My husband and I had a bunch of errands to run today, and as we were driving all over the place, we had to drive past Silver Cross Hospital, which always sends us both into a weird mood as we go back to the month I spent there in August/September 2019 after the complications from my back surgery. What I think of varies as I pass the hospital. Here’s what I thought about tonight.
I thought about Jim telling me about how the employees at the little coffee shop at the entrance to the hospital would give him their employee discount because they all knew him because he was there so often. It’s nice but kind of sad, in a way.
I thought about my mornings there, how I would decide to get up and get started around 6 so I could be up and dressed when Jim would arrive in the morning before he would go to work. I would have to call a nurse to help me go to the bathroom, and then I would get help into my wheelchair so I could wash up, brush my teeth, and get dressed. I didn’t shower every day — which I absolutely hated. I used a dry, foaming shampoo on my hair to try to keep it clean and smelling okay. I actually have some of that dry shampoo still here at home, and every time I use it, I am immediately transported back to that hospital room bathroom, sitting in the wheelchair, using so much effort to go through my morning routine. Getting dressed was so hard, especially putting on my shoes and socks. I had an assistive tool to help me put on my socks, and I used an grabber kind of thing to help me put on my shoes. The first tome I had to do it on my own, it took me half an hour to put on my shoes and socks. I would cry regularly in the morning while working to get on my shoes and socks. It was very difficult.
I was always so tired in the morning because I couldn’t sleep at night, which is something else I thought about tonight as we passed the hospital. I would be so tired at night from lack of sleep and the effort of physical and occupational therapy I did every day. I would start the process of getting dressed for bed around 8:30 so I could be done by 9. Jim would always stay with me until I fell asleep, which was usually around 10 or so. Then he would go home. And pretty much every night I would be back up by 1 AM because I was so uncomfortable. I had to sleep on my back and I couldn’t turn at all in bed. I would be so uncomfortable and miserable. I would cry every night, and sometimes I was lucky enough to actually cry myself back to sleep. I would put the TV in my room on a classical music station to try to focus on that to help me fall back to sleep. I would count backwards from 100 with my breathing (a tip from my boxing instructor who said she often used this technique when she had a hard time falling asleep — it’s the equivalent of counting sheep).
I thought about the level of exhaustion I would feel after therapy each day. I had never felt that tired. It was like the exhaustion I felt after I did the marathon — only this was every single day. I understood what the phrase “bone tired” meant.
But I also thought about some really nice things that happened while I was there. I thought about all the people who came to visit me — people from work like people I work with, family, my boxing instructor and classmates from boxing. I remembered the dinners with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. Those visits and those dinners really lifted my spirits, and I can see now how they helped me, even thought I didn’t realize at the time just how very important they were.
Driving by Silver Cross Hospital always dredges up memories, many negative, some positive. But I have come to accept those memories, even the unpleasant ones, as part of me and my life experience.