One week at Sunrise

I arrived at Sunrise Rehabilitation Center late Sunday afternoon. The place was a ghost town as mom scrambled to get me checked in and provide me with a wheelchair. I was wheeled up to my room and given a quick evaluation. This is where I would be spending my recovery learning how to walk, use my left arm, eat, talk, shower, and get dressed. I've been doing these tasks for years and now had to learn how to do them again. Talk about frustrating! My family hung out for most the evening and stocked me up with vitamin water, naked juice and magazines. The first night wasn't very pleasant. Due to my condition I was a fall risk and had to wear a special bracelet plus use a bed alarm. Throughout the night my bed alarm went off every move I made and the nurses had to come shut it off. I was given medication about every 4 hours as well. Monday morning about 7am I was greeted by a therapist who came to help me eat my breakfast and help me get ready for the day. Slowly and carefully I finished breakfast, showered and dressed myself. About 8am I was introduced to Marc Liveratti, Marc was scheduled to be my physical therapist and help get back on my feet. I give a ton of credit to Marc, he was extremely patient with me, I was a stubborn patient the first day because I wanted to do everything myself. After an evaluation with Marc he quickly put me in my place and informed me if I followed his directions it would all come back to me quickly. By now I was able to use a walker while Marc held me up with a gait belt. At this point I was already noticing progress from the time I tried to stand up at USC on Saturday. Marc spent about an hour or so with me that morning and then let me rest before lunch. During that time I met my rehabilitation doctor, Dr. Mark Steinhauer aka Groucho Marx. Groucho gave me a quick overview and set my goal of release for February 26th. Being goal oriented and determined I told Groucho my goal was to walk out on the 20th. I wanted to go home, feed the cat, go to the bowling alley and have a beer with my team. He told me he would continue to watch my progress and see how I was doing. During my time with Marc we practiced stairs, side stepping, pedaling, numerous walking and balancing exercises. I knew if I stayed focused and kept a positive attitude I would be going home soon. Over the next couple days I had numerous visitors and phone calls. Family, friends and coworkers brought lunch and dinner daily to help me avoid eating the dreaded hospital food. TAO Restaurant and Nightclub, my place of employment, delivered a Valentines Day feast to my family and I. So much love and support, thank you. My sister, Erin and nephew, Wyatt would take me outside in my wheelchair and push me around the hospital grounds. It felt so good to get outside and get some sun on my shoulders. I looked up positive, inspirational and uplifting quotes everyday, I read magazines and worked on my fine motor skills to pass the time. Completing simple tasks as easy as putting a nail into a hole with my left hand was nearly impossible. I pulled rope through pulleys, threw balls into boxes, reached high and low for post it notes and stacked cups. All extremely simple tasks, were a complete struggle for me. As the days passed by I was noticing daily progress which gave me hope that I was going home much sooner than Feb. 26th. I spent a lot of time working closely with Marc, focused and following all of his direction. Towards the end of the week I was operating the walker with no assistance. My progress was excelling so quickly the staff was so impressed. I contribute my speedy progress to being in great physical shape, a positive attitude, a healthy diet and all the support from my family and friends. I was feeling that I was ready to go home and continue my recovery. As I sat and talked with my brother in law, Kevin on Saturday afternoon we discussed my sisters birthday which was Monday the 18th. I told him it would be really cool if I could get released to have dinner with the family for her birthday on Monday. He was excited but at the same time pondering what to do for her birthday. We brainstormed a few ideas and I suggested something out of her comfort zone and that evening Kevin, surprised my sister with an indoor skydiving experience she would never forget. My sister called me scared shitless when she found out what was in store, I reassured her if I could go through 6 hours of brain surgery she could do anything. It brought tears to my eyes to know that she was about to do something totally out of her comfort zone. I couldn't wait for her to call me afterwards. A couple hours later she called to thank me for an amazing opportunity, I could hear the excitement in her voice. Now I was reconsidering my goal to be released on Monday Feb. 18th. Sunday was the longest day in the rehab center. I was told its a day of rest and all I kept thinking was that I wanted to go home! My parents spent the day with me. They took me for a wheelchair ride to Walgreens to get a new magazine and we hung out in the cafeteria planning my escape. Monday couldn't come soon enough. At the end of the day I still had to prove to Groucho I was ready to go home. Monday morning I told Marc I was ready for my evaluation so that I could be released. He didn't hesitate and told me we had to go walk the hospital grounds and take on some stairs. I was feeling really good and motivated to complete all the requirements immediately. Marc informed me I did great and he had to meet with Groucho for approval to release me. As we were waiting for the verdict my parents left and prepared to move into my house as my new roommates/caretakers. My best friend, Brandons parents were in town visiting. Mom and dad #2 had stopped by the hospital just as I was given the okay to go home. Happy tears of joy filled the room! I had come so far in such short time I couldn't believe it. I was going home! We called my parents and told them the exciting news. Mom and dad #2 offered to take me home, we signed all the paperwork and packed up my belongings. I couldn't have been happier, I was headed home to continue my recovery. Best part was I beat my release date goal and was going to be able to have dinner with the family for my sisters birthday.  Huge thanks to all my family, friends, coworkers, the Sunrise staff especially Marc Liveratti for all your help and patience.