Some good, some harder

The best part of today was getting an in-patient visit from my brilliant hair stylist for my first haircut in 12 weeks. It wasn’t possible to go purple again, though it would have been really fun, but oh, the relief of seeing my normal style again as wads of gray hair cluttered the floor. Would have loved the chance to rinse out all the little hairs but my shower day isn’t until Saturday. Alas, I will have to make do. It will be here soon and at least I look more like myself.

My PT rollator adventure was not uneventful. That thing really is fast, and I asked my PT if we could put a weight on the little seat to make it feel more stable until I get more used to how the handles work. That’s how I learned to walk with a regular walker, decreasing the weight until it was just the walker itself. I started on hardwood, moved to carpet, swung around a couch and came back to hardwood to get back to the wheelchair.

That’s when I got flummoxed. I turned the walker which went FAST and my right foot, which always feels heavy and clumsy, got tangled with the rear right roller, and I fell into my wheelchair. Not on my butt, but sort of my shoulder. The good news is I was wearing a gait belt and didn’t hurt myself, but it shook me. At least I didn’t have to do the bar standing leg exercises.

But I didn’t get out of doing them sitting down later during OT. Everyone always wants me to march in place and get those knees up. Except they don’t GO up, even when I’m squeezing and trying my damnedest. They’ve told me that I need to keep doing it to fire those muscles in hopes that they will decide to wake up and actually work. I watch other people easily raise their knees high and want to trade mine in for newer models but alas, I’m stuck with stupid knees that don’t get the message. I’ve been concerned because I don’t want my inability to march in place at will to be a reason I can’t go home. I know some things I need to be able to do but they are functional things like “put on shoes by myself” not exercise goals. Think I’ll ask about that tomorrow.

My nifty device to hold my shoe in place arrived today. I’m not sure how it works yet but I’ll try it tomorrow – and will bring it to OT in the afternoon if I can’t figure it out myself. I also got two new pairs of ugly super wide diabetic shoes (the ones I’ve been wearing are old and stretched out) and a new folding walker that’s the same model I used at the Olympic Center. It’s a wee bit wider than the standard one but not as large as bariatric models, and I liked it. My room looks like a medical supply room, with the AFO’s, wheelchair, two walkers, orthopedic shoes, and AFO shoe device, plus my blue leg lifter, a reacher tool, sock aid, and a clever toileting aid. Don’t ask about that.

Family Visit This Weekend

My wonderful sister-in-law Cece came for a visit this weekend, and it was sooooo nice to see her! She was last here in July helping me pack up umpteen boxes of stuff to give away before my move. Saturday afternoon we mostly sat around chatting, first in my room and then outside on a porch getting some lovely air. We ordered take-out Chinese food from Liang’s for dinner (yumm!) which was a delicious break from institutional food. She spent the night with an old childhood friend from Houston, went to church with them this morning, and came back about 3pm for some more visiting. I took the walker for a stroll around my “neighborhood” which is about 80 feet (I think) so she could see my walk, and she brought me dinner from Whataburger. More Yumm!

I’ve asked Cece and my brother to come help me move home when my discharge date comes, which I’m guestimating to be in another 3 weeks. I’ll know more about timing after my Care Plan meeting tomorrow. But I’m definitely thinking about going home more, and what I either need to know or know how to manage. Putting shoes on in a big part of that. Yesterday I managed to get the left one on after 25 minutes, but the right one was impossible. Something must be done, because doing it myself would require 3 hands and I only have two. I did some online research and found something that I think will work. It should hold my shoe securely while I wrestle the AFO splint and foot inside. I’m going to ask therapy to include this device in the list of aids and tools they get me before I leave.

I spent a lot of time today with my legs elevated because legs and feet are super puffy with water retention. The nurse wrapped both legs in Ace bandages for compression, which should be removed before I go to bed. But since they gave me a diuretic about 6pm, I’m sitting on the bed with my shoes on for as long as possible; I know I”ll have to go to the bathroom at least once soon, and I also know I can go to the bathroom on my own wearing shoes instead of the stupid green gripper socks. I hope I’ll be able to find someone to take them off when I’m ready to actually try to sleep.

I have a busy week ahead. PT and OT every day. Care plan meeting on Monday. Home Assessment visit on Tuesday. Haircut on Thursday (yayyyyyy Malorie for making a nursing home visit!). And rest. I need to remember to rest. It’s also part of my healing – that and seeing kitties on Tuesday.

Random Friday Thoughts

My care plan meeting is scheduled for Monday at 1:30pm. It’s billed as my “admission care plan conference” which is taking place at the end of my third week instead of within the first 14 days that is supposed to be the policy, if I understood the MDS Coordinator correctly. We’ll see. “We will discuss your plans for discharge and after, the current goals set towards preparing for discharge, and address any questions or concerns that you may have.” Sounds a lot like prepping for discharge, doesn’t it? I’m guessing they’ll give me until October 15th or earlier. Will let you know how that pans out.

Yesterday and today I walked 175 feet from my room to therapy without a rest break in the middle. I’m doing more exercises involving bending. My OT tells me that by the end of next week I’ll be standing on my own without holding on to anything. That terrifies me because it’s how I fell that last time. But I’ll try because normal people can stand up without holding on to a walker with a death grip.

My AFO velcro problem has been resolved thanks to Gorilla Glue. I’m going to work on the other AFO tonight, since I think it’s also a bit wonky and I have lots of Gorilla Glue. I have a feeling I’ll need it in the future.

Have I mentioned that our meals come to us in styrofoam containers? We sometimes get little covered bowls for things like fruit or salad or dessert. We get a print out every week of the menu options for the following week so we can make our choices (tilapia or sausage, etc.). I’ve written NO EGGS and NO OATMEAL for every morning, adding FRUIT & YOGURT. Most of the time I get the eggs and oatmeal, no matter what. And tonight I got the morning fruit with dinner. I don’t really understand how this all works but am glad I’m not in charge of figuring out all the different diets and textures, since so many patients can’t chew well or need diabetic or low-sodium diets. In any case, my food is a far cry from what I eat when I get to really choose – not enough protein and pitifully low in fiber. I have a small supply of protein bars along with mini bottles of Diet Coke. They keep pushing juice and sweet tea but I get as much water as I can.

I’m going to need an adjustable bed when I get home. I need to have the head raised up a LOT to manage getting the legs on and off the bed, because I can’t really see or reach them if I’m flat. And with my feet down in the chair for so much of the day, they’ve turned into little water balloons and need to be elevated. Just not sure how I can manage with my existing bed. But I’ve never bought a bed without testing it out first, so this is new territory. On the other hand, I got a check from Emerald Bay for half of the initiation fee because I sold my house to new people, and I can use that money to splurge on something that I really need but isn’t in the budget.

It’s Friday and I’m tired. Thanks for reading.

Surprise therapy visit

I got a surprise visit today from Cynthia who lives in Dallas but was visiting her sister here in Tyler – with her cat, who is actually Ellie and Emma’s mom cat! She’s tiny (8.5 lbs) and super soft with a very floofy tail just like her babies, all of whom are now twice her size (not just my two, all five of them are giant cats!). We told the front desk that we had a therapy cat visiting and just whisked her back to my room. It was the next best thing to having my sweet girls with me. I know they’re safer where they are, and that Emma would run under the bed and not come out again if she had anything to say about it, so best that they stay home where they have familiar smells and each other.

I’ve been starting to think about my car and what to do with it. I bought it last year when I was walking around normally, but think I’d find it hard to get into at this point, and I have absolutely no idea when I’ll be able to drive again. I had an accident in July when I bumped a parked car in a parking lot – and I know that my frozen foot was a factor. The car is being repaired so it’s as good as new but it’s not going to do me much good if I can’t drive it. I’ll have to arrange to get someone to start it and drive it around a bit at least once a week so the battery doesn’t die again (it already did once during this adventure of mine). But I could get a lot of transportation paid for from car insurance that wouldn’t be needed without a car. Meadow Lake has a transportation van that can take me to appointments or other errands as needed, which is not a small thing when I’m traveling in/with a wheelchair. I don’t have to make any decisions now, of course, but I’m also trying to be realistic as I got into the next weeks and months.

One of the other PT’s contacted my Olympic Center PT & OT to see how best to repair that splint with the velcro that doesn’t stay stuck, because she wanted to be sure whatever we do doesn’t damage the actual AFO device itself. It’s still not fixed but we have a plan now – which requires that the maintenance guy comes back from his errand to use his double sided tape on the AFO. I know what I’d do were it up to me, but it’s not, so I’m trying to go with the flow. Which so far today has not included any walking (because the velcro keeps falling down) and not much PT and no OT again. Not sure what’s happening there but I’m doing chair exercises and arm exercises using the Theraband.

But I’m getting another treat at 3pm with a pedicure! Yes, the ladies who run the beauty shop will do nails if you ask and I’m thrilled to get my nails trimmed down after so long.

Finding a Kindred Spirit

Rehab is a pretty boring place most of the time. Actually, it can be depressing. Therapy only takes up a sliver of the time and for the rest of it, we’re on our own. We’re not all engaged at the same level depending on why we’re here in the first place. Not everyone is able to talk much if at all – and you know me, I’ll talk to a rock. What’s wrong with me is below the waist, not above, so my ability to think and talk and engage is pretty high.

I found a kindred spirit in Charlotte at my last rehab place and having someone to talk to over meals and to encourage one another in therapy made a huge difference. I’ve found that person here in Jan, who also had spine surgery but ended up with post-op problems with one of her legs. We’ve laughed ourselves silly the last two days, and go for rolling rambles in our wheelchairs. We’re almost the same age, have very different life experiences, but both have wicked senses of humor that are helping us deal with some of the weirdness we see every day.

I didn’t do any walking today because the AFO Velcro problem was reported to PT but not fixed. Grrrrrr. Because it’s not safe to walk any distance without this being repaired, my PT time was cut short – and OT never happened. We don’t know why and it blew apart the afternoon, which I’d planned around a 3:30 OT session. On the other hand, I had another night of being able to lift the legs up into the bed, even for an 11pm trip to the loo.

I mentioned to Jan that it’s my job to be able to direct my care, which I’ve mentioned here before. She hadn’t heard that and wasn’t sure what it meant, but as I explained that it required me to understand what I wanted to do and how I wanted to accomplish it, and then being able to explain that to the people who were there to help, she realized that she wasn’t doing that. I think she’s going to try. Every day I realize more and more how fortunate I was to have those three weeks at the Olympic Center with one-to-one dedicated therapists, and specific nurses and aides to help me. I learned sooooo much that put me ahead here.

It lifts my spirits to hear from you friends and family near and far, to know I’m not forgotten while I’m here in this different place. Your prayers and cards, visits and calls and surprises help me be grounded and remember that I’m not really alone. God is here with me as I slog through this valley, and I will get through, with His help and yours.