Thursday, August 16, 2012


For weeks it seemed as though my journey was to continually be confined to the hospital. I spent so many days in the hospital bed and going through the once daily walking routine. I thought that was just about the extent of it and nothing more. Once in the rehab hospital, time seemed to speed up and things started happening. "Uneventful" was not a word I would be using since I was transferred to rehab. Every couple of days a new challenge arose that tested my faith or an obstacle was removed from my way and I was off running this marathon of life. I could only choose to thank God for that happening. I would have to say the pivotal moment when the everyday occurrences of this journey turned into bursts of obstacles and successes was the day I had the wound vac removed and was told the brace was no longer needed.

While that day brought on a sense of boldness within me, there was still such a long way to go and fear still lingered at the surface of my emotions. Out of rehab and at home at my parents, the nurse set me up with managing my own antibiotic administration. She followed me for 2 days before letting me loose to manage my days until the final dose. Then, there was the appointment with Dr. Femino. How well did that go?! I was extremely happy with the progress and release from his care for 6 months. And, as always since surgery, I enjoyed seeing Dr. Femino and conversing with him.

Now to add more onto my plate while being at home, I was to be set up with an in-home physical therapist. Okay, so we're going to do more walking here at the house. What I am going to do, walk up and down the hall? I can do that on my own. What do I need an in-home therapist for? What exactly are they going to do to help me?

Since I had come home on a Friday, the therapist called over the weekend and set-up an appointment to come to the house on Monday. He showed up about 30 minutes late, driving a late model BMW (at least it wasn't a hummer like Sarah). He carried his cell phone and keys with him and a few papers on the first day. He had a deep penetrating voice. It seemed that no matter what he might try to do, he could never get his voice to a whisper, it just boomed as he spoke. He and I talked for a short time about my surgery before he was ready to get started with my therapy.

Dr. Christian M. Chipouras, DPT
His name was Dr. Christian Chipouras. He was originally from New Jersey and had moved to California to get started in the therapy business. As we strolled down the long hallway of my parents house toward the den, he asked to see what the kitchen was like. He was looking for places within the house that he could do the training with me, and he was looking for places I could do stuff on my own as well.

He decided that the kitchen was going to be the best place for us work-out. I was going to be able to use the walker at times, hold onto the counter for other times and have enough room to practice certain moves with my legs. He started me out by doing calf raises in the corner of the kitchen where I had enough room to move and was able to hold on to the counter. After calf raises, we moved into knee bends. He had a lot of instruction for me on those. He needed me to have a straight back and not lean forward, which would defeat the purpose of the exercise. He followed the knee bends up with adductor movements of the right leg (it was where you move your leg out to the side and back-to-center. Having only walked for nearly two months, I was already exhausted and dripping wet.

We had one more exercise to do. He was having me concentrate on walking with heal-to-toe movements. In the shortest part of the kitchen, he had me take a step out in front of myself with my right (surgery) leg placing my weight on the heal. Then, slowly I was to bring my good leg forward and pivot (or propel) off of my right toes and then back again. I had to do this over and over again to retrain my brain to walk normally.

So, if all this wasn't enough for the very first day of therapy, he then had me take the walker outside and walk our neighborhood. This guy was totally crazy, and killing me off! Walking through the neighborhood proved to be exceptionally challenging. While in the hospital and in rehab, I had completely smooth surfaces to roll along on. Here at home, I had cracks in the sidewalk, the natural breaks between pads of concrete on the sidewalks, dips for driveways, uneven pads of concrete, debris on the sidewalk, etc. You name it, every obstacle you could imagine was right there ready to take me out. Many times the wheels on the walker would get caught on a rock and stop the walker from moving forward. That would launch me into walker and against the round metal frame until I could back up and manually move the walker away from the pebble which felt like a boulder. Again, I was dripping wet with beads pouring down my face and into my glasses. It was not a pretty sight.

Then, we would come back into the house in time for him to pick up his car keys and cell phone, set up the next appointment in two days and race out the door to his next patient. Mom and I would change me from my therapy clothes into my bathing suit and I would go to the backyard to cool off in the pool. This was another form of therapy for me, floating in the cold pool for an hour. This schedule of therapy would last for three more weeks. But the good thing was that Sunday was coming and I was going to have my final dose of antibiotic!

My PICC line for IV's
Sarah came late in the afternoon on that Sunday. She had a bunch of paperwork to complete as I finished up my last round of Daptomycin.  I an't tell you how glad I was that I was going to have this PICC line removed from my arm after this too. Sarah asked how everything went, if there were any problems, if I felt comfortable, etc. She completed all of the paperwork necessary for my release from her care and I signed them. As soon as all that was complete, it was time for her to take the PICC  line out. It took a couple of minutes for her to prepare everything to take it out and sterilize my arm so that the opening wouldn't get an infection. After she had removed the PICC line and disposed of it, she gave us instructions on how to dispose of all of the resources left from hanging the IV on a pole, extra alcohol swabs, latex gloves, etc. Since she did a lot of traveling to different patients, she had a need for the IV pole, so we sent it with her. All the rest of the stuff we just hung onto for now. There was nothing else for her to do so she packed up and she was out the door within an hour.

It seemed a little anti-climatic when Sarah left. My dad had gotten back from his business trip and the three of us all looked at each other really not knowing what to do with ourselves at this point. I had a couple of appointments lined up with the infectious disease doctor and the rehab doctor. I was hoping they would release me soon so I knew what to tell work about my return to Colorado. but, we would see what they said soon enough.

Next..."Getting Better All the Time."

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:10-12 

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