Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lots of Therapy

Mom experienced an extensive amount of therapy today, but she learned an enormous amount and is already on the fast path to recovery.

She started the day with occupational therapy (OT). The occupational therapist (Katie) is in charge of teaching Mom about how to make modifications so she can return to doing all of her every day activities independently. These activities includes things like showering, putting clothes on, getting around the kitchen and things of that sort. Today Mom got to take her first shower since she's been in the hospital (she was previously getting sponge baths). She had to learn how to get in and out of a bathtub shower since that is what Dad has in his apartment in Pasadena. After learning about the various precautions she will need to take when showering, it was time for her to get dressed. As you can imagine, this can be difficult to do when you can't bend or twist. Mom will have a "reacher" (grabbing type device) and a "sock assister" to help her with getting dressed. After hearing about all the modifications she has to make just to get dressed, I have a new perspective on all of the "simple" tasks we all seem to take for granted.  Mom was very frustrated and emotional after her OT session because she felt defeated, exhausted and nauseous.  I think she was expecting to receive a little more help than she did, but Katie said she was doing so well that she didn't need to help Mom.  This is a situation in which Mom's expectations aren't in line with those of the medical professionals and she thinks she is doing much worse than she actually is. That being said, I can understand how it can be frustrating to have to adapt to a whole new way of living..

Next was physical therapy (PT) with Adrienne. Adrienne is really great with Mom and helped her to calm down with some breathing exercises.  After Mom was feeling a little better, she learned some various core exercises that she can do in bed without compromising her back at all. Adrienne also taught me how to stretch Mom's calves and hamstrings, which will help in her recovery process.  A lot of the exercises work many of the muscles Mom was previously using in Pilate's, but are modified so that the back is not used at all.  Because of Mom's Pilate's background, she is doing exceptionally well at all the exercises that are thrown her way.

After a break for lunch, Mom had another session of OT.  They have a room in the hospital with various areas that mimic what you would have in your house.  Mom learned about all of the modifications she has to make at her desk so that she can comfortably work in her office and on her computer while still respecting all of her spinal precautions.  I even learned a thing or two that will help me when setting up my workstation!  It is amazing the amount of knowledge all of these therapists have and the simple, yet not so obvious, modifications we can all make to be more comfortable in our everyday lives. 

Physical therapy was the last activity for the day.  Adrienne and I took Mom to the gym in a wheel chair because she was feeling a little fatigued, which is quite understandable.  She did 5 minutes on a bike machine that is low impact for her foot and back.  Next were varioius balancing exercises including walking on an unstable surface and doing squats on an upside down Bosu ball.  These exercises can be challenging for the average person, much less someone who has just undergone extensive back reconstruction and Mom did them remarkably well.  Her body is still getting used to doing activity, so this series of exercises was actually more tiring than she expected.  This made her feel discouraged, but again, I reminded her of her amazing progress considering she isn't even a week out of surgery.  She is having trouble keeping everything is perspective and realizing her astounding accomplishments along the way.

By the end of the day, I realized that overall we need to continue working on managing Mom's expecations of herself in comparison to the expectations that the Doctors and others have of her at this point in her recovery process.  I have learned that she will continue to struggle with recognizing and admiring her accomplishments and it will be my job to help her put things in perspective so that she can continue to progress at such a rapid rate.  I feel confident that tomorrow will be an even better day because I notice so much progress each time I come to visit her for the day.

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