I kept the name of the blog because I think it’s catchy although, thankfully, it wasn’t about hospitals anymore but rehabilitation. Well, Pádraig is back. Another true hospi-tale we had hoped to have left behind. Thankfully, I have a bed at his side and can stay with him.

This is low tech, compared to when Pádraig first hit the hospital scene. Because he is so much better. He has no machines attached to him and he himself had decided to have this procedure done in an attempt to fix his hip and allow him to stand on both of his feet. He picked his (somewhat limited) menu for his stay, aiming for the meat dishes, rather than the vegetarian or cheese options. The aim is to get him standing and walking again, with help – but standing and walking.

The big day arrived and delivered, for now, what Pádraig had been looking for: he can stretch his right leg again and stand on both of his feet. The real difficult part now will be to get his physio absolutely right so that all this pain will be worth going through! So that he can get back walking. With help, but walking.

With temperatures of 30o-35o Celsius, we started the week on another two-day, nearly 1000 km road trip to Munich from the North of Germany before being admitted to hospital on Wednesday.

Day 1, Wednesday

We arrive at around 10:30, through the COVID security check, straight up to the ward where we get a double room for Pádraig and myself. The programme for the day: talk to the junior doctor on the ward who explains the operation to us, sign a form saying that she did, a new x-ray of the hip, anaesthetics department, blood tests, ultrasound department. We get to know the hospital. By the time we finish, it’s dinner time, at 5pm (!). We have missed the surgeon who was to see us on the ward.

Day 2, Thursday

Pádraig is first up at 8am. At half seven, the surgeon briefly checks in with us and wishes Pádraig all the best re-assuring him that this will all work out fine – which is very kind and nice of him.

In Germany, 8am means 10 minutes before 8am. I walk with Pádraig, in his bed, to the pre-surgery where he is transferred to a different ‘bed’. They check his name, date of birth and the two ‘x’s, one on each leg, marking where they will work on him.

After that I go back to our room and get, a nice touch, two coffees with my breakfast. And then the waiting time begins. Not just here in Munich but in many places around the world. It takes far too long for our taste but eventually I am called in to the recovery room where they think Pádraig might still be ‘asleep’ until he tells them with his bleeper that he is awake and has no pain.

Back to the ward. The rest is an auld long, boring day. The hospital is secured like a fort and when we try to plead with security saying that our son has had an operation they ask us for his age. Even before I open my mouth to say that he is 30 I know what the effect is going to be. I am right. We have to wait until visiting time at 5pm.

Padraig’s legs are all bandaged and he is getting what looks like tons of pain killers. Despite all that, he eats and drinks well – and really enjoys the ice cream. It’s still roasting in Munich.

We get word that we should be able to move to Burgau next week for rehabilitation. I’ve lost count on the amount of times we packed the car with millions of bags and moved them to another place in the past few weeks. Luckily, this time it’ll only be about an hours drive.

Day 3, Friday

Taking bandages off, standing on both feet, resting, short physio session. A bit of a routine settles in. It’s still hot and even if it cools down outside during the night, that doesn’t make much of a difference here inside the room.

I am remembering that Germans don’t do cereals – and if they do, they don’t know what to do with them. Asking for a portion of porridge or cornflakes of Wheetabix here in the Fatherland is like asking for steak tartare in Ireland. You wouldn’t know what they’d make out of it.

Can you spot the breakfast portion of cereal they sent up for Pádraig in this picture? I mean, lads come on: this if a tub for marmalade, not for cereal!

Day 4, Saturday

Weekends are quiet. Especially on Ascension Day in Bavaria. It’s a public holiday and all shops are closed. But visiting hours are four instead of just two hours. We decide to do a bit of a physio session ourselves, stand Pádraig up.

We get him dressed and go out for a walk in the park trying to find an ice-cream shop.

In the evening, we watch movies – the end of ‘Arrival’, a movie I liked before but now watch in a completely different way. “If you knew the future, would you do it anyway?” – is the central question of the movie for me know. And a resounding “yes” is the answer. We start watching “In Bruges”, one  Pádraig’s favourites. I think he knows the dialogue by heart.

We’ll most likely be here for another few days. We’ll go for another walk tomorrow. We’ll watch the end of that movie. Buy another ice-cream. We will even continue with some gentle physio. Life is not that bad (it has the occasional setbacks) and always has happy, even funny, moments.

I want to say a big, big THANK YOU to all of you who are always asking, and especially over the past week, how he was doing, who were thinking of him, sent good wishes, crossed fingers, lighted candles, prayed, sent good vibes, encouraging messages. Without that shared energy and the fundraising so many people organised, summer coffee mornings, wintersongs, school cake sales, dusk to dawn tennis, Mongolian rallies, a (barefoot for some) climb up to Croagh Patrick that had to be cancelled at the last minute because of COVID, a mindful solitary walk over many weeks during COVID, personal and family support, and much more – we could never have done what we could do to get Pádraig the treatment that he needs so desperately for his hip and legs. He is a trailblazer and so are you. Showing the world that live and living with a severe acquired brain injury is possible. That obstacles and setbacks can be overcome. Together.