After the first month back home I had begun to make the steps I talked about in my previous post. Just little baby steps but they seemed so significant to me. As we moved into the second month, September, I took more and more steps towards full recovery.
In early August an amazing community of dance friends held a fundraiser to help Nova and I. Because I had been off work for so long I had run out of sick pay and Nova had used all her wits to keep us afloat. Things were really tight though and this was such a huge help. Even the travel and parking at the hospital when I had been in was a massive expense. At this event I danced again for the first time and Nova told the audience about the illness and how much they were helping us. We will not forget the generosity and support shown that evening.
I still read like there was no tomorrow and the living room was beginning to resemble a library as pile after pile of books sprung up all around. I took the bus into town a few times, mainly to get to a book shop to feed my insatiable thirst for words. I had been forced to surrender my driving licence due to the seizures and waiting for it to be returned to me was one of my main obsessions. To get my licence back would mean a freedom that I had been used to for the last 17 years. It was fine to get the bus but to be able to drive again would mean going places and doing things would be so much easier. It was also a crucial step in being able to go back to work.
I cooked my first meal. It was a pork casserole recipe that my mum used to make when I was younger. Another triumph in a series of mini-miracles for me.
I drew a picture that actually resembled what I had intended.
I walked like a human being again, not a zombie. I walked the dogs for miles.
I did housework. There wasn’t a lot else to fill my time apart from reading.
As my brain repaired and the miracle of recovery became more and more real, I began to itch with the desire to get back to work. I needed to use my brain, to tackle problems and find solutions. To be around people and doing what I loved best. Patience was a lesson I was being forced to learn but I didn’t take to it kindly. The last six months had been like my worst-possible nightmare coming true and I didn’t want to think about it, to look back or to deal with it at all. I wanted nothing but to accelerate into my future, into health and fulfilment and independence. I remember Nova trying to persuade me to look at the facebook support group page which had given her so much information and support, but I was having none of it. She talked to me about her worries that at some point I was going to be overwhelmed by what had happened and the magnitude of the experience and that I might crash with the emotion of it all. I wouldn’t listen. I was focused, I was well and I was going back to work, that was the sum of my view at that time.
I struggled with being on the steroids and the huge amount of weight I felt I’d put on. Considering I had been around 7 stone when I came out of hospital it was quite a lot. I felt disgusting. My hair was still thin and damaged from the drugs and fluffy, baby hair was coming in place of what I had lost. My brain began to catch up with reality but wasn’t happy with the slower pace of the rest of my body.
My emotions continued to come back and this was possibly the most magical part, for me, of the journey to recovery. Although some of the emotions were incredibly hard, to be able to FEEL again was like a gift from heaven itself. I felt the full force of grief for the loss of Gill and I cried rivers over our missed chance to say goodbye. I felt guilt for all I had put my family and friends through. I felt shame at what I had been reduced to over that time. I felt a soaring JOY beyond any words at the fact I was alive and well. I felt, nothing could ever be more normal and natural and right.
It has probably taken the last three years to absorb the impact of what happened on some of my relationships, purely due to the incredible trauma my family suffered as I was ill. One relationship that needed to be rebuilt quickly, though, was that one with my amazing step son. I had been a part of his life, virtually every day, for the past six years and I had suddenly disappeared. Nova did an incredible job, with the help of friends and family, to keep his life ticking over with some sort of normality, but it can’t have been easy for him at all. Suddenly I was back and I know he was happy about that but we had to readjust to each other again and it took time. Thank god he is an accepting, forgiving and amazing little human and, considering all that had happened, it didn’t take too long.
On the 30th September I got my licence back!!!!! I was on the road again and free as a bird!
We moved into October and I faced up to a neuropsych assessment once again. Only this time I was hoping against hope it would show that I had recovered enough to return to work.