The Beauty of Not Wasting Time

It’s been a hard year, so far. I’ve been in the hospital five times and am ending my fourth rehab stay. I live with secondary progressive MS and I continue having MS flares. Within a week or two after returning home from the hospital or rehab, I start experiencing another new MS symptom. Within another two or three weeks, I’m back in the hospital, then back to rehab. While I haven’t breezed through all this, I’ve never been one to wait for the other MS shoe to drop, either. I’ll go home soon and continue doing the things I love, hoping, as I did all the other times, that my life will not be interrupted.

I will not waste time

I try not to anticipate and become anxious about what’s going to happen next, yet I do carry the same thought with me when I leave a hospital for rehabilitation — I will not waste time.

I will not waste time in rehab by not being fully engaged with the rehabilitation process. I will bring my full self to therapy sessions. Of course that means giving my full effort, but it also means being honest about my body as well as my emotions. My physical therapist needs to know if I've reached the outer edges of fatigue. She also needs to know the things that I find encouraging and discouraging. My occupational therapist provides more effective treatment if she knows certain movements of my right hand are painful. She is also more effective if I honestly relay my concerns about my caregivers at home.

Acute care rehabilitation

I am currently in acute care rehabilitation. It is an intense rehabilitation process that includes three hours per day of one-on-one rehab sessions. In the past, I've been in rehab at skilled nursing facilities. The rehab sessions there are for shorter periods throughout the day. The contrast between the two is meant to accommodate different levels of physical ability and endurance as well as different insurance stipulations.

Participating fully

Regardless of where I participate in rehabilitation, I take myself. And there will always be free time to fill. I don’t watch television at home, so why would I watch television in rehab? Instead, I can participate in rehab leisure activities. (Unless it’s BINGO. I have a lifelong aversion to BINGO.) I can write. I can listen to audiobooks. I can do arts and crafts projects. I can surf the internet. I can practice what I’ve learned in that day’s therapy sessions. There are plenty of things I can do. I will not waste time.

Not wasting time with emotional self-indulgence

As I alluded to earlier, I will not waste time in rehab with emotional self-indulgence — Woe is me. Ain’t this awful? It is the time and space to grieve losses and acknowledge needed transitions. It is a time to reach out for needed support. Those are healthy uses of time in rehab. Wallowing in emotionality for the simple sake of being emotional is not helpful. To me, it is a waste of my time.

Meeting my ongoing rehab goals

I will leave rehab in a few days. I will go home with the assurance that I have met my spoken rehabilitation goals. I have increased my strength. While I may continue to rely on my wheelchair, I have increased my ability to walk. And I have tools in place to better manage MS symptoms. But most of all, I am assured that I met my ongoing rehab goal. I did not waste time.

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