Recovery Year comes to an end

Discovering that my legs didn’t work was a game changer. It’s never something you expect or can plan for. I’ve worked hard both in rehab and out-patient PT to get back as much as I could. When I left residential rehab in October 2021, I gave myself through December 2022 to see how much mobility I could get back and how many real-life things I could do myself. I called it my “Recovery Year” even though it was actually longer than that.

I wrote out what happened so I would remember facts and emotions, and be reminded of progress through the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. I’ll keep doing that, but I’m going to widen my world to include more than just thinking about therapy and physical tasks. Because that gets really boring.

Some tasks are hard; others aren’t easy but I’ve figured out how to do them. And others that seemed impossible in the beginning are now parts of my normal life. There’s progress everywhere when I remember to look and to be grateful – and to continue that progress going forward.

First, though, I copied all of these “Therapy Notes” blog posts into 2 books, one for my intensive period (August-December 2021) and the second covering all of 2022. It feels productive and marks a turning point going into 2023. The books are only for me, something tangible to use for reference and remembrance.

This “Recovery Year” has been another game changer. Now it’s time to close this chapter and move on to whatever comes next.

Power chair in my future

January is my target for starting the process to get a power chair. Doing it in December made no sense, what with offices shutting down for the holidays and businesses stressing to get through year end on December 31st. I don’t want to risk this getting lost in the cracks. After all, I’ve seen MY office at the end of the calendar year and know how paperwork piles up.

I need this chair more than ever. I put off getting one at first because I didn’t want to believe I’d need it; my goal was to not need any chair much less a power chair. Those were for people who couldn’t walk. Well, hmmm. I can walk some but it’s not likely that I’ll ever be able to walk from my apartment down to the dining room or the mailboxes or auditorium for activities. And in late September, my surgeon was clear that I’m not likely to get much more mobility back than I have now. It’s okay, I can live with this. But it will be so nice to be able to get around more and more easily than I do now.

One of the local DME providers told me that all of Meadow Lake counts as my home, not just my apartment, especially because I do need to go a distance to get to the dining room. Plus I’ve had a sore (and sometimes stabbity) shoulder for at least six months. It never seems to get much better and hurts when I roll around with the manual chair. Somewhere in there I did something to my right wrist and thumb joint which also hurt. Add in that I’ve fallen twice in the last year, and getting a power chair seems like a necessary step and we can make a medical case for Medicare, which will usually pay for a power chair when there are medical reasons for the change.

The application involves reams of documentation – naturally, since we’re talking about the government and insurance – and I’ll need a face-to-face visit with my doctor within 30 days of the application. Telehealth visits are much easier but I can make it work. I’ll check with the DME company about next steps and then make an appointment for early January.

I’m not completely sure how you actually get ON a power chair but someone will explain it and show me. I can transfer to chairs and the NuStep and a car, so I’m sure it’s not hard once I figure it out. There are more scooters here which look like fun for those who can use them, with cute little baskets in the front to carry stuff. People who use them can walk from where they park over to their table or wherever they’re going. A power chair is a wheelchair with nothing in front of you, powered by a joystick. You need a walker, cane, or manual wheelchair to get to and from the power chair. I’m not at all sure how you carry things except the ways I do now, sometimes in a Trader Joe’s bag with the handles in my teeth. Not very sanitary but it’s effective.

January 2022 brought me my NuStep. Now, a year later, I’m ready for a power chair, something I never thought I’d want or use but now am looking forward to helping me get around more easily. I’ll use my study to park and charge it out of the way of the manual chair or my rollator. No matter where it goes, I’m sure the cats will decorate it with fur in no time.

Aches and pains and GI problems

These are not the best of times. No, not for any wheelchair/foot/AFO problems. Because I have a headache, very upset stomach, diarrhea, and a sore/stinging pain in my wrist going up my arm. And my shoulder, too. It’s too many things.

I can’t sleep in the bed tonight. I need to be more vertical in case I need to use the emergency basin. Which means no CPAP because it’s in the other room. I also can’t take the pills I usually take at bedtime because I’m pretty sure I’ll bring them back up in no time. So I’m in my new chair with a robe over my legs and feet to keep them warm, expecting Ellie to jump up and make biscuits and keep my company for a while. The basin and towel are near at hand, along with a bottle of water.

There are multiple Covid cases in our building, including some folks on my hall. I don’t think what I have is Covid but if I still feel like crap on Monday, I may get tested just to be sure. It’s a miracle I’ve gone this long without catching it. I’m double vaxxed and triple boosted which just means I’ll probably have a lighter version of it, not that I won’t get it at all – if in fact that’s what’s going on. It’s probably just a bug.

The wrist thing is more of a problem because I use the hand, arm, and shoulder ALL THE TIME to roll or use the walker. I have a brace/wrap thing on it for support and guess I just need to give it time, ice, and Tylenol.

I want my mommy.