Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crash Course Rehab

Heather: Here we are, "Three Healthy Cripples," almost able to walk normally. We waited until we were feeling better to describe rehab, because anything we wrote in the past few days would have just sounded like an out-of-tune chorus of OW OUCH OOH OW OW OW OW OUCH OW... (pretty boring).

Devin: We also went from a military sleep pattern to late nights, and also staying up all hours to check the news for hurricane updates. However, one good thing that happened was we all lost the puffiness in our faces, so no more fat-heads.

Heather: Yes, his good looks are intact ;) Getting out of bed in the morning is perhaps the hardest thing. Everything tightens up overnight, but as we move around throughout the day, the achy stiffness lessens and we do laps around the hallways. Marcus can already work up to a slow run, and Devin can navigate stairs now with minimal pain. He's the baby of the bunch and I'm the old lady here, so I'm bringing up the rear.



Devin: Yep, everyone's symptoms and pace are a bit different. For the most part, everyone has horribly sore calves and ankles. Another thing we all have in common is pain in the neck (haha, not just a cliché!) because we have not held our own heads up for months. When I first rose from bed, my calves got all swollen, almost tripling in size. Today is the first day the swelling has come down to almost normal, and I can flex to see what's left of the muscle. In other words, I went from jelly to jello. Not quite the chiseled gladiator I used to be. Marcus has problems in his hips as well as low back pain... and Heather had a little swelling and couldn't get into her shoes again, but that has also gone down. She no longer does the little ballerina spin before she's about to fall over.

Heather: Like I could spin, LOL... but it's nice to see improvement each afternoon. The day we rose from -6, we exerted ourselves too much. We felt good after the initial adjustment, but should have taken it easier that day, because we sure paid for it later! On Day 2, when I got up and tried to limp down the hallway, I thought: "This is what it must feel like to be about 120 years old."

Devin: We're using wheelchairs on occasion, but we've all had a noticeable increase in strength and fluidity of motion... except when Brent is torturing us. He is the exercise physiologist who did all our baseline tests. He and his wife Julie, a Phys. Ed. instructor, came up from Houston to conduct physical therapy with us each day. They basically monitor our work with weights, exercises and stretching routines, then report our progress to the Project Heads at NASA so they can decide when we should be released to go home.


With Brent in the Physical Therapy room

Heather: One of our coordinators, Rene, also brought us mexican food yesterday from Chuy's, a local favorite and our first restaurant meal! This should give you a sense of the ongoing dedication of the people at JSC and UTMB -- because folks like Rene and Brent are also recent evacuees. One lives on Galveston Island, the other in Houston, and both had to outrun Ike as we did. They are staying in Austin, waiting to hear when they can go home again.

Devin: Definitely going above and beyond the call of duty, we couldn't ask for more. We appreciate all their attention even though they must have a thousand other things on their minds. We know we are in good hands.

Heather: My family has been just as awesome. Dánae, my sister-in-law, is a massage therapist, and since our regular one wasn't able to visit, she's taken over that part of our rehabilitation. She made three very sore people VERY happy! Massages may sound trivial or like simple "pampering" on the surface, but when your muscles are practically water and your circulatory system is re-adapting, they become monumentally important to overall function. My brother Vince and my nephew Reece have also visited each day, bringing pizza and chinese food! We're eating SOME healthier foods in the normal hospital meals, but it's been fun to have some comfort foods too! Can't wait until we can go to a restaurant...