I visited the future MIL today – at a rehabilitation centre managed by Tan Tock Seng Hospital. She was undergoing some physiotherapy when I arrived.
It was a stunning sight.
Imagine a room filled with activity corners. It is like a playground cum gym… but for rehab patients.
An elderly man is walking on the treadmill with a female physiotherapist right behind him.
Another elderly gentleman is doing what I’d call an “assisted walk” along parallel bars as two physiotherapy students hold him upright on either side, and a senior therapist gives instructions while looking on. His right leg is in a brace and it seems as though he is not walking of his own accord but rather, his feet are being pushed along by the students as he grabs the bars to try to keep himself upright. He is unable to turn around on his own so their feet guide his with gentle nudges.
Another man in a neck brace looks like he is in a daze as he plods along with a walking frame with wheels fitted in front.
Some patients also have feeding tubes up their right nostril with an attached plaster stuck onto the nose.
A foreign domestic worker (a.k.a maid) undergoes training on how to push her employer’s wheelchair up and down some steps, with him seated in it. I feared for him.
My future MIL has to practise going up and down some steps before she can be granted weekend leave to go home. Right outside her HDB flat are some steps about 10 inches high, that someone with no mobility issues can easily clear, but now, it is a huge obstacle for her.
Then there’s more physiotherapy to help her gain mobility in her right arm. Her right arm is strapped to a board with wheels underneath. She has to try to push tennis balls off the table with her right arm sliding across the table, aided by the board. Her right arm has been largely immobile after the stroke. She can now swing it from side to side but has trouble lifting up her arm.
In the rehab facility, there are two groups of people: those who really want to get well again, and those who have given up on life and on themselves.
It is the ultimate test of one’s determination. How desperately do you want to get back up on your feet? Some simply give up and just do not go for rehab at all.
Hence, I salute the staff for their patience and dedication. I believe there is tremendous satisfaction in getting your patient up on his/her feet again. But the journey is a long one and often, a difficult one as well.
If I’m old and ill, would I still have the fighting spirit to press on and try to get back up on my feet, like these old folks? I sure hope so!