Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stumbling, fumbling, but recovering: Cancer rehab takes another hit, but regains footing

I've fallen. And I've gotten up.
Fresh off warnings Friday from our surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee, that I needed to be careful due to a broken titanium rod in my back, I took a tumble Sunday. I was on my way to the bathroom, with my father, Robert, close behind. Two steps before the door, my right knee buckled and I said to my dad, "that's interesting."
Two more steps, and both knees gave. Both knees buckling at the same time hadn't happened since October. I feel backwards, hit my head on my dad's knees, and ended up in a heap in a floor. Simultaneously, I heard Dr. Lee's speech about my broken rod and my wife Carol-Ann's monologue about how dangerous I made things by getting back into bed on my own after falling October.
I was freaked. I laid there, as my dad went for help. I didn't recognize the first couple of staff members who arrived on the scene, but then Jose, a nurse's aid, burst into the room.
Jose is a little bit older than me, maybe in his mid-40s, and we kibitz back and forth all the time. He gets after me about not staying up long enough and spending too much time lying down, and threatens to put "nails in my bed." That, of course, leads me to burst into song: "Nails in my bed...Jose thinks I dread...Doesn't realize I'm so over-fed...They won't make me go red."
As soon as he showed up on the scene, it helped calm me down. I feel safe with him. Fortunately for me, they have a lot of staff here at VGH I feel that kind of comfort and security with me. The staff that we've come across on the Spine Unit here has been exemplary.
They got me back to bed and after a few quick tests the doctors decided that I hadn't added to my injuries.
Emotionally, I was a busted, though. I had been having trouble with my walking for a few days. I wondered if the broken rod was part of it. I wondered if I was ever going to get a good break again. I cried and cried. I even told Carol-Ann, "I'm going to die here."
She was having none of it. She scolded me, and demanded that I take that back and made me repeat that we would be going home to New Westminster soon. By the end of the day, she had me believing again.
Monday came, and Dr. Lee shrugged it off as bad luck when we told him about it. Our physio therapist, Ann, did the same. That made me feel better. And, sure enough, I walked for 20 minutes, which was the longest I had gone in over a week.
It's a small victory, but, like I've said before, we'll take what we can get right now.
GF Strong, the Vancouver rehab centre, was supposed to take me Monday, but Dr. Lee wants me to stay another week. That's fine. I'm just subtracting the extra VGH time off the GF time.


  1. Sheeshhh... stop making me cry so much - particularly at work. They all think I've been fired.
    You are my hero! And, Carol-Ann, Rocky Balboa didn't have as good a coach and trainer!

  2. Steve- I am just an old friend (really old- Durham old) of Carol Ann, and found out what you guys are going through. I am not surprised at all to hear you speak of her as a rock. She is amazing!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you both. I hope you know your blog is amazing, just what many others need to see. Cancer is ugly, but it thrives on fear. Kick it's ass! (and say Hi to Carol Ann for me- I'd love to chat!)

  3. Steve - As usual, Carol-Ann knows (and says it) best. Listen to her at every turn. I know you will. You 'da man. And logic dictates that no one else can be 'da man if you 'da man. I'm sorry to learn of the added challenges of late, including the fall on Sunday. You and your family deserve a nice long series of good news. Now, I must ask about your supposed song lyrics in your most recent message. Are you flirting with the idea of launching a rap career? I read the words with a rap tune in mind, and must say: You should really be... a sports reporter. With love, Ben (aka 'you can get me work' Probie.)

  4. Stay at the dish and keep swingin' for the fences! By the way, any future dingers will carry the taint of a "corked back". Sorry to read about your fall and congrats on the 20 minute walk. Maybe it's a small victory but it still counts and is just as sweet as the whole Old El Paso Enchilada (shameless product plug homage to you). You and Carol Ann will win and along the way you're both inspiring a lot of people. You've been rumblin', bumblin', stumblin'(credit to Boomer) through my mind so I just wanted to check in with you and let you know you're in my thoughts. My only surprise is that you haven't secured any corporate sponsorship for the blog yet. Hope to see between the line after you win - 'cause that's how we roll. All my best.
    Donny G

  5. Twenty minutes?!! Steve, that's more than I ever walk... It's only 15 minutes to work, the grocery store, the pub, the train, the beach.... Seriously, with what you've been through, 20 minutes is awesome...

    I shall rehab with you... I endeavor to walk at least 30 minutes at one time each day until you are home - then we'll reassess this crazy walking thing... I'm so serious... Love you and CA to bits. xx

  6. Hey Karen,
    Email me at steve.ewen@gmail.com or call my cell (604-202-3557). My wife is looking for you.