Friday, October 21, 2022

Rehab: the first six weeks

After breaking my pelvis, six ribs and forearm in August, I was finally discharged home after 2 and a half weeks in hospital. I was still in a lot of pain but could hobble around on my walking frame, and needed help with showering and cooking. Home help came in for the former, my flatmate Karen did the latter.

ACC also provided the services of a physiotherapist, who visited me at home once a week. Ena was fantastic, at first helping me with positioning at night so I could sleep better, and then beginning the exercises I would need to regain function.

As the weeks progressed the pain receded. Which was lucky because I weaned myself off medication rather quickly after discovering my liver enzymes were worsening not improving. Getting through the nights became easier, which meant I gradually got better sleep as well.

At about 4 weeks post injury I took my first steps outside. By now I could get around on my crutches, the walker having been retired. First I just made it a couple of houses along the footpath and back, but gradually I got to the end of the street, and then down to the river and back, and finally around the block, which included a small hill.

I even managed to make it down to the nearby Clutha River, and rest on the picnic benches before the hobble back home.

A week before my next appointment with my orthopaedic specialist I ditched the second crutch and just used the one. I was still not allowed to fully weight bear on the right leg. My rib fractures were no longer giving me any grief, and my forearm cast was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

At six weeks post surgery I returned to Dunstan to see the visiting specialist. After X-rays of my forearm and pelvis he was happy for me to begin fully weight bearing. My forearm fractures, however, were not showing signs of union, but I would now be plaster free and encouraged to mobilise.

Back home my visiting physiotherapist arranged the purchase of a stationary bicycle, and some home gym equipment I could use for my rehab. And after a week or so I was able to walk unaided.

Not that I could walk all that far. The muscles in my legs were still weak, and I was getting quite a lot of muscular pain after walking for 10 minutes or so. Slowly I increased the length of my walks, and began the escalation of exercises to increase strength and endurance.


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