And so, today around 1pm, Kirsten returned to her home.
She had much to-ing and fro-ing with last minute arrangements: nurses, appointments, visits from other 'mandibularians', physios, speech therapists. There was a lot of adrenalin flowing. Not the least from yours truly. The quote was 7-10 days in ICU and 2-3 weeks in hospital. Yet here she was blitzing it in half those times. Am I nervous? Am I what! Yes, she is fit and healthy. Yes, she is 32. But she is determined. She is prepared and organised. And there are two people waiting for her at home.
I eventually mentioned during Sunday that behavioural changes were becoming evident with Ally: not settling to sleep, spitting and throwing food, clinging (to her father, and to me). This was all true. But I had not mentioned it before - deliberately. Now, I thought it might 'do her good' in someone to know that as best this can be measured, Ally was starting to fret.
Maybe it was the blood transfusions during the Sunday that sped the 'healing' up. Maybe it was the removal of the tracheostomy tubings. Maybe it was beginning of active eating (albeit through a syringe or a straw). Maybe it was all these things. Or maybe it was the need for more than 1.5 hours of continuous sleep. Or the need to get away from the hourly observations all day and all night.
The doctors from all specialties gave her the all-clear to return home. The oral surgeon. The reconstructive surgeon. The general registrar. It struck me that there is no mental health team that visits patients who have undergone traumatic surgery like this. I find that a connundrum. Healing is not just a physical thing. Psyches carry scars as much as flesh does.
She doesn't sound like mummy. Nor look like mummy. Nor smell like mummy. Yet.
But mummy was the one who rocked her to sleep this afternoon when she would not settle for Ma. Ally's mental image of her mummy is undergoing a metamorphosis. She is learning the difference between books and their covers. That mummy is mummy by dint of who she is, rather than what she looks like. Ally will no sooner have adjusted her mental image of mummy to the new manifestation, than that same manifestation will be morphing back into the form of the mummy of two weeks ago. Quite confusing for the toddler.
There are appointments with the two main surgeons over the next 5 days. A community nurse is attending upon Kirsten for an hour per day for the next week. To change dressings and teach her how to shower safely. Ally has three days of day-care for the next 13 weeks courtesy of the federal government. As Kirsten is not able to physically care for Alannah for the next few weeks, we have rostered maternal grandparents to take a day each, with Darren covering the weekends and evenings. That evens out the load a bit.
Tomorrow, we engage with the stairs again. She made it up both flights by herself today, using crutches. Tomorrow, I think we will manage a short 'walk' down to Double Bay village nominally for a coffee. But really just there and back to see how far it is. I think Kirsten will still require buckets of sleep. I shall sit on the sofa catching up with my French, with any luck. I think rain is forecast for the next few days.
Now don't do a double take if you think your eyes are deceiving you. I have, indeed, adjusted all the numbering of days for this series of posts. They now accord with Kirsten's own numbering where the day of surgery is actually Day Zero, not Day 1 as I had it. So, after the little contretemps with M. Yeats of yesterday which, being generally well-disposed toward him, I am inclined to put down to the era in which he lived, let's jump into Verse 9 which is more pleasant to mine ears:
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven's will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.