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Down but not out

September 22, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

As I finished my shower on that Tuesday morning, my thoughts were on the busy day ahead.

But in one instant, everything changed.

I was half-way out of the shower when my left leg suddenly buckled. As I fell, my right leg twisted under me. I clearly heard the two bones of the lower leg snap as I hit the floor.

After a "what just happened ?" moment, I looked down at my twisted leg and knew I was in serious trouble.

"Call 911!" I yelled to my son Tim.

Soon the little 6 by 6 foot bathroom was a crowded scene. My body was awkwardly sprawled across the floor while two hefty paramedics worked over me.

I had a hard time stifling my groans as the men carefully straightened my badly broken leg. Under the circumstances, they were as gentle as possible but, of course, I felt every movement. At least the pain helped me to forget there was nothing between me and these young guys but a bath towel.

Finally I was in the ambulance, headed for the local hospital. I had never noticed how rough the road was until that ride. This time I felt every bump.

Fortunately, my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. B. was in the hospital and quickly joined me in the ER.

Through the years, Dr. B. has replaced both of my arthritic knees and shoulders. But those operations were elective. My current problem was totally unplanned.

After studying the X-rays and examining the leg, Dr. B. said, "Joyce, this is a really nasty break. I'm sending you to Ft. Myers to a trauma specialist. This is his kind of work."

The next day-and-a-half were a blur as I was transferred to Ft. Myers, had the surgery and came back to Punta Gorda.

After a few days to recover from the operation, I was moved to a rehabilitation center to begin the long road to recovery.

I was very fortunate to go to the Life Care Center of Punta Gorda. Not only is this facility widely known for the quality of care and the excellence of its therapy staff, but it's located only three blocks from our condo. That made visiting very easy for son Tim.

I spent three long months at Life Care. When I was admitted on May 23, I needed help with everything. By the time I was discharged on August 23, I was walking with a walker and able to do most everything for myself.

But, as anyone who has been through extensive rehab will tell you, those three months involved a great deal of very hard work. It's amazing how difficult it is to learn to walk again when you've been doing it all your life.

In spite of the pain and frustration such experiences always bring, there are also instances of unexpected humor.

I especially remember one lady I met a couple of weeks after my admission. Her job was to evaluate my mental and emotional state in light of my accident.

As I lay helplessly in my hospital bed, my leg in a soft cast and elevated on a pillow, the lady went through her list of questions.

After a few minutes, she came to the final point, "Now tell me," she asked," in the last two weeks, have you had any negative feelings about your life?"



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