I spent over six months in hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation, working with respiratory therapists who helped me wean off of the ventilator and physical and occupational therapists who helped me regain some movement in my neck, core, and right arm. I was mostly bedridden and had lost the ability to talk, so my wife became my voice and my advocate. She put her life and career on hold to live in the hospitals with me; I didn’t spend a single night alone. We spent both of our birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s hospitalized.
For my last month away from home, I went to an aggressive inpatient rehabilitation program at Aurora St. Luke’s and was finally discharged on Valentine’s Day 2019. It was surreal to be home, but I still had a lot of recovering to do. Though I was off of the ventilator, I still had a tracheostomy and received all of my meals via G-tube, made more complicated by gastroparesis which slowed my digestion. I required oxygen and humidification through my trach at all times, and breathing was still a struggle due to paralysis in my diaphragm. My arms, back, shoulders, and neck still had varying levels of paralysis, as well. I was very weak from spending so much time in bed and could not do much for myself. I spent countless hours in outpatient speech, physical, and occupational therapies trying to regain movement in my muscles and relearning how to swallow and speak.