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Eastern Europe Trip

A year of adventure and misfortune - the story of our Eastern Europe trip, the accident and subsequent recovery, and our lives up until September 2008... For the latest blog, click on Blogs in the header...

Monday, 29 October 2007


Role reversal...

Normally it’s Tracy who is the nurse, but this week, it’s been my turn (although her uniform doesn’t fit me!).

Following her discharge from hospital last Sunday, she’s been a model patient. Before she can move anywhere she has to be fitted into her back brace, which is a sort of cage affair with a small pad that fits on her back where the broken vertebrae are (it’s easy to see where they are as her spine bends outwards a little at that point). Once in the brace, she can walk fairly well, and is able to climb and descend our stairs – though only with me in close proximity to catch her (or more accurately, provide a soft landing!) should she fall… The brace itself is very uncomfortable, so she can only spend short periods wearing it before she needs to get herself comfy in a reclined position to allow it to be removed. At least with the mobility she has, she’s able to chose where to recline – on the dining-room couch (where the dog can look after her!), in the front-room (where she can watch daytime telly…) or in bed (where she can watch the alpacas in the fields opposite). Normally she will come downstairs and sit on the dining-room couch, especially on Monday / Wednesday / Friday when the district nurses come to change the dressing on her arm.

Since she’s been home, the nurse has been to change her dressing 3 times (and is due later this morning). The first time she came alone, but the second and third times she brought other nurses so they could have a look – seems Tracy’s arm is generating quite some interest in the local nursing community! In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that it looks pretty odd – with the bones and tendons clearly visible under a thin layer of pink skin. Well, now it looks loads better. It’s still very red and occasionally bleeds as it heals, but it looks much more like an arm now – the bones are much less visible below the skin and it continues to dry out. Underneath is pretty much dry now, but the top of her forearm and inside of her elbow are still healing. It remains very painful though when the dressings are changed – though perhaps not as much as at first as the skin heals and protects the raw nerves better. It remains pretty immobile, though, with very little movement in her elbow, none yet in her wrist and very little in her fingers. She’s constantly trying to exercise them, though, and as her forearm heals, so she’ll be able to work to get some more movement and strength back.

All of this means that she’s pretty dependant on others for help, 24x7. With Carlie at college (last week on work experience) and Katie working, that means I get to play nurses (not quite what I had in mind when I last suggested it to Tracy, but hey-ho!). This has been working well, and Tracy uses her mobile phone to text me whenever we’re not in the same room. Earlier this week, though, when she was resting in bed, I went into the garage to tinker with my bike, taking my phone with me. I left Tracy with a film to watch, and checked my phone every 10 minutes or so… no messages, so all, so all must be well… around 4pm, Carlie came home from her work experience and found Tracy shouting for help… seems she’d dropped her phone on the floor and had been wanting taking to the loo for the last hour, unable to get hold of me!! From now on, I check on her every half-hour, regardless of what I’m doing or where our phones are!!

In addition to her back and arm, the other main consideration from a nursing perspective (!) is to get Tracy to put some weight back on… as you can see from the photo below, she is somewhat skinny now!

A rather skinny Tracy, in back-brace, being looked after by Jake…

Fortunately, she prefers my cooking to hospital food, so it shouldn’t be too long before she’s piling on the pounds and getting back some of her shape!

Despite my nursing duties, I’ve still managed to find time to do some things for myself. I’ve been busy clearing out some old belongings via ebay, and have been spending the money on some bits and bobs for my bike. I’ve also found time to fit them, taking advantage of when Carlie was at home on Saturday. So now the adventure bike has new fog lights, a high-intensity headlight, variable screen brackets, additional fusebox, and an intercom (wired for sound as well as the GPS!). I even managed to get a couple of hours free on Sunday to go for a ride, and whilst me leg is still painful after about half an hour’s riding, it was great to get back in the saddle properly and head out into the countryside to see the beautiful autumnal colours in the forests around Snake’s Pass…

This week is my last week of formal sick leave, as I go to see the doctor on Thursday fully expecting him to sign me off sick and ready to return to work. That gives us a problem, though, as Tracy will still need 24x7 care at least until she can move without needing her back brace. The good news here is that whilst we were originally told she would need the brace for 4 months, on fitting it in the hospital she was told it would only be 6 weeks – which is 3 more weeks from today! So, fingers crossed, she should be self-supporting (at least enough for me to go back to work) in just 3 weeks…

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