It was my 93rd day at Clarendon Street when it happened. It looked like my right shoulder had dislocated. The Carer noticed it, the nurse confirmed it and the ambulance was called to take me to Emergency at Austin hospital.
Because of my spinal cord injury I am prone to Autonomic Dysreflexia. This can occur whenever there is an injury to any part of my body below the neck. The end result can be a stroke or major organ failure. So it must be taken very seriously. An ambulance was ordered immediately to take me to hospital.
In the meantime we checked my blood pressure. Very high blood pressure is an indication of the onset of Autonomic Dysreflexia. My blood pressure was normal and there were no other physical symptoms to cause concern in that regard.
The ambulance arrived. My shoulder was x-rayed and it was discovered that it was not dislocated at all. It was a subluxation. This means that the shoulder had slipped down because the muscles were not able to hold it in place. The doctor on duty in the emergency department said there was no reason for concern. The shoulder, with proper care, would slip back into place.
So what was the significance of day 93? I arrived at Austin hospital on August 31, 2014. I left exactly one year later on August 31, 2015. I don’t know if there’s any significance to that but it is always struck me as odd that I was there for exactly one year.
When I left Austin I felt that all staff were “kicking me out of the nest”. It was as if they were saying to me that they had done everything they could for me and now it was up to me to get on with the next stage. For my part I felt that I owed it to everyone at the spinal unit in Austin hospital to stay healthy. When I left hospital I set myself the target of not being readmitted to the spinal award for those first 100 days.
There was nothing magical about that number but it did seem to me a good target to set. I knew clearly on what date 100 days would occur and so here I was in the emergency department exactly one week short. 93 days!
After the x-ray the doctor gave me the all clear to return to Clarendon Street. The supervisor at Clarendon Street refused to accept me because she was concerned that the carers at Clarendon Street would have no management plan for looking after my shoulder. She was also concerned that the shoulder had not been put back into place. The nurse in the emergency department broke the news to me that I would not be returning to Clarendon Street that night but that she had organised a bed for me in the spinal unit!
She got a fright when I screwed up my face and said forcefully that I would not be spending the night in that unit. She beat a hurried retreat and I heard her speaking on the phone to Clarendon Street repeating that I would not stay in the spinal unit. I was sure she felt Dr Frankenstein must have been running the spinal unit the way I refused to go there. Anyway, sanity prevailed and I returned to Clarendon Street that night. And I made 100 days without returning to the spinal unit!