Rehab: Recovery or Relapse?

I begin, I want to mention, today marks the one year anniversary of
when I was admitted to the hospital just before they sent me over to
the rehabilitation center at East Campus Loma Linda. 1 year ago I was
loosing control of my body and even my mind. I was basically moving
into a room in a rehab center. At that time I did not know if I
would ever walk again…

up from yesterday, I was now in a wheel chair being pushed around and
starting to visit the gym where I was put through various physical
rehab exercises most of which focused on my legs (since my spasticity
was so bad) and my core (which helped keep me balanced and upright).
At first I spent most the time in my wheel chair and sometimes I
transferred to the padded “table” where I could lay back and
practice different stretches with my therapists. Soon I got much
better at transferring from my wheel chair to different pieces of
equipment, the table, my bed, and of course the toilet. I still had
to get clearance from my PT’s and OT’s that I was “safe” to
transfer on my own which was my first step towards independence. It
was nice to not need someone to help me into bed when I was tired or
onto the toilette when I had to go to the restroom, that really
damaged the pride, but getting that freedom after so much waiting
felt really good! And I know this all happened in one paragraph but
it probably took a few weeks of “training” to get to this point.
It was like waiting for Christmas.
Now they wanted to work with getting me on my feet a bit, getting me
standing. “Nose over toes” they said. This was the proper way to
move from a sitting position to a standing position. Nose over toes.
I remember them driving that into my head. Nose over toes, nose over
toes. My standing was shaky at first, my legs were so weak, and so
wobbly. I had no balance so after a few seconds of trying to stand
(with a therapist behind me of course) I would start to tilt and
slowly fall. After I got OK at standing up we worked on taking a
couple of steps, then a few steps, it felt so good after not
being able to move for weeks! I remember being so happy to take a few
shaky steps with a walker and therapist holding on behind me. Just a
few but steps nonetheless.
was having really bad foot drop so they gave me an orthopedic foot
brace that helped keep my foot tilted up so that my toes would mot
drag on the floor when I tried to take a step. They also added a
custom piece of smooth rubber to the bottom of my shoe so that if it
did rub my foot into the floor it would simply slide and not
cause me to trip. These two things helped a lot and I remember while
I was waiting for them my therapists would tape a piece of plastic
or paper to my shoe to help my foot slide, it worked but, it was
tacky… They slowly started having me walk around the room in
circles with the walker or I would walk a straight line within the
parallel bars to work more on my gate and balance. This was all a
slow process of practice, a little bit every day, not too much
though, it was important (as noted) to practice energy conservation
so I did not push myself into another relapse.
I was getting some of my strength and mobility back, getting around
my room was starting to get a little easier. I could sort of push
myself around in the wheelchair with one arm and a foot. I took off
the foot rests so I could scoot around with my feet and use my
stronger arm to push one wheel, the other arm was still pretty limp.
This was a lot nicer than being stuck in one spot all day even though
it was like rowing a boat with one paddle on one side, it made me
want to just go in circles, so I had to use my feet to correct my
path. I had some snacks on my little desk, some from home and some
left over sides from all my hospital meals, mostly rolls and bananas.
My OT’s could now work on things like brushing my teeth at the sink
instead of in a bowl, I even got to use the actual shower instead of
getting a lovely sponge bath! Oh yeah, that reminds me, I found out
the hard way that I was allergic to the soap they had there, that was
not fun… Brushing my teeth, getting dressed, putting on deodorant,
it was all starting to improve which made me feel great!
we move on to a foggy part of my memory, not such a good part… I
think I remember they had been discussing a date of discharge with
me, yay! Soon I would be out! I don’t remember what led up to it but
I started having a hard time breathing. What was I doing? I can’t
recall, I just know that all of a sudden I could not breath. I was
dizzy and I don’t remember hearing very well, just the sound of my
shallow gasps for air. I remember laying back and them moving me into
a room… I remember… Well… waking up in a hospital bed with
oxygen tubes in my nose. My oxygen levels had dropped and I could not
maintain my levels without the oxygen in my nose, I hated it because
I felt like I still could not breath plus I had tubes in my nose! I
wanted to pull them out but I could not do so for more then a few
seconds at a time! After doing some more test it looked like I had a
lung infection and a bladder infection which seems to be notorious
for MS patients. According to my paperwork it looks like I spent
about a week in the hospital where I slowly regained the ability to
breath while loosing the ability to swallow.


they had to puree all my food (which was nasty, have you ever tried
pureed cheese pizza?) and I had to take my pills with apple sauce
since I could not do actual liquids without choking. I had a liquid
thickener that helped for some things but it was horribly disgusting!
I remember a therapist trying to spoon feed me water which caused me
to choke over and over again because she was jamming it into
the back of my throat! I was rapidly falling apart again… All that
progress I had made was disappearing just like that. Now they wanted
to insert a feeding tube because I was not getting enough nutrience,
the thought of this mortified me, I could not handle that, no way! I
was falling into a deep depression, once again I could barely move,
breath, or swallow. Just when I thought I was getting better I was
getting worse! I just wanted to die! I was going to be here for much,
much, longer…

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3 thoughts on “Rehab: Recovery or Relapse?

  • February 7, 2013 at 7:15 am

    I really enjoyed your retrospective post, Matt. As you illustrate, there is great power in adaptation.

  • February 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    My last comment disappeared! Arg! I wrote a decent amount too, that makes me… frustrated…. But thank you, I am glad you like it :p


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