When I was cleared to go enter the real world and have some sort of the escape known as a day pass, I was ecstatic. I had to learn how to get in and out of a vehicle safely and master stairs. Conquering surfaces with carpet had to be the worst feat of all. My ankle would catch on the textured surface almost every time. It was one of those laugh/cry moments that you just want to shake yourself into doing what you want. I so desperately wanted to get out of the hospital that I would do anything. When my social worker initially told me that I would need to spend five weeks in the hospital as that was the time needed to get me back into fighting shape, in my mind it resonated that I would be getting out earlier. I expected only a week. When I put my mind to something it was going to happen. I was going to beat that expected date. I did not want it written on my white board. For me, that meant it was out there in the universe and if it was written then it was a permanent date that I had to adhere to. Little did I know, that is not how things work on rehabilitation floor.
Once I conquered the safety measures, I was cleared to be released, for a few hours at least into the real world with supervision, of course. I had to be signed out and sign back in when I returned. The first time that I was allowed to leave, Sidney and I went for a drive. I started crying as we left the parking lot. It was immediately freeing just pulling out onto the main street. Other cars passing us, street lights that were turning green, yellow, red in front of me, instead of from a window. I hadn’t been in the hospital for that long, relatively speaking, but as soon as I was sitting beside him in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, it was as if the streets had changed dramatically and I was transported into another world.
Escaping, I would refer to it as would be my release. It would make it feel like I was still connected to the world in some way. In a sense that there were still people living beyond the walls that were my so-called home. My first time out of the hospital, we went to visit my beloved puppy, Ace. My heart melted having the opportunity to hold him again and see his wiggly bum. He was all that I talked about. Sidney sent me short videos that I would replay on my phone for hours so being able to see him in real like so to speak broke me.
My next adventures would be to the movies. The movie theater was a safe place for me. With its dark atmosphere and quiet surroundings, I didn’t have to worry about people looking at me. I just had to make it into my seat. That was my goal. From the car to the ticket line, to the concession stand and then ultimately to my seat for the next two hours. The darkness allowed me to escape. I could focus on something other than trying to hold my face together. Laugh uncontrollably at the banter on screen, attempt to predict the ending of who the ultimate villain was, it was a safe sanctuary. I didn’t have to think about what was happening to me.
The problem? It was sometimes just getting into that seat. I had to have precision focus. Not let in the outside noise or distractions. Crowds were and sometimes still are my enemy. That was the trick or else it would throw off my goal and my emotions for the day. I think it is human nature. You have to and are drawn to look when you are curious about something that is different than you. I am not by any means saying that this is right, but it is true. It’s funny how before this all happened I was that person too. However, now in that position, I don’t do this. I know what it feels like to be gawked at, whispers become screams in your own mind. Sidenote, I also inherited Superwoman hearing after this as well. I am still deciding if this is a good or bad thing. I know that children mean well and that they don’t know so they must ask. In retrospect, it is refreshing because they put it out there in the open, instead of behind your back or in an inauthentic nature with a forced smile and sympathetic shrug. Doing this to me feels like you have pierced me with a spear. I don’t need sympathy a need laughter.
The first few times at the movies I had been using a wheelchair because I would become so tired and I was not sure how long I would be able to use my leg for walking wise. Kids are unfiltered and are curious. Being a busy night at the theater, there were many. After making it past the electronic ticket booth I felt like I was going to be okay, I was going to make it, but after waiting at the concession stand, their stares became blinding. I was trying to shield my drooping left-side not appear as evident. It did not work. I could hear a group of youngsters behind me. “Mom, what’s wrong with that lady?”. Immediately feeling my face turn red, I could only sit there in embarrassment. The mom just shushed him. I wanted to run and retreat back into my safe domain of my room where I know the noise wouldn’t follow me or even be there.
Many things ran through my mind. I shouldn’t have left, it was too soon, I am not ready to leave and be in the “real world”. The only problem was that I couldn’t leave. I wasn’t even able to wheel myself anywhere. I would have literally wheeled myself in a circle, due to the fact I only had one working arm. If I had kids asking their parents questions before, that would have really sparked conversation. Instead, I remained quiet. Alone with my thoughts, made it into the dark, comforting theater where no one else would question my appearance. I could hide. No one else would see me and I could find the comfort in knowing that I could escape those haunting questions.