Rehab and RA

I had quite an experience while in rehab for 8 weeks – unfortunately when I was in the hospital under the influence of pain killers and who knows what else, it took a while to realize I had missed some very important information.  The surgeon apparently told me he was stopping my Methothrexate so the wound would heal faster – I don’t remember hearing that.  I had not had it for a week when the fall happened and then about 2 weeks later I woke up one morning with the most miserable flare up I have had in a long time.  When it finally penetrated that I hadn’t had metho for 3 weeks, I kept asking questions and let them know I was pissed off.  Finally I got the message and realized I didn’t remember anything about it.  So not only was I constantly telling the therapists that I was worried about not messing up my shoulders and hands, then I was dealing with a flare up.  Now I will commend the therapists for working with me to prevent as much problem with those parts while I was learning to walk with toe touch.  I could only put my toe on my right leg down to balance but not put weight on it.

I know there were many times when I did put a little too much wieght, it isn’t easy not to do it.  The weight had to upperbody strength and I will confess I didn’t have much at the time.  I was given exercises for all parts of my legs, for my arms and anything else they could think of that could be done in a wheel chair.  I was having such a hard time with the toe touch walking in a regular walker, I was determined to master it if it killed me.  It was probably getting on to almost 5 weeks before I started get the hang of it – I knew that because I didn’t hear the therapist checking weight bearing,  reminding me of toe touch, saying good step more often and of course, less reminding me of “spaghetti leg”.  What bugged me was the comment that once I learn how to do it, I won’t have to do it any more – I kept wondering why I was doing it at all if I wasn’t going to need it.  It simply meant that when the surgeon gave me weight bearing status then I could walk with both legs and not deal with toe touch.

I was so appreciative of one of the occupational therapists, Carol, for giving me hot packs for my hurting shoulders and hot paraffin for my hands to elp relieve some of the pain.  They were all very caring and concerned about me – as they are of all their charges – but were also rather hard assed about things I could do I wasn’t sure I could.  I remember when I first stood up – I was scared of so much and Tony was there to keep me going and was very encouraging.  I slowly began to walk a few steps and of course there were always exercises for muscles, tendons and such.  I was so proud of myself the day I went around the circuit at one go – 60 feet.  I was really winded when I was finished, plus I had to stop and rest twice.  What I found was that each time it was easier and I could go a little farther.  I walked around one of the halls next to the gym for quite a few feet – it felt as if I was doing it without a net.  They always made sure I had a gate belt on so that they could catch me if I got in trouble; that gave me a secure feeling.  I was able to do 130 feet by the time I saw the surgeon the second time – 6 weeks after surgery.  He gave me weight bearing as tolerated status, so things got more intense and instead of being in a wheelchair all the time, I used my wheely walker.  They decided I could be independent and walk anywhere, plus go to meals.  That felt so good, to be able to do things on my own again.

As for the methotrexate, I finally started it again about the 3rd week I was there but it took 4 or 5 weeks for it to kick in again.  It seemed to take forever to feel halfway comfortable again, plus my hands  developed blisters and new nodules from wheeling myself around.  When I first was able to wheel myself, my personal goal was to wheel myself from my room to the dining room.  My room was at the other end of the hall and it looked a long way to go.  But I worked at it and finally accomplished my goal.  Now I will admit when I was having a bad morning because of the flare up, I accepted a push because it was hardest in the morning – it was better in the afternoon and evening.  I learned how to turn and few other things, so by week 6 I was going a bit faster than in the beginning.

I will admit to feeling really tired and lousy most of the time, no energy or interest in anything.  I was bone weary as well as mentally and emotionally exhausted when I went in, so the surgery and ehab was just more piled on.  I have been home a little over a week – well, a few days and now I have been at a hotel for almost a week while the bathroom is being remodelled.  Still tired but I was pleased to find on Monday I felt like reading a book again.  I wasn’t interested in doing anything for those long 8 weeks, so reading felt so good.  It has been along journey and I am curious to see the changes and effects it has had on me – maybe in the coming months.

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