The Things He Shattered

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 16 (v.1)

Submitted: April 12, 2013

Reads: 283

Comments: 16

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Submitted: April 12, 2013

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43

The days go by and turn into weeks. It has been three weeks and a few days that I’ve been in rehab when the pregnant physiotherapist decides it is time to allow me to have a walker. For a few days now, they have been getting me to do a few squats, and allowing me to use a stationary bike. I am however not allowed to use my right leg because of the amount of damage it has sustained. I am happy that I am at least allowed to use one leg, despite it being relatively awkward to use a stationary bike with one leg. But I’ll take it. I am taught to use the walker. The pregnant lady says,

"Whatever you do, do NOT place any weight on your right leg. None! Completely lean on your walker. You can put all the weight you want on your left leg, but none on your right. Okay?" I say, "Okay". The volunteer watches me with his hands ready to catch me if need be. I put weight on my left leg, and then my body weight on my arms. I do this for a few steps, and then my habitual instinct takes over and I begin to walk using my right leg. All of my body weight is on it and I feel absolutely no pain. The woman physiotherapist notices right away however.

"No! What are you doing?! I can see you’re putting weight on it. Don’t do that!"

I can see she’s upset so I apologize, and try to fight all of my instincts to use both legs. Technically, because neither of my legs hurt, I do not understand why I am forbidden to use both of them. It only hurts when I bend my right knee, so I feel that that is what I should be avoiding, not avoiding weight on it altogether. I know they are professionals, so I will do what I am told. Only when they are watching me. I am asked if I would like to use the walker to walk back to my room. Only if I’m feeling up to it. I agree before the sentence is even finished. I do not put any weight on my right leg because I am being watched. I obviously walk slower, but I have no trouble getting back to my room. I am allowed to keep the walker with me, and am told to practice walking with my left leg only. I intend to practice walking, and I absolutely intend to put all of my weight on my right leg.

My lunch is delivered to me, and Mary, my other roommate asks me if I can do her a favour. I talk to her often and I like her. Once in a while when I come into my room I find a piece of candy left on my bed. She asks me how I like it, so I know she put it there. It makes me smile. Leaving sweets like that for me is a very kind gesture, so of course I’ll do what I can to help her. She tells me that she can’t really figure out what she was given to eat. With every meal we are given a list of the food and beverage items that have been delivered.

She tells me that she’d like me to read out what’s on the list. I know she wears glasses sometimes, so I politely ask her if her glasses have been causing her problems, and I’ll read whatever she wants me to, no problem. She walks into my side of the room. What she says next saddens me deeply.

"Oh no Karina, it’s not that. I just lost the ability to read after the stroke I had. It could come back. After all I was told I would never walk again, and I do that now with no problem."

"What do you mean you can’t read?" I don’t understand.

"Well I can see the letters, but they are just all jumbled up, so I cannot make sense of the words." I can’t comprehend this concept, and she sees the confusion and disbelief on my face.

"It’s really okay."

I cannot imagine how this can be ‘okay’. Even though I have been experiencing some trouble reading the books I have, because my head spins at times, I can still get through a couple of pages. Before this happened to me, I would read from a book every single day.

"I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how much you must miss reading books." I imagine myself in that position for one second and quickly dismiss the thought. Mary however smiles,

"Oh it’s really okay. I never liked reading books before. It’s certainly not something I miss."

She hands me her food list and I quietly thank God that this misfortune does not upset her. I know if I lost the ability to read, suicide might strongly be considered, but I wouldn’t go through with it because I cannot let the police officer win that one. He’s already won too many. I read out loud what’s been delivered.

"Ah! That’s what that was," she says to herself and thanks me. I tell her I am very happy to do it, and I really am. It is a very rare feeling for me now, but in this moment I feel useful.

 

?

 

44

I begin to notice that over time my sleeping has become worse. Night after night, I wake up at around 3am. The sleeping pills do help me fall asleep, but do not help me stay asleep.

One morning I bring this up to my nurse who brings me my medication. I do not feel rested and have trouble concentrating on therapy. She tells me that she will tell the family Doctor.

I go through my usual morning schedule, and by lunchtime the family Doctor arrives to see me. It is of course Dr. Abin. I tell her that I have trouble sleeping. I do not know what it is but I wake up around 3am every night.

"Oh, so you wake up because of pain?"

"No I do not have pain. As I mentioned before I don’t know what it is."

"Let me take a look at your legs. Can you roll your pants up."

I don’t know where she is headed with this, but I roll my pants up.

"Oh my! Your ankle is so swollen."

"Yes I know. It’s been like that for several months."

"It must really hurt. That’s what’s probably keeping you up at night."

"No... it doesn’t hurt at all, and it’s been swollen like that for months."

She nods and intellectually scribbles in her notepad.

"Okay," she says, "What I suggest we do, is give you stronger pain medication."

"You have got to be kidding me! Honestly... I feel like I am talking to the wall!"

She looks up at me from her writing with a questioning look on her face. I am starting to feel very angry, plus I’ve had a grand total of about 3 hours of sleep so I am now in a horrid mood.

"I have told you more than once now, that there is no pain. Pain is not an issue here, so what would you increase my pain medication for? I do not know what it is, but I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and have a very hard time falling back asleep."

"Oh... well then I can increase your sleep medication."

"Yes! Thank you! That would be good." I try to keep myself calm, and do not say anything offensive to her. But at that moment I feel like she should have a stamp on her forehead that reads "stupid," to give other patients a heads up. I’m just happy that even though it took us a century, we got there. My sleep medication has been increased. I thank her, and she leaves.

Has the poor woman been suffering from severe brain damage as well?

 

?

?

 

45

I have an appointment in St. Frances’ hospital with a Doctor who specializes in brain damage. At the same time I have an appointment with Elizabeth in speech therapy, so I roll myself over to her office to let her know that she will not be seeing me today.

I return to my room and wait. No porter comes by to get me, so I wait. I begin to realize that even if I catch a ride now, I will in no way make it there on time. I roll myself to the nurses station. I notice Consuela. She sees me and approaches me right away. I tell her that I am supposed to have a ‘brain injury’ appointment in St. Frances’ hospital, one that is supposed to take place in a couple of minutes, but no one has come around to get me. She tells me to ‘hold on’ and goes to another room, then returns with my file.

"Yeah I see it here... It says it’s been cancelled." She looks at me.

"Nobody told me that. I didn’t even go to my speech therapy class because I was waiting for someone to come get me."

She sighs and shakes her head. I feel very irritated .

"Someone should have given you a heads up. The Doctor couldn’t make it into work today."

I am irritated about the cancelled appointment and on top of that, I’m irritated by Dr. Abin’s stupidity from her previous visit. All she seems to have done is group me in a moron pile and dismisses everything I say as complete nonsense. Nobody even bothered to tell me about the cancelled appointment because apparently I am that insignificant. I thank Consuela and she apologizes, even though none of this was her fault. She wishes me a good night and says she hopes to be looking after me in the near future, because tonight she has other patients.

My evening nurse comes in. It is a lady that I have never met before and I am still irritated. I try to hide this the best I can, but I do a crappy job of it because she ends up asking me what is wrong. I tell her I’m a little upset because I was supposed to have an appointment at another hospital, I wasted my time waiting around for it, and didn’t go to ‘Speech Therapy,’ only to find out that it was cancelled, at the same time that I was supposed to be there already.

The nurse nods her head in understanding,

"Yes, yes... I read over your file. Brain damage causes irritation." She looks sympathetic. I do not know how to reply to the fact that she has completely missed the point. I decide to just let it slide. In a way I’m happy I don’t have to go through the trip. I can just see them hanging on to me until after 10pm, and this time I won’t be lucky enough to get a wheelchair accessible cab.

I roll myself to the common area/ living room to watch TV. There are 3 people occupying a table playing some card game. I ask them for permission to change the channel, and they all tell me it’s fine. They are not watching anything anyway. There is no sign of the remote control. Of course. So I decide that it is time to push myself to do things more manually. I roll myself up to the TV and stand up to reach the buttons. To anyone who is able bodied, this may seem very insignificant, but to me, this is a huge achievement, because I have not tried doing anything like this before, out of fear. I look around to make sure the pregnant lady isn’t near by. I know she will see that I am putting weight on my right leg and crawl up my butt about it. I go to the TV guide channel, then settle on a good action movie. I’ve seen it many times before, and it has always been one of my favorites. It is still the beginning of the movie, and as I am watching it, I see other patients gather around, take seats, and join me. It is now a small group of people sitting with me, and I feel a little more animated and less irritated. For a very short moment, I forget that I am now disabled.

I prepare myself for bed at 8pm as always, and I try to read my book, and my nighttime medication is brought to me. The nurse tells me that my dosage has been increased. I take it along with my other pills, and in time I fall asleep.

 

 

46

The morning is as usual. I attend my first two rehab classes. We now attempt to do some ‘walking,’ and in Gary’s class I read a short story and summarize it for him. I have no trouble with this. It is starting to feel very repetitive.

When I am sitting on my bed, playing a cell-phone game in between classes, Dr. Towarski and Dr. Abin come in to speak to me. They give me a sheet of paper that has a date and time written on it. Dr. Abin tells me that that is the day that they will have a ‘family meeting’ for me, to discuss my injuries, my progress, and my discharge date. I ask them if this appointment is set in stone, because I was ready and waiting for an appointmentthe other dayonly to find out that it was cancelled but no one had bothered to inform me about this, so I ended up missing a speech therapy class. When I became annoyed with this I was told that my annoyance was brought on because of my brain injury. Dr. Abin nods, while Dr. Towarski sighs and responds,

"I have no brain injury, but that would really annoy me." I’m happy that he understands me and I smile. Dr. Abin chimes in,

"That brain injury appointment was really important for you to attend... you had brain injury. I wrote out a note to be given to you so you could bring it to the brain injury specialist. It was very important for you to see him."

A note? What for? I think about this but quickly dismiss it.

"Yes I know this. I didn’t cancel it. It was cancelled without my knowledge, resulting in me getting a little upset."

"Well, at least we do not live in a third world country." Dr Abin says, and tells me she has to take a look at my left ankle. She is extremely concerned about it. I show it to her. She examines it and tells me that it really doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look good at all.

"It’s looked exactly like this since September. In other words it’s been like this for three months."

She still shakes her head and tells me she will get an expert to take a good look at it. Dr. Towarski and I dismiss this, and he tells me that I can bring whoever I want to this meeting. It should just be people I’m close to in my family. I tell him it will be my mother and father, considering they are the only people I have in my family.

I all of a sudden remember the last time I spoke to my father. He had received a letter from OSAP (my student loan) letting me know that they will begin taking out $470 from my bank account at the end of the month. I no longer have money to even help my father pay the rent, let alone almost half a grand to give up to OSAP every single month. But my hands are completely tied to do anything about it.

This is what is on my mind at the moment that Dr. Abin occupies herself with worry about my ankle. I express my concern. Dr. Towarski tells me he knows how he can help. There is a community service worker in this rehab by the name of Frankie, and this is her area. He will speak to her right away and send her my way.

The Doctors leave and by the end of the day, a young woman named Frankie comes by to see me. At this very moment I do not even know the extent of her help and how truly fucked I would be if she had not stepped in. I present all of my concerns.

Before this happened to me, I was on Employment Insurance. However, being in the hospital, I have had no way of filing my reports as I was expected to do every two weeks, so I was not receiving any money. Frankie takes me to her office and makes a phone call for me. She does most of the talking, and hands the phone over when I need to identify myself and give consent for her to speak on my behalf. Since I am no longer in any position to look for work, I am told that I will be paid for up to 15 weeks. After that all payments will stop. But 15 weeks is still something. I am still sure that even though no progress has yet been made in this rehab, it will. And by the time I am sent home I will be physically able to run again, so I will go looking for work. In 15 weeks I see this as being very possible.

Frankie however says that I should stay on the safe side and apply for disability support. She finds two support options for me. She is familiar with one, but says that it should be my last choice, since they pay very little.

"They only pay up to $1,053 a month, and that has actually gone up from recent years"

I can not imagine that I would ever be able to live on my own with that kind of money, so Frankie and I call the other disability organization. I speak to a man and he quickly gets to the point and asks me how long I have been working.

"About a year and a half."

"To apply for these disability benefits you would have had to contribute at least 3 years of work."

I tell Frankie and her response is,

"How could you have contributed 3 years? You’re young and you mentioned that you were receiving a post secondary education. We’ll have to go with the first choice then."

I do not worry. It is very little money, but I am convinced I will be walking and running in no time and have no problems finding work.

We finish filling things out, and Frankie tells me that in 2 weeks we will fill out my next Employment Insurance report. She will mark it down on her calender. She tells me that she will work on signing me up for disability payments. I then tell her about making OSAP payments. She looks into it right away. She very quickly finds an application that has to be filled out so that my loan payments will be put on ‘hold.’ She prints it out. I remember this application well. I have filled it out several times. She tells me that she cancomplete it for me right now, since my left hand has not recovered fully. I just have to sign. Frankie folds everything up and tells me she will mail it in today. I thank her greatly, but still do not know the extent of her help.

I am convinced that I will not need to worry about receiving disability payments. I am quite sure that by the time I am finished being kept in rehab, I will physically be back to the way I was on the morning of August 13th. Maybe with some minor aches and pains. Tops.

 

?

 

47

The day finally arrives when the very anticipated ‘family meeting’ will take place. I will finally find out when I will be allowed to go back home. I do not feel that I am benefitting from anything in this rehab. Technically all of the things I am doing here, I can do at home. I have dumbbells at home from my last job. Since my home in an apartment, I know I will make very good use of the stairs. Before this family meeting, I have a session with Gary. He is absent today, so a lady fills in. Her name is Natalia. She first asks me what I like, and what I do not like about my meetings with Gary. I tell her I like the math problems, and I don’t like summarizing the short stories. There is really nothing else we do. She frowns and takes a look at the paper in her hand, then back at me sympathetically.

"You’re gonna get me to summarize a short story aren’t you?"

"Yeah... I’m sorry."

I smile. "Nah, don’t worry about it. I really don’t mind." I like her and tell her not to give it another thought. I’ll do it. Yet again. I’ve done this countless times, and by now it feels like monkey work since I never have trouble doing it. She marks it and tells me that I have done an excellent job. I always do an ‘excellent’ job on these, so by now they feel redundant because I know I am not benefitting from them. She asks me if I would like to go on the computer and check my e-mail, and I tell her that I would.

In the computer room I flip through some web sites with really no intention of looking anything up. It is just nice for me to do something I used to do before that day when everything changed.

I am still on the computer when it’s time for the family meeting to begin. Natalia comes into the room,

"Okay Karina. Your father and sister are here for the family meeting. You should log off soon."

"Yeah, my mom and dad. Are they waiting for me in my room?"

"No. Your father and sister. They’re gonna come here."

"I don’t have a sister. It’s my mother."

Natalia gives me a very skeptical look. She probably thinks my brain damage is acting up. My parents come into the computer room, and Natalia turns to me with a questioning look.

"Yeah, that’s my mom."

"What, really?"

"Yeah, she’s almost 50."

"Wow, really? I would have never guessed."

Later on I relay this compliment to my mother who has not been paying attention to our talking.

I wrap up with the computer and we head to another floor. A translator has been found for my parents, so I will not have to take on that role.

One by one the Doctors come in, and we sit around an oval table. There are only two men in the meeting. Dr. Towarski and my father. In a short amount of time, all of the Doctors are present. All except one. Dr. Abin. The meeting was scheduled for 3pm, and it is 3:15pm when Dr. Abin graces us with her presence. She comes into the room and in a surprised voice says,

"Oh! You guys are all here?"

"Yes we are." Some of us are capable of telling time.

"Was everyone waiting for me?"

"Yes. We have all been waiting for you for a while now." I answer.

"Oh.... sorry. I lost track of time."

Of course you did. You’re obviously thoughtless and inconsiderate.

I dislike her a lot, but I have no idea at this time that she will manage to push me even further. At this very moment, I merely dislike her.

All together in the room, there are 8 of us. My parents and I, the Doctors and the translator.

The meeting turns out to be underwhelming. I am given a copy of all of my injuries. It is 2 pages long. And 3 pages attached to it give a background about me. After all of the blood transfusions I went through I have developed and ‘extremely rare’ antibody. I now have to carry a card with me everywhere. I look through the list of injuries and Dr. Abin merely skims through it, as the translator rushes to translate whatever she can.

The list includes things like:

"Left T1-T4 transverse process fractures." What is a T1 and T4?

"In thru-abdominal compartment syndrome." Huh? My abdomen had what syndrome now?

"Right medial femoral condyle fracture." I have absolutely no idea what this is or where it is located.

The Doctors do not bother to go into detail. They seem to assume these medical terms are common knowledge. Dr. Abin just reads through the list, which I have a copy of in front of me. I can still read, but unfortunately haven’t managed to acquire a medical degree in theweeks I'vestayed in rehab. I am not sure if she even bothers to explain what a ‘medial formal condyle’ is. I have no idea what it is, but I know it’s been broken and right now I would not care if an alien spacecraft landed in this room. I care about one thing and one thing only, and I wait in anticipation. I want to know when I will finally be released.

I have only recently been allowed to walk, and am in no way allowed to put any weight on my right leg. I still do when no one is watching. I strongly feel that in the weeks that I have been in rehab, the only person who has offered actual help was Frankie, and maybe Greg with his simple math problems. The rest of it now feels like a completely useless waste of time. Like lifting dumbbells and spotting differences in two pictures. As useful as this is, I can actually do this at home. It is slightly upsetting that there is such a long waiting list to get into this rehab, and someone else can take my place and maybe actually benefit more than me. Instead, money is used to keep me here against my will. I tune out everything. I look at the photocopy of my injury list. I look under ‘social history.’ I read, "her parents are Russian , but are supportive and visit often." I wonder what literary genius came up with this sentence. "Her parents are Russian, BUT are supportive and visit often." I do not understand why this is needed to be mentioned. All it suggests is that Russians do not tend to be supportive. As if it is rare and needs to be pointed out. But then again I notice I can not see the world in the same light anymore. I take things offensively when I shouldn’t.

So here I am. I am now offended and getting impatient, waiting for them to get to it and tell me when I will be released.

Finally I am told that my release date is set for December 31, 2010. The very last day of the year. I feel relieved, because in three weeks I will finally be home. I will be back in my room, that I haven’t seen, for what feels like an eternity. For a small fraction of a minute I stop to wonder why they feel the need to keep me until that day, considering it will be the holiday season. I’m not entirely sure what kind of rehabilitation therapy they intend for me to experience, since most Doctors will not be present, just as they are not present on weekends. I do not give much thought to how I will be getting home, as my only way seems to be public transportation, and it doesn’t tend to work all that often during the holiday season. I do not take these things into too much consideration. I am just very happy that I now have a release date to look forward to. It doesn’t seem like much thought was put into picking this date, but it’s a date still. I have a calender and I decide that I will count down every day. I feel very optimistic. I have no idea that this will be short lived.

The meeting is finished, and I give my parents the photocopy of my injuries and the blood card. We wrap up, and my parents and I kiss and hug goodbye.

 

 

48

I have no more sessions after the meeting, so I wheel my butt to the common area to watch TV. The movie that is on is black and white. I look at the viewers, and the majority of them look like they were in their 30's when this ancient movie came out. I have recently made friends with one of the patients. His name is Axel, and he is the youngest patient here, besides me. He is 45 years old. I spot him, and keep looking at him, until I catch his eye, and he smiles and speed walks over to me. Axel pulls up a chair, next to my wheelchair and asks what I’m watching. I tell him this wasn’t my doing and he says, "Gottcha!... Oh boy. I wasn’t even born when this movie came out." We chuckle. I tell him that I will be leaving in three weeks. He looks over and smiles.

"We’ll exchange phone numbers. Maybe one day I’ll take you fishing." This is a very nice thought, but it is soon interrupted by Dr. Abin. She has gotten a hold of a specialist to take a look at my ankle. He gets on his knee and rolls up my left pank leg. He then does the same to my right leg to compare.

"Oh yeah... I see. It is swollen." He looks up at me and says, "Your left ankle is really swollen." He nods and I say,

"Yes I am aware of this. I have been aware of this for 3 months now. It has been like this since September." He asks me if it has been causing me pain. It actually hasn’t, so I say no. He takes a hold of my foot and moves it up and down, side to side, then looks up at me and asks,

"What about now?"

"It still doesn’t hurt. I should also mention I have a walker in my room, and when I use it to walk I feel no pain." He looks doubtful and directs his attention at Dr. Abin, and they begin throwing medical terms at each other which I ignore. The Doctors then turn to me and say,

"We gotta do a scan. It looks like it can be a bone infection."

"In all honesty I have been put through a body scan once a week. I cannot say I have enjoyed the process. My ankle has been exactly like this for 3 months, maybe 4 considering it was in a cast before and I could not see it. I had an MRI scan done very recently, and 2 days ago my lower body was scanned. Can you please take a look at those scans instead of sending me to another one. I sincerely doubt that in the two days since my last scan was taken I managed to develop a bone infection. Considering my ankle looks exactly the same." What else were the scans taken for? Obviously for the Doctor to look at them... I would hope.

I nod at them and look back at the TV with fake interest without saying a world. I hope they get the message that I want be left alone, and have no intention of breaking out into a conversation. Dr. Abin tells me very reassuringly that they will ‘look into’ the problem, as if I had actually requested her to do this. I give her a slightly annoyed look. I doubt she can actually do anything productive.

 


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