Chapter Nineteen: Transition
Life in rehab was work. Steve got very little rest. The physical therapists were wonderful with their attention to detail and their knowledge of how a body can heal. Steve’s schedule left him with very little time to lay in bed. We were both up at the crack of dawn as the little rehab hospital began to transition from quiet nights to the buzz of another busy day.
Most of the patients there were elderly. They were rehabilitating from hip replacement surgeries, or falls they had taken and were injured, to various other age related needs. There were only two other men there that were around Steve’s age. And, everyone, regardless of their reason for being there, was in a wheelchair. At mealtime, a line of wheelchairs would begin to line up in the dining room waiting to be served the next meal. I would push Steve’s wheelchair through the line, get our trays and then we would go to the outside tables to eat in the warm, often times hot, bright sun. After spending weeks in a cool, dark hospital room, we both craved sunshine and warmth, so we found small ways to get it. By now, Steve was eating regular food and enjoying every bite. His taste for cold drinks was quenched each day with a new choice, sometimes ice tea, sometimes a soda, and of course, always ice water.
Our daily routine of physical therapy sessions, meals, shower, a little outdoor time, and then early bedtime was finding its groove. We were becoming accustom to the our new place. Steve was still struggling with stomach pains during the night because of the feeding tube he still had, but the hallucinations were gone and most of our nights were peaceful. We didn’t really like the early bedtime, so we watched movies on Steve’s laptop or we watched TV until we couldn’t hold our eyes open any longer. Our days were flying by and I was beginning to think of home and how much I wanted to finally be there. We both missed our puppy. It had been two months without her and we could hardly wait to get back to her and our family and friends.
The day before our scheduled departure for home, Steve was struggling with more swelling in his legs. His long days in the wheelchair between therapy sessions and the hard workouts were causing his legs to swell badly. This became a big concern for the nurses. So much so, that it was decided by the doctor that Steve needed to go to the emergency room of the local hospital to have tests done to see if his kidneys were failing again. His kidneys had been working well when we left Flagstaff Medical. He had finished his dialysis and his kidneys had fully recovered, which was a true miracle. But, now there was concern.
The rehab hospital driver loaded Steve up in the transport van after breakfast, and once again I was following Steve to another hospital. We spent the day in the ER waiting for tests results. I was exhausted. I wanted to go home. I had already begun to let myself think about what home would be like, how comfortable it would be, how quiet. Now, we had another hospital visit to deal with. Steve was feeling the same way. We had met wonderful people at the rehab hospital and Steve had received excellent therapy, but we were not feeling the anxious feelings that usually preceded a change. This time we were eager to be where we most longed to be. Home.
Test results showed small blood clots beginning to form in Steve’s legs. His kidneys appeared to be fine. These tiny clots were very recent, within the last few days, so he was put on a blood thinner and after a long day in the ER we went back to the rehab hospital. Because of this new issue, the rehab doctor didn’t feel good about Steve leaving the hospital on his original release date. He wanted to observe him a few days longer, so our stay was extended by at least three more days. Our hearts sank.
Extending our stay meant that Steve now had three more full days of rehab, so we decided to see this delay as a gift and embrace the extended time Steve had with therapists. When he got home there wouldn’t be any therapy, so this extended stay really ended up being in our favor.
The night after our ER visit, Steve and I were in the rehab dining room having dinner. We had decided to eat indoors that night because it was too hot to be comfortable outdoors. As we finished our dinner and were getting ready to leave, a woman walked up to our table and asked us if this was Steve Akash. She introduced herself as Judy. She said she had overheard Steve thanking a therapist earlier in the day and she was so touched by his graciousness that she just had to stop and say hello. She then told us that she was the CEO of the hospital and she had been wanting to meet us, but didn’t want to intrude on our time. We invited her to join us and we chatted for over an hour about our various spiritual beliefs, the hospital, and Steve’s illness and recuperation. She asked us what Steve planned to do about therapy when he left the hospital and we told her we had no insurance, so he would be on his own and use the tools he had learned at the hospital. After a little more conversation, she gave us a hug and left. We went back to our room thinking what a wonderful woman she was and how fortunate we were to have met her.
The next day while Steve was working out, Judy came into the therapy room. She told us she had contacted a therapist friend of hers in Sedona and he was willing to see Steve at no charge for as long as Steve needed. He was willing to do it as a favor to Judy. We were stunned and very happy. We barely knew her and yet she was extending such amazing generosity to us.
When people leave the rehab hospital they get to stay in the transition room the night before they go home to see how well they will do at home. The transition room is set up like a regular hotel room, a very nice hotel room, and it allows people to sleep in a regular bed instead of the hospital bed they have been in. The head nurse came by to tell us that Steve was going to stay in the transition room for the last two nights of his stay. Judy had arranged it. She wanted to make sure Steve and I were both comfortable with our new situation of me being Steve’s full time care giver. With great relief, I packed up our room and moved us into the transition room. I needed desperately to sleep on a real bed again. I had been on a tiny roll away bed with bad springs, so I was especially looking forward to this new room.
The new room felt like normal life. No hospital bed or nurses coming in to check Steve’s vitals. If we needed anything in the middle of the night, we could ring the buzzer for the nurse, otherwise it was dark, quiet and comfortable. It felt so good to sleep in the same bed with Steve again. I could reach out and touch his hand anytime I wanted to during the night. I didn’t have to get up and walk across the room any more. I loved the luxury of our new arrangement.
Being in this room showed me that I was now able to put into practice everything I had been learning about taking care of Steve. I had been taught how to transport him from the wheelchair to the bed by using a sliding board. It wasn’t easy, but I could do it with Steve’s help. His arms had gotten strong enough to lift himself. Being able to lift himself up as someone assisted him by moving him across a slide board he was sitting on was the defining factor in him returning home. Just knowing we had this new found freedom, without having to call other people to help us, made us both very happy. Not needing help from anyone opened up a very big world for us now. We felt more confident about our new situation, making going home even more exciting.
On our final night in the transition room the nurse told us that Steve could eat anything he wanted. We didn’t have to go to the dining room for dinner if we didn’t want to, so I went out to get Chinese food for the two of us. We sat in bed eating our orange chicken, talking excitedly about what going home was going to be like. As we were eating, Judy came to the room for a visit. She wanted to see us one last time. She laughed when she saw us eating in bed. She said no one had ever done that before, but she loved that we were. She told us how much she had enjoyed meeting us. She felt a deep affection for both of us and was truly inspired by Steve’s miraculous recovery.
As we talked, she told us more about herself and her philosophies about life. She believed, like we did, that when you give abundantly, then the Universe gives back to you just as abundantly. She then told us that when she heard about Steve’s case after receiving a phone call from Flagstaff Medical, she told the CFO of the rehab hospital that this man needed some help and that if they would give abundantly to him and give him some time at their hospital, then their hospital would also receive an abundant flow. They decided that day, the day I had prayed for a miracle, that Steve’s rehab would be a gift to us. I sat there in total amazement. It was solely because of her that we were here. She was the beautiful woman who had answered my prayer.
The Divine synchronicity that guides our lives when we allow ourselves to recognize it had just shown itself to us. We had met another angel. The blood clot that extended our stay gave us the time to meet her. And, once we had, it was time to finally go home.