The day I got the discharge letter from the doctor, I barely slept because I couldn’t wait to leave the rehabilitation hospital. Sometimes, I regret rushing home so quickly since there was so much I wasn’t prepared for. There was a lot that needed to be done at home such as getting a ramp, a proper bed, and the right kind of caregivers. Unfortunately, none of that happened.
They didn’t happen mainly because there was no money to pay for any of it. We had to find our own way around it. At home, there was my little sister, Tadiwa and my cousin Melinda. They were pretty much teenagers, and my mom couldn’t do much because she had had a stroke, and my dad would only be available during the weekends because of his work. My dad did his best to try and provide for my essential needs. He has been my pillar. He did his best to make me feel important by including me in decision making about household and farm issues. He constantly reminds me that I’m more than my disability.
Tadiwa and Melinda took turns helping me. Despite being kids, they did a good job and did the best they could. They took turns cooking and helping me to bathe. In no time, they got the hang of things. Since I was dealing with two teenagers, I realized that it wasn’t about doing things for myself, but to organize and to take control to get my needs met. I had to make most decisions on my own. I wasn’t independent, but at least I had control of some parts of my life. As a family, we didn’t have experience with this type of disability. We had no clue about what we were doing, but we did our best. I don’t know what I would have done without my family.
It’s unfortunate that our health system is currently in shambles. When you are discharged from the rehabilitation hospital, there is a continuing care phase where the hospital does follow up care. One of the physiotherapists from Ruwa rehab told me they used to do follow up visits all the time. The goal was to support you at home in case there are any problems or complications. But now they don’t. I’m sure it’s because they don’t have resources to pay for it anymore.
My community welcomed me quite well. Some people came to visit and leave their prayers. Some brought fruits. My friends would come and spend time with me. But to be honest, I couldn’t help but feel different. Not being able to do many activities really ate me up. Almost every day, I would have to narrate how the accident happened. Wherever I was, someone would ask that question and this made me want to avoid seeing people. As much as people want to know, the hardest thing is to relive something you are trying hard to forget. There were times when I would be angry over a comment or a joke someone made. The word “shame” suddenly started rubbing me the wrong way. It made me feel like I was now a sorry sight. I don’t like anyone who makes me feel that I’m in an awful place.
At rehab, I was this confident person, but at home all that changed. I would feel that nobody really understood me, and all that I was going through emotionally and physically. Despite being surrounded by family and friends, there were times that I often felt so alone because I couldn’t talk about my concerns.