Coming Home

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Mary PatAs most of you know, I’ve been in Atlanta since mid-April. First in-patient at Shepherd Center, then outpatient at Pathways, Shepherd Center’s rehab facility. I went home one weekend and was strangely relieved to be back to the studio apartment I share with Mom. All three locations have been like a safe cocoon, and as I prepare to “graduate” and come back to Columbia, I am getting a little anxious to leave my safe places.

I’ve made remarkable progress. I’m walking again – stairs even – and talking again. I’m shopping, cooking and even working a little. I have been through a lot of intensive rehab, and I should feel confident about coming home.

But today, I have noticed a lot of little things that worry me. I still get fatigued fairly easily. I haven’t been able to resume my workouts. Every so often words come out funny. When I get tired or sit too long, I walk like a zombie. I get winded easily. I still have my full-day neuropsych test and three-hour driving evaluation. There’s also the follow-up with the ENT doctor, the one who did my trach and vocal cord surgery. What if one of those indicates additional issues? What then?

What if they missed something? Or what if I get back and find there were more issues from the aneurysm than I thought? It’s nerve wracking. I’m trying to take it one day at a time, but it’s hard not to think ahead.

Here, I’m one of the more advanced patients. At home, I’m afraid I won’t be back on my “A-game.” I’ve gotten used to being here and have gotten comfortable in my rehab routine. In July, I’ll be staying with Mom the first couple of weeks because her house is all on one level. And she’ll taking me to various follow-up doctors appointments. Once I get to my house, I’ll be returning to animals underfoot, rooms without grab bars and getting around on my own. That both thrills me and terrifies me!

I still have a few days here in my cocoon, so I guess I need to enjoy them. And take them one day at a time.

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