Tag Archives: rehab

Not Giving Up

Well, obviously I’ve missed by five-day a week PostADay goal these last two weeks, but I’m not giving up. It may be a bit messy in the weeks coming up as well, but eventually I think I’ll get back to regular posting. I’m going to try to do short things this week, as I will continue to be busy caring for my mother, just not as busy as last week. 

As it turned out, she wasn’t released on Tuesday the eleventh, but Wednesday. That was the same day my sister returned, so we had someone to stay with Mother at home that night and every night since. We’ve also got a cadre of home health nurses and physical and occupational therapists coming by. When we had the opportunity to have that back when she had the rod put into her leg, it sounded unnecessary, but I’m finding that I’m really valuing their assistance this time.

The biggest concern we were having since she came home is how much she has slept and how weak she’s been. She gets tired so easily, falls asleep sitting at the table and then would fall out of the chair if someone wasn’t there to catch her. Today we learned that when you lie around and do nothing, you lose whatever strength and conditioning you had at a ratio of about 1 to 3. So for every nothing day, you have to spend 3 days working your way back to square one. This ratio is even worse for someone who is elderly and had medical problems — something like 6 -12 days of recovery work for every day of downtime.  My mother has just spent two consecutive weekends, both four-day stays, in the hospital, doing nothing beyond getting up to go to the bathroom. And in the second stay, she didn’t even do that because they put in a catheter, fearing she might fall if she tried to get up.

The PT’s are working slowly to help her regain her strength and endurance, as well as balance and ability to do everyday things. They also help with the neuropathy the chemotherapy has produced in her legs and hands. And they told us we should not let her sleep for hours, but wake her up after short naps to do something active, however little that might be.

We are also noticing a shifting of mental ability — at times she’s totally clear and sharp. Other times, not so much. But today I think there was more sharpness than I’ve seen before. And it is likely that as the swelling of the brain from the blood-pressure spike decreases, and her fatigue lessens much of her confusion will ease. At least that is what we are hoping (and in my case, praying for).

Disjointed and Out of the Blue

Well, it’s been over a week since I’ve posted. We’ve done Thanksgiving, the leftovers which haven’t yet been eaten have been packaged and frozen, I finished the last of the cranberry sauce with my sandwich today and now it’s on to Christmas.  I’m thinking of making Christmas cookies tomorrow. Unless I decide to write instead…

My mother is finally doing well. Though her rehab therapists were supposed to request additional sessions before she completed the 13 her insurance had already approved, they did not.  On her last day they said  they would submit the request that very day and told me to call the next week to find out if they had received authorization. But when I called, the request STILL hadn’t been submitted.  It went out that morning — last week. I got a call yesterday to say the sessions had finally been approved, but by now my mother has been doing her exercises on her own, lifting her leg fairly easily, is getting into and out of my car just fine, walking without a cane and generally able to go about her life again. Now the only reason she can’t drive her car is because we had to forgo the planned cataract surgery back in September and she can’t see.  In any case, the therapists missed their chance and we won’t be going back.

On Monday we saw the oncologist who said that her cancer, seeing as it migrated to her leg, has to be regarded as a chronic illness that must be managed for the rest of her life and that she will have to have another round of chemotherapy. Not a fun prospect. He said she doesn’t have to begin until January. So we have a bit of a reprieve.

The above are only two examples of the myriad details that have lately filled my life:  Thanksgiving, Christmas preps, trying to get new waterbed sheets… They are no longer available in Tucson so I had to try online — which has turned into an ordeal of uncertainty I probably should chronicle on one of those review-our-business sites. They charged my credit card before the sheets were even shipped and after three weeks informed me that they aren’t even being made any more and did I want to get a different kind? I said yes, but then they called to say that the new sheets had been backordered to early December so I have no idea when they’ll come. 

The local termites made a reappearance in our dining room, so we had to deal with that. Javelina are roaming the neighborhood eating peoples’ pumpkins and flowers… and my husband’s strawberry plants. Quigley is Quigley and I have been strangely wordless of late.

I did finish The Black Swan and it’s full of dog-eared pages. The concepts gleaned from it apply to so many things and I still want to write a few more posts about confirmation bias, how we change our memories each time we remember, the narrative fallacy that pervades our news and the pervasive delusion that we know much more than we think we do.

My mother suggested a new treatment to her oncologist that she’d heard about where massive amounts of Vitamin C are infused directly into the bloodstream and so boosts the immune system that it begins to fight the cancer. He said, “When you figure out what exactly the immune system is, let me know.”  I loved it. Things, particularly organic, living systems are so complicated and we’re always trying to make things fit into a box (Plato’s forms?), trying to simplify, homogenize, one size fits all. It’s easier that way. We can’t handle the complexity… but that’s a post for another day.

For now, disjointed and out of the blue as it is, I have a post for today. Disjointed and out of the blue is really quite characteristic of my life these days, though, so maybe it’s just appropriate.

Yet Another Update

It’s 10 o’clock Monday night, November 9 and I’ve not done a blog entry since the 2nd. Why? Well, I’ve been busy, yes. And I keep getting to the end of the day and finding myself too tired to try to pull the posts I want to do together. And since I also received a notification last week from Feedblitz (the system that sends my blog posts out to subscribers’ email inboxes) of someone unsubscribing because there were “too many updates”, I’ve not wanted to just post another updatey sort of post.

Like this one.

Of course, I don’t know that “updates” meant literal update posts on things in my life, or just too many posts. Which would be ironic given blog-writing advice which says you should do regular, frequent postings or you’ll lose your readers. They never say that you might lose readers precisely because you do that. In any case, I think, but am not sure that “too many updates” is probably better than “content no longer relevant,” which is another reason Feedblitz unsubscribers have given for unsubscribing…

 So, much as I’ve fought giving an update, it seems that’s all I have to give. So onward.

Last week my mother had her tooth extracted. That was on Wednesday and though the actual extraction went well, and the bleeding initially stopped, when we got home it was going again. So we spent all morning trying to get  it to stop, then went back to the doctor, and long story short, it took most of the day.

After that, though, things went well. She’s having no trouble and is getting around much better. Rehab exercises are going well, even though she had to skip last Thursday’s session. We go again tomorrow.

I on the other hand was completely exhausted. There’d been a string of days where I’d been going from one thing to the next with one and sometimes even two appointments per day. So Thursday I didn’t go anywhere and didn’t do much of anything either.  Mainly I worked on making a card for my husband’s birthday, which was Friday.

When I try to think back on all I’ve done, it doesn’t seem like anything momentous… continue with the rehab, go to the store, make a cake, walk the dog, clean the dog, clean the house, do laundry… but I do recall and awful lot of hindrances cropping up. Things that break, spill, get lost, get undone, get snarled… so that things end up taking longer then you planned.

Finally, I have yet to even look at the material for Sky and it’s starting to bug me. But I keep putting it back in the Lord’s hands, trusting He’ll make it clear — and doable — when He’s ready for me to get back to work on it.


Phone Book Exercise

Last week as part of our rehab exercises, my mother was supposed to stand upright while holding on to her walker, lift her foot and place it on a phone book. This was an exercise that was supposed to strengthen her leg and help her bend her knee more. Unfortunately, she kept lifting her hip with her leg straight in her attempt to put her foot on the book, and I had to keep reminding her to bend her knee. “The point of this exercise isn’t so you can just put your foot on a book, it’s to practice bending your knee,” I told her.

As I did, it occurred to me how often God does that same sort of thing in our lives. He brings in problems that, taking the superficial view, have an obvious external, temporal purpose and goal: straighten out the medication mix up, nurse the person back to health, complete the book, get the school project done, get the car fixed after it’s broken down… But just like with my mother’s phone book exercise, none of those are the real goal.

The real goal is eternal — God conforming us to the image of His son, bringing us to a point where we can share in his sufferings and experience a bit of His resurrection life in time. And the problems and screwball events in our lives are often just exercises that bring us along toward that eternal goal. As Pastor Joe said in Bible class tonight, God is in the details of our lives. If He numbers the very hairs on our heads, He knows all about the other small things of our lives, and uses them to accomplish His purposes for us.

Pain and Rehab

Well, my days continue to be chock full of tasks and responsibilities as I continue to help my mother with her rehab, and take her to her radiation treatments (Only three of the latter left. Hooray!)  as well as tend to other responsibilities — as much as I can, anyway.

Rehab continues to be a struggle for my mother. Not only does she not understand why it’s necessary, she doesn’t believe the physical therapists and doctors know what they’re talking about. In fact, now that the exercises have started to make her sore and stiff, she’s REALLY not sure any of this is necessary, despite the fact I’ve explained it to her numerous times and so have the physical therapists.  But when I suggested we could simply stop today if she really didn’t want to do it any more, she decided that she would keep on with it.

Hopefully she’ll begin to get some solid validation for her efforts and suffering before too much longer.

On Thursday she met with her main PT. He got her started on an exercise bicycle then cornered me to ask how she was doing. Well, I thought she had progressed and was doing better, but I was wrong. He was shocked at how little progress she’d made, and “very concerned.” The next thing I knew both he and his assistant were confronting me, shaking their heads, saying they had expected much more improvement and that if she didn’t begin to show some significant changes, they would have to kick her out of the program. I stood there looking at them like  a deer caught in headlights.

They thought she was refusing to try hard because of her fear of the pain, which could well be the case. They describe her in their notes as cautious, fearful, reluctant and afraid of the pain. All of which are true. She didn’t want to go into the pool because she’s afraid of the water and told them so very plainly. She didn’t want to get on the exercise bike because it was scary and made her very uneasy, which she freely communicated (though she did get on it). She doesn’t want to use an electric heating pad because those are scary (but she used one). She doesn’t know if she wants ice on her knee or not, or heat or not, or electrical muscle stimulation or not (but she accepts whatever I suggest she do). She tells them she doesn’t want to use a cane because it feels weird and unstable and she’d rather walk without anything. She orders people not to touch her leg (though they do anyway), orders them not to manipulate it (and they do anyway), makes terrible faces as if she’s in great pain when they do, and gets plainly irritated when they ask her questions about how she feels and what is her level of pain. She tells them she doesn’t know and can’t answer.  

But then, she IS almost 82. I guess being crotchety about it all isn’t that out of the ordinary for someone who’s 82 and never really been ill or helpless or had to answer all these questions about how she feels and what’s the pain like, and where does it hurt…  In fact, today when I told her she could take some Tylenol for the pain, she got angry and asked why she should have to take drugs. I realized then that she’s probably angry about all of it. Angry that the whole thing is happening, angry that she’s been so debilitated, angry that she’s hurting worse now than last week and how can something that’s supposed to be good for you hurt like this?

And how can I explain that suffering can be a blessing? That the pain God sends into our lives, He intends to bless us, whether because it wakes us up and gets us back on the right track, or whether it’s there to prune us and train us, or to provide that eternal weight of glory stored up for us in heaven. Americans are so generally afraid of pain. Our culture seems in many ways all about eradicating pain. “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child,” reads one of Arizona’s license plates.  Really? What about “beat him with a switch, he shall not die?” What about, “he who spanks his son loves him, but the one who lets him go hates him?” How about Jesus learned obedience from the things that He suffered?

We spend too much time thinking pain is bad, wrong, ought not to be when in reality, we should embrace it for its refining power, its ability to mold us and make us stronger, more compassionate, more patient… so many things we can learn in it and from it. If we weren’t trying so hard to avoid it.