I flopped over and hit my head the first time I tried sitting up unsupported long enough to be transported into a wheelchair. I was in a nursing home, recovering from my 6-week coma. I couldn't stand even when I was being held up. Physical therapists put me in a device that resembled a giant vertical sandwich press. My legs were the sandwich. The pressure was supposed to aid my standing. It didn't. They kept increasing the pressure until I yelled--UNCLE! Still, I couldn't stand. It looked hopeless, but eventually I was able to stand with a special walker that braced my arms (see above). At first, I had to throw my arms at the arm braces and hope I could catch it. Before long, I could very slightly edge my feet forward. They called those steps. Soon, I was able to take a couple of actual stiff, Frankenstein-like steps.
John Silva was the main therapist who helped me to walk again, Another physical therapist scoffed that I wasn't really walking because he was holding me up as I walked. Later, after I was walking without support, other therapists thought he was pushing me too fast. But it worked. He was using the techniques he learned at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
, which he said was nationally recognized for its innovative approaches, and for that I'm eternally grateful. Without his help, I wouldn't have made it home in time to save my Kaiser health insurance, which would've been canceled if I had stayed in the nursing home past last November 1st. If they made a movie about him, he would be the maverick defying his hidebound colleagues to save a patient without a chance.
This is a picture taken with John the first time I walked outside the nursing home, which was his method for helping patients progress. That made one of the therapists practically roll her eyes. By the way, he wasn't holding onto me, just grasping a belt around my waist, which was a required safety measure.
And here is the video I made using pictures my boyfriend Keith took on our garden walks, which I started at the suggestion of the outpatient physical therapist I saw when I returned home, Alan Lee. The walks have greatly improved my walking, so I owe a debt of gratitude to him, as well. The video features my playing of "Morning Has Broken" on a vintage Folk Roots mountain dulcimer as its soundtrack. I posted it on the day after my birthday, both to celebrate my rebirth after nearly dying and to thank my dulcimer-playing friends
for their emotional support through my difficult recovery.
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