(This blog entry pertains to events that happened in May/early June 2008. Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting this entry posted. I must admit that I thought about writing my column, but it seemed that "time" got away from me. I have been busy -- I guess I say this in my defense, with Relay for Life business. I have been doing lots of team fundraisers, arranging more events, and simply getting ready for our big RFL that is set for March 30, 2012 at the Central FL Zoo in Sanford.
I survived my time in rehab, again. And, fortunately, my stay was much shorter than my experience in 2005 when I was in much worse shape physically and mentally. All that work between 2005 and early 2008 made a huge difference in my ability to recover faster and easier. Thank goodness, because I did not want to go back to the beginning all over again. I also made a couple of friends during this stay so at least, the time I spent in rehabilitation was not all that terrible. There were some good days.
One of my fondest memories were the visits from a local church group who brought along their “furry friends.” Having visits from dogs of all sizes became a treat I welcomed. I never realized how much it meant to have the “affection” of an animal during a rehab type experience. I had animal visits at my previous rehab center, so I knew what to expect. However, I relished the opportunity to “pet” and “play” with my new friends. If they arrived while we were in therapy, everything stopped. The dogs took center stage. I would wheel myself over to one of the new arrivals or, if unable to move quickly enough, a dog came to me. Big, medium or small .. dogs all of sizes and breeds came to visit. Just petting them was a comfort. Even the patients who had been complaining just a few moments before, began smiling when the dogs arrived. Not only were the visits appreciated by the patients, staff got into the moment as well. They too enjoyed the visits.
Making the time move quickly in rehab was not easy. After wrapping up therapy and having lunch my afternoons were relatively quiet. Occasionally, I decided to join in a game of Bingo or would climb into my wheelchair and ride around the building with my “new buddies” well enough to also travel about in a chair. We would find something to do. Perhaps visit the nursing home side of the building. On that side of Tuskawilla Rehab, there was a large aquarium. Yes, I watched the fish swim back and forth. Seriously, it actually killed some time. We also took in a movie (there was a large screen TV in that section) or simply chatted with residents who lived there. (Many were also taking daily rehab, so I knew some of the men and women on the nursing home side of the building.) A group of us would also venture outside -- either to the courtyard garden where we could sit and talk for hours or the front entry, where we could see the “outside” world for a short time.
When I had visitors, such as my brothers or my kids, I would take a “trip.” They would roll my wheelchair off the rehab property and I would enjoy a quick visit to the nearby Burger King or Firehouse Subs. That was a special treat, a chance to “escape” and be part of the “real world.” Sitting in one of those two locations, either munching a sub or finishing off a burger was a genuine treat after being “trapped” for weeks in rehab. Since I lived in the area, I knew what was beyond the building where I was staying. So, I wanted to still feel like a part of the neighborhood. Grabbing a bite with my daughter was fun, even if it meant a major ordeal of moving me in a wheelchair from place to place.