Dominic Update #3

He is home.

The big moment in the morning was physical therapy, where Dominic learned how to use his right arm and left leg to pivot out of bed and into a wheelchair, out of a wheelchair and onto a step, then up three steps and down again, then back into a wheelchair. And we learned to help him, because, at least for now, he is a very long way from doing any of that by himself.

Imagine that your left arm is in a sling. It doesn’t really hurt, and it’s actually pretty flexible, but there’s a crack in your shoulder so you’re NOT SUPPOSED TO USE IT. Your right leg is still a bit swollen, especially around the knee, and jostling or bumping it can cause a lot of pain. It’s really best if someone else moves it for you, very gently, and holds it so it doesn’t touch the ground (even though it could). Your left leg is your real hero for leverage, but there’s some stitches in that knee too so it’s not really at 100% yet. How much do you think you could do on your own?

PT was great in that the (amazing) therapists were impressed by his determination, and cleared him for discharge. But it drove home one of the specific realities of “this is going to be tough” — that for the first couple weeks at the very least, he’s going to need at least one of us to help with sitting up, using the bathroom, getting into and out of his wheelchair, everything. That right leg / left shoulder combo makes it really hard for him to do things independently. And, for the first week, he’s supposed to keep his right leg elevated most of the time on top of it all.

Afternoon involved a lot of waiting around for test results, tackling the logistics of getting him home and making it livable, and making sure a wheelchair was delivered to the house in time. We live in possibly the worst sort of space for this — a 3-story townhouse where his bedroom is upstairs and the bathrooms are upstairs and downstairs, but not on the main floor. Oh, and he has a loft bed. So for the next few weeks he will be set up in the living room, where (thankfully) the couch is plenty wide and very sleepable. We got a portable commode so he doesn’t have to go far to do his business.

In the evening all the permissions were granted and documents were signed and we were allowed to take him away all by ourselves. It’s a little like leaving the hospital with your first child, when it doesn’t quite feel right that you’re even allowed to just take this thing home and care for it by yourself — you are clearly not qualified! And you drive home as patiently and carefully as you have ever driven in your life.

We pulled up to the house around 10pm and Ella was there waiting for us, sitting in his wheelchair with an air of impish insouciance. Getting him out of the car and into the house was just as difficult as we imagined, but it’ll get easier with practice. Once he was safely settled on the couch, we opened the many packages that had arrived for him. Some of the presents gave him so much joy that he started to cry. Actually that might have been me.

Earlier in the day, going over everything with the orthopedic RN, one thing became clear — with all the help he was going to need, and with only a few weeks left until summer anyway, he wasn’t going to be going back to school. He asked about that on the way home and when we explained it to him, it brought on his first moment of true, deep sadness in this whole ordeal. He’s really bummed that he’s not going to be able to be there, hanging out with his friends, in the waning days of the semester.

But, as we told him, his friends are welcome to come to him. As is, at this point, anybody who wants to pay him a visit. He’ll be mostly couchbound for a while so we’ll be home a lot — just call first to make sure it’s a good time. Come on by!