It's amazing how people can be so overwhelmed by what's in front of their eyes, that they ignore the bigger picture.
In my case, it was a blessing.
Since waking up from the coma, the misery of the insatiable hunger, thirst and fever were so real and powerful, that I found myself spending most of my days looking forward to the next blue ice cream and working on the smallest yet important improvements.
Walking? Too far from my life in ICU.
Breathing? Now that's real!
With breathing, comes a whole array of lifestyle changes, for a poor girl on life support, that means heaven and hell.
Without life support, I’d be able to eat again, to drink water, to speak. I'd also no longer require suctions from the bottom of my lungs that reminded me of the moment before violent death you see in movies.
With the tube in my throat, I was nothing but a vegetable laying awake in bed.
Breathing is hard when you don't have control of the muscles that are used for breathing. My only hope was my half functioning diaphragm. Every day I get a chance to breathe for a very short time on my own, starting from few seconds then move up to a few minutes.
I learnt to hyperventilate while the nurse wasn't looking so my oxygen saturation level will look better than it really was.
Days went by, it was not good enough. I spent my spare time at night imagining Goulburn Valley peach slices, Magnum ice cream, chocolate thick shakes, talking to people and telling them that I wasn't the driver in the car and someone had lied…
So the next day, I would try a little harder and do a little better.
It was a slow process, like everything in the spinal world, but after many days of good breathing they took the big tube out.
That same day, I was fed blue jelly and blue ice cream. All the foods were coloured blue so when they suction your lungs afterwards they can see if you swallowed correctly.
Nothing has tasted better than that hospital vanilla ice cream coloured in a revolting blue.
Today, I still remember.
It may not seem much to most people, but by the time I moved out of ICU onto the ward, I still had a big hole in my throat, but I could say 1 or 2 words at a time before running out of breath and I was allowed ice cream and water everyday.
Even today, my lung capacity is still only 800cc. I speak short sentences out of necessity, and I have trouble making my voice heard in clubs and parties. People just assume I have a soft Asian girly voice and have a brief and efficient communication style.
On the long, long journey of recovery, the ventilator was my first battle.
And I won!
I now live a normal life like everyone out there, but it is a different kind of normal.