One of my patients was discharged today.
Well, you might think, you work in a hospital, one of your patients might be discharged EVERY DAY, and well how often do you REALLY see a patient more than once anyway? And those are good points. People are in and out of the Acute Care hospital all the time, patients I evaluate today are often gone tomorrow, if not sooner. And I rarely see the same patient twice because I do evaluations a lot and often not so many treatments.
Well, my answer is this. I work on the burn unit. I am, for the most part, the primary therapist on the burn unit. And because I am the primary therapist there, not only do I get to treat the patients I evaluate, but I also get to follow them through to discharge to home or to rehab. So I get to know a lot of my patients. And when you have patients with large body surface area burns, you see them a few days a week for often months at a time before they go to rehab.
The particular patient I refer to, was a relatively young man, I believe, in his late 40's/early 50's. You may have heard about him on the news. He was homeless, and was sleeping behind a supermarket, when he woke up on fire, with kids laughing at him. WOW, I thought when I first read the chart, how cruel can kids be.... And they NEVER found the kids/persons who did it to him...
Anyway, this happened in April. He was burned over 60% of his body, was on the ventilator for ages, had enough surgeries for about 50 people, and was in the burn unit a looooooooooong time. Its interesting to see the progression, when patients with those serious burns come in they're on the ventilator for awhile, and you only worry about maintaining their ranges of motion, and then when they start to wake up and be able to get out of bed, you get to see their personalities and really get to know them as you follow their treatments. And it's odd because you know about a period of their lives that they have no clue or memory of. Anyway... I digress. I do that a lot.
My patient was on the ventilator for awhile because of an inhalation injury, had tons of surgery and I really started to get to know the really great person he is when he woke up and I got to work with him on mobility. And he was such a great guy, really personable, humorous, motivated, and just a genuinely nice guy. And FINALLY in the beginning of July, I passed off to the rehab unit. And when he was there, I got updates from the other therapists, and got to follow his progress and pop in and say hi from time to time. And today he went home. YAY! Well, I'll miss him, but I'm so happy that he's done so well.
"Success of therapy is not measured in monetary gains, but in human spirit."
Its so rewarding to know the difference I made, the human spirit I passed, and it makes me love my job more. This man was SO sick, had a SERIOUS injury and will be disfigured, and disabled for a long time, if not forever. But he's leaving the hospital, going home to his parents home, walking, communicating, performing his activities of daily living, and happy, just to be able to breathe fresh air and eat home-made food, not hospital food. The little things which he appreciates so much more. And I'm happy for him. And I just wanted to share, because this why I like therapy so much. The spirit that was elicited in this therapist/patient relationship, the fact that I KNOW I made a difference in this mans life, and I KNOW how precious the small things that we take for granted in life are, and I KNOW I can change the little things that make BIG things happen. If I didn't range his joints all those months, work on his initial mobility, get him up and moving, stretch his arms and legs, he wouldn't be walking today. He wouldn't be going home in the healthy state he is in. And I'm so proud to have made that difference.
A friend recently told me to "Leave the world different from how you found it." And what I do as a therapist, that spirit, helps create that difference in the world. I love that.