To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I was ecstatic, almost elated. I didn’t mind the nurse waking me up four times during the night because I knew that the next night I would be in a dark room, with no lights on, and no nurses trying to check that I was still breathing. I was finally going ‘home’. Well, I wasn’t going to my home exactly; a bedroom was waiting for me at my brother’s home. The night before I was discharged, two lovely friends spent the evening playing Dominion with me. Yes, we were playing beyond visiting hours and the nurses just carried on as though nothing out of the ordinary was taking place. The nurses did tend to be a little lenient with time, after all. The reality struck that this was my last night in hospital. After my two friends left, I started packing until there was nothing else left to put in my suitcase. Going to bed that last night, knowing that everything was ready, fed the building anticipation.
I woke the next morning to the sound of the water jug man in the corridor; he was bypassing my room. My mind took a second. He doesn’t replace the water jug the day a patient is discharged. No one came with a menu. The nurse came to organise my pills, but she didn’t take the mandatory blood pressure reading. It was no longer mandatory. That Wednesday felt like a Sunday. I took my time getting of bed, I ate my breakfast, and I had a shower. I usually skipped my morning shower on the days when I had hydro. But there was no hydro that day. A shower with no lingering nurses was still a luxury. I got dressed. Then I realised that I still had to wait for at least forty minutes until the discharge time ticked around. A nurse struck a last minute panic when she discovered that one type of pills was missing from my take home medication pack. I had longer now to wait.
My brother arrived and started moving everything from my room into his ute. He finished. The missing medication still had not arrived. In almost a ritual like way, I put down my walking stick, since that particular one belonged to the hospital. And I picked up my new one and I walked out of my room, down the corridor, and out of the hospital doors. I felt free for the first time in four weeks. It was four weeks exactly to the day when I was admitted into hospital. I got into the ute and we drove away. But I still did not have the missing medication.
We pulled up outside my new ‘home’; well, home for a little while. My brother unpacked the car, and I went into the house with my niece skipping around in a Disney princess dress, my brother and sister-in-law’s goddaughter sitting at the kitchen bench colouring in, and my sister-in-law reading a book. Normal life. And seeing life happen, knowing that my life now fits in with theirs, I felt my body relax for the first time within three weeks. I was finally free. And without the constant noise of the hospital, the beeping, the talking, the TVs on in neighbouring rooms, people walking by, I also felt my body give into weariness, and the tears began to burn down my cheeks. With my niece dancing around, calling me to the kitchen bench to help with the colouring in, there was no time or space for tears, and I assumed my role as the dutiful aunt and helped my niece with her colouring in. It didn’t last long. Once my brother was ready, they were out cycling to the zoo. The house was peaceful in its silence. I settled down on the couch and I fell into an exhausted sleep until the dancing princess returned. Upon their return, I joined their flow of life; playing, going for a ten minute walk along the linear trail, eating, watching TV, and at the end of the day, we finally picked up the missing medication from the hospital.
Entering the doors again, I knew I didn’t belong there, but leaving for the second time that day, the exhaustion hit me again for the second time. It was more than what I could cope with. Upon arriving at my new home for the second time that day, I went straight to bed. I didn’t unpack. All I could think about was sleeping in a dark room, with no light, no nurses, no interruptions, no beeping, no water jug man in the morning. I fell asleep and in the morning, with no one and nothing to wake me, I just continued asleep. Exhausted.