Waiting on the Rehabilitation Miracle to Cure My Disability


          Recently, I underwent major surgery (knee replacement) and while I was in inpatient rehabilitation, I noticed a pattern I had often seen in business, but didn’t expect to observe while my knee was getting a heat treatment in physical rehabilitation. It was the 20/60/20 Rule: 20% of the patients were performing at a level above what their physical therapist recommended (i.e., walking the corridors every hour); 60% were doing exactly as they were instructed by attending only their scheduled therapy twice daily; and 20% weren’t doing what they were instructed and in many cases appeared to be waiting on their rehabilitation to miraculously occur without any effort from their end!

When I asked my therapist about this late on a Friday afternoon after inquiring what exercises I should do over the weekend, since my next therapy with him would be Monday morning, he smiled and responded, “The good students always ask for extra credit assignments.”  His comment caused me to reflect during the remainder of my seventeen day stint at the inpatient facility to evaluate to which group I would be classified by others to belong. In my heart, I knew the answer; I did rehab as I do life-giving it my all, in hopes that it will make a difference and I will overcome whatever obstacle is in front of me.

Already at the point where I knew and had developed the basic movements (i.e., transferring from my hospital bed to the wheelchair, and then to the toilet), I put my ‘exercise’ energy towards doing more each day, each hour, each idle moment on activities that would help strengthen my muscles so I could return as quick as possible to the level of physical activity I had pre-surgery. Since life doesn’t always follow its own formula, three months post-surgery, I‘m not even close to that.

Perhaps had it not been for other injuries since then (a pulled calf muscle and sprained wrist/hand), or my walking disability that I have had since the age of four, I would not feel like I’m losing the battle, as I now begin and end each day in a wheelchair (where previously I would walk all day assisted with only one crutch)—and all hours in  between are spent trying to walk with either crutches or a walker, and to balance the effects that required medication has on me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So what’s a gal (or guy) to do? Shall I give up and spend the rest of my life disabled and highly medicated in a wheelchair, or press on with painful physical activity in hopes for a returned level of mobility that lets me enjoy the life that I’ve created?

I wish I could say it’s a simple process—but it’s not. Most things worth having require work and some amount of pain to get there. This is just one of those times, I’ll return to the life lessons I learned and wrote about in my book Every Scar Tells a Story as the way to overcome daily obstacles.

I hope if that’s where you’re at or where your journey is leading, that you’re able to join me in rising above all challenges!

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