The Disability Experience - Book of Short Works and Poetry related to Disability,   Author Debbie Johnson
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11/8/2012
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The Aftermath
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The Aftermath Part: 3 Introduction to Rehab


The Aftermath Part: 3

Introduction to Rehab


A couple days after finding out about the infection, I was seen by the rehabilitation doctor to see if I was a candidate for her program. She said if I would cooperate with physical and occupational therapy, she would accept me into the program. This gave me a glimmer of hope, and I did cooperate as best as I could. Having been in bed for three weeks, I was so weak that even the simplest movement was taxing, especially with the continued pain and presence of two incisions.
My leg wound was draining, so the wound care nurse decided to use a wound vac. It was a ten pound machine which provided continuous suction to the wound area via a small hose placed in the wound, much like a vacuum cleaner does.

I had to be careful not to dislodge it as reapplication was a complex process. Everywhere I went, the machine portion had to be carried with me. I asked her if a wound like mine would ever heal. She looked sad as she said, “Not without more surgery.”
After a few days of therapy, I could stand and hop a couple steps on my good leg using a walker, do some simple arm and leg exercises. I sat in a chair for meals. The rehab doctor moved me to her floor for intensive therapy.

The staff on the rehab unit was very demanding, but did seem to care about me. My daily program consisted of getting dressed in street clothes, or in my case, hospital scrubs as I was far from home. This was extremely painful, especially putting on pants, shoes and socks. I had two sessions of physical therapy, each forty-five minutes long, and two sessions of occupational therapy, again each forty-five minutes long. I had to sit up for an hour at each meal and was also, truly forced to play cards and board games with the recreational therapist for an hour as they thought that would help my depression. I was so tired, depressed and in so much pain, but I did my best.

After three days, it was determined I needed another surgery on my leg. This was performed the next morning and I was transferred back to my old nursing unit. At that point, it seemed this would never end, and frustration, depression and anger filled me. Each day, the surgeon would make his cold-hearted assessment and tell me to, “Stay the course,” a phrase I would truly learn to hate. What the “course” was, I had no clue.

I was placed on bed rest, continued to be on IV antibiotics and the wound vac. Pain control was inadequate, I couldn’t eat and began to wonder if I would ever have a life again. The bill collectors continued to call and my business contracts began being canceled as I was unable to fulfill them.

To be continued…

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