Home sweet home, as they say.
It is so lovely to be home. I was prepared for it to be a challenging adjustment, but it’s been comfortable and easy.
Perhaps not so much for Darren running between his dual caring responsibilities. We are keeping him on his toes. Oh yes, we are.
There is a lot I can do for myself. Whip up soups and smoothies in our new Kitchenaid blender (love love love). Make tea. Take my pain meds. Dress myself. Take myself to the bath room. Hobble around the apartment on crutches.
There are things I can’t do by myself. Shower. Look after Alannah. Get food or drinks from the kitchen to the dining table. Or tea to the couch. Change my own tracheostomy dressing.
To help us adjust, we’ve had home visits each day from Royal District Nursing.
First task: how to shower.
It’s a bit tricky in a shower-over-bath situation. Darren had already put his old tradie skills to good use installing a new shower head. Our fancy new shower head can be adjusted in height and used by hand.
This just left us the challenge of getting me in and out of the shower/bath and enabling me to sit safely under the shower. For the first few days, we used the blue stool Mick had kindly lent us from his own non-weight-bearing leg injury days. It worked, but the nurse had an even better idea.
Yesterday, she brought us a bath board. It fits neatly over the bath and enables me to sit down and swing my legs into the bath. Darren just adjusts the shower to the right height. And hey presto, I shower myself. He just needs to be nearby to supervise me getting in and out and to hand me my towel. A girl could get used to this service.
Second task: how to clean and dress my tracheostomy wound.
I still have a few wound sites, of course. However, my neck dissection scar is undressed, with my plastic surgeon’s fine needlework on display. My fibulectomy scar on my leg has some neat strips over the stitching. These will peel off as the wound scabs and heals. There is also the wound site from where my central lines entered on my collarbone. The hospital nurse removed the central lines on Tuesday and the site is almost healed. The home visit nurse is just dressing it to be extra sure.
This leaves the fun one: the tracheostomy hole. It is slowly but surely closing over. In the meantime, it needs changing two to three times a day. The nurse only does it once, so this is where nurse Darren earns his stripes.
After some false starts, we have it down to a fine art. The dressings are strongly adhesive and it stings to pull them off the tender neck and collarbone skin. So I grit my teeth and do the dressing removal. Darren then cleans the wound site with alcohol wipes. I’ll spare you the details. I am lucky Darren isn’t squeamish. Again, the alcohol wipes sting because the skin is red and aggravated from all the dressing, undressing and redressing. Finally, Darren dresses the wound with one of the all-in-one dressings the nurse provided.
The nursing home visit service has been wonderful. The nurse even came to our friends’ place in Kensington yesterday for my visit. You see, before I left hospital earlier than expected, Darren had lined up the services of our lovely friend Mel to look after Alannah while he played soccer. She was happy to take on another charge (in addition to Alannah, her own son Sammy and her bump!), so Darren dropped me there for the afternoon as well.
We had a lovely lazy afternoon. Alannah and Sammy did get some time to play together, but their different sleeping times meant they alternated sleeps in Sammy’s cot. I had a little afternoon snooze too. Sammy clearly enjoyed the play date. Sammy, said his mum, give Alannah a kiss. Awww….