Let’s keep going with these re-caps… this one is a heavy one!
September started off on a very high note. After a full month in the ICU department + recovery suite, my sister, Lena, was transferred out of the hospital and into a rehab center (on the very last day of August, I believe)!
(Hello new readers! Read here if you have no idea what happened.)
This put everyone in a good mood. Once in rehab, she progressed very fast – from gaining the strength to walk to eating solid food to re-learning the everyday tasks we all take for granted – and by mid-September, she was given the clearance for discharge.
I wrote a Day in the Life during this period to give an idea of what my days were like, so check it out here!
With her recovery going so well, I booked a ticket to meet D in Osaka, Japan at the end of the month. The plan was that I would stay with my sister at her apartment in LA for two weeks (as she needed full time supervision still) and then she will continue her recovery at my parents’ after I leave.
Disaster struck within minutes of moving into my sister’s. I was hanging outside the door while she used the bathroom (in case she needed help), when I heard “uh oh… the water’s not going down.”
“Use a plunger!” I yelled.
“Okay, I’m using it… but it’s not working…” she said after several seconds.
“Let me see,” I walked in to help… and… “That’s not a plunger!! That’s a toilet scrub! Where’s your plunger?!”
At this point, I was starting to wonder if her intelligence had been affected….
Meanwhile, water really had risen above the surface and was now rapidly spilling over the edge.
The next 20 minutes or so were spent hurriedly grabbing every single towel in the apartment (and ugly T-shirts when we ran out), building a dam, soaking up the water, squeezing it out, soaking up the water again, and squeezing it out again, and again, and again, and finally disinfecting the newly-dried floor, all while squealing “this is so gross!”
We were already off to a wonderful start.
But aside from the little snafu at the beginning, the two weeks I spent with my sister were some of the best I’ve ever had. While her boyfriend, Alex, was at work all day, we had fun just hanging out and spending time together. And then every evening, different friends came by to visit and have dinner. We often joked that she had quite a full social calendar for a disabled person.
It wasn’t long before she was capable of walking again without assistance. We took the opportunity to go to as many places as we could during this time. We were both going to be leaving soon… me to resume my travels, and her down to Orange County to our parents’. Alex took us to all their favorite restaurants, I made sure to eat my fill of all the food that I’ve missed, we spent a day at the beach, and another shopping at the mall… we both didn’t want these weeks to end.
These weeks felt like a huge dark cloud had been lifted and that life is sunny again. I was finally able to just enjoy spending time with my sister, knowing that she is going to be completely okay. Officially, I was there to take care of her, but really, it felt like a vacation. I wasn’t doing anything except for having fun.
But it passed all too fast, and on the last Saturday of the month, we headed down to Orange County to my parents’, where she would stay for the remainder of her recovery.
It’s hard to describe what I was feeling as we drove down. In case you haven’t been reading from the beginning, here’s the very short version: due to my family not supporting my decision to quit my job and travel, we had a falling apart and, well, I haven’t been welcomed back home ever since. As terrifying as what happened to my sister was, there was one good thing it did: it forced the four of us to be in the same place again. For the time being at least, we were together again as one united front, all fighting for her life. All wishing for the survival of our little family as a whole, complete unit.
And so, it was then that I was finally invited back home and I stepped foot into my parents’ house for the first time in over two years.
I imagine that this is true for anyone visiting your parents’ home: no matter how much time has passed, everything is always so familiar like you’ve never left, even if there are furniture changes or new pictures on walls. You still know exactly where everything is kept and your toothbrush is still in its holder on the vanity. I guess home will always feel like home, proving that yes, you can go home again.
I spent one day and one night at home. It was hard saying bye again, especially to my sister. I’m truly grateful and happy for the time I had to re-bond with her. But I know it’s not really goodbye, because we talk all the time now that it’s like I’m carrying her in my purse.
And then I was off to the airport to fly to D… on what would turn out to be the most frustrating 48-hour travel journey of my life thus far…
There is one more thing I want to say before I move on… and that is that I cannot express how much it means to me that my friends supported me through this. I landed in LA terrified of what I’d be facing and basically having no idea where I’d be sleeping, and my friends opened up their homes to me without hesitation. I really can’t thank them enough.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take too many pictures during the 5 weeks I stayed with friends, but here are some snippets from what I could find:
And this, I think, wraps up my time in Los Angeles!
What are some of your returning home experiences?