- Disabilities & the Disabled
A Note To Diary, Part 2 A Rude Awakening
The days that followed Glenn's surgery became a complete blurr. Specialists came and went with no more insight to Glenn's condition. Numerous questions were asked like "does your husband have a drink problem", yes he did, but I didn't understand the interest, until I learnt from the ward sister that Glenn was aggressive if allowed to wake up. He had pulled his tubes out on several occasions and hit one of the nurses who was trying to help him. June and I continued to sit at the bedside. Very slowly Glenn began to wake up. His eyes pleading with me for answers that I could not give. He thumped his legs in frustration time and again, tears hovering on his eye lashes. White and frightened, and I couldn't bear to see him like that. I phoned his parents again pleading with them for support. "How can I do this, how can I tell my husband at 27 years old that he will never walk again". I wanted to scream, but only stiffled cries came out. I can't do this on my own, I can't bear to see the pain, see the sorrow and hear the crying, the sobbing of the man I loved most in the world. How could I tell my son at 8 years old that daddy will never play football, teach him to drive a car or walk along the beach with him. I prayed to God to take my husbands life now, it would be so much more humane. The man that never opened a gate but jumped over it, the man that rode my stallion bareback over fences, the man who could lift me up as if I was a feather, would never do any of those things again. His heart would die a terrible stifling death, suffocated in memories and the knowledge that life as he knew it was over.
After the first week, the occupational therapist came to measure Glenn for his turtle suit. Bright pink, really did nothing for his ego. But it meant that he would learn to train his damaged tendons to support his upper body and allow him to sit up. Possibly, even a wheelchair. I was so tired, trying to remain positive for Glenn and strong for Craig. Running the stud farm single handed, not knowing where our next mouthful would come from. I travelled to Dublin twice a week, Wednesday and stayed overnight to go back on Friday for 2 days. I decided not to take Craig with me in those early weeks.
Glenn was still in the high dependancy unit. Tubes coming from every orrifice. The tubes keeping his lungs breathing served two purposes. The two demi johns at his bedside filling slowly with the most horrible foul smelling dark green liquid, just like duck weed. The nurse explained that this was the result of Glenn smoking 40 cigarettes a day, I hoped he would never smoke again.
Ken, Glenn's dad eventually came and stayed for a week at the hospital and we decided together to tell Glenn the truth. The screams, ear piercing screams like I had never heard before. Tears, heart rending tears tore my own heart apart. Ken cried and I sobbed feeling sorry for my husband. Tall, blonde, muscular and good looking standing 5'11" was now to face the world at 3'6" sat down for the rest of his life.
Glenn refused to continue with his rehabilitation and signed himself out of hospital. Oh my God I did not know what had hit me.
So many things we take for granted, was a milestone to Glenn. He had to wear a catheter and do manual bowel evacuations. He was completely incontinent. I foolishly didn't realise that once a person is paralysed that it wasn't just what you could see, but the internal organs where paralysed as well, depending on manual stimulation and tablets to encourage the organs to function.
We had always had an excellent sex life, but now the only way for Glenn to get an erection was to inject his penis. I was totally freaked out by this, even more so when I was told that if he ejaculated, the nerve spasms could be so severe that it would kill him. I couldn't bring myself to lye with him any more, I was so afraid of the future, so afraid that I might kill him, but eventually this was to tear us apart.
Our house had not been designed for a wheelchair user. Glenn struggled so much having to drop onto the floor from his wheelchair to negotiate his way around. Despite knowing that I could not face sleeping with him, he insisted on bouncing his way up stairs on his bottom, crying, needing the attention that I could not give him. The love that I felt for this man that he needed so much, just would not allow me to support him. I wanted to run away, I wanted to turn my back and hide.
Everything was such a chore. Lifiting the wheelchair in and out of the car, was one of the worst challenges of all, the fact that I could never dress nicely, because I was always covered in dirt from the wheels. I could not keep the house clean because once we had had the doors widened Glenn could wheel himself through the house, dirt all over the carpets. I began to feel such resentment that I had ever known or would want to know again.
With every day that passed Glenn's frustration increased. His friends would visit often. Bringing him alcohol, getting him drunk and leaving me to pick up the pieces, not to mention soiled bedding and clothes. Whilst Glenn was drunk he could cope. Being sober made him ever more angry. He would run his wheelchair into Craig, than smack Craig with some amount of satisfaction for being in daddy's way. The temper tantrums where unbearable, turning tables over in the pub to throwing the cat at the wall breaking both his legs. My god, I started to hate every minuet I spent with Glenn. Alone with no support, no break and no one to understand me. My life became a living hell, imprisoned in my own home.
We spent months visiting specialists, let down after let down, no hope at all of any change. Glenn became reclusive. He spent up to 17 hours a day on the computer which was in the sitting room. He was fascinated with porn and then relentlessly emotionally blackmailed me into sleeping with him. his own private dancer. None of the family were able to watch TV or sit with him. He was insanely jealous, if any one telephoned the house or visited me he would fly into a rage, bend forward to take hold of his feet and refuse to speak for hours. I lost count of how many consultants we both had to attend. And all the time my hatred grew. I loved this man to the very bottom of my heart, but I was reaching the heights of depression. Everything I had worked for was slipping away, and now social services were talking of taking my son into care.
Part 3 to follow: