Sunday, April 21, 2013

SPINE SURGERY - About post-op rehab. . .

A nurse changed my life by asking why I wasn't going to rehab instead of a nursing home after surgery.  (I had gone over to say Hi to her in the market because she had crutches in her cart.) I checked again with the surgeon.

 All three possible hospitals had in-house acute rehab.  I wanted the one near home and friends, but listened to the pitch from surgery hospital  rehab, though I wasn't happy about that hospital.  

The surgeon over-ruled my choice of the rehab closest to home, and booked me into the hospital by his office; said he likes to check on how it's going.  An ambulance took me comfortably to the next town, directly to the rehab unit.  Having the surgeon across the street was kind of comforting.  A friend, my wonderful roommate, and my dear clergyman made the complicated trip to visit me. (I say complicated because poor directions and signage had made the ambulance trip there take literally hours.)

A lot of the rehab was walking the halls and wheeling myself in a wheel chair, plus some exercises in the hall and in an activity room.  But first: practicing the "logrolling exit from bed" and putting the too-large brace on and off, fastening it to my walker, since I couldn't pick it up if it fell on the floor.  (Yes, some of this is a repeat post.)  Down the hall to practice getting up from a low sofa, trying out the latest in dumbbells--lime green, fuzzy, two pounds.  I am so tempted to call them Muppet bells.

Became a sponge-bath virtuoso, but never got to take a shower.  I insisted on using the toilet, using their papa-size potty chair only for support when getting up.

The occupational therapists had me pantomime on their sample tub exactly how I planned to shower without breaking my neck at home. 

I learned several exercises to do in bed; these were also doable for my chair and ottoman at home.

I finally met the best physical therapist -- she made me learn to go down a few "model" stairs using only the cane - scary.  But she also took me out to the hospital garden to walk (I'm still kicking myself for not getting a photo of this actual patient, me, USING a hospital garden to get better!)  She also took me to the parking lot to practice safely stepping on and off curbs.

Now in the seventh month of recovery, I eagerly use the in-bed exercises before I get up most mornings.  My daughter got me the shocking pink store-bought two-pounders (an improvement over using shampoo bottles.  And I walk.  And walk. I've been driving again after almost half a year.  I do chores with the grabber, squatting instead of bending at the waist.  And I walk some more.

I may check with the doctor soon about going to local water aerobics at some point.  Whatever moves us forward.


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