• 16 days ago

    My story. What happened to me? What more can I do to get better?

    This journey of mine started with an incident that happened to me when I was in my apartment last October. Nobody knows exactly what happened. One work day I did not show up at work and I did not call in, and that’s not the way I normally operate. One of my co-workers got very worried and vocal about me missing, to the point my boss drove to my apartment and banged on the door. Someone eventually opened that door, and they found me passed out in my bed, bleeding on the right-hand side of my head.

    They took me to ST. Luke’s hospital and performed a craniotomy, to stop the bleeding. Someone called my younger brother in New Jersey to tell him where I was, and that they did not think I would survive. He flew out here immediately in shock. Three weeks later, I was transferred to a rehabilitation clinic in Overland Park, Kansas, where I was still in a wheelchair. It was there I began to regain my memory, because I do not remember the hospital at all.

    They had put in a feeding tube in my stomach because they were afraid I would choke to death because I did not swallow correctly. This takes all the joy out of your life by not being able to eat and taste food.

    I remember when a therapy girl helped me by removing all the staples they had used to close my head back up. 45 staples. The person stapling my head must have had a grand old time banging away.

    So here at this rehab place they would feed me by pouring glop into a tube connected to my stomach. In the afternoons, they would take me to a GYM to do some exercises. I spent most of the time sleeping and watching TV.

    Several weeks later a new person stood in my room and drove me to Omaha Nebraska to a rehabilitation place named QLI. I was there for 4 months. If anyone had previously told me about this place, I would not have believed them. It’s something you must experience.

    QLI is on a large piece of land with many buildings. They have 10 houses for residents to live in, each house has 8 to 10 bedrooms. I was in house 2. It sure was different for me to be among so many people. I am single and live alone, so this was defiantly different.

    One other building has a big room where they zap you while you pedal a stationary bike. They also have a big thing they call “ZERO G”. Zero g is a very long I-Beam that they put you into a harness, connect you to a trolley, can raise and support some of your body weight, allowing you to walk under the I-Beam somewhat like a normal person.

    There is another room that has a submersible treadmill. There you change into a swimsuit, walk out onto a platform that has the treadmill on it, hold onto the handrails, get lowered into about 4 feet of heated water, and begin walking on the treadmill.

    Another building is filled with offices, meeting rooms, and a big gym. Part of what I did for a living was Corporate Instructor, where I teach up to 10 guys from our service shops around the USA all about a product they will be installing, servicing, and repairing. Part of my job is preparing, creating, and presenting power point presentations. QLI obtained a couple of these from my boss, and I presented them to a meeting room full of people at QLI as if I was instructing a class. One of the girls, named Alex, filmed my presentation on her phone without my knowing. When I found out about it later, I remember I got very mad at her, calling her a “sneaky redhead” She laughed and laughed!

    House 2 has a large room filled with many tables to eat at, as well as a couch and comfy chairs to sit in, with a TV. They had a large kitchen, stove, microwave, and three refrigerators. They would take me to a local food store to buy frozen dinners, so If I did not like what they were serving, I could have something else.

    Yes, I could eat again. It happened after they took me to a hospital for yet another swallow test. This is where you eat and drink foods while they take X-Rays of you swallowing. And this time, I passed the swallow test. Shortly after I did, one night, at about 8:30, a new lady appeared in my room, said she was a nurse, and was here to remove my feeding tube. I asked her if it was going to hurt, and she said “YUP!”.

    She grabbed the tube, told me to take a deep breath, and pulled it like she was trying to start a lawn mower. It popped out of me causing deep pain. She wiped up the mess and taped a big gauze pad over my stomach. I moaned for a half hour before ringing for aspirin. Then I could fall asleep. It just kept getting better after that. Because NOW I could eat real food!

    At QLI they did lots of exercise both in the mornings and in the afternoons. They taped pads to my leg and shocked me while I pedaled a stationary bike. They took me for walks with a walker, and had me climb stairs. One day, they took away my wheelchair and gave me a cane and a leg brace. I missed that chair for 2 weeks!

    I had to have an escort walking with me when I had to go to exercise sessions. The walk was about a city block. They would put a gait belt on me and sometimes hold onto it. So, I used to sneak out by myself and walk, and sometimes I would get halfway there when I heard running feet behind me, and a loud voice saying “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE ALL BY YOURSELF?” I really miss those times!

    One day, I was walking back to house 2 and decided to take a short cut across the grass. I miss stepped, lost my balance, and fell. I was not hurt; it was soft grass. But there was nothing to grab onto to get back up, so after trying to get up and failing at it, I gave up and waited for someone to come out and help. They all came out one at a time and stood near me, laughing, asking me how the air was down there, and generally having fun with me. I was sure to avoid taking any short cuts from then on.

    They found out I like to cook food, and am good at it. I started planning a weekend meal for the people in the house. I would go with an escort to the food store, buy the food, and usually on Saturday prepare and serve dinner for anyone who wanted to have it. I made stuffed peppers one time, stuffed cabbage another time, lemon whole chicken, and lots of other things. All my cooking was greedily consumed down to the last bite with lots of compliments!

    QLI has a room where they kept special bicycles that were low to the ground. Some of these were 2 people bikes. One day we loaded 6 bikes into pickup trucks and drove to a riding trail that was supposed to be 40 miles long. It ran in the middle of some blocks between the houses and back yards, behind businesses of all kinds, and along a chuckling creek. We peddled 3 miles out and 3 miles back. It was a LOT of fun! We would go riding on the QLI campus as well. And if it was raining, they had a stationary one set up in front of a computer. It was almost like riding one outside for real.

    My insurance was due to stop paying QLI, and I found out that during one of their appraisal meetings one of the therapists was very vocal about me, and said if I were to stay another month I would be very much better. So, QLI gave me a free month at their own expense for me to succeed. I can almost cry when I remember this. I told their CEO “thank you” in person, god bless you and QLI! She just smiled, and said her job was easy, all she had to do was say “YES”.

    My Therapists once drove me home for a day trip. Alex and Megan and I. Megan saw where I lived and recommended some things; like handrails in my bathroom, which I did have installed. She scrubbed my refrigerator sparkling clean! It was empty and turned off. Alex was visiting where I worked and seeing my desk and other things. It was just for the day, so we drove back. It’s a three hour drive each way.

    The next trip I took home was with Roni. She drove us, and I stayed home and slept in my bed for three days. I went to work as well, and while I was at my desk answering phone calls, Kim from Human Resources, and my boss, were both sitting nearby listening to me talk of the phone as they were also busy on their laptops. After three days, I guess they were satisfied that I was doing OK. I must say I am a lucky man to have such a job. I have been treated very well. But I have also worked for them since 1979!

    The day came that I was discharged from QLI, and they drove me home for the last time. I was there for about 4 months. I miss the place and all the wonderful people there. But I do keep in touch with many of them via email. They are wonderful people who did so much for me.

    Before I was discharged, Roni and Vanessa and others asked me about continuing therapy on an outpatient basis in Kansas City, and we found Ability KC. I chose this place because they are local, AND they have a driving program as well. I have a nice Crown Victoria that is waiting for me, but I want to do it right.

    At this point I have completed a physical therapy course and also an occupational therapy course. I continued to go twice a week there for electrical stimulation on my right leg while peddling a stationary bike. But now I am taking a break from therapy and thinking of what to do next.

    So, I am still walking with a cane and am still weak on my right leg, ankle, and right hand. What puzzles me is what happened? My understanding about a stroke and bleeding on the right hand side of the brain would affect the left side of the body. But I am affected on the RIGHT hand side. I am seeking suggestions as to what might have happened to me, and what I can do to improve to the point of not needing a leg brace or a cane to walk around. Thank you, and god bless you.

    John M