Therapy Notes – Tuesday, 8/31/21

Posterior Afo Leaf Splint - Medium Right
AFO Splint

A couple of big things today. First: I did not get an extra week of therapy so I will be discharged one week from today. I’m grateful to have gotten one extra week here and will work hard to get as much out of the next week as possible. Two: I walked 58 feet, followed by three “get up and go” walks of 9 feet each. Three: I used the regular commode for the first time and transfered to it using the walker. You have NO IDEA how big a thing this is for me. It was scary to do but actually went smoothly and I was able to stand up with not a lot of help.

OT time included an assortment of random things – arm weights, arm bike, but also hitting the AFO splints with a heat gun (the OT did this, not me) to spread out the tops so they fit me better. They’re made of rigid plastic that molds to the heel, comes up the leg, and wraps around the calf with velcro. They are NOT my favorite things to wear but will be part of my life for the foreseeable future. I have to wear them because of foot drop; they keep my foot from dragging and tripping me. I’ve realized that this has been a problem for a lot longer than I realized, so it’s unlikely to be reversable. They make different kinds that aren’t so high, but this is what my therapists think I need so that’s what I’ll use.

Susan also spent a little time massaging my feet and legs, which are retaining water because they’re down all the time in the wheelchair, which is partly why I like getting back into bed. She exchanged my foot rests for ones that are elevated, so now I take up more room than I did before when I roll around in the chair.

Now I’m back in bed with my feet elevated, paying bills and other practical things. After writing this, of course 🙂

Therapy Notes – Monday, 8/30/21

New walking record of 50 feet today! Yayyyy! My legs got very tired by the end, but I did it. Last week I was happy to do 5 feet, so that’s a lot of progress in a week. After walking we worked on standing and standing exercises. I need lots of work on standing up, which is the hardest part. BEING up isn’t as difficult as GETTING up. And then we worked on transfers using squat pivot, which is a lot harder than it sounds because I didn’t trust knowing what to hold on to. PT ended with 15 minutes on my beloved Nu-Step which makes me feel a bit normal because it’s what I did in the gym for a long time.

OT time was a bit more challenging. First I spent 15 minutes on the arm bike, which is probably my least favorite piece of equipment. But it’s important for endurance. But then I confessed that I needed to pee, and we went back to my room to practice transferring from chair to commode in the bathroom. The transfer felt very insecure, althought it worked, but the actual use of the commode was … messy. I was using a bedside commode that had been placed over the one in the bathroom to make it taller. Except it was TOO tall and I couldn’t get positioned properly. Nothing like having to change your clothes four hours you put them on, especially with the stupid AFO splints in the shoes.

Speaking of shoes, I’ve been wearing New Balance athletic shoes since I got here but they’ve been hard to put on, even though they fit well enough with just socks. But adding on the AFO splints, and having laces that had to be loosened most of the way made it very hard to shove my feet into the shoes. The ankles don’t bend, the toes don’t point up. Carolyn brought me some different shoes yesterday that are ugly orthopedic shoes but they’re wider, softer, and have deep interiors with plenty of room for the splints. And they close with velcro. Today the PT put some of that stretchy wrap tape around the front to help them not be too slippery, to help me not fall. It’s not an attractive look but hey, they work, so I’m keeping them.

I just got a roommate after 2 weeks in here on my own. Have to say I’m not excited about this – there are lots of rooms around here with no one in them, so I’m a little surprised. I have accumulated lots of stuff – bedside commode, walker, wheelchair, pillows, stuff. It’s going to be interesting how this works out. She’s already fallen asleep but I already know she’s older and larger than I am, and is here because she fell and messed up her knee and can’t walk. That’s why most of us are here, actually.

It was three weeks ago today that I fell in the bathroom and went to the ER and hospital for this big adventure. I’ve been in rehab for two weeks tomorrow. Tuesday the doctors have their weekly conference to review patients and their progress and consider who is able to be discharged when. I’m scheduled for discharge a week from tomorrow at noon. There’s a chance that might get stretched out one more week, but I’m not at all sure I’ll get it. If not, then the case manager will be working with me on where I go from here and how I get there.

Last night I had dinner delivered from Jersey Mike’s, thanks to my wonderful nephew Rob and his wife Ellen in Houston. They wanted to do something for me and he knew from his own time in rehab that food from outside brings an extra bit of cheer. And my favorite treat is their #2 sub sandwich on rosemary parmesan bread, done Mike’s way with red wine, vinegar, and spices. Yup, I have it memorized. It was a lovely treat and what my family used to eat many Sunday evenings growing up in New Jersey.

Therapy Notes – Sunday, 8/29/21

Not much to report today but I want to continue the discipline of writing. No one has therapy on Sundays and we mostly stay in our rooms, but unlike last Sunday, I got up, peed, dressed, and went to breakfast in the dining room with some other patients. I didn’t put on my shoes because they are a pain in the butt and I wasn’t going to be doing walking, so I wore my ugly green gripper socks that dig into my leg. My feet were frozen most of the day – they’re very cold most of the time – but it was easier to do some of the exercises without the shoes.

My knees are pretty useless. I can bend my right one by myself, but the left one will NOT bend without help – and when I get both bent, they tend to flop apart without any control. It’s annoying. But at least I understand how to ask for help when they do that. Friday we practiced how to get legs up on a bed from the floor by myself and I understand how to do it, but I just couldn’t make it happen. It’s very hard for me to get the momentum going and have the strength to haul the dead weight of the legs up. So I cheated today and asked for help. I wish I could will my knees to bend, and my ankles to flex on their own. But they can’t, at least not yet.

I’m getting better at asking for help and accepting it when given, but it’s still hard because I’m used to being someone who helps others, not the other way around.

Therapy Notes – Saturday, 8/28/21

I have the weekend off from therapy. We get 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. Last week I arrived on a Tuesday so had therapy on Saturday because I hadn’t had all my hours for the week. This week, though, it was empty of things I had to do except get up, get dressed, and spend time in the chair. My therapists left me exercises to do for arms, hips, knees, and feet, but mostly right now I’m just cold.

The food here is pretty good and definitely better than the hospital, but my appetite has decreased and I’m no longer snacking (because there are no snacks) or drinking as much as usual (because when you drink, you have to pee, and that becomes a bit of a project). We usually get two choices for lunch and dinner; breakfast has evolved for me into fresh fruit and yogurt with wheat toast and cranberry juice, which is close to what I ate at home. I’m working to remember my Noom lessons and staying away from excess bread and carbs. No one needs potatoes and rice at the same meal.

My lunch companion and I had a lively conversation today about being church secretaries, how we managed newsletters and bulletins, Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and other Christmas plans, and dynamics of relationships. And we also talked about what was the point of our being in our current circumstances, concluding that God has a way for us to use what we’re going through so we can be resources or lead by example. I already had a conversation with another friend who told me she is working to be sure she is stronger, more flexible, and in better shape than she was before because of me and things I need to be building on here. If my experience helps just one person, then maybe that’s what it’s about.

Many of you have called or texted or sent Facebook messages, and I know I’m behind in responding to you. Please know that I appreciate each of you even if I’m slow to get to you. We’re busy in the mornings with therapy and in the afternoon, I’m resting as much as I can. Therapy tires me out, and healing takes a lot of energy.

For those who asked, the address in therapy is: Olympic Rehab Center, 701 Olympic Plaza, Tyler, TX 75701

I don’t have any specific needs or wants; I’m just getting through each day. There WILL be things I need and ways you can help but I don’t know what they are yet. I promise that I will ask for help in very concrete ways when I know what those needs are.

Therapy Notes – Friday, 8/27/21

Susan washed my hair today. It felt amazing, after three weeks, to have water on the scalp and fingers washing away grime. I’ve never appreciated a shampoo as much. It was the last part of my OT time today, after doing the arm bike and weights, and a round of practicing transfer from the wheelchair to a shower chair so I can have a shower next week. I still have trepidation about how it will work in practice, but at least I’ve practiced it twice. With practice comes more confidence. At least that’s the plan.

Yesterday in PT, Veronica had me practice standing with the parallel bars and letting go with one hand at a time. Today I had a chance to actually use that when getting dressed, standing in the walker and holding on with one hand and using the other hand to help pull up my clothes. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to risk doing it otherwise.

Today we started PT by walking with the walker. I did 30 feet on my first try and 35 feet on my second, to the applause of one of the other patients and her therapist. The rest of our time, I worked on transfers (again) and on how to get my legs up on the bed by myself. Yeah, easier to say than to do. And rolling. I kept trying to figure out how to apply this info to my own house, which is going to need to have some furniture rearrangement – and the bed is entirely the wrong height. Not sure how that is going to work. I miss my bed but I admit I love having something adjustable. Maybe Sleep Number has a good option for me but I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I had a little pity party on the table, trying to get my legs off the floor by myself. A wave of “Why do I have to deal with this? Why is this happening to me?” Tears and sniffles. I’ve mostly stuffed all that down because it keeps me in a pit instead of working to getting out of it. Whatever the reason, this is my reality now. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to accept it and learn work arounds for things that used to be so easy to do. I’m very grateful for my friends who are taking care of the kitties, and house things, keeping in touch with cards, texts, and Facebook. But it’s lonely here. We spend a lot of time alone, resting and recovering. I miss seeing people in person, and getting hugs. And I miss my kitty girls so much. I hope they will remember me.