From Ramps To Stairs: Illness And Infections Made My First Months Home Unbearable And I Got Depressed

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A man who is depressed. Image from https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/words-phrases-sign-depression/

My name is Brian and I had an accident in 2014 that changed my life. I was a university student when it happened. Find part one of my story here. I was in the hospital for 2 months before I was discharged to go home, a broken man who did not know if he would ever walk again. I went home on a stretcher, and pressure sores that had become wounds. This was not the homecoming I had hoped for – From Stairs To Ramps: Going Home A Broken Man After The Accident

Me Before You” is a film based on Jojo Moyes’ similar titled fictional novel. It’s a story about Will Turner, a charming and privileged young man whose life turns upside down when he is involved in an accident that leaves him with a serious spine injury. It’s a remarkably written story that best describes some of the struggles experienced by a man on a wheelchair. Like every good story, the film ends up being an emotional love tale between Will and Clark; his carer. Due to the romantic nature of this film, many people watched it and for those who paid attention acquired important awareness about spine injuries.

Will Turner and I have lots of similarities; just like him, I sustained an injury after an accident. Just like him, I have limited movement in my upper limbs and no movement nor sensation in my lower limbs. Thus, my existence is highly dependent on my carers. If I had to quantify my level of need or dependency, I would say 80%.

Being dependent didn’t affect me much while I was in the hospital because I was surrounded by men and women who were just as needy, if not more than I was. In the hospital, the nurses earn their living by taking care of sickly people like myself. The situation becomes sticky when it’s your parents that have to do all the cleaning, feeding, and dressing. They do it with love of course but as a young man approaching his prime, I was devastated by how much I couldn’t do for myself. In the earlier days, I needed help even scratching my face. If I had an itch on my nose, I had to call mum to help me deal with it.

My first months back home from the hospital were marred by illnesses and infections. There is a famous saying amongst spine injury survivors. They say that if you don’t die within 48hrs after the injuries sustained during the accident, either pneumonia or bed sores will be responsible for your demise. It didn’t take me long to find that this could be true. If left untreated, bed sores get infected and mess up a man’s sanity. Some nights I would spend hours whispering indistinctly to myself, other nights I was simply detached from reality. I endured all this for an entire year. My sores had to be cleaned every morning with strong antiseptic. The only upside being that I could not feel any sensation… Because if I had I imagine the pain would have been unbearable.

A man who is depressed. Image from https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/words-phrases-sign-depression/

It took me 10 months to finally feed myself. Even then, it was not a victory because I still had to use a feeder like those used on babies. During every meal I’d have one around my neck or else I’d make a mess of everything. It would also take me a longer 11 months to have my first real bath. If you’ve had an experience with being bedridden, then you know that you can’t just walk into the shower. What we have instead, is something called “Sponge baths”. We basically lie in bed and pass a wet cloth over our bodies. It’s after 2 months of sponge bathing that you value the sensation of a decent shower with running water.

I wish I could say with confidence that I wasn’t the least bit fazed during my first months back home. I wish I could tell you that I oozed positivity and never questioned my existence. The truth is that I was scared of living as a cripple and the thought of a new day dawning represented more suffering rather than promise.

Remember I told you Will Turner and I had a lot in common? Well, just like him, I had no desire of living a life where people were going to stare at me for the rest of my life. I was comfortable in the safety of my room, locked away from the world. Will Turner was just like me, in him I found validation. At the end of the film, he took his own life in an attempt to end his pain… But I have the will to live in spite of the issues I am going through. I am glad that we weren’t so similar after all.

The only thing that anchored me to life is the support I received and continue to receive from my friends and family. Their dedication towards my well-being has never faltered. My flaws of scepticism had led me to believe that I’d be left alone to deal with my struggles. I think my depression had also made me feel like I was undeserving of the support I was getting. Luckily for me, I had, and still, have a group of amazingly generous people who want to see me thrive. It’s their belief in me that has seen me grow in all the ways that a man should grow.

Let’s meet next Monday for me to tell you more about my story. If you would like to interact with me, you can find me on Facebook.

 

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