Sometimes the shot in the arm you need will come from someone you've never even met.

The day after I entered the rehab facility, the physical therapist and I discussed my goals.  Of course MY goal was to run around the gym three times and perhaps do a cartwheel or two.  SHE was hoping I could walk to the bathroom with a walker and NOT need the nurse.

Silly woman.

Of course after two days of alternating Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy 3 times each day, I realized HER goal was probably more realistic.  So I was thrilled when I received my “gold walking shoes” on day 3.  I was able to slide myself OFF the bed, grab the walker, make my way slowly to the bathroom, yadda, yadda, yadda ALL BY MYSELF. The hard part, of course, is finding a way UP off the potty once you’re on it. A good rocking start helps. (Of course I failed to tell her I had “walked” to the bathroom the day before, but let’s just keep that between us- shall we?) 

I spent each session in either the large gym designed for most of the physical therapy, or the smaller “occupational” gym.  My occupational therapist realized quickly that I probably only needed PT, so she had me practicing most of what I was doing in PT.  She allowed me some “fun time” to work on crossword puzzles- part of occupational therapy- and that was a treat.

I watched in wonder at the other patients working so diligently to regain a bit of their independence.  It was quite emotional and a reminder that life is indeed short and very, very precious.

I saw the young man work hard to focus his attention on simply reaching up to grasp a handle.  His wife and a toddler would join him occasionally, and it made me sad to see them seeing HIM. What tragedy befell him I could only guess.

There were many older clients, some accompanied by a spouse- and others not.  Many were friendly and would smile as we would pass each other in the gym.  We became familiar faces to each other, and that is always comforting when you’re in a place that is a “sterile” environment that smells of cleaning solution and one last hope. 

One day I was waiting in my wheel chair next to an older woman who was working with a PT.  I heard her ask, “Do I work here?  Is this where I work?” The incredibly patient and kind PT explained where she was.  The woman informed her that SHE had been a nurse.  And then asked again, “Is this where I work? Am I at work right now?”

I turned my head and reached for my walker.  I needed to walk a bit, to ease the pain of watching the future exposing itself to me.

I made several laps around the gym, more and more confident and comfortable with the movement my legs were finally able to make.  I caught the eye of an older gentleman who was sitting upright on one of the bed-like tables that sat on the perimeter of the gym.  He was thin and a very handsome older fella. He was in his late eighties, I would guess, with a lovely grayed mustache and goatee keeping his face warm.  He lifted his head up and said something to me.

I was not close enough to catch it, so I walked closer to him.  “What was that?” I asked with a smile.

“Well, it’s beautiful.  It’s so beautiful to watch you walking.”  He raised his hand slowly as he spoke, and had a lovely twinkle in his eye.

I laughed and thanked him profusely.  “Won’t be long until you’re keeping up with me,” I said as I turned to complete my laps.  He smiled and waved me on.

I found myself walking back to my wheelchair with tears in my eyes AGAIN.  Only this time they weren’t tears from the pain.  They were tears of thankfulness.   

How did he know that was just what the doctor ordered?


You mean I have to get OUT of the bed? (aka they don't pay physical therapists NEAR enough money)

“She’s the ‘bilateral’,” I heard the nurse mention to the aide that entered the room with her.

I turned my head towards the door and moved my bed up with the cool electronic device that enables you to remain motionless for as long as you want.  Considering the fact that my body felt like it had rolled down a mountain at full speed bouncing off of every rock and boulder it encountered, that was precisely what I wanted.

It had been three days since both of my total knee replacements, and the most I had done myself was howl each time I was helped in and out of the wheelchair.  The powers that be insist you go to the bathroom “yourself” after having both knees completely rebuilt.  (Because surely it doesn’t hurt THAT much.)

I had been moved to the rehab facility the night before, and was pretty convinced that I would never, EVER walk again, let alone slide out of a bed.

The nurse, however, was convinced otherwise.

“Let’s go! Time for PT!” she said with a smile as she pushed the wheelchair towards the bed.  I looked at her thinking she was out of her mind and then willed my legs to slide towards the side of the bed.

They didn’t listen.

I forced my bed to the upright-est position I could and then grabbed my legs and gently pushed them over.  “Sweet Jesus in heaven” I muttered.   I would say far worse things than that before the days PT session was over.

I was wheeled down the hall where I met a lovely and energetic young girl about Bitchy’s age. (Except she was a lot NICER.)  She explained who she was and what our goals were.  I smiled and tried to make light, humorous conversation.  It wasn’t easy.  She excused herself for a few moments to attend to several other “clients” who were working on various pieces of equipment around the room.

I took that time to take in my surroundings.  I had been wheeled into what looked like a high school gymnasium. The walls were filled with inspirational quotes written in larger than life print.  The room itself was filled with short “massage” tables, designed for patients to lay on while practiced certain exercises.  In one corner there were more than 50 walkers of all shape and size, as well as wheelchairs and other walking aides.  There were other tables peppered around the room for patients working on activities designed for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill practice.  There were many other torture devices around the room, but I was distracted by the clients I saw moving to and fro around the room engaged in their own journey back from the dead.  From what I could see, I was almost the youngest in the room.  I noticed a young man who appeared in his twenties with what looked like a severe head injury working very hard to pedal something with his arms.  I looked away, trying hard not drown in the sea of emotion these sights had thrust me into. If I looked too closely at all of the struggles, I wouldn’t have the strength to face my own.

My therapist joined me with a walker.  I looked at her and laughed.  “Really? You want me to get UP?”

“That’s right.  Your rehab begins NOW, lady!” she said smiling, but with just enough of a challenge for this ex-gymnast to accept.

I grabbed the walker and forced myself up. "Holy Mother of GOD!" I said through clenched teeth.   I looked at her and then put one foot in front of the other.  I slowly made my way around the room. It seemed like an eternity, but it might have been ten minutes.  She showed me a few exercises we would be working on, and after a very painful hour she wheeled me back to my room.

“You were great.  We’ll see you three or four times a day, and you’ll do better each time. Don’t get discouraged!  Baby steps here; you’ll make baby steps each day.”
She managed to help me into my bed and got me comfortable.  It wasn’t until she turned and walked out of the room that I closed my eyes and let the tears flow.

This wasn’t gonna be easy.

But, unlike many of the “clients” I had encountered that morning, I knew I WAS going to get better.  I knew I WAS going to stand on my own, I knew I WAS going to shower on my own, and soon I knew I WAS going to walk out of here.

It was just a matter of kicking my own @$$.  But I think I’ve had a lot of practice in that area….


If you hate to laugh.....this book is NOT for you!!!

Here's a small (reminder) taste of Frank......

Lesson nine
We were working in literacy centers today when I heard Frank’s thundering voice from across the room. It’s a daily occurrence. He was trying to redirect one of the children in his group to a task that wasn’t really PART of the center. A case of the confused leading the even more confused.
I quietly left my own group to walk over and try to right a sinking ship.
“Frank, please remember that Frank worries about Frank, and Suzy worries about Suzy. I, on the other hand, worry about everyone.”
“What did you say?” I asked, knowing immediately I shouldn’t have asked.
“I thaid crap. Cause I thpilled thome things!”
“Frank. You do NOT say crap in school or to the teacher. You never ‘crap’ the teacher. Do you understand that?” I said convincingly. Or so I thought.
Shrugging his shoulders, he nodded. I walked away and heard him knock over the box containing the one thousand Mr. Potato Head pieces and turned to see them scatter across the floor.
“CRAP!” he shouted, and then looked at me.
I looked and then quickly turned away. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to ignore the crap.

Lesson learned: Crap is not on our “must spell” list.

If you HATE to laugh, do NOT buy "The Book of Frank" here.