Archive for April, 2011

Fitting The Prosthesis

Second week of April 2004, my orthopedic doctor, Dr. Chung, advised me I that my left foot stump was healed and ready for prosthesis fitting. He was sending Trevor Munger to do the fitting.

That afternoon, I met another miracle person. He would be a big influence on my healing, mentally and physically and, as far as I am concerned, a friend for a lifetime. This young man (early thirties at the time) with the biggest smile, a bucket and paraphernalia in one hand (left) as his right hand/arm was amputated below the right shoulder. I probably thought, “How is he going to accomplish fitting me for a foot prosthesis.”

Trevor said, “Hello! Are you ready to start the next phase of recovery. ” Still smiling. I said, “Yes, I think so.” I was still hesitant in believing he could do this. He said, “Before we get started let me tell you my story.”

Trevor was born with the right arm not being developed. He became a very active young man. His family encouraged him in all aspects of his life. His disability did not stop him from doing anything and everything he wanted to accomplish. In high school in Kenai, Alaska he became a trophy winning football player and continued on to college to learn the art of making prosthesis. He is now the leading prosthesis maker in Alaska (That’s my opinion, but from what I have read and am told, it’s true.)

I was in awe of this young man. I figured YES. I can do this with God’s grace and help. Trevor explained that first he had to make a cast of my left leg/stump, then design a prosthesis. It would take several fittings before the final product was ready for me to use. That it would take adjustments at different times, as I became used to walking with a prosthesis.

I was in my wheelchair and Trevor sat on floor. Very handily he began the process of building the cast using both arms expertly. At the same time building my confidence of him and his ability to do his job.

I think it took about a week and one day before in he walked with the prosthesis and said let’s put this to good work. I wheeled myself into the exercise room that had the bars to hold onto as I had learned to stand and eventually walk there. What a strange wonderful and scary sensation, putting on the prosthesis and standing on both feet for maybe 10 seconds before setting down.

Trevor told me,”You gotta go easy. Make sure there are no breakdowns in skin, that no sores or blisters start because of rubbing from ill fitting prosthesis.” I was on cloud nine and very happy, but lots of work yet to build up the stump and rest of my body. By the end of second week in therapy I was getting very proficient at dressing myself, using the slide board to transfer from bed ,wheelchair and exercise mat. So onto bigger and better things, learning how to shower, do kitchen jobs and getting into the car (They had an actual small car in the rehab area.) using the slide board. I was feeling pretty smart by then and knowing the lord was with me every step of the way. I was continually praying for guidance and giving him all the praise and glory for my accomplishments.

Bonnie’s continuing story

April: Recovery Really Begins

My bout with 2nd time pneumonia finally ending, and the miraculous recovery of kidney function, I knew I was well on way back to life. Praise Our Father and son, Lord Jesus. I was given the choice of staying at Providence Hospital, or Providence Health (assisted living) for rehab. The hospital supervisor (for rehab) was very straight forward (stern) about the fact they only had a few beds for rehab. People using this facility had to be ready for 8 hours of therapy. This scared me, somewhat, but I was determined to do what ever it took to get well and go home.

They said they would give me a week to see how I was doing. So I was moved to the fourth floor rehab area the next day. The work started. First thing I had to accomplish was just getting up and to set on edge of bed without getting dizzy, or falling over. I did this repeatedly for 2 days. I was managing to set up unassisted for 15 minutes.

Next was getting up early AM to brush my teeth and do a sponge bath on my own. I had to learn how to dress sitting on the edge of bed, eat breakfast. Rest for an hour, then start using a slide board to slide from bed to wheelchair and then back to bed ( I had not been fitted for the prosthesis). This was usually a 30 minute work out, then rest and have lunch. Then back to slide board practice. By the end of the week I was able to do morning toiletries – dress and use the slide board to wheelchair with minimal assistance. So, after the supervisor of rehab tested me, she was pleased at how remarkably I was doing . YES, BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND MANY PRAYERS, I DID IT.

The next week was the same routine and they added being taken to the workout equipment. They had me using the hand bicycle machine to exercise arms /shoulders and chest area. I was now using the slide board to the workout mat laying down and working several exercises to build up leg muscles. I did all this repeatedly for a week. It was amazing how quickly all body parts were responding and getting stronger.

My serenity prayers were continual, giving thanks to the Lord and to keep getting better. By the end of this 2 weeks I was operating on my own the manual wheelchair, moving from bed to wheelchair and back with the slide board. I was also moving to the workout mat with the slide board with ease.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Rest Of The Story For March 2004

Because of kidney failure, being in ICU, my muscles, and the ability to even set up in bed was not easy. I was placed in the wheelchair with a lift. When I would try to set up, I would get so dizzy. I would almost faint, or get sick to my stomach. So I had to use a “Hoyer Lift”. They lifted me out of the wheelchair to get my weight each time before dialysis. And also, how I was placed in the chair for dialysis. It was neither a pretty picture nor self-esteem builder, but a day to day task.

Rehab at the assisted living place was slow. They took me to a king-sized bed to practice sitting up. Quite a few days was just repeatedly stretching, sitting up from a laying position and to remain sitting up for 5 minutes at a time. It took awhile. Eventually, I got to 15 minutes at a time. Then I progressed to learn to use a “Slide Board”. It was used for moving from a sitting position on the bed, to wheelchair and back to bed. (had not been fitted for prosthesis yet).

First part of March, my breathing/oxygen levels were not good. So, I was on oxygen quite a bit. I did breathing exercises each day also. That was pretty much the extent of rehab that month in between going to dialysis 3 days a week for 4 hours each trip, which were very cold and bumpy. The last 10 days of March was my getting sicker every day again. Low and behold pneumonia struck again and back to Providence Hospital for care.

It was a very rough 10 days, but the GREATEST WAS PRAYER ANSWERED IN THAT TIME – MY KIDNEYS CAME BACK – WHAT A GLORIOUS DAY THAT WAS AND MANY TEARS AND PRAYERS OF THANKS TO THE LORD!! Believe me I fought hard every day to get stronger and continued “The Serenity Prayer continually”.

During this month of March, I also had my most embarrassing moment- hilarious (in a way). Probably bout the 10th of March, a male nurse shows up early in the morning and says “Good morning Bonnie – I have been assigned to give you your first shower (all this time 3 months were bed type baths), but if you would prefer a female nurse just let me know.” I thought about it a moment and started laughing. And I said, “You are a professional person. Part of your job is bathing males/females and at this point everyone/everybody in this place has seen me from one end to the other and giving me a shower isn’t going to change how I look. So, lets get it done.” There you have it -my most embarrassing/hilarious moment. The nurse laughed to and we got it completed.

Bonnie’s continuing story

Assisted Living/Rehabilitation

After spending five days in ICU, and finding that I had Renal Failure (kidney’s had failed). I was placed on dialysis, possibly for the rest of my life. My mental attitude was not great. I was placed at Providence assisted living/Rehab facility. This facility was about 25 years old. The rooms held two persons and not very much room and not very private either. I was not wanting to socialize with other patients. Most were elderly with terminal aliments. I just knew this was to be my life for the rest of my days. Yes, I was very depressed.

My renal (kidney ) Doc., Dr. Gittimer was very positive my kidneys would return to function normally. This became my continual prayer to God minute by minute.  Rehab was slow, as I had all my muscles to build up after such a long time of laying in bed. But slowly through the month of March, I got stronger muscular wise.  The trips to dialysis were awful. It was cold, snowy and dark.  The Renal center had approximately 30 dialysis machines that were busy from 6am to 11pm. Children, teenagers and adults used the facility. It is amazing to know this machine is such a life giver, but the process to me is plain scary. I saw horrible things from some dying to a persons blood flying to the ceiling. The personnel are so well trained, and very consoling and patient. Some people are on the machines for three hours, others four, I was on the machine for 4 hours. The chairs you sit in are very comfortable, vinyl covered, recliner type. You can bring blankets, lunch or snacks. Each chair has a small TV to watch.

This routine was going along through March, my 63rd birthday was March 28th. Tony and Sharon were planning a surprise birthday party for me. Well, I surprised everybody. I had not been feeling real great, so, about the 23rd of March things went down hill again. I was rushed back to the hospital with pneumonia on the 26th of March – no party for me

Back to antibiotics, oxygen and not remembering much. Tony complained to the nurses that I was always so lethargic and they told him I was asking for pain medication continually. He asked who authorized the pain medication that often. Their reply was at the patients request. Tony got very upset and asked how I was able to decide this, when I didn’t even know who I was. After a big meeting with doctors and staff, I was not given any medication that Tony, or Sharon were not aware of. While fighting pneumonia, a marvelous God thing happened to me. My kidneys started to function, UNBELIEVABLE, I KNEW DOC GITTIMER WAS SURE THEY WOULD FUNCTION AGAIN,  BUT I DON’T THINK I DID.

Amazing recovery! which I made in a few short days, and within a week I was moved to the main floor of rehab in the main hospital. Rehab started with a vengeance to get me out of that place and ready to prepare for life at home. Prayers of Thanks to God, our father, for his blessings upon me. I could see home in my future now.

Bonnie’s continuing story.