After three weeks in hospital, I realised that my world had become very small. My world had shrunk to the size of my room. And when this happened, it was really hard to gain perspective when things went just a tiny bit wrong. Every day had a routine. The same man came into my room at 6:30am to change my water jug, bringing with him the newspaper and the menu for me to fill out for the next day. At 7:30am, the morning nurse came in, prepares my breakfast medication, and takes my blood pressure both lying down and sitting up. I tended to watch Sunrise between the water jug man and the morning nurse coming into the room. After my standing blood pressure had been taken, I would then get dressed and be ready for my breakfast tray at 7:50am. I would have 30 minutes to eat my breakfast tray before the tray was taken away. After breakfast, the nurse would make the bed and I would begin some language study while I wait for my first appointment for the morning. The nurses had to get orange dot patients up and going for 9am because any of our rehab team could come from then onwards. Every day, Monday to Friday, began this way, except for two days. And it was on the first of those two days that I knew my world had become small.
The first day was a Tuesday. The first person who came into my room that Tuesday morning was not the water jug man, but the nurse. He came in, turned all the lights on, and announced, in a very happy voice, that I was going home. While my eyes tried to adjust to the bright lights, I tried to muster all the grace I could at 6:30am to tell the nurse that he was wrong. The nurse stood at the doorway insisting that I was going home. So all I could do was ask him to confirm with my doctor. He went away for half an hour and came back asking why I wasn’t showered and ready for an early breakfast before discharging. Again, as gently as I could, I suggested that a mistake had been made, I hadn’t received a discharge date, and I’m not allowed out of bed without my lying and standing blood pressure being taken. The nurse disappeared again. About 25 minutes later, my breakfast arrives, at the normal time, not earlier as the nurse suggested. I waited for the nurse to return, knowing that my blood pressure had not yet been taken. Ten minutes went by. I made the decision to get up and eat my breakfast before the tray was taken away. None of my medication had been prepared, so I ate my breakfast not being able to take the pills that need food with them. I finished my breakfast just as the lady came to take the tray. Knowing that I now had forty minutes before 9am ticked around, I started to get myself ready for my first appointment for the morning. At 9:05am, my physio walks in. She checks my chart to see if my blood pressure had remained stable that morning, but my blood pressure had not been checked. No blood pressure taken and no medication meant no rehab until both were done. Well, by this point, my patience was wearing very thin. At the best of times, I don’t tend to have patience with incompetence, a weakness of mine that I’m trying to working on. And this wasn’t the best of times. By morning tea, I went to the nurse station, asked for the nurse team leader and tried to be tactful. I wasn’t that successful, but it turns out that my rehab team had been less patient than I had been. The nurse team leader came and did my blood pressure herself and fetched my medication. Half an hour later, about 10:20am, I started rehab for the day. Everything was out of kilter. I cancelled visitors, other unexpected visitors turned up, and meanwhile I was trying to catch up with rehab for the rest of the day. Normally a change in schedule would not bother me too much. I might growl for a second, but then I would just get on with whatever is next on my list. But the disrupted schedule on this Tuesday morning, and then being rushed for the rest of the day, made me really cranky. When I got to the end of the day, knowing that I had been impatient for most of it, I realised how small my world had become.
I woke up the next day wishing for it to be a better day. The morning nurse was different, but the day started as the day before. This was the second day. Rather than the nurse sorting out everyone’s medication and taking blood pressure on her first round, she went about showering as well. This made the first round very slow. Very few patients were ready at 9am. But having realised the day before that my impatience was because the daily routine had been broken, I decided to purposefully break the routine after it had already been broken. When the nurse did not come into the room at 7:30am, I got myself up for breakfast anyway. The problem was that when my world had become the size of my schedule, absolute chaos ensued for the rest of the day. It not only affected me, but the rest of the rehab team as well. But having two mornings in a row where my routine had been disrupted made me grateful for the highly organised nurses that work along the same schedule. Those days were ordered and relaxed. When my world became small, life unravelled at the smallest disturbance and I found it hard to gain perspective.