This month a patient who did not fit our usual demographic profile was admitted to my floor at the hospital. Dev, in her 40's, is a single mother of two children. She had a devastating reoccurrence of her cancer that had been in remission and had been in and out of the hospital system for most of the summer. She came to us for rehabilitation in order to build her up before her next round of chemotherapy this fall. When I first assessed Dev, I doubted that she would ever walk again, yet a few days later she was taking wobbly steps with a walker and some help. I have seldom seen such determination to get better.
The next week she wanted to try a pass home on the weekend but had to be able to do the stairs in her house. Again, it seemed impossible that she had strength enough to climb a single step, but that morning she went up and down twelve steps. Her pass went well and she was so happy to spend quality time with her young daughter. She came back from her pass and announced that she was going to go home at the end of the week for good. Her rehab program had barely begun and because she lived outside the city, it would be difficult for her to come in for outpatient therapy. No argument would change her mind, and she headed home with a wheelchair and other equipment to help her manage.
I went out to visit her on Sunday afternoon and met a person I hadn't become acquainted with in the hospital. You never know someone until you see them in their own environment. She lives in a big rented farmhouse in the country with several cats and dogs, her son and daughter. The house is old, and the large living room window opened up on a view that was beautiful and peaceful. Her treasures were there, a guitar, a collection of meaningful knick knacks, and her drawings. I had no idea she had an artist's soul. She showed me her drawings, horses, unicorns, portraits of people she knew and loved, and her Celtic designs. A lovely Celtic prayer she had written out hung above her bed. Her strength continues to improve on a daily basis.
Dev will get better faster at home, even without therapy and medical supervision. She is able to eat and sleep well now, something that was difficult in the hospital. She can nurture her soul and spirit with her music and art. She is surrounded by those she loves. Dev has not had an easy life, and her struggle continues against a formidable foe. But the will to live is a formidable ally.
As she looks out her window she will gain strength to face whatever the future holds for her.
I will share this post with her along with my prayers and best wishes for her complete recovery.
Photos taken near Dev's home. The sketch is by my daughter Becka who shares Dev's artistic nature.