Therapy and Creative Caregiving

y husband need therapy for his body. His body changed as did his state of mind.  With advanced glaucoma and forgetting where he was in a house we lived in the Caribbean for over ten years, sort of caused him to restrict his movements.  He did ask me where the bathroom was twice; the first time I did not respond kindly.  I thought it was, for him, an incredibly moronic  joke.  He got up, walked in the direction I told him it was.  He fell on his bum and I realized he was not kidding.  I ran to him to help.  The second time I took him to the bathroom.  Thereafter, I asked frequently if he needed help to get there.



My Beloved's Soul Portrait by Allison L. Williams Hill

Changes in His Movements 

When we returned to the US, the residence was unfamiliar in that it was new.  Efforts to move him from the bedroom to the bathroom decreased.  We’d walk to the eating area in the kitchen and back.  When the temperature cooled, I’d bring his meals into the bedroom. 

I noticed his neck was always bent as if reading a book at a desk or on his lap.  When running an errand, I noticed two men with the same condition walking as if they were only able to look at their feet.  I looked online using keywords “physical therapy” or “rehabilitation exercise.”  I got information on the professional aspects but not on helping another relearn how to move and build strength.

I asked Clem if he wanted to get physical therapy and explained its benefits.  He said yes.  From then on I thought of finding a good physical therapist when funds improved.

VA Clinic Solution for My Husband

The Veterans Administration has a home based primary care (HBPC) service in which my husband is enrolled.  Mr. Ron Smith, RN, CHPN,  his nurse, called to set up the monthly visit.  He told me the program director, Mr. Jack Holdford, RN, MSN would be along to evaluate him.  While Nurse Ron examined my husband, Mr. Holdford asked if I called the social worker at all.  I said I didn’t.  I have a tendency to do most of what we need on my own and she had, I was so sure, better things to do with her time.  More people needed the help.  It was almost in unison: Nurse Ron directed his attention enough to say with Mr. Holdford, “Call!”  I called later that afternoon.  Ms. Loretta Green, Orangeburg VA clinic’s social worker and I discussed many things and I shared my plan for a physical therapist.  Ms. Green said she thought it could happen sooner.

All of what transpired after was amazing.  Mr. Bruce Easterling, MD, HBPC Medical Director called the beginning of the next week requesting time to evaluate Clem for physical therapy.

Before Dr. Easterling arrived Nurse Evelyn McCully from the RMC Home Care of the Regional Care Center arrived to interview us for the program.  The next day we had our first meeting with Physical Therapist Marilyn Maulion.  Physical Therapist Marilyn patiently worked with our schedule that was contingent on Clem’s condition   that particular day and worked patiently with him and his ability when he was able to exercise.  I watched her and took notes.  Thereafter, my work began to integrate movement as much as he could comfortably do.

Physical Therapy Provided

Had I not listened to Mr. Holdford, he told me to call him Jack, and Nurse Ron, I would not have spoken to Ms. Green, who started all of the wheels turning. “Angels (and people who are actually angels in human form) are grossly underemployed.  All you have to do is ask,” is a saying I created for an angel card.  It appropriately represents them.

I thank all of those who were involved to help my husband improve:

Thank you Mr. Ron Smith, RN, CHPN for your insistence and for the monthly visits that help me keep Clem’s health on track.

Thank you Mr. Jack Holdford, RN, MSN for coming to evaluate Nurse Ron that day, for having him in the program, and for encouraging me to call Ms. Green. 

Thank you, thank you Ms. Green for being so receptive, for listening, and for following through so that we could realize Clem’s therapy sooner than hoped.

Thank you, Dr. Bruce Easterling for your professionalism, caring, and support.

Thank you Nurse McCully for coming out to us to interview; it was not without its breaks which do tend to occur.  Thanks for your patience.

Last but not in the least, Physical Therapist Marilyn: you were kind, you were patient, you were gentle but demanding.  You got Clem to do things I, as yet, have been unable to do. You taught me how to help my husband.  Thank you so much for that.

I am in deep gratitude to all of you for your gifts.

Veterans Administration HBPC

1767 Villagepark Drive

Orangeburg, SC 29118

Office: (803) 533-1335

Visit http://www.va.gov for more information.

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