BY JACKIE WARREN-MOORE
It was surreal. I remember the dark, almost slow-motion fall. The scream, mine. Then the confusion, pain, red lights, movement and assurances that I would “be fine.”
I was in Upstate University Hospital downtown. I had tripped over my 100-pound German shepherd and fractured the femur in my left leg. Things were not looking “fine.”
After the emergency surgery, the surgeon smilingly informed me that he had to “be very creative” to put my leg back together, but after rehab, I’d be “fine.” There was that word again. And I knew I’d have to do my own assessment of “fine.”
‘”I was told I could not put any weight on that leg. My one attempt to put weight on it assured me they were right. They also assured me the place for me was at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Upstate’s Community campus.
I’d previously witnessed scenes on television of people in physical therapy, but my focus had always been on the person between the bars struggling for that first step.
Now, I was deeply humbled to have some incredible people inside those bars with me. I was the one teetering and struggling to stand and attempting a first step.
A young man (I later found out in conversation that he knew my oldest grandson) stood behind me, softly saying, “I got you,” as he held onto the strong Velcro belt that encircled me.
There was the physical therapist, small yet strong, who stood in front of me, gently nudging her foot beneath my left foot and urging me not to put any weight on my foot. She talked to me about what she planned to do on her upcoming vacation to California.
I recall the gentle slap to my hand as I tearfully admitted my pain level. On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 9.
The beautiful, sassy young registered nurse assured me she’d return with medication and that I’d be “fine.”
There were the daily visits of the soft-spoken nurse practitioner who knelt beside my bed and proclaimed my leg looked good and was healing well.
During the course of nearly a month, I was often seated in a welcome shower with an occupational therapist who shared the plans of her teenage son’s prom and the description of his tuxedo while teaching me how to shower with my weight on only one foot.
I’m grateful to the strong male aide who I discovered loved brown-eyed Susans as much as I do. We discovered this as he lent me his strength as I made the “slide transition” from a commode to my bed.
I could go on and tell about the woman on evenings who always made me laugh and showed me pictures of her beautiful 14-year-old granddaughters. I could tell you about the ever-helpful young aide who shyly told me her dream is to become an RN.
These people and others will forever be a part of a most difficult, yet hopeful, part of my life. They are part of a highly professional and uncommonly compassionate group of caregivers. We are fortunate to have them in our community.
In mid-June, I rolled in a wheelchair down a ramp on the side of my house, constructed by my 12-year-old grandson and my husband. I sat in my backyard, listened to the birds, felt the breeze on my face, stretched out my healing leg to the sun. I’m fine.
This article appears in the fall 2018 issue of Upstate Health magazine. The essay originally appeared on Syracuse.com, where Jackie Warren-Moore regularly writes. She is a poet and playwright whose latest book is “Where I Come From” (Nine Mile Books, 2016).