I walked into church today at Bateau Bay Anglican Church and five people lined up and gave me a hug. It felt good to be welcomed back after being away for three weeks. Some of the church people I saw last week when the care worker escorted me to the shopping centre, others I had spoken to on the phone. The lady who often sits beside me took a card out of her handbag and gave it to me apologising for forgetting to post it. It is something I have done myself so I just smiled and thanked her.
Yesterday I was taken to the Combined Stroke Group morning tea and other friends did the same, hugged me, gave me cards, welcomed me back. I am not fully recovered yet but am starting to get out for a couple of hours without feeling overtired. The nursing staff were right when they said I would feel really tired for the first couple of weeks. I so grateful to those who have volunteered to drive me to one of my doctor's visits or one of the places I regularly go to. I am glad some of my friends have been willing to put their concern put into action in this way. And for those who have visited me and brightened my day.
I'm glad I went to the Stroke morning tea as there was a very good guest speaker, a local neurologist who with a team of other health professionals is putting into place a system called "Telestroke" which will streamline practices with hospital admission departments so that people suspected of having a stroke will be given priority and access to a neurologist, a CT or MRI scan and blood thinners etc routinely to lower the risk of deficits. It seems so logical but has never really been available outside of city hospitals. It is fantastic that linked together by technology a neurologist or neurosurgeon could now supervise this process in smaller country hospitals where it had previously been impossible to access such a service. It will certainly make living in country areas and having a stroke much less of a risk than it has been in the past.
I am not sure when I will be driving again but have to see the neurosurgeon the first week in September so that should be decided then. I am lost without a car here but with kind friends wanting to take me here and there I hopefully will not get cabin fever. On days when the weather is fine and sunny I sit on the verandah and read or simply watch the world go by. There are people walking dogs or pushing babes in strollers or just walking back from our little row of local shops so plenty to ponder. And I am willing to put my feet up and rest if that is what is required to get back to full health.
Once I would have become restless and fought against this enforced rest but now I just appreciate that I have had a very dangerous operation and have come through it relatively unscathed. It would not have happened a decade ago, we have come a long way in the last ten years as far as technology is concerned. At 72 I am an older lady in the eyes of the medical profession and am thankful they agreed to do operation. A couple of days before I left hospital a man in surgeon's scrubs put his head around my curtains and said: "Mrs Wilkinson, you are a success!" and I am. No longer do I have a time bomb threatening to blow up in my brain, I now have as much chance of living to a ripe old age as everyone else.
I have one more operation to be done, the thyroid, and then I will commence a whole new way of life. Hopefully I will be able to travel, see a bit more of Australia. Because of the lymphoedema international travel is in doubt so I may never get back to England or over to Canada but trains and buses and cruise ships may still be practical. I would still like to travel with a companion but with grandgirls growing up maybe they will be suitable companions.
My family are much relieved by the success of the operation and my continuing recovery. I am glad I was able to come back to my own home and not have to be a burden on one of them. I love my kids and grandkids but having had to look after my parents and then Ray I know what a toll that takes on your life and I don't want that for them. So right now I am sitting here counting my blessings. Including the blessing of being back in here in my own home.