Tuesday, January 8, 2008


No, I typed that correctly.
I have debated with my self if I should ever write about any of the patients I have worked with over the years.
The Federal Government (sorry for using such an ugly word, people, but you gotta call things by their rightful names) in its highly questionable wisdom passed the HIPPA law. This is the Health Information Privacy Protection Act. It was passed to help protect health care information from falling into the unscrupulous hands of the unscrupulous. ( I just love that word...)
I have been reading other blogs of health care workers and of Waiterrant and see how they white wash people to make them as anonymous as possible.
That being said, I thought I'd share a story from the start of my career. Some of you have heard it, so just bear with me.

The patient came into the extended care facility (the better word for nursing home) responsive to pain only. This person had been hit by a car.
I was with the patient 5 days a week for about six weeks.
You start out moving the person, passive range of motion in all joints, so muscle shortening does not limit their ability to move. Then you advance to rolling stomach to back and return them. Next you, and another therapist get them from stomach to on all fours, then up to kneeling. We advanced to standing with three people in support, long leg braces on both lower legs so the knees do not buckle. Them you progress to walking, again with three people in support and long leg braces.
I learned about head injuries. How a person can appear normal but then have out bursts of word salad where not one word makes any sense, inappropriate responses to stimuli. This person was sitting in a room one day with many of the other residents and proclaimed ( I am not making this up) "You are probably all wondering why I called you here tonight.) It was a therapeutic recreation show where, if I remember, people were coming in to dance and sing for every one's entertainment.

I was not there the day of discharge. I missed saying good by to the family which I had gotten to know well with two 45 minute treatments a day for a month and a half.

I saw this patient six months later walking through the mall parking lot. The gait was still off in some clinical ways, but look good overall. Holding on to each hand was a grand child. There were smiles all around.
In that moment, tears in my eyes. I felt more satisfied with the world, myself, all things, than I had since I was a young kid with no greater care than which toy to play with.
In that moment, all the hell and hard work I put in to graduate was paid in full.
The Patient and spouse came back to the facility after a year. I walked up and introduced my self. The spouse remembered me, with a big smile. he patient apologized and said they had no recollection of me.
I learned then that this is not unusual. Head injured patients, patients you treat in ICU/CCU some times have no memory of the staff that help them. It is nothing personal, ever. It is a chemical mix up in the healing body and brain.

Taking the exam reminded me of what I get out of this investment.
Paid in full.


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