Caroline House Specialist Brain Injury Rehab

June 2011

Leaving the N&N was a very emotional affair, after five months a special bond between the staff and myself had developed so there was tears, mainly from me, as I faced my next challenge ‘rehab’ though I wanted to go when the time came and the ambulance drivers arrived to transfer me I could have quite easily said I don’t want to I want to stay here but I knew I couldn’t, however, the thought of having to learn to trust strangers was daunting.

I arrived at Caroline House mid-afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by the welcome which immediately put me at ease once in bed I was assessed and they immediately started work on me. I was transferred with a few medical aids such as my PEG to keep me hydrated, fed and give me my medication, I had a plaster splint on each leg which was hurting like mad all the liquid food that would need for a month and the machine to give it and a full months’ worth of medication. The first thing they did was to take the splints off which exposed angry pressure points which were about to break down; no wonder my feet were sore. My PEG stayed in but they stopped feeding me via the PEG so normal eating and drinking from now on though due to my swallow problems I had to be supervised while eating and had thickener in my drinks and I had to have penicillin for an affected ingrown toe nail.  

The first morning I was hoisted onto a shower chair and was given my first shower since Austraila. Yazzy and Steve the two nurses looking after me were a laugh making me feel at ease for the first time in 5 months but they to made me work by sticking a flannel in my good hand for me to try and wash my face which at first was really difficult they washed the rest of me, there are many things that I will never forget one of them was my first shower.

Each patient had their own weekly rota with specific times for physyo, gardening, relaxation classes, group meetings, rest periods cooking etc. and they kept to it. In my first week Matt the Physio started putting me on the ‘Tit Table’ I hated this at first as I kept feeling faint when approaching vertical though I don’t believe we ever got to vertical and I always felt I was tipping forwards. After a week or so I was managing 15 to 20 minutes which gave confidence so I stated pestering to use the gym which didn’t happen for about a month.

Barry the staff nurse was next, in the first week or so I was given my medication as usual through my peg when one day he came in and said that I had to try taking them orally, I thought “who do you think you are telling me that don’t you know I have difficulty swallowing” but he persisted and I succumbed and found that I was able to swallow tablets after all and I ended up managing my own daily doses.

Gardening was good we had to help Jane to either sow seeds or thin and pot young plants this to was quite difficult as my fingers were not working correctly it didn’t stop me nicking the radishes though.

Jane also did the relaxation sessions every Friday afternoon I would lie on my bed and Jane would darken the room put some watery music on and quietly read to me a therapy tail, this actually worked at one time they checked my pulse before and after a session and it dramatically reduced  during the course of about 20 mins.

After about two months of intensive and sometimes painful therapy involving various machines, psychology, memory tests, strength tests you name it I did it I was up on my feet using three wheel rollator at times it was torture getting up and standing as I was still very week but I was determined to walk out of the hospital on my discharge which I did on the 28.08.11.

My first experience of independence in 6 months, my first day in rehab meeting Jeannie at the front door, there was lots of tears at this point but I will never forget the experience. At this stage I was still being hoisted in and out of bed.
Jeannie's birthday July 2011
I've just come across a couple of photos Jeannie took on her birthday July 2011. I was just two weeks out of the Acute Stroke Ward and in rehab, I couldn't walk, use my right hand still wore a pad and had leg bag on, I couldn't even smile properly.
We were at one one of our favorite restaurants but I really didn't want to be there but I couldn't let Jeannie down on her birthday as she had been through so much with me taking ill, she didn't know, but, I felt so unwell but stuck it out and was glad when I got back to the safety of rehab. Jeannie is aware now and gets upset that she didn't realize how bad I felt but she is worth every effort that it took me to be there.
A typical hoist this contraption was used to hoist you in and out of bed we used to call it the hanging basket, At Caroline house they had ceiling hoists which made it easier for nurses but had the same affect on me.
I started to use the tilt table at the N&N I think it was a about three times but each time they got me to nearly upright I began to feel sick and faint not a good experience but at Caroline House the physio had me on it nearly every day and eventually I was managing 15 to20 mins. this helped to stretch my calf muscles and get me used to being vertical though I don't think we ever achieved the full upright position and unlike the poor soul on the table my arms were free.
(Ross Return) There came a point when I didn't need the hoist but I still had serious mobility issues the idea of this machine was to help transfers say from the bed to your wheel chair, one would pull oneself from bed or chair stand on the foot plates with your knees on the rest and hang on while the nurses turned you to your new position then you would lower your self into it, this was very difficult as at this point I was very weak and my body felt like a tun weight.
The tread mill was one of my favorite piece of machinery, one would be strapped to a parachute type of harness then suspended over the tread, To start with they took about 70% of you weight off you legs and granularly each week would reduce the % until you were carrying your own weight.
Getting between the bars was magic as I knew then that I would walk again.
This exercise is self explanatory its amazing how much we take for granted like being able to go up and down stairs, I tell you its not easy but satisfying when achieved.
When I first got into a car or transfer to my wheel chair I had to use a banana board, I remember once or twice it slipped off the car seat and Jeannie had to drag me into the seat using my belt.
Some times I had a lot of fun to, Abigail hitching a ride in the gardens of Caroline House
Day release
Afternoon tea with family in the gardens of Caroline House rehab unit
Chloe wearing Grandma's sun bonnet
Chloe taking a ride around the garden.
The hardest few yards of walking in my life
Home ward bound after a long eight months

Horace Letchford 29.01.2022 10:30

Very inspiring

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Latest comments

29.01 | 10:30

Very inspiring

27.01 | 07:33

I can see a rapid improvement as I scroll through these Eddie.
Well done you

09.09 | 04:40

Thanks for the post, great tips and information which is useful for all.

16.08 | 05:19

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