It all started on February 14, 2016, when I had to use the restroom in my home. I went to transfer out of my electric wheelchair, but before I even took a step, I lost my balance somehow and before I knew it, I was on the floor. As as I fell, I heard this awful noise that sounded like a tree branch cracking. Unfortunately, it was no tree branch that I heard – it was my left leg breaking.
At the time, I was not sure what had happened other than me being in excruciating pain. At this time, I did call out for my caregiver who was in the kitchen cleaning dishes. When she saw me though, her mouth dropped.
At this time, my daughter came out of her room to see what all the commotion was as well. She, too, was upset. This was not like my "normal falls". We ended up using my Lifeline button to call 911 and the paramedics were soon there. As soon as they git a good at me, one paramedic said into his radio, "We got a break here".
My worst fear came true. Once I arrived at the hospital, they confirmed that not only was my left leg broken, but in TWO places. My tibia and fibula bones were broken. I was in shock, as I could not image how that be. But it was how I landed on my tiled bathroom floor.
The orthopedic doctor who saw me gave me two options:
1.) I could get a cast and have absolutely no weight bearing on that left leg up between 6 to 8 weeks, which is impossible to tell a Cerebral Palsy patient to do with already with limited balance to begin with, or
2.) I go into surgery and have them place a mental rod in to stabilize the broken bones to help them heal on their own while at the same time being able to still bear weight.
As you may guess, I choose to have the surgery. So, on Wednesday February 18, 2016, I had the surgery. There was the talk of physical therapy to regain the strength in my left leg that I broke. One problem that also arised was that the doctors did not feel comfortable allowing me going back home without 24/7 care or at least having some kind of rehab first.
I was upset with this of course, as I also have a child, I was concerned about. Just say, with A LOT of convincing and common sense, I agreed to temporary rehab until I could get back on my feet again. They estimated that I should be out within three weeks. WRONG!
Let's just say, my story does not end here. It's said a lot of older folks or some disabled folks are often abused or not heard in "Nursing home" settings, and, well, I'm here to tell you, it's TRUE! Because I am known to speak my mind, I told the CNAS that took care of me how frustrated I was and that if they didn't listen or come to my call button after 2 or 3 hours of hitting it, I would complain until it got the Director of Nursing.
The only problem is the main excuse I got was, "Sorry, we are understaffed". I was even treated rottenly by a 1st shift CNA. It was like she did not think I could speak up for myself, but boy could I! For example, in the mornings, instead of saying good morning or saying, "time to get up", she would just walk in the room, turn the bright lights on and rip my covers off and start undressing me etc. One time, because I had to wear Depends since I could not transfer into the bathroom or use a bedpan (very uncomfortable) it apparently stunk in my area. She made that very clear when she decided to spray Lysol on top of me and on floor, which I thought was rude and demeaning.
But don't worry, I reported her for it. But the one thing I will never forget is when I got scabies and then so did some other residents and the nursing home ended up going on "Locked Down" until they followed the cleaning procedures and that most if not all of us were in the clear to be "free" again. We discovered, that a month prior of all this, a resident had them, then passed it on to a CNA (which they knew of, including the higher ups) which then passed it on to others, etc. But the thing that really kept me at this rehab longer than it should have is when I did have physical therapy not my left leg would hurt but my left foot.
Why would my left foot hurt now? Oh, could it be when I fell the October before? And when I went to an urgent care and they just told me, I only possibly sprained it and just sent me home with an orthopedic shoe? Or is possible when I fell this time, I made it worse somehow? Well, let's just say, when I went to my follow up appointment for my left leg with my orthopedic, I mentioned to him about my left foot and my issues at therapy. After hearing that, he sent me down for a second x-ray, but this time just for my left foot, and guess what? They discovered I had a hairline fracture on my 5th metatarsal. So, that explained a lot.
Now, the other issue was to get the PT to listen to my needs and to understand that what they think will help me is not always the case. They were telling me a flimsy ankle brace will be better for me to use than an air boot. I knew in my heart an ankle brace, especially the one they choose, was not the answer. I had to prove to them that the air boot was the answer by one day trying one out that my Mom got at home when I was visiting my daughter. And guess what? I was able to use it just fine and TRANSFER on my own for the first time since I broke my leg! When I told my PT this, they said fine, we just need the orthopedic doctor to say he's okay with it, and guess what? He said, if it's working for her, why not? Well, since I'm now transferring on my own they now can discharge me. Best words I have heard in a long time. Even though I did make a few friends there, I was excited to home. I finally left the rehab on May 13, 2017, a three month or so stay after it was going to be a potentially a three week stay. I never want to experience this again, I will admit. But this was a life experience to give me an eye opener of many things that is going on in our nursing homes. It's not only sad for the residents, but also for most of the CNAS, who are stuck working overtime or overworked because there they are understaffed. Something has to change.