Once the holiday passed no time was wasted. My schedule was given to me with the explanation that over time it would increase in activity. I had therapy in every category, OT and PT, recreational, assistive technology, special interests. In my case the special interests were arts and books. But all bases were covered in this form of rehabilitation. I had to complete every class before my departure and I had to have three hours of combined PT and OT. If I miss something for any reason, I made it up. But that was also my choice. There were others that sat in their rooms and refused any kind of therapy. I remember feeling sad for other people when I wheeled around. I guess that was always in my nature to want to help others, and it was hard for me to put myself in the same category. But there I was with my schedule and my bland breakfasts and my tilted chair, doing my best to keep up.
During my stay in the area, they experienced one of their coldest winters, complete with snow on Christmas which they hadn't had in many years. Now, if you've ever been in a hospital for an extended period of time you’ll know they are kept cool and dry to stave off harmful bacteria. The same applies to a rehab facility in that meant I was freezing most of the time. Another odd side effect of the spinal injury in the C-spine region… Your thermostat gets turned upside down and you default to cold. I saw many other patients wearing hats or towels over their heads. I wound up with a nice collection of winter hats, ha ha. On a rare day I could get away with just my T-shirt and sweatpants. But most days, it was a hat and some sort of sweatshirt.
And so it was, every day learning to navigate with this loaned electronic chair, operated by sip and puff technology. Every day a little closer to learning to live in this new body… Every day slowly weaning off the ventilator. I was at a point where I used it at night and during the day had just my trech in for short bursts of time while I ventured out of my room. As I tolerated it, there were longer bursts, until finally I was able to leave that place with just a Band-Aid over some gauze on my throat. But I’m not there quite yet in my story, I digress… My days begun with medications, yet my nights were not exactly sleep filled and peaceful. My ventilator was checked around midnight every night, vitals were checked, catheter bag was emptied… What sleep. I ask… And then finally the medications, breakfast, bed bath. Initially I did not take showers as I didn’t have the proper chair. Amazingly, it was one tech or CNA, as is the proper term that got me dressed. But they were referred to as techs. Everyone I encountered was amazing for that matter… And so it was, an amazing place to be.
The first important matter of business and rehab is to figure out exactly what there is to be rehabilitated in the scope of this injured frame. Turns out mine begun with my left shoulder and bicep… Still my strongest areas today. But not the only ones! Never, never say never because you never know. What started in this place was only the beginning for me. No one here nor at the trauma center ever told me what I could or would not be doing, no one said what to expect. So I chose to expect. Everything.