When John Evans was first evaluated by his therapist, he was asked the usual questions. One of which was, “What are your goals?”
There was no hesitation in his reply, “I want to walk out of this hospital.” This goal would be a lofty one for John, and that was a fact that everyone understood. He’d had a fall that resulted in serious spinal injuries and was dependent on others to do almost everything. The fall left him with severe weakness in both his upper and lower body. Despite a genuine willingness, John’s body fatigued easily. Every step, both literal and figurative, expended a lot of energy.
When asked what the most challenging elements of his rehabilitation were, John replied, “All of it. I was unable to move independently. I couldn’t get out of bed on my own. It was a struggle all the way.” John went on to say that his recovery is the result of the superb care he received at Whittier. For many hours every day, the medical and therapy teams took care of John’s many needs. He knew that his long road to recovery would require a lot of effort and a willingness to do the work, as well as to believe in himself and never give up. “When I heard and felt their belief in me, I began to believe in myself.” John shared.
John is forever grateful for the highly professional guidance everyone so compassionately provided.
“Everyone was so kind; the therapists, the nurses, and the CNAs,” John stated. “The therapists were always positive. Even when they were delivering constructive feedback, it was offered as a recommendation in the most positive manner. No efforts were deemed failures.” As a result of this encouraging instruction, John says he experienced very few periods of discouragement.
John spent time in both of the hospital units: the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) and the Long-Term Acute Care unit (LTAC), as well as in the TCU (Transitional Care Unit). John gained strength every day and made improvements, big and small, every week. He began to stand with assistance, and to use a walker to transfer and move forward. John continued to display the determination that he knew was required to improve and achieve that goal of walking out the hospital front door to go home.
As John’s recovery continued to move forward, he had another goal that was vital to his ability to go home: he needed to be able to climb the three flights of stairs that led up to his front door. After six weeks in the hospital, and just before he moved over to the TCU, John was able to walk up to 70 feet. After two more weeks, he could climb four steps in the gym. Two weeks before his discharge, John climbed half of the lobby stairs with minimal assistance; and walked 350 feet with his walker. One week before his discharge, he ascended the full flight of stairs in the lobby, with minimal assistance. A few days later, he climbed and descended the entire flight of stairs.
After three and a half months, John WALKED out of the hospital and went home.
It was a long and arduous period in John’s life. “I had to face the possibility of six, seven, or even nine months in the hospital,” John told me. Fortunately, that did not happen. John forged ahead, displaying a strength he did not know he had. A strength born out of determination, grit and a belief that he could do it. “They believed in me. It was their belief in me that gave me the confidence to believe in myself. It was out of respect for them that I tried my hardest.” John confessed. Out of respect for the effort that the therapists were putting in, John felt that he owed them the same level of effort back. This continuous and reciprocal path of mutual respect and effort propelled John to reach his goals. John also professed, “In addition to the fabulous support from therapists and staff, the greatest support to me was provided by my wife whose tireless devotion to all my needs everyday was indispensable to my recovery. She continues to take care of me with an astonishingly selfless and uplifting intensity.
John’s neurologist and surgeon describe his progress as remarkable. His home services just concluded and he will continue his therapy on an outpatient basis. He knows that he probably has another year or so of recuperation ahead, but John says, “I’ll take it!” He will stay the course and continue to make progress each day. John is eternally grateful to his therapists and medical team. In his mind, they deserve all the credit. John’s accolades and appreciation were innumerable. John declared, “It was an honor and a privilege to have been a patient at Whittier.”
John, all of us at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital Westborough are thrilled to have had the opportunity to guide you through your recovery. We wish you all the luck in the world.