Former Marianjoy Patient Myra Deem Shares Her Story of Recovery
When someone suffers a debilitating injury or an illness, they do not generally know what they are facing as they work to recover from it. Such was true of me when I found, in 1999, that I would have to replace both my knees. Once the initial surgery for one knee was complete and I was ready for rehabilitation, my surgeon recommended Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, which was a facility I knew nothing about. Trusting in my doctor’s reliable and sage advice, I became a patient at Marianjoy for two weeks following each knee replacement. The experiences I had during those hospitalizations were more than enlightening for me, they were life saving. I quickly learned that I could not enjoy any level of success I hoped to achieve alone. I needed the wide gamut of services and personnel found within the walls of the finely honed state-of-the art facility that Marianjoy offered to patients like me.
Knee replacements are not unlike child birth in at least one respect. The pain can be excruciating. Unlike childbirth, it can take a measure of time to rebound from the surgery and the fact that there is no pudgy little bundle of joy waiting at the end of your labor becomes the ultimate insult. What you do have to show for the temporary inconvenience of discomfort and the rigors of physical therapy, is the ability to walk again without pain or restriction. Once again I was able join with family and friends in the pleasantries of every day life. Most of all I could enjoy my grandchildren in ways that the deterioration of osteoarthritis had taken from me.
When I left Marianjoy after the second knee replacement, I never dreamed I would return … but return I did. In January 2005, I fell on ice and severely fractured my left leg. My first request, post surgery, was to be transferred to Marianjoy for rehabilitation. I had been told there would be a long siege of in-house care to be followed up with months of rehabilitation on an out-patient basis and I knew there was only one place for such an endeavor; it was Marianjoy.
The transition to Marianjoy was seamless. I shall always recall getting settled in my room only to begin visiting with a variety of familiar faces from the 1999 hospitalizations. There were doctors, nurses, aides, physical and occupational therapists; even the resident psychologist with whom I had worked and counseled with so many years before. They were a little older, (but so was I!); however, they were easily recognizable and to my delight, they remembered me too. It was like “old home week”. How wonderful, if I had to go back to a rehabilitation hospital, it was one I knew, and respected. The bonus was being welcomed by those who were not strangers.
Once I returned home from the in-house stay, I began to think about the stability the Marianjoy staff provided to their patients. After many years had passed since my initial hospitalizations, I returned to find that while many employers accept as inevitable the attrition and change in their staff, Marianjoy could taut a stable staff that continuously honed their medical prowess in favor of their patients. What an asset this was for someone like me who faced a long road of specialized care and not for the first time.
After nearly three weeks as an inpatient at Marianjoy, I began going to out-patient physical therapy for several more months. During this period I had an opportunity to get to know additional therapists and their support staff in a much more intimate way. Although I had an excellent physical therapist who worked with me regularly, I was exposed to the entire staff each of whom treated me as though I was an old friend. I found they brought their unique personalities to the care of their patients but they also shared them with others like me who was not in their charge. I came to think of all of them as my friends. When I would arrive for therapy feeling a little down or discouraged they would have none of it. Before I knew it, they had me talking and laughing, working and enhancing my recovery … in spite of myself. What great cheerleaders they were.
The emotional aspect of healing is as important as the physical challenges one may face. Marianjoy has many strengths but personally I think their predominant contribution to patients, regardless of their disabilities, is the ability to treat the whole person. It is clear, as you watch the medical and other professionals dealing with patients and their families that they understand this. The approach to the family unit and their dedicated care is the norm. It cannot be denied. I was always struck with the observation that the staff at Marianjoy does not just carry out their respective tasks, but they revel in them. Such job satisfaction and expertise is not only obvious but it is infectious.
The key to any recovery is the delicate balance of medical prowess and patient attitude. The staff at Marianjoy is keenly adept at maintaining a positive mental attitude among themselves as well as their patients. These capable and dedicated individuals are the “secret weapons” that Marianjoy freely offers to heal both the body and the human spirit. While I hope I will not have the need to return to Marianjoy, I am comforted in the knowledge that they are there if I need them.