It was a beautiful awakening, I could hear the bird’s singing (other patient’s buzzers ringing) and the whistling wind flurrying through the forest (the nurses hurrying through the corridor). All was appreciated, as it would be the last time these sounds would resonate in my ears. Today I am being discharged! I will, having been wheeled in just under two weeks ago, proudly stride out of the hospital on my now feeble legs. Armed with a raised toilet seat, a sponge on a stick, for washing those places out of arms reach, a socker, so that socks may be part of my attire, and most importantly my grabber that allows me to pretend to be Gregory House and also rather usefully aids the collection of all my fallen items, I will be unstoppable. Undoubtedly, I am delighted; desperate and driven to leave the shelter of the hospital and attempt independence, yet also absolutely petrified.
The hospital day is structured and manageable, everything I require being within reaching or walking distance. In this safe setting I now appear healthy and “normal”, and yet, I know that as soon as I depart, I will regain the label of an invalid. This classification will hopefully be temporary, but I have thoroughly enjoyed being the biggest fish in the sea rather than the minnow in the able-bodied world. I now suffer from agoraphobia, fear of open spaces, fear of the wider world and fear of my ability to cope in it.
What a comfort my buzzer has been for the past 12 days. Knowing that if anything is amiss, a simple extension of my arm followed by minimal pressure on an orange button, and someone will come and check, sort or call for help. My buzzer has remained motionless and silent for two or three days, a further indication that I am ready, recovered and restored to the extent of being adequately fit to leave. I am fortunate enough that my family and friends will replace the nurses, physiotherapists and doctors. They will support, aid and encourage me in the next phase of my recovery. The transition will be difficult and draining, but I must hold on to the fact that although I will no longer have a physical orange button, my orange button will still be fully functioning. There will still be people who will come running at the sound of my buzzer.