Update from the Clinic – Homeward Bound

I am relaunching the blog with a series of posts that were originally published in 2014.  Please scroll to the bottom if you would like to start with the first post.

August 18, 2014

I am on my way home today.  What an adventure this has been so far.

Friday was my last day of “official” therapy.  On Sunday, we did a family walk through with Mary Ann so that she could see how to help me on steps and that kind of stuff.  Thursday was harder because I took some time with my therapy team to talk about what we had accomplished in just 5 weeks.  I thanked them and rolled back to my room and cried.  I get teary just writing this.  But, I need to repeat it for myself and for all of you who have been praying for me.  God has worked a miracle in my life.

After a false start in rehab on July 1, I re-entered rehab on July 14.  At that point, I had been immobile for five weeks.  It was a chore for me to lift my arm over my head and couldn’t move my legs to change position or get out of bed.  The same people who I mentioned in an earlier post who told me what percentage of muscle mass I lost for each day I was incapacitated also told me how long it takes to come back.  That number is even more depressing, it’s like a week of therapy for every day of incapacity.  By that count, it would be Groundhog’s day before I was back to full activity.  But, I had a secret weapon; you were praying for me and we have a God who loves to work miracles.

My entire first week in therapy I spent just showing my body how to stand again.  We began with this frame that I sat in.  It braced my knees and my chest in the front and the seat pumped me into a standing position.  My body began to experience gravity through my legs again and my muscles begrudgingly cooperated. I would “stand” for 5 or 10 minutes at a time and do “exercises” like: tighten my knees 10 times, tighten my bottom 10 times, tighten my tummy 10 times, and pull my shoulder blades back 10 times.  The goal was to rebuild my core strength.  I’d rest a minute (because that was tiring) and we would do it again.  That was the first 3 or 4 days,

By Friday, we tried a different kind of walker called an Evo walker.  Imagine an speaker’s podium that is nearly shoulder high with a place cut out for my chest.  It has padding for my elbows and a couple handles in the front.  Basically, it is designed for me to support my weight with my upper arms and shoulders.  I began doing my exercises in the Evo walker and that Friday I took my first steps, about 15 feet.  Hey, zero to 15 in a week is something.  But, it still seemed to me that it would be Christmas before I’d be walking.

The next week, we started with the Evo walker and decided to move to a standard walker because that is what I would be using at home.  It took two people to help me stand up from my wheelchair and I walked about 10 feet the first time.  One person was beside me holding a safety belt they put around my waist, someone was on the other side just in case and a third person followed with the wheelchair so I could sit when I got tired.  That week, I maxed out at about 30 feet with breaks, more shuffling than walking, but it was progress.

The next two weeks were more of the same.  I continued to make incremental progress and the strengthening exercises started to pay off.  We began working on going up steps because I have 5 steps to the main floor from our entryway and my assist went from three people to one who walked beside me with her hand on the safety belt.  By the fourth week, I could do a 100-foot lap around the therapy room, take a break and do it again.  We would leave the wheelchair in place and I would walk back to it.  I could handle 4-inch steps (ours at home are 6 inches) and I needed less help getting from the wheelchair to the walker.

I was initially scheduled to be released on August 4 and with all the health problems I had my first time in rehab, I developed C-Diff and had  to be moved off the floor for a week. they extended it until August 18th.  On the 4th, I could only have been released to a nursing facility because  I couldn’t function at home.  We were able to convince the insurance company that a couple more weeks in acute rehab would save me some unknown number of weeks at a skilled nursing facility where I might get therapy once a day and not the quality I was getting at the clinic.  It turned out to be the right thing.

Last week we saw the prayer and work come together for results that I couldn’t imagine a month ago.  By the end of the week,  I walked 1,200 feet in 5 walks.  I can climb 5 6-inch steps using a handrail and a cane, and I can stand up from the wheelchair to a walker without help.  I can also just stand up and balance not holding on to a walker or any other support.  When we get home today, I plan to wheel into the house and walk up our entryway steps.

As I have freely admitted in an earlier post, I have not made this progress because I was in great physical condition before all this started, and it is not all because of the team of people who I have worked with (though they are great and I can never thank them enough).  I have to attribute the success to your prayers and God’s response.  My prayer going into this was that God would glorify himself in the process.  My hope and prayer was that he would choose to glorify himself through a quick recovery, but I knew that I needed to be willing to walk (or wheel) whatever path he had for me.  I know that it will be a little while before I am walking without assistance and driving.  But, if you agree to keep praying, I agree to keep working, and God has already agreed that when two or more are gathered in his name he will hear and respond.  So, let’s keep it going.  The next update will be from Cincinnati.  I can’t wait to tell you what God has done after I have been home for a week.  I am praying for continued independence in walking, the next move for me is to walk with a cane, and I’d like to start driving again.  (It will be a few weeks at least before I drive and I promise to warn the local readers when I start.)

If you know people who have trouble with the whole “God answers prayer” thing, share this story with them.  Even better, get them in touch with me and Mary Ann so we can tell the stories I haven’t had time to write.  Mary Ann’s week when I was in the “coma” are amazing and when she has time to write I’m going to turn the blog over to her for a while.  God used my condition to allow her to share her faith with people who she never could have talked to.

If you have been reading along, I plan to do one more “theological” post and then switch to talking for a while about how all this theology worked out in practice when our lives blew up in June.  While it is important that we lay a firm foundation in what we believe, the test of the foundation is the life we are able to build on it.

Thanks again for your prayers and support.  This will be a big week for us.  Keep praying, keep reading, and I’ll let you know what happens.

Do you have an old walker around the house?  For folks in the Cincinnati area, I’d like to borrow two walkers to add to the one I am buying so that I can have a walker on each level.  Let me know if you have one and can drop it off or if we can pick it up.

These are the heroes that helped me walk. From left to right: Anna (OT), Derrick (keeps the place running and is the Chief Encourager), me, and Kaitlin (PT) who never gave up hope that I would walk again.


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