Keys to Independent Living

Keys to Independent Living

What’s Next?

Room 308, 8:30 p.m.: Patricia turns off the television unable to focus on the program she was watching. She struggles to put down the remote on the nightstand next to her hospital bed and buries her head in the pillow to rest her neck. She stares at the ceiling.

Her mind has been racing ever since she learned during the last intervention planning session that she will soon be discharged from rehabilitation.

She is overwhelmed by the excitement of leaving and concern of returning home; at last she will reintegrate the real world!

Patricia reflects about the past months' events that have turned her life upside down: accident, intake, rehabilitation, hopes and depression, joy, sadness, small gains and big disappointments.

She knows she will never walk again and that her arm and hand motion will stay limited despite a partial recovery of her upper limb mobility. At age 32, she has to envisage spending the rest of her life in a paralyzed body. “Tetraplegia” uttered the doctor, “and it’s irreversible”. She will need a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Naturally, her caregivers reminded her that her outpatient rehabilitation treatments would continue for a certain while after her discharge. She will need to learn how to use all the equipment and community resources to compensate her limitations, to acquire and develop the most independence as possible, and to eventually find her place in society.

As she continues to ponder, Patricia considers herself somewhat lucky to be able to resume her life at home with her partner. House adjustments are already being made including an access ramp, a ground-floor bedroom and a wider bathroom door for wheelchair access. And, well … that’s about it! The rest will have to wait. That’s a lot to handle all at once! She doesn’t know where to start, and that makes her feel nervous.

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