QEF’s physiotherapy got me going again after spinal surgery.

Gerry, 81, came to QEF in summer 2019 for neuro rehabilitation following spinal surgery. Until the start of 2019 Gerry was fully mobile – consistently passing his Class 1 pilots’ medical until he was 70. In December 2018 he developed a very persistent cough that nothing seemed to cure, and it kept getting worse.

Gerry says, “At the end of January 2019 I was coughing so hard that I could tell it was damaging my back. One day I went to get out of bed to answer the phone and my right leg gave way. My friend and neighbour both got me to hospital with the plan to get me an appointment with a rheumatologist, but I was admitted. There was a long discussion about what should happen next, as my back was more or less broken.

I had an operation that put two metal plates into my back. From the neuro surgeon’s point of view the operation was a success and I was told that I had a 50-70% chance of getting my nerves working again.   I was then left on my back to recover for 1-2 months in hospital. I did get some physio but it was minimalist, there just weren’t enough resources, so it was just once or twice a week.

When I came to QEF from hospital I could barely move anything from my waist down. All I could do was flex my ankles – it felt as though my legs were dead.  I’ve been here three months and now I can stand using a zimmer frame; it was easier than I thought although it’s still a very huge effort. I’m not someone that gives up though, I put an enormous amount of effort in.

When I came to QEF from hospital I thought I’d gone to heaven. Everyone was so nice and so helpful. Physiotherapy here has got me going again – young Katy has been a wizard. She never made things too difficult, that makes you give up, but it was always just a little bit difficult and I’ve made great progress.

I have physio pretty much every day and some psychological support, although I haven’t needed much. The physio has been superb, I couldn’t have asked for any more. I’ve had to do exercises that have been surprisingly hard, like lying on a bed and moving my knee out sideways – sounds easy but it really wasn’t, and also things that I thought would be hard, but actually weren’t too bad, such as stopping my wheelchair, holding onto the bars on the wall and standing up.  I also walked using a hoist.

When I came here I was in a wheelchair and needed to use a hoist to get out of bed. There’s no dignity in that, and they got me out of using that as quickly as possible. I couldn’t use the ‘Zara steady’ very easily, so initially the physios spent 20 minutes for several sessions just working on my back. Now I can lift and move my legs and stretch them out.

I can’t praise this place enough. The standard of care has been wonderful. There are so many nice people, they are real carers.  Everyone puts in a lot of work, including the volunteers for activities like the Sunday BBQ, the singing and the music sessions; there are lots of social elements. I like to go along to support some of the other people here as well and see them smile, especially people with communication difficulties.

I’m working towards going home and restarting my life.  My house has been modified so I can eventually go home and an electric bed is coming downstairs for me.”