It’s now over six months since I was discharged from Epworth Hospital, Richmond (an inner suburb to the east of Melbourne) on 23 December 2013, just before Christmas Eve. I had been in hospital since 12 November of which the first two weeks or so were spent in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Being in the ICU had a profound effect on me, not only because of my own condition and being told how close I had been to death, but also because of patients in neighbouring beds, a number of whom died while I was there. The ICU seemed to have no natural light and I couldn’t tell whether it was day or night except that at night the lighting was reduced to a low level with what seemed like reddish lighting.
It was a relief when I was transferred to the Cardiac Ward on Level 6, and to my single room – ES605.
The above is a photo of my bed in ES605 towards the end of my stay. By then I was well able, and encouraged, to get up and walk around, and take photos.
And I could watch TV while in bed. I enjoyed watching The Ashes series when the cricket was on.
Apart from watching TV, I also had a window view from my bed:
The most noticeable feature of the view always struck me as being a pyramid, especially at night. It added to my feeling of being somewhere strange and exotic.
The weather was more of a concept to me, than a reality. I could see what was going on with the weather outside, but my room itself was chilly for me even on the hottest days of summer. A little bit of rain provided a diversion.
A feature of hospital life was early to bed and early to rise (for my first injections of the day). But sometimes there was an extra treat outside on a fine still morning, with the hot air balloons gliding past. Oh for a telephoto lens! I was using the camera in my phone.
Breakfast was also treat every morning. I kept my meal orders to what I knew I could eat and only once did I let my eyes and meal order be bigger than my stomach. That’s the time I ordered a double serve of pavlova as desserts for the evening meal.
As time went on I was able to get around and I was required to walk around the ward at least twice a day. So one day I took a few photos. The one above is the view of the Cardiac Ward from my room’s doorway.
Now, I have already posted two photos of myself in my hospital bed in room ES605, but here is one that I took (another selfie) once I was able to get up and get dressed for part of the day. Getting out of my hospital gown made me feel more like I was getting better. This photo was taken before I’d managed to have a good shave, and I still had a little goatee.
After spending six weeks in hospital with no prior notice, I was surprised at the amount of packing I had to do in preparation to being discharged on 23 December. Apart from clothing which I bought while in hospital, there were cards (birthday, get well and Christmas) all the literature from the hospital regarding what I needed to do once I was responsible for my own care, and two bags of medications.
The biggest shock on the day that I got home was in the evening. I found myself alone and missing the company of all the doctors and nurses popping into my room every so often. And there was no-one to cook and bring in my dinner, or make sure I was tucked in safely when I went to bed, or to wish me good night.
For the first four months I went back to the hospital at least once a week, often twice and sometimes even three times, for tests, check-ups and rehabilitation sessions. And I spent a night in the Emergency Ward on 31 January, and an afternoon and evening a few days later on 4 February.
The frequency of tests and check-ups has eased off since then, which I understand is a good sign that I’m progressing well (or at least am stable), but the after-service still continues and I have appointments at various times throughout the rest of the year. Planning so far ahead shows a happy optimism by the doctors.
The whole experience I’ve been through has given me a far better understanding of what others may have been through, or will one day go through, and I feel for those who were not as fortunate as I have been to come out of it.
It’s been a very humbling experience in so many ways, and I owe so much to so many at the Hospital who did more than I can ever put into words.