Groundhog Day Special- What does a day in inpatient rehab actually look like?

Seriously? How did this start?

Today is Groundhog Day, the day where we have the truly strange tradition of hauling a rodent out of the ground and declaring if winter is over or not. This tradition has its roots in the Pagan Holiday of Imbolc which is around this time of year, and it signals the start of spring where the darkness of winter is fading, and the renewal of spring is starting. I suppose the groundhog is a direct analog of that.

That said, there is a thing called ICU or Hospital Psychosis or Delirium, and while it is more common in people with severe illnesses and/or injuries that require sedation, and people who are older, time in the hospital can be mentally taxing no matter your illness/injury.

Hospitals can be like Groundhog Day.

Take my 32+ hours in the ED at both UC West Chester and UC Medical Center Downtown. At UC West Chester I was scared, because I was gradually losing function in my legs, my lower bowel/bladder, and they were worried I had a sudden spinal injury and put me eventually in spinal protocols and they needed to get me downtown ASAP. Very scary. Then I landed in the ED downtown with less privacy, right next to the trauma radio (where I heard them give permission to pronounce people as dead) and all the traumas coming in, everything from car wrecks to gunshot wounds. Then there were people having the worst days of their lives, including me facing possible emergency back surgery, psychotic breaks, strokes, heart attacks etc. Very noisy, not totally private and total sensory overload, even for me. I was there for a blow by blow of a patient who was going psychotic, threatening to harm themselves, punched a nurse and literally had security called on them five times before they finally ended up restrained and sedated. They were testing the new emergency system down there all during that day, basically a bell would ring three times then a very loud voice would announce the different codes, blue, red, white, etc. That went on for 4+ hours. By 7pm on Tuesday 1/18 I was literally starting to think of somehow getting out of there over spending another night in the ED, because there was NO SLEEP. Luckily I ended going up to the neuro ward. So yeah, I now see how Hospital/ICU psychosis is a real thing.

Still, Hospitals have routine, nurse shift changes, when the vampires like to come to draw blood, When housekeeping comes to clean your room, if the PCA’s have enough time to make sure your sheets get changed etc. Vitals every four or eight depending on your status. Rehabilitation hospitals have similar, yet different routines.

A Rehabilitation Hospital is an in-patient facility that due to regulations is required to give you 15 hours per week of therapies, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy etc. Now I don’t need speech/cognitive therapy, but I require more occupational and physical therapy. Occupational Therapy is life skills, getting the tools you need to get back to a full life. I am learning how to bathe and dress myself as a paralyzed person, how to do laundry from a wheelchair, how to cook/navigate a kitchen from a wheelchair, figuring out what equipment I need in a bathroom etc. Physical Therapy is working on strengthening my arms, which I am relying on a lot more, working on my right leg, which I still lack feeling on the top/side of my foot and my toes, but is still cooperating at about 80% and trying to get my left leg to behave which “spoiler alert” it doesn’t. Still, that is only 15 hours a week, and there are a lot of hours in between, but things also take longer for me to complete/do.

Here is my average day in the Rehab Hospital: 6am, wakeup if I haven’t woken up yet, sometimes I wake up a little earlier, and/or I have some meds going on at 4am or 5am so sometimes this doesn’t happen exactly this way. I then take a few minutes in bed to wake my legs up, then transfer to Hilda (my current chair) and get into the bathroom and get dressed. I then land in the recliner chair and await breakfast, which usually arrives 7:15-7:45, I also get my schedule for the day from a Physical Therapy Tech, and I hope I don’t have an 8am or 8:30am therapy, but I usually do, because apparently I don’t complain about that enough (lol)

Today on Groundhog day my schedule is as follows:

Breakfast came about 7:45 am, and a nurse student took my vitals right before I ate. While I was eating the PT Tech came in and gave me my schedule, and I discovered I didn’t have anything until 10:30am today (score!)

Groundhog Day Schedule

That gave me some time to type the intro of this blog today, communicate with my family about my schedule today and how my night went (I was up at 3:30 with the searing burning nerve pain) My morning meds showed up about 9am, and I took those.

10:30 I had a 90 minute OT Group based upon growing skills in the kitchen we had lots of fun and we made a cookie in a dish and some english muffin Pizzas.

12 pm was lunch- and big thanks to Jackie Cox for the conversation and the LaRosas calzone.

12:30pm I had a half hour 1 on 1 of OT with my wonderful OT lead Victoria, we built endurance in the wheelchair and practiced some laundry skills.

Working on stairs

2pm I had my 60 minute block of PT with Kylie my wonderful PT lead. She says the wheelchair guy will be coming to fit me tomorrow, it is the last piece of my puzzle to go home. I also got the news during my session today that I am heading to my parents on Sunday. My case manager Staci came and talked with me and her, and basically I do not need high level nursing care anymore, but I do need high level OT and PT. I will be getting home support for healthcare, OT and PT for at least a few weeks, but I am still nervous. We worked on stairs, walking over surface transitions with a walker, and getting down onto the floor and up again in case of an emergency. That left me pretty tired.

My precious

Late this afternoon I decided for the chair fit specialist tomorrow I better get my viola out and play a bit, and let me tell you the balance is WAY different. It will take some endurance building, but I should be able to manage. I don’t know if I will have the endurance to play February, or I may only play half the program or something, I think the Butler Philharmonic will be flexible with whatever I try to do, and I appreciate them for that.

The rest of this evening, I’m watching some TV, playing some Pokemon, Reading, knitting and having a video call/pow-wow with my parents. Sounds like I will have 8am therapy tomorrow- which I am willing- mostly because the PT/OT get to leave after they get their 7 hours in and well I want all of them to get home safely.

Tomorrow I will probably have all the news about my wheelchair, and getting home….or at least my temporary home…

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