Wednesday, November 4, 2009


On April 7th I was permitted to return home.  The simple acts of getting fitted for a wheel chair and listening to all of my therapists' last instructions to me and riding in the car on the way home was exhausting.  Pete helped me into bed where the puppies promptly joined me.  I slept most of the afternoon.  When I awoke I saw Pete watching me from the door.  While looking back at him I noticed that Emma, my dog, was sleeping under my arm.  I got the sense that Aerial, Madeline's dog was nearby but I could not tell where.  I asked Pete, "Is Aerial next to my face?"  He smiled and nodded. I could not feel her, but I knew she was there.   Where the therapists  in the ARU left off, the puppies jumped right in!

  I slept until morning  when Pete woke me saying I had a meeting with the clinical coordinator from Rehab Without Walls.( RWW).   I'd been told about it while in the hospital but didn't remember  it.  RWW is just what its name implies, a rehab program that is not housed in its own building.  The rehab therapists come to the patient's home rather than the patient going to a clinic to begin the process of reclaiming  independence and function.    It makes sense really.  There is limited value in learning to transfer from a wheel chair to the toilet or shower bench, for example in the hospital when the layout of the home bathroom does not even resemble the layout of the hospital bathroom. 

 The clinical coordinator assigned me 5 therapists:  a PT(physical therapist), Colin, an OT (occupational therapist), Paul, a Rehab Specialist (RS), Dana, a Counselor, Cynthia, and a speech therapist, Erin.  I saw each of them twice a week for 2 hours at a time.

Colin  began my PT by working on basic strengthening excercises for those muscles I could move.  They were going to do double duty for for the forseeable future and needed  to be as  strong as possible.  When we began he squeezed both of my thighs and commented, to my relief, "You're going to be an ambulator."  Music to my ears! :) It gave me hope that I might one day walk again.   As time went on and I progressed I started going for short walks with my cane.  We  started with short distances like 10 feet but I quickly advanced to walking around the block, however, not with a gait you'd recognize as normal.  My OT worked with me on activities of daily living. For example: learning to transfer to/from  the shower bench safely, getting in and out of a car, tying my shoes one handed.  Never did get that down.  Viva la velcro!, grocery shopping, things like that.  Paul stretched my arm and shoulder quite a bit but as far as strengthening the arm there was  not much he could do since I could not and still cannot move my arm at all.  My speech was never effected but my ability to organize was.  This is what my speech therapist helped me with.  She helped me use a planner.  This was a challenge. This lack of organization made doing simple arithmetic calculations impossible for me, not good for my prospects of returning to work as a 7th grade math teacher! So Erin brought me tasks to perform like calculating the cost of produce on sale as advertised on various  mail circulars and figuring out the store where buying certain items was cheapest.  She brought me sudoku puzzles and newspaper articles to read.  These all helped strengthen and sharpen my mental capacities, rattled by the stroke.   She was great because she also was the first person to get me to really laugh.  She was a hoot!  My counselor wasn't all that effective.  However, deep into the summer Cynthia did  say,"I see you driving again."  Something that had never crossed my mind!  Yea, more hope!  I got my license back about mid October.  A huge step forward on the independence scale.  The Dana, my rehab specialist RS basically helped me execute the home exercise program that Colin laid out for me.  Dana was wonderful!!!!  Still is, as she is the only one who from RWW that I continue to see.

  I had RWW come to my house until mid August when my insurance would not pay for it anymore.  They were all fantastic and really jump started my recovery.

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