medical tests failed to reveal the specific nature of her illness. Two of our daughters, Karen and Leanne, relieved Patsy of some of the more onerous domestic chores. I am more than grateful for what Patsy did for as she battled with an illness which lasted for 6 weeks.

Having been involved in accident with a car, the Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) covered all my expenses. In particular, the TAC purchased a range of items to aid my living at home; toilet seat; seat for shower; chair and footstool;frame; and crutches. Another significant benefit is that, for the duration of my rehabilitation, I am able to hire, through the TAC, the services of a gardener, and to have the expenses for taxi journeys to Alfred Hospital and Epworth covered by the TAC. The use of taxis was without doubt a godsend for Patricia as she didn’t have to give up ½ day for taking me to Epworth.

I used to think that rehabilitation brings with it the benefit of an abundance of free time in which one can listen to music, read, and watch TV/DVDs. Initially, I found that, in the early stages at Epworth and my return home, my energies were directed more to rehabilitation than leisure. At Epworth I managed to read one novel, to listen to the radio, and to pass the time in the evening by watching TV. At home I settled in quickly to a daily routine of rest periods and exercise. For the first four weeks or so at home, there were only short and irregular periods to pursue my interests. During this period I requested my friends not to visit me as my daily routine was not conducive for entertaining them.

During the seventh week, I received the welcome news from my surgeon that I could put partial weight on the affected leg by getting around on crutches. The discarding of the mobile-frame came at a time when I felt better placed to give more time to my interests. As a consequence of using the crutches, I was also becoming keen to venture into the outside world. Thus, during the eleventh week Patsy and I went to the cinema on two occasions and on another day we enjoyed lunch at a local hotel. It was certainly a novelty to travel by train and tram for, other than the taxi rides to and from Epworth, that was the first time I had been out and about to enjoy myself since 19th April. Last week I travelled to the city where I enjoyed a meal at Federation Square with my friend Ian. On Tuesday of this week, I took myself off to the Nova Cinema in Carlton to see Much Ado About Nothing.

Today I had an appointment at Alfred hospital to see the surgeon who had operated on my leg. The good news is that, after a period of thirteen weeks, I can now proceed to gradually put body weight on the affected leg. Thus, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy program at Epworth will continue until the end of August. I daresay that by the end of November I will be walking au naturel.

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