WTJ Blogger In Residency @HipsterAlice #HAWMC Day 28 The First Time I Walked Again
By WhatTheJules on April 28, 2012
After being hospitalized for over 3 1/2 months, it was time for me to get out of bed and start walking again. Having been bed-ridden for so long, I'd not only lost muscle mass, but I'd lost the ability to walk. I could barely get up and move around my bed area. But part of treatment is making progress. I was in a skilled nursing facility and the goal was that I would be able to get moving again, by starting physical therapy. To prepare for physical therapy, part of the treatment plan included getting me up and out of bed. So that I would gradually build up more stamina.
I remember the day, it was a Saturday. Two of my very good friends who had been very supportive of me during my hospital stay were visiting. The nurses suggested I go for a walk around the unit with them. I had a wheelchair and a walker. The plan was that I would walk as far as I could. I was very scared, but I felt comfortable with my friends. I was more comfortable with them than with my parents. With my friends, I could let down my guard without fear of worrying them, as I would with my parents.
Anyway, the time came. My friends wanted to take me for a walk out of the unit, down to the cafeteria to grab coffee, and chat. My room was at the very far end of the unit, which was on the opposite end of the entrance. I remember the fear, and unsteadiness that came as I began taking steps. One friend walked next to me, and the other walked a few steps behind me, with the wheelchair, so that were I to feel unsteady, I could sit. I should add that one of my friends is a fellow Crohnie, and the other is a nurse. Needless to say, I was in good company. Safe. Anyway, I very slowly made my way down the hall. I was terrified. What if I fell? My legs felt very unsteady. I was pushing my walker and my friends were cheering me along. The entrance to the unit may as well have been in a different city, it felt I would never get there.
The nurses' unit was the halfway point between my room and the entrance. It took all my strength, both physical and mental, to make it that far. By the time I'd reached the nurses' station, I was out of breath and psychologically was near my breaking point. I was on the verge of a panic attack. I began to feel light-headed and dizzy. As I approached the nurses' station, I made my way directly to the chairs that were in the area and sat down. My heart was racing quickly, I was shaking, my head felt light. The nurses congratulated me on having made it that far but inside I was an emotional wreck. It took all my strength to pretend I was fine and to act like the dizziness was the issue. I sipped water and chatted with my friends while seated in front of the nurses' station. Then it was time to go back to my room.
I didn't walk back. I was too weak, and felt too unsteady. Of course, this raised everyone's concern. It was agreed that it would be safest for me to be wheeled back to my room. I was very scared of falling. It's natural to have that fear, as I wasn't used to walking. It was as if I'd regressed to toddler hood, and was once more learning how to walk.
That night, after my visitors had gone, I could no longer hold back the tears. Even though I'd taken some steps, I felt like a failure. I wondered if the day would ever come when I'd walk again. It was so frustrating to go from being so active, so ambulatory, to not even have the strength to walk down a hallway. I was afraid that I would never be able to resume my normal activity.
Eventually, I was able to walk further until I was able to ambulate with ease, (and with the help of my walker). By the time of my discharge I was able to walk around with ease, (with the aid of my walker). I remember going back a week later to visit my roommate. I will never forget the look of surprise and pleasure on the nurses' face when they saw me walk in. I wasn't using my walker anymore. And I was fine. It was as if I'd never needed a walker in the first place. It was a shared happy moment for all of us.
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