Rehabilitation and Therapy
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When Bill Wooley woke up on the ground, he saw his wife, Lauren, kneeling beside him. The next thing he noticed was that he couldn’t move. Neither Bill nor Lauren knew what had happened besides that Bill fainted.
“But one thing we knew,” Bill said, “was things were not going to be the same tomorrow as they were today.”
The beginning of a long journey
In the emergency room, Bill and Lauren learned that Bill compressed his spinal cord when he fell, causing paralysis from the neck down. Bill had two surgeries, one to place metal rods in his back and another to insert metal plates in his neck. The metal supports relieved the pressure on Bill’s spine, allowing him to move again.
But Bill’s journey was just beginning. He had to relearn everything. To do that, he needed inpatient rehabilitation (IPR). The couple were given a list of programs. At the top of the list was a familiar name: Kettering Health Hamilton.
“We were excited about that because it was fairly close to our home,” he said. Not only that but Bill’s sister, Mandy, is the case manager for the program.
Bill and Lauren knew that Kettering Health Hamilton was the right place for Bill to call home for the next four weeks.
Pushing past the pain
The first thing Bill had to relearn was how to walk. He started by using a walker and taking small, careful steps. Eventually, he no longer needed a walker. Toward the end of his stay, Bill was doing lunges down the hallway.
But for Bill, the biggest challenge was washing his hair. Lifting his arms above his head caused his shoulders to burn. He never felt pain like it before. But the staff assured him that, although it didn’t feel like it, the pain was a good thing. It meant his body was recovering.
“I was miserable,” he said. “But I was never discouraged.”
Even simple things, like cutting food, were nearly impossible for Bill. Just like he relearned to walk, he relearned how to use his hands.
Little by little, he could perform daily tasks again. He felt proud the day he cut his food with a knife.
“I wouldn’t have thought that that was a big thing,” he said, “but it really was.”
To some, these accomplishments might seem small. But for Bill, they were leaps toward going home and reuniting with Lauren and his sons, Beckett and Lincoln.
And his hard work paid off. A week before he was scheduled to leave, Bill got the OK to go home—just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
It felt bittersweet as Bill and Lauren packed up his room and checked out of the IPR unit. Bill couldn’t wait to go home and surprise his boys, but he knew he might never see some of the IPR team again.
The team helped Bill not only physically but also mentally. Despite being away from home, Bill never felt alone during his three-week stay. Every nurse, physical and occupational therapist, and doctor he talked to and worked with felt like a friend, someone he could count on.
When Bill’s family visited, the staff made them feel welcome, too. They set up space one day for the whole family to watch a Cincinnati Bengals game, something they love to do together.
“It was an extension of home,” he said.
Before leaving, Bill rang the recovery bell to celebrate. Everyone in the IPR unit cheered, supporting him one final time before he said goodbye to the people who now felt like family.
After the IPR program, Bill went through a month of outpatient occupational and physical therapy. And he sees an orthopedic specialist to continue rebuilding his strength and mobility.
Bill has a long journey ahead of him, and he knows he may never be the same. But no matter what happens, he’s grateful to the IPR team at Kettering Health Hamilton.
“We feel like God had a plan, and He was working that plan the whole time,” Bill said. “These people and this place were a part of that plan.”
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