Every weekday morning around 10:30 I take a short flight out of bed in the Hoyer Lift and into my wheelchair. Then the sweet and lovely Natalie pushes me to Occupational Therapy where I exercise my upper body. Natalie is pretty no doubt but so much more than that. She is so kind and gentle she guards my injured foot like it matters to her as I swing round the Hoyer Lift. She is planning a career in therapy as she supports her boyfriend through chiropractor school so healthcare is all in the family as it were. If I had a daughter I’d be proud of one like Natalie.
Once at the gym Elias takes over and sets me weights and tasks to build upper body strength. Then he brings me a chocolate espresso from the machine, a huge incentive! My tasks are to curl weights in my hands, lift and stretch in various ways. Yesterday a little old lady was sitting next to me at the table in her wheelchair. She looked a wreck with purple mottled skin and a thick head of unkempt hair she was bent double and holding a hand exerciser, one of those plastic gates with elastic bands intended to make your hand stronger.
Elias and I posing for the inevitable selfie...
I’m not allowed to photograph patients and to avoid being able to identify her I’ll change her name but the conversation went like this.
“Hi. I’m Michael. What’s your name.” That got me a grimace. “Do you speak English? Hablas Español?” That got me a grunted Yes. No English speaker in Miami wants to be addressed in Spanish especially not my Italian accented pidgin Spanish with Italian thrown in when I forget the Spanish. I was encouraged by that one word.
“Where are you from?” - Here
“Miami? Cool no one is from Miami” I said. - I am
“Squeeze that elastic band. Imagine it’s all those people who moved to Miami and screwed up your home town.” The previously comatose patient started squeezing her hand tool. The therapists were in a juvenile huddle gossiping.
“What’s your name? And keep squeezing...” -Rosie.
“How do you do.” - I hate this place.
“Squeeze the damned rubber band.” I said and Rosie started giggling hunched over in her chair. All it took was a little interest. Then before I could ask about her family or anything interesting (I’ll bet she was a spy in World War Two or something equally outlandish) her cold therapist wheeled her away. I’ll talk to anyone these days. I was nearly dead a month ago.
After lunch I go to physical therapy and work on my legs and core strength. Eddy lifts me out of the chair with another Hoyer Lift and stretches me out on a plastic pad that looks more like a four poster bed with bondage apparatus than an exercise platform but that is what it is.
Yesterday we didn’t use the Redcord pulleys, we practiced rolling. Let’s face it rolling sounds as energy consuming as raising a six pound weight but let me tell you learning to roll to the left with a bum right leg and using no hands was quite something. I started by trying to raise my legs and while under control letting them back down to the mat. That set my incisions burning. Nothing like fire in your leg to focus your attention. Then Eddy had me sit up from side to side. Then the big kahuna, he made me position my legs, left under right and immobile right as far forward as possible and...roll!
Damn! I did it! And I didn’t grab those black carabiners in the upright post you can see in the picture above. I couldn’t believe it! I was so grateful I grabbed Eddy’s hand and pretended to kiss it. He laughed and that sealed my fate. A complete stranger across the room shouted “Michael’s happy!” General hilarity. I guess my noisy progress has been under observation. I laid back on the mat and laughed. Hell of a day.