Rakkaat lukijat, siirsin viikolla menneen viikon sairaalareissukirjoitukseni ihan levon takia! Palaan suomeksi ensi sunnuntaina <3

Marja’s Story, Part 3

Translated by Varpu Sihvonen

There I was, at 42, moving to Kinkomaa rehab center, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) form my home. I was still in pretty bad shape, but my mind was set to recovery; I would fight for as long as I was alive. It’s not easy for me to talk about physical pain, and somehow I just stepped outside of my body every time a painful procedure was being done. I was in a totally different place when the pain hit me, and that reduced the amount of pain to half. And because of this, the doctors thought I have no or limited feelings. I learned this method of escaping pain in my previous life, but I couldn’t explain it, so no wonder nobody could really understand it. So, I was left no choice but to think happy thoughts, like a nice vacation in a sunny spot or gym exercise, when something unpleasant and painful was happening to me.

Also mental pain and suffering were present on a daily basis, but from early on I understood my situation was very severe, and I gave no room to pity. In the daytime I focused on getting better and pushed many sensitive thoughts somewhere to the back of my mind. Then at nights I gave myself  permission to think of all those issues that bothered me and listened to some heavy music that was fitting to my mood. I’m sure I didn’t understand even half of the changes that had taken or would take place in my life, but I knew this: I used first anger and the humor to survive. I was still in a hospital when a friend of mine, a mother of one of my students, gave me my first angel, and that gesture had a huge impact on my life. That student had tragically died a few months earlier in the summer, and I had stood by her/his grave to comfort her/his mother. Now she was the one to comfort me, and she gave me an cross-stitched angel she had made while mourning the loss of her child. I’m not sure if it was the thought or the actual angel, but it gave me a lot of so much-needed strength. That angel then followed me where ever I went, to every hospital.

At Kinkomaa they installed a feeding tube in my stomach, and this foul-smelling fluid was running towards my body. As an athlete I could feel in my body that it wasn’t doing me any good, quite the opposite, and I threw up almost every time they fed me. It was too much nutrition for me. In my previous life, I was very active and consumed a lot of calories, but I always ate very little and small portions of food. They didn’t get this, and I had heated discussions, in my own way, with the nutritional therapist. Finally, with some help from my parents, the daily amount of nutrition was reduced, and instantly I felt better. At this point I had gained ten kilos (22 lbs). Shit, how mad I was!

While at Kinkomaa, I was so much back to my old self that I started demanding rehabilitation and daily hygiene. Man, they had some fun after hearing my thoughts! I had realized that a hot shower really relaxes my paralyzed arms and legs. I had also realized that if you want something to be done for your well-being and rehabilitation, you have to take charge.

“My muscles were warm and ready to work after a warm shower in the morning. A good way to prepare for physical therapy. My physical therapist supported me on this one; she had seen how I was more flexible and motivated when the warmth had caressed my body. I understand it was a totally new and demanding job for the morning nurses, but at that point I had no choice but to think only about myself. Everything would have been easier had I agreed to wear the hospital gown, but I wanted to be dressed in my own clothes. I’m a woman, and I do want to look like one. My lovely hair-dresser, now late Päivi from Saarijärvi came by to Kinkomaa and cut and colored my hair on a regular basis. A nurse I knew, Marjaana (also a cosmetologist) asked me if she could come by to meet me. I am forever thankful that she told me and the nurses how important it is for my paralyzed face to be massaged and have some lotion applied. Facials and taking care of the skin in my face, that is something I’ll do for the rest of my life. I love being clean, and I made everyone suffer till they took me to the damn shower. It doesn’t take much for me to be cold, because the clot permanently altered my circulation. I wanted a warm, no, make it a hot shower. The nurses did not like it at all.”

I liked most of the nurses at Kinkomaa very much. Even though I was a rebel, many of them liked me, because I put humor to use when nothing else worked. They also realized my miserable situation. Many of them were about my age, and it was easy for them to relate to my life, or the life I was supposed to be living. They also treated my children so kindly. My children lived with their father, my ex-husband, and first they visited me a couple of times a week. It was always a thing to be noticed by everyone; after all, they brought with them a puppy that they got to help them get past this grief. Virkku was so cute and a joy for all of us. I have to give my children credit. They adjusted so well to the situation. It wasn’t only my life but also their lives had changed in a heartbeat. In the middle of this all they did well in school, and we agreed to keep life as normal as possible under the circumstances.

I wanted to have physical therapy on a daily basis. My hands were so crippled that my therapist said my fingers need to be spread and tied to a beam for a couple of days, to have them stretched out properly. I hated it. The way my fists were forced open. I insisted I want to be in a wheelchair and gain access to new kind of physical therapy. I got my wish, and they used a board to slide me into the wheelchair. And that was the beginning of my intense therapy. Every day I wanted more of it and some different kind of therapy. I kept a very close eye on things! Rehabilitation still goes on, and it’s still effective, and I’m still as excited as I was in the beginning. My background in sports has helped me tremendously in the process; I know my body well and I know how much it can take. This has always been a source of disagreement with different therapists, but I’ve been stubborn and demanding to get the kind of therapy I feel I need and can handle. Continues..

Photo: Janne Heinonen