Friday, November 9, 2018

The End

Today is my last full day in rehab at Encompass Health. In the afternoon my wife will arrive, without Rusty and will pack my belongings in the car. Tomorrow the van comes to take me to Key West. It is over.  From here on I do it myself. I’ll have some outpatient therapy but at home I shall be alone in a borrowed accessible apartment in New Town strengthening myself and learning to be truly independent. I am a success story. 

This is the photo that will adorn my poster on the corridor wall. “When 911 Calls 911”. From left Giselle my caseworker, Elias Occupational Therapist, Natalie my Transporter ( in green), Eddy Physical Therapist with my hand on his shoulder, and three invaluable students in brown, Hayley, Christian and Courtney. On the stairs standing next to me is my physician Dr Kushner. What a crew.  And they are nice enough to tell me they will miss me and my sense of humor and good cheer. It’s been a great experience and I have learned so much about myself and what matters in life.

Dr Kushner fought tooth and nail to get me in the facility and he promised even in my wrecked state they could repair me and they have. Always upbeat always ready to deal with whatever circumstance or insurance threw my way... he kept me going and gave me the time to flourish. 

Eddy my rock, my cheerleader, my friend, my Physical Therapist. He never gave up on me as I struggled with my weight bearing issues and my lack of coordination. I hope he does come to the Keys. 

Sweet easy going Elias my Occupational Therapist responsible for my upper body and training me to dress and use the toilet. He massaged my swollen leg back to health and enabled me to bend it and use it despite the atrophy.

Eddie training Hayley and Christian how to pick up heavy patients. Notice Christian’s knees between Hayley’s  and her arms all the way round his back. They dread falls more than anything. A patient falls and they fail.  This is how they pick you up when you are a bedridden lump. 

Loren on the right went on vacation before the group photo. She is as smart as she is pretty and we had lots of discussions and even though I am an asshole I am her asshole. I think she has a bright future. Especially if she trusts her own judgment. 

Sweet Natalie in the foreground, the one who best supported my leg when in a brace. Sexy Ketty my favorite nurse’s aide who has promised in principle to elope to Montana with me. Below is Natalie holding my leg in the Hoyer Lift. The possibilities for pain were endless except with Natalie holding it. The best leg holder, no small thing. 

The Hoyer Lift came up a lot this week as we reminisced about how battered I was when I first arrived. All I had was the use of my right arm. Consequently they had to lift me out of bed with a crane. Sosa and Elias. 

I couldn’t even sit up in the wheelchair at first. Sosa (Alejandro) was an orthopedic doctor in Cuba.  Here has two jobs as Rehab Nurse Technician in two facilities and is glad to be in the US like so many of his colleagues in this hospital. There is a whole squadron of highly trained Cuban  doctors here.

So many people, the food service workers who greet me with a smile and a hug and the cleaning lady who tells me about her dog as she pets Rusty. I will miss them all. Except those who will go on sticking by me in the next part of this ordeal: 

Never missed a beat.


Celia Bowman said...

You've had everything going for you from the beginning of this difficult journey. You have the best family support abd love anyone could wish for, super caring doctors and nurses, and the Supremes, your rehab team and staff.
But, you have put all your heart and mind and grit into working hard to do all you have been asked to do, with humor and courage. You have helped others in your path and lived each moment with purpose and openess to transformation. We have been witness to your giving new meaning to this gift of further years of life. Thank you Michael. Heres to your next steps. I'm certain you will apply all you have learned and others will pass on all they have learned knowing you as a human being. Talk to you later.

Anonymous said...

The last photo of your wife and dog..fantastic.
A long while back I told you the people in rehab would
come to seem like angels to you. I guess now you know what
I meant. You on on your way now. We all want to congratulate you.
Charlie in San Diego

Conchscooter said...

Thank you both. Much appreciated.

Jay Dulaney said...

Congratulations on your graduation! Great news that enough progress has been made to allow your release. Now, new challenges await new solutions heretofore not considered when everything worked without compromise. I’m sure you will handle this phase with the same determination that has marked your initial rehab. Good luck, Michael, and may you continue to improve and regain your independent movement enough to start considering walks with Rusty soon (soon, being a relative term, and only when you’re ready). We will all be waiting, hoping, and watching, as you meet your new challenges, cheering you on, and even though you won’t hear them, know that you are receiving them, just the same. Cheers, Michael!

Cody G said...

Great news, good luck with the continued recovery.

Susan said...

Well dang, we've never met, I know you only through this blog, (although you *may* have known my father when he lived in KW), but this post made me tear up a bit. Best wishes on the next phase of your journey back to wellness, I look forward to following along.

roadlesstraveldguy said...

Glad to hear Key West will get back one of the people that make it interesting and I look forward to hearing of your continued progress!

lys93 said...

so good to hear

Garythetourist said...

This is the post we have been waiting for. Congratulations Michael, you have climbed a mountain and you had the integrity to turn around and say "Thank you" to all the people who helped you to the top. Class, you did this with real class Michael. I'm proud to be your friend.

SonjaM said...

You pulled through, and had an extraordinary support team. I am so glad that you are on the mend, Michael. I followed you on every step through rehab, my thoughts were with you all the time. You've made it. Now family will take over and will help you heal further. Best wishes from Germany, SonjaM

MyamuhNative said...

You are simply amazing.
I can't do better than Celia's comment above, so I will simply say I am thrilled that you have done so well and I know you will continue to improve just by being home in the Keys.

RichardM said...

I’m glad to read that you are heading towards a more normal life out of rehab.

Ginney Camden said...

It’s wonderful that you have overcome so much and get to come home. I have been cheering you on from Iowa and look forward to hearing about your future walks with Rusty.

Unknown said...

As Mel Fisher would say, "Today is the day!" The day you've worked so hard to reach has finally arrived. You've spent the last two-plus months with some of the best medical professionals there are and they did their jobs well. Your tribute to them was awesome and I'm sure they're proud of the job you've done as well. So it's off to Key West for you tomorrow, and what a ride it will be! We'll be right along with you, so after you rest up from the trip we'll be anxiously waiting for a detailed report of your first day as a free man! Congrats, Conchscooter! Let the future begin!! KWBound

Kellie Johnson said...

I am so glad to hear you're finally headed "home." I will continue to send good vibes for speedy healing to you and your wonderful wife!! I am sure Rusty will also be excited to be around you full time again. Looking forward to reading about the next steps in your recovery. Thanks for keeping us all posted.