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Physical Therapy after the Vent

Twenty days on life support was the result of Crohn’s. MERSA and staff infection had taken over my body in the spring of 2007, and my body could not keep up. With my pulse oxygen in the seventies, I could not breathe on my own and needed assistance. As I laid in a medicated coma, my muscles and all began to go away. When I awoke, I was down to eighty-one pounds and had not been out of bed for almost a month. I had bedsores on my backside. My muscles in my buttocks had gone away, so I could not hold stool anymore. I had basically become a child who had to be trained how to walk, talk, swallow, chew, and use the bathroom. The long road was ahead of me.

I was so out of shape

When the doctors began to get me out of bed, I had to begin physical therapy. Really? A twenty-one-year-old having to be brought down to a room in the basement of the hospital for physical therapy. Wow! The problem was that I was so out of shape from not moving for so long, that I needed to build my strength up. The first step was going from the sitting position to standing up. This was harder than I thought. I had lost all of my muscles in my buttocks. It was going to be hard to go to the bathroom.

Kegel exercises

When I first stood up, I went to the bathroom all over myself and the wheelchair. I felt terrible and embarrassed. All of these elderly people in the physical therapy center were staring at me. I actually started to cry. In order to strengthen the muscles in my backside, I had to do kegel exercises for ten minutes every hour for fifteen hours a day. And yep, as you are probably thinking, the way I had to do that was to put my finger into my rear end and bear down. I had to do this one hundred times in the ten-minute span. At first, I thought this was crazy, but even after a few days, I could tell that that I was getting better. I was able to stand up without going to the bathroom on myself.

Trying to walk

The next obstacle was walking. Walking was hard because I would get out of breath so easily, and my heart rate would skyrocket. I was so excited when I when I got dismissed from physical therapy in the hospital, and I could continue to strengthen my body up in my hospital room. I was still having trouble holding my stool when walking. My dad and brother thought of a great idea! They would walk behind me with the wheelchair and commode bucket. If I needed to sit down, there was the chair. If I had to go to the bathroom, there was the bucket. I know what you are thinking: Why in the hallway? Well, I had to get my walking somewhere!

This is part one of a two-part series. I can’t wait to tell you about the attire I wore to walk the hallways! It’s a hoot!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.