Friday, May 10, 2013

More Or Less a Man-Part III

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By Sunday evening Heather felt refreshed and ready to get back to work.  She had created a new game for Coach Davis and was looking forward to working with him.  Mr. Thomas in room 1436 had the same injuries as Coach Davis, so she planned to work with them together.  Unlike Coach Davis, Mr. Thomas had accepted his condition and was determined to gain strength through exercise.  She hoped Mr. Thomas would inspire Coach Davis to work harder.

"Good morning."  Heather told Ginger, her mentor for the program.
"Oh hi.  How was your weekend?"
"Great.  I really needed the time to myself."
"I know you had a rough week, but I promise you there will be plenty more of them.  You need to learn how to handle them because you will have more rough weeks in your career."
"How do I do that?"  Heather genuinely wanted o know.
"Do you have a hobby?"  
"No, I'm too busy going to school and do clinicals."
"Well you need to find a good hobby.  One that will take your mind off of work and allow you to 'escape' the world while standing in your living room."
"Okay, I'll think about that."

Heather decided to let Coach Davis know that she planned to work with both he and Mr. Thomas.  Entering his room, she was surprised to see him sitting up in the bed with a pleasant expression on his face.  As soon as he saw her, he broke out in a smile bright enough to light the entire room.  
"Well how are you doing?"  She asked.
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Support Bars
"I'm fine.  I've missed you the last few days.  Where have you been?"
"I took some time off to relax."
"Oh, did it work?"
"Yes, thank you.  I had a great time."
 "You missed my boys."
"Your boys?"
"Yes, the team.  Almost every one of them came to see me last week.  I wish you'd been here."
"I saw them before I left for the weekend. They seemed to have lifted your spirits."
"Oh they did that.  They said the things I used to say to them in the locker room.  Believe me, I got the message."
"So are you ready to work?"
"Yes I am.  And you won't have to fuss at me today."

Heather explained her idea of working with Mr. Thomas, but Coach Davis requested to work alone and promised Heather he would didn't need inspiration. 

True to his word, Coach Davis worked hard and seemed to enjoy Heather's new game.  She stood at the end of the hospital bed and blew the bubbles from the dollar store through the wand.  Coach Davis would lift one of his nubs, as he called them, and pop the bubbles.  They both enjoyed the game.  They joked and laughed while they played or rather worked.  This was the old Coach Davis that Heather remembered from high school.

On Tuesday Coach Davis' medical chart wasn't on the shelf.  Heather walked quickly to his room and found an unfamiliar man measuring Coach Davis' legs.

"Hi Heather."  Coach Davis smiled when she walked in the room.  "This is Mr. Wynngate.  He's measuring for my prosthetic leg.  Isn't that exciting?"
 "Yes it is, but I didn't realize you were looking forward to it."
"I wasn't.  When Dr. Rossman asked me about it, I said not to bother.  I didn't plan to wear it.  But when my team came and read me the riot act I reconsidered.  When they were talking to me, I heard myself talking to them in the locker room at half time.  Can you believe that?  They used my own words against me.  I'm not sure that's fair."
"If it gets you out of this bed, it's fair.  You have way too much life in you to spend it in bed."  Heather remarked.
Mr. Wynngate looked up at Coach Davis and smiled.  "She's right about that."
"I guess so.  She was a student and dating one of my football players when I was coaching.  Now she's my physical therapist who thinks she's my boss."
" I do not think I'm your boss, but it might not be a bad idea for you to have a boss.  You haven't been exactly making rational decisions lately."
"See what I mean, Mr. Wynngate?  Instead of strengthening my muscles, she's analyzing my mental competency."
Again Mr. Wynngate smiled at the coach.  "Well if your plan was to lie in this bed until you died, she may be right about you not making good decisions.  You lost your legs and while that is a really big adjustment, it's not the end of your life.  With the prosthesis we have today you can be as active as you were before you lost your legs.  There is a man in South Carolina who ordered a custom made prosthesis so he can run races again."
"No way."  Coach Davis didn't believe that.
"Yes way.  Is that something you are interested in?  If so, I need to know before I start building your device.  I can build it for running if you want."
"Well I wasn't much of a runner.  It just wasn't my thing."
"What did you do before going into the military?"
"I was a football coach at the high school."
"Well I know it's not the same as the Friday night lights and fans screaming, but I volunteer at an organization called I-CAN.  It stands for International Child Amputee Network.   They help children who are born with under-developed limbs or lose them during childhood.  Every summer I volunteer as a counselor at a camp called Adventure Amputee Camp.  We have some really neat things for the children including river rafting, high ropes, and water skiing.  If we modify the equipment, these kids can do anything.  Like I said, it's not the same, but it would be working with children."  Mr. Wynngate loved these children and promoted the organizations anytime he got the chance.

"Let me think about it.  I'm not sure I'll be in any shape to volunteer by summer."
"You give me the word and I'll have you in shape by summer."  Heather told him.
Coach Davis and Mr. Wynngate laughed.
Mr. Wynngate gathered his equipment to leave and said, "I'll be back in a couple of weeks with your prosthesis and I'll bring you some information on I-CAN."  He left before Coach Davis could  refuse his offer.

"Well do you feel like working out after all that?"
"Not really, but I think I need to.  It sounds to me like Mr. Wynngate has me slated to help some children."
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Weight Lifting
Over the next two weeks Coach Davis worked on building his strength.  He was surprised at how much muscle tone he had lost lying in bed.  Then he was embarrassed.  A coach should know better, he thought.
At the end of the second week, Heather found him working out in the weight room.  "How are you doing today?"
"I'm fine.  Mr. Wynngate is coming today with my prosthesis and I'm trying to get my workout done before he gets here."
"Well I think I'm about to stop your workout.  When he gets here, we are going to attach your new legs and then get you walking.  That will take more strength than you think so I want you to stop the workout and go rest for awhile.  I don't want you so tired you don't have the muscle tone to attempt walking." Heather said in her professional voice.

Reluctantly Coach Davis put down the weights and went back to his room.  It seemed like an eternity before Mr. Wynngate arrived with the prosthetic.  Heather wheeled Coach Davis into the therapy room where there was plenty of room to work.
Mr. Wynngate show the anxious coach how to attach the prosthesis to his leg.  Then Coach Davis stood for the first time in several months.  Heather had been right.  It took all his strength and the help of Mr. Wynngate to stand.  Holding on to bars on either side of his waist, he pulled himself down the therapy walkway.  Despite his best effort, he collapsed midway.  He was embarrassed and angry, but Mr. Wynngate informed him that most amputees trying the walkway for the first time fell. 

Over the next couple of weeks, Coach Davis improved enough to be dismissed from the hospital.  He still required outpatient physical therapy, but he was making great progress.  With regular checkups at the clinic and exercise at the gym he would continue to improve.  Heather was surprised at how much she missed him.

One day in early May, she walked to her usual nurse's station and saw Coach Davis in the waiting room.  She started to walk over to him, but she saw him walking toward her.  By the look on his face, she could tell he wanted to show her how well he was doing.  His steps were still a little slow, but he required no assistance from crutches or canes.  Heather couldn't help but smile watching him.  Then she noticed his smile was even broader than hers.

After the greetings and hugs, Coach Davis said, "I had to come see you.  I knew you'd want to hear my good news."
"What good news."
"I have been accepted as a counselor at Adventure Amputee Camp this summer.  I leave in two weeks to help set up camp.  Isn't that wonderful.  I can hardly wait."

"Yes, it is wonderful.  I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time.  I'm just as sure you will inspire the children."
"Oh, I don't think so.  I think it will be the other way around."
They laughed as Heather walked him to the elevator.  He promised to call when he returned with a full report.  She promised to consider volunteering next summer.

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