Learning to Function Again (6)

Remnants of Fungus on the Back of My Head

So there we were.

In the physical rehabilitation center, knowing the next 30 days were likely to be the most challenging of my life.

I knew because of the brief tests by the Physical Therapists at the Burn Unit. Just sitting up for more than a few minutes was excruciating. Never even mind standing while using my walker, for even a few seconds.

Once we arrived and Donald got settled into his hotel (the worst part), therapy began. Physical, Occupational and Speech.

Physical was first. A formidable Therapist came in and told me I needed to start sitting up immediately. Not just being in upright position in bed. Actually sitting on the edge of the bed. You wouldn’t believe how many muscles are engaged just to roll over and sit up in bed. I don’t think I ever successfully accomplished that without assistance. Not until months later at home.

Sitting upright in a chair, after laying in bed for months (although on an incline) was so uncomfortable. It also encourages your bowels to move and there’s not a thing you can do to stop it after the previously mentioned #2 “catheter”. And you can’t get up and walk to the bathroom. Nothing but humiliation would follow. This was actually before getting to the therapy center for the intense recovery, so I knew this was going to be a challenge!

Next was getting into my wheelchair from bed. That I could do okay.

The next task: standing up, using my walker, while my nurses cleaned and bandaged my bottom. That took far too long. My pelvis felt like it was going to snap. Like it couldn’t possibly hold the weight of my body. Like my body would simply accordion down to the floor and that would be it for me. I’d just blend into the floor squares.

I screamed. I cried. I begged for mercy. I called for God. The Therapist tightened her therapy strap around me and was completely unimpressed. All I could think was that I may as well get used to my wheelchair because I was NEVER going to be able to walk again.

I had overcome fire, infection, MRSA, respiratory failure, coma, surgery every week for 8 weeks, pneumonia, anxiety, depression and overwhelming fear.…but this? NOPE. I can’t do this. I’ve been BURNED and I’ve never felt pain like this. It was a different type of pain. More of a profound weakness. It felt like failure. We all know that feeling.

Ultimately, I learned to walk again in about a week. Not well, but walk all the same. After about three weeks, I was walking really well with a walker! The Therapist had done a great job!

The occupational and speech therapies were painful, but not nearly as challenging as the physical therapy.

My head had started itching TERRIBLY shortly after I arrived and I would beg anyone in the room to scratch it for me. Even after occupational therapy, I couldn’t reach my head and scratch it (my arms wouldn’t bend) and it had started itching prior to receiving the therapy anyway.

EVERYONE was scratching it for me and big white flakes were starting to come out. Big like a dime or a nickel. One nurse saw and said “if that came out of her head, it’s fungus!”. What ? She was cool about it and didn’t indicate that anything needed to be done. My husband and I were exhausted, uninformed and accustomed to relying on the nurses at the hospital who would have never let this go untreated. We didn’t know that.

And now, three weeks later, the flakes were multiplying and I was sick with a fever. I told the nurse all weekend. She simply added OTC acetaminophen to my medication regimen and told me I’d be fine. I laid there sick for three days.

It seems innocent, right? It almost cost me my life.

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