In May 2015, my life changed, after 26 days in the hospital and 5 surgeries I returned home a below the knee amputee. After healing at home for the next 10 weeks, I was measured for my prosthetic lower left leg. As scheduling would have it, I picked up my leg in the morning of Tuesday August 11, 2015 and had my evaluation scheduled for that afternoon at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital in Salem, NH.
Beginning with my entering the building, I could not have been treated better. From the Front Desk receptionist, to the Outpatient therapy check in, the Physical therapists and the therapy schedulers, I was always greeted with a “hello” and a smile and made me feel like I was part of their family.
I met with my physical therapist and we did my evaluation over the next hour. He said I should expect to slowly gain mobility back, as I developed the technique and confidence with my new prosthetic. We started the next morning, with stretching, 10 minutes on the stationary bike to warm up and then to the days therapy. Within a week, a college student working for her internship joined us. They both had my best interest in mind every time. Every therapy session was varied, as there were several areas I needed to develop, balance, gait, strength or precision, they always encouraged me. Especially when I would realize I would make a mistake and get mad at myself, they would remind me it takes time. Basically learning to walk again and teach my brain to trust that my prosthetic would hold me up. Over the next 15 weeks, I was able to shed my crutches and move to a walking cane and finally without any assistive device at all. With their assistance I was able to get back to walking “normal” again.
One particular session, during a nice day in October, my therapist took me outside the building. It was time to go from flat surfaces to uneven. If you have seen the grounds around the building, there are several different uneven surfaces. After putting a gait belt around my waist, we proceeded to walk up the small hills, along the slanted grassy areas. I must have done pretty well, because when we got back into the building, he said I was the first patient he did not have to help up off the ground, during their first session on the grassy uneven surfaces.
My therapy time at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital helped me to develop and grow as a person. Having people care for you and your redevelopment, like the family at Northeast Rehab, made it easy for me when opportunity knocked and I was looking to make a personal change. I was able to become part of the NHRN family as a Patient Coach and Patient peer for leg amputees. Being able to be part of the NHRN family and help others is very rewarding experience.