Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Job

I began working the next day. I was introduced to all pertinent departments by the director of the place.

The Physical Therapy Department was located in the basement. It was a large room and the equipment for treating patients was adequate. There were three in house patients who had been there for ages. One was a young man with polio from early childhood. He had full use of his arms and upper body. Since he was lying on his stomach on a gurney, he could propel himself by turning the front wheels on the gurney. He had a very good voice and he loved classical music, so my advice to him was: try to get a job on a classical music radio station.

The other two were two women, both were side by side in a large ward. Both of them suffered from horrible cases of arthritis. The older one was in her thirties and the younger one in her late teens. Neither one could bend any joint. They had both had surgery trying to give them enough movement in their wrists and elbows so they would be able to feed themselves. As soon as the surgery was over the joints froze up again. To get them to a standing position took three strong people. And they endured horrible pain while they were being moved. All three of these people became very good friends of mine. I feel I gave them no help. The older one whose name was Gladys did a nova (prayers for a certain number of days) for Ss safety. She was a Roman Catholic. I was very touched by it. I spent a lot of time with them for they had almost no visitors.

Tom, the young man, had a friend also named Tom. Tom and Tom11 had been bed mates while Tom11 had been hospitaised a couple of years earlier. When Tom11 was released from the hospital he married, studied, became a notary public, and a father. He was tied to his wheelchair and he had a burning desire to walk again. He thought I was the answer to his prayers. All MDs and PTs he had dealt with up until now told him not to waste his time trying to walk. He made an appointment for a muscle test with me. I tested him and then said to him, Let's see how you walk. He got up and put a robe on. By the time he was standing with his crutches he had put in a days work of effort. I said, now go to the end of the room. By the time he reached a door half way to the end of the room, I said: Tom, You have to sit down. And I brought his wheelchair over to him-and helped him sit down.

This Tom was a 6.4 man, handsome and smart and it was difficult for me to be honest with him. It would have been so much easier to say that if we worked hard together he could probably learn to walk. But he had less muscle power in his back and legs than FDR had. I said that his walk had taken as much energy from him as if he had dug a ditch across the street downtown. You cannot waste that much energy since you run a business with your wife and since you are the father of a baby. If you can find someone with a pool, I will help you walk there and it will be good for you to move around and try to exercise your legs. But if you ask for my advice I would say, stay in your wheelchair. It was cruel to rob him of his dream.

After S came home from the war he hired Tom to do our taxes. Tom also helped us find our first apartment. (almost in the middle of the Bayshore Highway) Sadly Tom died as a young man from the effects of sitting in a wheelchair and getting chair and bedsores repeatedly.

3 comments:

Bonnie's blog said...

My goodness a hard job but one you obviously did really well. I have been involved with Disabled People most of my working life and I have too often seen them given false hope only to have it dashed and then be blamed for the failure! Your approach is obviously the best but as you say, one of the hardest things to do. I'm heartened that your patients had such an empathic PT!

Barbara said...

One of the great treats of any day is to click onto your blog and discover that you've posted a new entry. Your story has changed in tone from the beginning but is always interesting (a little like life, yes?).
Maybe you will post some more pictures some day....please!!!!
Barbara

Martha Alderson said...

Your compassion and love for everyone you met shines through your writing. Lovely and inspiring.....