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.
Never missed a beat.
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: