Been home from the hospital over a month now, so long past time to share an update…
Being home is fantastic, which should really not be a surprise. Beyond the really obvious benefits (nice to sleep in one’s own bed, function without a pre-imposed schedule of meals), there are the small joys to savor as well. For example, I have yet to wake up (or otherwise be required to involuntarily listen) to theme songs from nineties or eighties era sitcoms… and I have completely dispensed with the joy that is a hospital style “bed bath” (pretty much what it sounds like – basin of warm water, hospital issue no-rinse soap, and washcloths… apply while lying in bed. Exactly as much fun as it sounds, too.)
But there are the small drawbacks, too – and that’s where the claustrophobia comes in.
There are the things I can’t reach or can’t find (usually because they’re buried somewhere I’m having trouble looking in). Makes the whole house seem a lot smaller sometimes.
There’s the furniture I can’t use – if only for the time being – because I’m not skilled enough to get myself from a wheelchair to the furniture and back. Which doesn’t sound like a huge imposition (I come with my own seating arrangements, right?)… but it gets a bit old sitting in the same position in the same chair all the time. I can shift a little bit (and should do so frequently anyway) – but I do occasionally get the urge to lie on a couch or put my feet up on a recliner (someday?).
Then there’s the stamina issue – rolling around in a wheelchair on the rug is not as easy as it sounds… some days, the kitchen that’s “just around the corner” feels like it is miles away. Do I really want to refill my iced tea? Is it critical that I have a spoon to eat dinner with? Is there some way to arrange the laptop and the TV and the tea so I can access them all without moving? Most tasks take significantly longer than they used to – so there’s a lot more planning involved.
But mostly the claustrophobia had to do with the initial conditions of my release: in order to be eligible for therapists and nurses to visit and help the transition to being home, I needed to be officially “housebound”. As in “cannot leave house except for medically necessary appointments”. No trips to the park, the grocery store, the mailbox, etc.. Better than being in the hospital? You bet… but stuck within the 800 or so square feet of home that I can currently access. Which sometimes seemed tiny and cramped – even if it does get bigger as the day goes on (it seems downright huge some nights).
That is all over as of this weekend. I can go outside now just to be outside – or to go out to dinner, or whatever else we want to do. Still don’t have the stamina to roll that far… still cannot get out of the chair except to get back into bed… but the world got much bigger this weekend with just a roll out into the parking lot. We’ll keep expanding that little by little from now on…