Have you ever watched a movie where the hero wakes up a few years after a coma, being able to rip his tubes from the machine, immediately get out of bed and started walking? Or perhaps a science fiction movie about a near future where space travel is possible and a person wakes up decades from a deep sleep without aging?
Unfortunately for us, the above scenarios are impossible at this current time.
After 2 and a half months of being in coma, I couldn’t move at all. Even lifting my hands were so difficult. It took me nearly a month to be able to lift my hand to my nose. I couldn’t even move my body to the side and had to rely on the nurses to move me.
Just like a child, I practically had to relearn how to do everything again. Due to muscle atrophy, moving seems to be a herculean task. The feeling of helplessness and dependent on others are fears that I used to have of growing old. However, I didn’t foresee that it would happen to me sooner rather than later in life.
With much effort and help from physiotherapy, it took me 6 months after my gas explosion accident to be able to sit. The physiotherapist had to instruct me step by step on how I could use my hand to slowly push myself up from the side of the bed. The first time I tried to maneuver my body, I was out of breath and had to muster all my energy just to sit up.
Next, was the attempt to stand. Standing for the first time felt like blood was gushing out from my wounds, the pulling on the legs were very painful. My legs instantly became purplish black. The blood couldn’t flow back up after going down. Basically, blood circulation was very bad. It took 3 physiotherapists and a walker to help me to stand. I remember feeling fearful that I might fall, however the physiotherapists were very encouraging and they assured me that I would be alright. It was very emotional for me at that time. Finally, I was able to stand.
It took me weeks after that to be able to take small steps. Each step was painful. My legs grew stronger as time passed by but the pain was still there. I found out later that this condition is quite common for burn survivors who have been burnt on the legs. That it may take years for the legs to recover and heal. Even then, nerve pains could still be felt. In the meantime, it is best to use walking aid for mobility when it gets painful to stand or walk.
Sometimes I wonder whether I could have been more mobile at a faster speed? Did I take enough steps? However, part of me knows that I needed to give myself time to heal. My injury was not a light one. I needed to be patient with myself.
My sister kept on reminding me, “Don’t let the things that you can’t do stop you from doing the things that you can do.” I am indeed grateful to her for her encouragement, support and help at the time when I needed it most.
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