At 82, Margaret “Nelle” Shaw stays busy, enjoying her retirement community’s activities and outings. Some of the retired nurse’s younger friends take her shopping or on short trips.
Generally healthy, she’d undergone extensive spinal surgery to stabilize and relieve pressure on her discs.
When she began feeling run down, Nelle initially brushed it off. However, when weakness and a fever appeared, she grew concerned.
“My helper asked me if I wanted to go out to the front porch and I couldn’t get up to walk,” Nelle said. “That scared me.”
Nelle’s caregiver called the ambulance, which transported her to the emergency room.
“I was really out of it and not sure what was happening,” she later recalled. “They ran tests and did an X-ray. They told me there might be an infection from my hardware. It was really scary. I don’t have much family around, so I was very alone.”
Nelle was connected to powerful intravenous antibiotics and pain medication, which muddled her thinking and made movement difficult.
“I wanted to walk but couldn’t. I wasn’t thinking straight and didn’t recognize anyone or anything,” she said.
It took two weeks for Nelle to stabilize. When she did, doctors recommended Select Specialty Hospital – Augusta for extended recovery. Nelle said she was initially unsure because, as a retired nurse, she’d never heard of Select Specialty Hospital. She decided to trust her doctor and the Select Specialty representative.
Nelle arrived hoping to feel better, walk again and relieve the lingering mental fog of illness.
A physician-led team of nurses, therapists and clinical professionals, created a plan to help Nelle heal.
“After a few days, I really started thinking more clearly,” she said. “The physical therapist had me moving and sitting up on a regular basis. This helped so much because I wasn’t getting that before. At first, I didn’t think I could do it. But my therapists did a fine job of helping my confidence.”
Simultaneously, pharmacists evaluated her medication schedule, discontinued IV lines and managed pain.
Sadly, as Nelle’s recovery began building, she received the sad news her sister had died. Unable to attend the funeral due to her condition, Nelle said the staff’s friendliness, love and compassion helped ease her loneliness.
Helping her focus on success was also an antidote to grief and Nelle continued growing stronger.
“The first time I got up was my ‘ah-ha’ moment,” she said. “They pushed me to try hard and once I stood up, I felt like everything is going to be OK.”
From there, Nelle took her first steps, adding more each therapy session until she could walk down the hall with assistance.
In just under a month, Nelle met her goals and was ready to return to her friends at the retirement community. She plans to take it slow, but hopes to be back to her routine soon.
“I realized that I’m stronger than I thought. Becoming ill was frustrating, but I learned that if I listen and try I will get better,” Nelle said. “I would tell people to trust Select Specialty Hospital. They want to help you improve. Don’t be scared like I was. They can help you, and they really helped me.”