My Aunt Pauline believes in angels. This is no secret. She collects angels (figurines, pictures and such) and often gives them as gifts. When Bob was still in ICU, back in October, and things were very touch-and-go, my mother and father rushed down to be with me and brought along with them my Aunt and Uncle. While they were here, Aunt Pauline gave me a little framed picture of an angel with the caption and saying called "Angels Are Everywhere" which has a magnet on the back and has since acquired a spot of honor on our refrigerator door.
After our last therapy session, I think Aunt Pauline might be onto something.
We went back to Rehab on Thursday, and after the "no functional improvement" session, I was armed with a million questions and a tape measure (to measure the height the bars, in case I need to put a grab bar in the hallway). I wanted to ask the therapists if Bob needed a better knee brace, if he could have another go at the ARJO walker, and a bunch of other things when the door swings open and Bob's usual therapist is not there, instead he has a substitute. And I'm thinking, oh dear, I won't get my questions answered because this therapist is "out of the loop" so to speak, and doesn't know what's going on.
So the therapist takes Bob to bars and starts him out. We've had this therapist maybe 2 or 3 times before, when the regular ones are not available for whatever reason. The therapist gets Bob started and I can tell, he's delighted in Bob's progress. He hasn't worked with Bob for over a month and tells Bob that he is amazed at his improvement. "We'll have you walking before you know it," he says and I pipe up and tell him that Bob is about to be discharged.
The therapist can't believe this news. He asks if it's because the insurance has run out. I tell him that I don't think it's the insurance, it's because the regular therapists see "no functional improvement." I mention the fact that Bob can't even stand up from the wheelchair without help. And this gets Chris, the substitute, thinking. Then he says, "I know what the problem is, Bob, you're leaning backwards. You're way too far backward." He goes on to explain that he sees this a lot with stroke survivors, that they are afraid of falling forward and tend to overcompensate by leaning too far backward. They do this while trying to get up, but also while walking. And I'm thinking, what? No one has mentioned this before. And Chris goes on to demonstrate, by sitting on a chair and leaning a bit backward and showing how difficult it is to get up from that position. He tells Bob, "You have to lean forward, way forward, so forward it will seem awkward at first, but put your nose over your toes."
I can tell, Bob is afraid to try this. But Chris keeps prodding him along: "Put your nose over your toes. Believe me, this will work. You can do it, Bob! I know you can do it!" Along with assuring Bob that he wouldn't let him fall. So Bob leans over, as far as he can, with "his nose over his toes", and he grabs onto the parallel bar and, dammit, if he doesn't begin to rise up from that wheelchair. Slowly and with much shakiness, but he does it. I mean, he really did it! Bob got up from the wheelchair on his own two feet! He stood up without any assistance at all!!
This is nothing short of a miracle.
And who would have thought it would be such a simple trick as leaning forward? And all this time, the other therapists have been lifting him out of the wheelchair, pulling him up with the gait belt (me included).....
Bob spent the whole session, 45 minutes, working with Chris on the parallel bars. He walked the length of the bars 7-8 times (I lost count, he usually can only manage 5 times) and stood up the last four times on his own!
And so yesterday, at home, I got out the straight legged walker and placed it by the side of Bob's hospital bed and, from the edge of the bed, Bob was able to stand up, on his own, twice! With no help from me, except I steadied the walker. (Although the other two times we tried this, he fell backward onto the bed. Oh well... Practice makes perfect, right?)
We are going to work on this technique this weekend. I hope, that on Monday, Bob will be able to wow the regular therapists by standing up from his wheelchair all on his own. And I ask you? Is that not "functional improvement"? And, of course, I am praying this will be the thing that will keep him therapy for a little while longer.
And I know my Aunt Pauline doesn't have a computer, so she doesn't read my blog. But anyone reading this who knows her, please tell her that Diane said she's right. Angels are indeed everywhere. And I believe we just ran into one last week at Rehab.
And heck, maybe Boomer and I need to visit the Our Lady of Lourdes shrine a bit more often. Perhaps Plan A is working.....