On a visit to a respite care unit this afternoon, I was introduced to a chap who was clearly much younger than the others. He’d been there for seven weeks, he thought, and began to tell me his story. He’d been a scaffolder, until two years ago when his career had been ended by a stroke which left him paralysed on his left side. He was duly admitted to the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit at Sevenoaks Hospital.
One night, he’d wanted to use the toilet and pressed the emergency call button. The nurse took a while to come, by which time he’s messed the bed. This happened twice, at which point one of his nurses “turned against him”, and among other hateful taunts, had told him “of course, you’ll never walk again.”
Well, two years later, and he’s been coming to our KCC unit regularly to give his wife and son a break. Whilst there, he’s been working with the physiotherapist, and – at last – he can now walk along parallel bars, and last night, walked from the dining room round to his room aided by a four footed walking stick.
I was struck by the courage, spirit and sheer pluck. He admitted he could be “a bit grumpy”, and that it took a while to get over the humiliation of being changed and bathed by staff, but full of praise and admiration for the care staff.
And – clearly a far better man than I – bore no malice against the nurse who got into his head and gave him so little hope.
Vocation? For some, but clearly not for all.