They wouldn’t give me steroids since I just had the infusion and instead decided to put me into a neurological Inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Most of the patients there have strokes, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or other neurological disorders. I was transported by ambulance and the decision to move me came so fast I didn’t even have time to contact my family.
I was scared and the other part of me was hopeful. The intensive rehab program maximizes steps to independence along with goals and needs for optimal health. One of their specialties is spasticity management, the main symptom of my multiple sclerosis. The lesion on my spine was sending the message to my leg to be so spastic that I couldn’t walk. My leg was actually crunched up like a flamingo. The first few weeks I was there it took three people to transfer me from the wheelchair to the bed or the wheelchair to the toilet.
Therapists provide a seven-day program with three hours a day of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and counseling. There is also a rehabilitation physician that makes rounds each day. The first day I met the doctor she told me she didn’t like treating multiple sclerosis patients because MS is hard to treat and a ticking time bomb. I have to admit that scared me a bit. I worked hard in therapy doing everything they said in hope to get better. They even wanted me to wheel to the dining room for each meal which I was reluctant to do since I am an introvert and don’t prefer those settings, but it turned out to be healing to talk to others in similar situations.
My day consisted mostly of PT and OT. Getting up at 6am with a an OT monitoring and teaching tricks and maneuvers to shower and dress. For instance, did you know you always dress your weaker side first? In PT the first few weeks it took three therapist to work with me and get me up. We did lots of stretching, standing in a standing frame, which holds you up and retrains your muscle memory to stand again, and then a lot of trying to stand up holding on to the wall bar with therapists as backup. At one point during the family conference with the doctors, therapists and caseworkers they expressed they weren’t sure if I would ever walk again, the scariest and most sad thing I ever heard.
I continued to do everything they asked of me and low and behold one morning with the help of a therapist and walker I walked 20 feet. The next day 60 feet, the next 75 feet, the next 150. All the hard work was paying off and even though I was using a walker I was moving my feet.
I was there for a total of 38 days, a long time to be away from home and a lot of hard work and new ways of thinking but it taught me to keep going. Even though we have to live with this terrible disease there is hope and persistence and a way through the hard times. It was a blessing in disguise to be there because I learned so much. Treatment for MS is not one thing, it’s a cocktail of things – medicine, PT, OT, splints and braces, assisted devices (canes, walkers, shower chair etc.) and attitude. Overall, it taught me that I can overcome this disease and even though there is not a cure now there is always a way through.
Have you spent anytime in a rehab facility? Was it helpful in the long run?