Thursday, November 25, 2010

Home from Rehab with New Equipment and New Skills

It turned out that all of my "amateur" efforts to resolve my pain were not enough. On Oct 30 I could not stand up to get out of bed. On Oct 31, with the help of very dear and kind friends who are like a second family to me, I went to the ER at Stanford University Hospital. There I was "admitted for observation" and a team of experts determined that I should go to the Spinal Cord Injury, Rehabilitation Unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center--also known as Rehab 1.

While most of the patients who come there do have spinal cord injuries, some do not. Some have broken bones that are mending, and some like me, are "old polios", with post-polio syndrome. (It is a premier center for the treatment of "post--polio syndrome" as well as spinal cord injuries; it is in fact, where my "post polio syndrome" was first diagnosed over twenty years ago.)

It is questionable whether I will walk again, partly because it was deemed that it wasn't (and isn't) safe for me to be doing it especially since I live alone, and partly because the pain was caused by the spinal stenosis creating enough nerve damage that it may not be possible for me to walk again. Of course, I hope that with time the nerves will heal. On the other hand, my parents probably hoped that for a good part of late 1953 and much of 1954......

Needless to say, there are grief issues surrounding this. (And that is probably an understatement.) There is also good news. I came home in a power chair (on loan until my own is delivered) I have a new haircut--from a mandatory recreational therapy outing--in the power chair--to the little hair salon across the street from the rehab center. I went out to lunch--another outing--something that I haven't done for so long that I can't remember how long.

I was cared for with such gentle kindness and marvelous competency that I miss everyone enormously. The nurses are the best. They come from all over the world. I fell in love with them and will remember them for a very long time. (The nurse assistants also.)

The PT's (Physical Therapists) are the best I have ever had except for one young woman who worked with me in Chicago in my halycon graduate school days. They are in the same league. I miss working with them six days a week! I miss the gym equipment and I am doing the exercises that they taught me. I do not want this body to become "deconditioned" again!

The best OT (Occupational Therapist) and one of the finest people I have ever met brought me home within the first three days of my admission to see whether the house was suitable for me to continue to live in. (It was, thank God!) She determined what changes I should make and friends pitched in to accomplish the heroic task of moving things around so that a hospital bed could be delivered. (Power up, power down makes transfers easier.)

Then she taught me how to transfer with a slide board, use various new equipment for (ahem) various daily tasks. Then she brought me home again to make sure everything was in place. It was--almost. The hospital bed people had delivered the wrong bed. She quickly got it sorted out and they--just as quickly corrected their error.

I am now sleeping in the "pretty room", that I blogged about so many, many posts ago when my young friend, now about to graduate from college, painted it that summer after her high school graduation. It is satisfying to fall asleep and wake-up to the color scheme I chose and the rose curtains that my sister made that year.

If there are any typos here, please blame them on the squirrels--they have been distracting me for at least the last hour with their antics in my trees where they are finding a Thanksgiving feast of their own.

I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I have always thought of the old Beatles song, "We get by with a little help from our friends." I have gotten by and am getting by with a great deal of help from my friends, old friends and new ones. Thank you everyone!


Vonnie said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Having Post Polio Syndrome myself, I could really identify with you. While I am still able to walk, I know there may come a time when it may prove to be too hard for me. Your upbeat disposition and finding a way to make the most of what you could do pushed me out of the pity party I've been having lately. Thank you and bless you,


Marguerite (Peggy) Manor said...

Hi Vonnie,
I am glad to meet you via the Internet! Thank you for your kind comments. Don't assume that your post-polio syndrome will necessarily cause you to not be able to walk. In my case, I think the spinal stenosis and my weight were greater factors. I hope to continue to exercise and to lose some of the weight. Then in a year or so I may be able to try standing again. And then again, if not, I still have a full life and I hope that I will feel that way then and continue to be grateful.