Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Rehab Do-Over....

From September 31 to October 6, 2008, my therapists, my family and I kept me walking up and down the halls of the original ward of City of Hope. Instead of having my patient gown trapped inside the "shell of discomfort", I wore an additional patient gown backwards to cover my bare assets. I always enjoyed my fashion trend as I trotted down the halls donning two gowns, a JP pinned to my inside gown and all my IV lines trailing behind with my dad rolling the IV bags and machines closely behind.

The "Brace of Constriction" or
"Shell of Discomfort" as I call it.
Getting out of the hospital bed to do my therapy each day was less cumbersome than it had been with the brace. Yet, it was still painful moving around again. My leg could move forward and backward with a little help of momentum, but there was less movement from side to side with more pain. Usually, the nurses would give me some morphine before my therapy sessions to make it more tolerable maneuvering in and out of the bed. In an effort to help me, either my parents or my therapists would pivot my lower body toward the edge of the bed while I would use all my upper body strength and pivot my shoulders toward the other side of the bed. Doing this maneuver every day reminded me of break dancers flinging their body onto the floor and spinning on their backs over and over. But, I was no break dancer and this was not a dance floor.

My first time getting out the bed was a slightly scary experience not knowing how my body would react to the new found freedom from the "brace of constriction" it had been accustomed to for these past few weeks. At first, I tried to take my steps as quickly as I had been while wearing the brace. I found that there was a sense of comfort knowing that the brace was holding my hip in place and that I would not come apart while walking with it on me. Now that it was off, I was going to have to figure this out quickly. I took several steps and found that it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. However, I would need to focus on my hip. When I would take steps too quickly and haphazardly, my hip would slightly buckle forward causing me to have to catch myself and stand fully upright again.

I soon got the hang of it and took my time walking. It was not a sprint I had to finish quickly, it was a marathon that I was going to have to pace myself for.

October 6th came quickly and I was being transferred back to the rehab hospital in Tustin. When I arrived, they were not quite ready for me in the ward that I had been in previously. So, they took me upstairs to the brain inquiry ward. I was obviously out of place with the other patients in this area, but it was only going to be overnight or one more day I would stay up here. They got me settled in and started me on the medication routine they required for admittance. I was not a great fan of the food in this hospital, so I asked to have just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my meals.

I certainly made a splash as I started back at Tustin Rehab, I got sick from the heavy duty OTC med's they gave me the first night and then when my therapist's were getting me out to walk my blood pressure tanked big time and I almost past out in the bathroom of my patient room. So, needless to say I was not doing well when I arrived.

Mock stairs at Tustin Rehab.
After another day of being bed-bound from their med's messing with my body, I was finally getting back to things. I was transferred back to the first floor and had a room back in the ward I was in when I was here before getting the infection.

Without the brace to hold me back, the therapists were more comfortable helping me gain strength in my upper body and knowing how to do things to move around better with my lower body. They did several exercises to learn how to get in and out of bed without help, there were a lot of muscle strengthening exercises and then once things were progressing well, they taught me how to manage the stairs using a mock stairwell (as pictured to the left).

Dr. Alex Zand
Things weren't really going that great with me physically though. Walking was going great, but I would get so hot at night spiking a fever and was beginning to develop what seemed to be a heat rash on many areas of my body. Mom didn't really like the looks of what was happening, so we called the doctor in to take a look. Dr. Alex Zand was working with me again now that I was back here at the hospital. He was glad that he had sent me back to City of Hope after we had discussed everything that had happened. After taking a look, Dr. Zand thought that it would be a good idea to consult with another doctor about my condition.

Dr. Richard Faraday
Dr. Richard Faraday was brought in take a look at me. He specialized in Infectious Diseases. Great, so now they think I have some sort of disease that is going to be contagious? What else can happen to me?

After a few tests and talking with me and my parents for a while, Dr. Faraday figured that I was having an allergic reaction to the massive anti-biotic I had been taking since I had been taken back to City of Hope. When we thought about when the fever spikes began, it all started to make sense. I hadn't really shown any signs of the rashes and would only get fevers at night. We concluded that Vancomycin was the cause of my rashes now and my nightly temperature spikes for several weeks. This was going to require a few changes to my daily meds. After consulting with not only Dr. Zand but Dr. Femino, I was switched to another anti-biotic called Daptomycin and I was put on a regimen of steroids to counteract the effects of the Vancomycin.

My body was going through many changes with these meds and I was still under going all of my regular daily therapy sessions. It was a crazy time. I felt like I was one big science experiment happening at all hours of the day. Soon enough though, the nightly fever spikes had subsided and the rashes were not as itchy, but still very much there.

After only a few days in the rehab hospital, a lot had already happened with me. It seemed as though life was on a major fast forward, but time wasn't sped up all.

Next..."A Car, A Walker and A Ride Home"

"He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, And opens their ear in time of oppression." Job 36:15

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