Emily’s first day post tendon transfer. I had anticipated her being drowsy after an anesthetic and surrounded by Dr’s, on ward rounds, and nurses, with rattling trolleys, all trying to assess her pain, progress and care needs. Visiting hours are posted as 11am to 8pm so with all of this in mind I booked myself a hair cut. Emily will return home in a day and I will have no time for a salon appointment. I walked into the hairdressers feeling like a Yeti, I made an effort to relax, I closed my eyes during the head massage, enjoyed an extra hot coffee and unexpectedly met and chatted to my friend who had come to the parlor to book a date and time for her hair.
All my good humor evaporated as I hunted for a space at RNSH multi storey car park , I was lucky I found a spot. Memories flooded back to me, I remember the devilishly difficult parking situation from being here last year as Emily recovered on Level 7. How could I have so quickly forgotten that detail, it seemed such an integral part of our visiting routine, getting to RNSH early to ensure a long stay bay. Surprising how promptly I’d left hospital memories behind.
I walked passed the coffee barista in the hospital cafeteria, ignoring the strong ground bean smell. Feelings of guilt were starting to creep up on me, it was midday, what sort of mother was I arriving so late? I waited for the lift and was knocked back by another revelation, I remember this feeling from Royal Ryde Rehab (RRR) in 2012. I distinctly recall wanting to be at RRR when I was at home and drawn to be at home when I was at RRR. I was in a constant state of flux and guilt at not being in the other place. When at Ryde I felt awful because I had left the dog, the washing on the line, our beds unmade, and the fridge empty. When at home attending to the dishwasher or to the laundry I felt dreadful that I was absent company for Emily, who was sculling around the lonely draughty corridors of Moorong. That terrible guilt clung to me, weighed me down for the 8 months that I had to commute to Ryde, it all flashed back to me now as I rode the lift up to level 7.
My aim is to share my caring experiences with others but I also want to show I learn everyday too. Today I arrived at midday having had a treat but I resisted any feelings of guilt. I have learnt; Emily is perfectly well managed in my absence. I presented simultaneously with her lunch tray so settled to assist Emily with her soup and an over-sweet dessert. I have learnt that you can only be in one place at a time, you must be wholly there and take pleasure in what you are doing. If you constantly feel guilty about what you should be doing elsewhere you are missing the moment in-front of you. I truly enjoyed being with Emily today, I hope I was calming, nurturing, an amusing raconteur and when I left her, many hours later, she was happy, as happy as the dog was to see me back home or was it because I returned to feed the Beastie?