While being moved into my new room in the ARU (acute rehab unit)a substitute nurse was looking for some wipes to clean me up. Being unfamiliar with the location of everything, she could not find them. I looked around from my wheel chair trying to be helpful and spied them on a wheeled table about 2 feet from me, so I reached out to get them for her and fell right out of my wheel chair onto the floor! I Thought to myself, How ridiculous! and thus, I received lesson#1: I am paralyzed on the left side and have no control over my body. The head nurse, Karen, rushed in and accusingly asked, "Where do you think you're going? "Oh I was intimidated! Lesson # 2: I need help doing anything and everything. The next day I met Renee, who I had actually met already in the CCU the day before. During my stay in the CCU I had complained so vociferously about the catheter I had which, by the way, is an invention of the devil as it made me feel like I had to pee constantly, that the CCU staff finally relented and removed it so I could pee like a "normal person." Renee who is a physical therapist (PT) was summoned to help me transition out of bed and onto a bedside commode. I have to say it was a glorious pee! Nothing ever felt so good! I totally enjoyed every second of it and did not care that there were at least 5 people in the room watching me. Anyway when Renee entered my room in the ARU and reintroduced herself she informed me that she was my PT for the duration and that she & I would work for an hour every morning and 1/2 four every afternoon. She then asked me to set some long term goals for myself. The list began with being able to cross-country ski again. In retrospect I thought it curious that I did not first say walk again, since cross-country skiing requires being able to walk! Under Renee's continued prodding I added to my goals. Walk again, teach again dance with my husband again, laugh again. The list was pretty short and the goals seemed unattainable at the time. Had I known then what I was to learn in the next several months about the extent my disabilities I would not have survived emotionally. I probably would not have been able to muster the courage to face and try to meet the challenges that lay ahead. Ignorance sometimes really is bliss. That was my 1st PT session.
In the afternoon I met Rita my occupational therapist(OT) whose job it was to help me learn to do activities of daily living. (ADL) First, she had me sit on the bed with my legs hanging over the edge without falling over to either side. Piece of cake I thought to myself. It was until she asked me to lean to each side maybe 6-10 inches. I fell over every time I tried to both sides. Rita had to right me each time as I could not do it myself So my 1st OT appointment was trying to lean side to side in a sitting position without falling over. Lesson #3 I am weaker than I could have ever imagined. I had OT 1 hour every morning and 1/2 hour ever afternoon. For the first few days in the ARU I only saw Renee and Rita which was enough for the time being. Later I met my speech therapist(ST). Most of you probably can surmise that I was not a stranger to physical work out given my past. However, the workouts I was used to were incomparable to those that were to come. Next post will give you a glimpse as to what really hard work is.