Sunday, October 30, 2011

Living the Rehab Life

(You will be reading about an experience I had in June/July 2005. As you may recall, I was recovering from a fall where I broke my right femur. Rehabilitation was essential for me to learn to walk again; in fact, to function at all I needed to spend months in a rehab center far from family and friends.) 
On my first full day at Terra Vista, I discovered the true meaning of compassion, dedication and patient care. My aide not only told me he would completely make up my bed but he was also going to give me a full bath, also in bed. Now that proved interesting. 
My daughter, Adrienne, came to spend the day with me.  She sat quietly on the other bed in the room, watching the aide prepare me for my bath. I was actually excited, since I had not had a real cleaning since I had fallen. While in the hospital, I only received a quick wipe down and a daily bed change. I still had the words NO and YES on my legs -- indicating which leg to operate on. The black marker writing was smudged yet the words still legible on my thighs. I was also damp with sweat and had this awful odor coming from my hospital gown and the sheets that I had been wrapped in. So, when those were finally removed and I could no longer smell them, I already felt better. I know my daughter must have felt a bit uncomfortable seeing a male assistant caring for me in such an intimate way. Yet, there was no time for modesty. Yes, I could have insisted on a female aide but honestly, I was more than pleased with this young man’s professionalism. Turns out, he was studying to become a nurse. He certainly had higher career plans but at this time, he was doing the job he had and making me, the patient, feel good. My bath was wonderful -- even if I am still in awe as to how he really accomplished everything he did considering I could not move on my own at all. While at Terra Vista, he proved himself time and again as a dedicated health care provider. 
Physical and occupational therapy were tough. No easy way out here. You either do the work and get the results or you continue to lie in bed and go no where. It is completely up to the patient. I saw the full array of options. I saw those who chose to do nothing but complain. I saw those who stayed in bed and cried. And I saw those who, despite the pain, got up and got going. That was me. The words: “No pain, no gain” took on new meaning. I understood them like never before. I took a lot of pain medication to get moving, but in the end, by moving each day -- a little at a time - I was able to eventually, reduce the amount of pain medication I took. Getting better and stronger did work, with time and patience. I needed patience -- I had plenty of time.
Therapy is the most essential aspect of being in a rehab center. Terra Vista had a professional staff of therapists and thus, I took full advantage of every hour I had with them. Those hours were critical to my well being and I would remain bed ridden if I did not take their advice, guidance and skills seriously. 
I need to shift gears for a moment and simply give out a “huge thanks” to the entire rehab staff at Terra Vista. Those who were there (in 2005) were outstanding and without their help, I would still be unable to move let alone walk. I looked forward to my daily sessions. On Sunday, the only day the therapy room was closed, I was sad although my body probably needed the day off. It was obvious to them, as it was to me, that therapy was the reason I was there in the first place. So, doing what I needed to do was a real “no brainer.I am forever grateful to the OT/PT team that cared for me that summer. 

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