“Through The Eyes of a Home Care Therapist”
A story from a HealthFlex Physical Therapist
(The patient’s name has been changed.)
The chaos that ensues during illness and injury can overshadow the beauty around us. The love of friends and family can be so powerful as to shine through even the darkest moments.
This is a story of love and friendship, a story I have been blessed to witness as a home health worker, a stranger, and now a friend.
Weak and very frail from months of illness, Walter returned home from the hospital to find that his beloved garden had been planted and lovingly cared for by his dearest friend. Too weak to care for himself, Walter’s friend became his caregiver, helping with cooking, cleaning, personal care and gardening.
Walter’s home-based physical therapy began shortly after his discharge from the hospital. Even as a frail man, Walter was larger than life. His personality was gregarious and positive. He set goals to walk and hold his granddaughter due to be born in January. Walter’s desire to walk was met head on by the reality of months of a strength-zapping illness. Standing required the support of two people and Walter’s friend was right there to help. Short and difficult sessions of standing were punctuated with long rest sessions filled with storytelling and laughter of two lifelong friends.
Although Walter never walked again, he achieved his goal of meeting his son’s first child. Too weak to travel, Walter heard the coos of his granddaughter over the phone held to his ear by his dear friend. He said goodbye to his son, quietly shared the moment with his friend by his side, and drifted off to sleep.
Walter died the next day with his friend by his side.
Several months later Walters’s friend gave me a gift from Walter’s garden. A gift of new friendship that I planted in my yard. Every so often, when the plant grows, I snip off a branch and plant it in a new pot and give it to a new friend or a person in need, because that is what Walter would have wanted… to share the love.
This experience with the patient and the gifting of the plant has become a local community building effort in my area. The elementary school children, individuals and businesses will be growing and propagating the plants. The plants will be delivered to local homebound and at risk residents (private homes, SNFs, churches, school site counselors, correction facilities, hospice, etc.) This project is intended to build communities for people who do not have the means to build their own.
Thank you to HealthFlex for giving me the opportunity to share in the lives of our patients.