By the time I reached the rehab hospital, less than a week after I broke my way down the right side of my skeleton, I was mentally leaping ahead in rehab, planning on reaching discharge. As I said so often, “This isn’t my first rodeo!”, and indeed it isn’t. This is the third time I’ve had to re-learn how to walk.
How easy those last two times were! When I had the stroke, no one told me how fortunate I could still stand and shuffle down the corridor, held upright by the therapist with the gait belt. When I had the brain injury in D.C., no one mentioned how fortunate I could still stand and transfer to a wheel chair to get to the therapy room.
On the other hand, no one said “Too bad you can’t stand and we need the Hoyer lift to get you out of bed. Instead, I learned slide transfer, and then to stand and transfer to the wheel chair with the walker. My goal was to be home before Laura started school. She actually was in day five when I came home.
The therapists did not want to discharge me, and the basic reason was the five steps into my house. “I could rent a ramp!” I told them, but it would be too steep.
On a Friday afternoon I sat and ordered everything the therapists said I would need to be discharged: a wheel chair, a walker, a tub transfer seat, a toilet riser. In retrospect, the wheel chair was the waste of money. I’d warned Laura, and she had everything assembled and in place when I came home the next Wednesday.
I told the therapists on Monday, I would be leaving on Wednesday. I cut through the chorus of “The steps!”, and rolled the chair to the next room, where the steps were in the corner. Before I arrived, Sharon was blocking the steps. I quietly said to move, I was going up the effing steps.
Let me tell you, whispered, that word resonates through hall after hall of a Catholic institution. I felt therapists and dear old nuns and Father Tom come through the doors to watch me. I went up, and down, no walker. I came home on Wednesday, two weeks ago. A nurse evaluated me and the therapy supervisors, too, the first week.
I’d already been for a doctor appointment, and to lunch with friends. So, when the physical therapy supervisor was here I explained I had thought it through, and knew how to drive my car. For all the medical people out there, I have 60% weight bearing on my broken leg, so I merely concluded if I were looking at a 100% weight bearing braking situation, it would be my left foot on the brake.
The supervisor said since I intended to do it, I might as well demonstrate it, and I did, Including stowing the walker in the passenger seat by heaving it over.
So, it was eight weeks last Friday. Two weeks until my ten week appointment with my orthopedist, marking the theoretical ‘healed’ date. And, I can no more give up my walker than I could fly, though I can drive my car.
“Strength and balance! Strength and balance!” I tell my home therapists, and faithfully do their exercises. It’s not that I have neither; it’s that I cannot walk without support to stand and balance.
It’s getting mighty old. I have one more week with the home therapists, then, I think, transfer to a clinic setting, and my friend the parallel bars, for strength and balance. Without the walker. My cane will be a pleasant change.
It's not snowing on the other side of the white, white windows. It's pouring rain, day number two.