Leslie Proctor, a 53-year-old former certified nursing assistant from Harrisburg, PA, started to feel ill in November. She thought she might have a hernia and sought treatment, but her symptoms persisted. On January 3, she went to the UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg emergency department with abdominal bloating and shortness of breath. Doctors found she had tachycardia (rapid heart rate), tachypnea (rapid breathing) and a crackling sound in her lungs. She was also coughing up blood. A chest X-ray and CT scan revealed that she was in acute respiratory failure and had pneumonia – and doctors placed her on an intensive course of IV antibiotics and steroids.
When Leslie arrived at Helen M. Simpson Rehabilitation Hospital, she was debilitated, unable to walk on her own or perform basic self-care. Prior to becoming ill, she was living with family and taking care of the household. And it was her family who provided her with the motivation to return home as independently as possible.
Leslie had also complained of a poor appetite since getting sick. Fortunately, with more exercise and activity, her appetite quickly improved. This added to her strength and she was able to progress quickly.
In therapy, Leslie worked on building her strength and endurance. She did not need extra respiratory support by the time she got to rehab, although she continued to be monitored medically. Once she began to feel more stable, Leslie was encouraged to regain her mobility. Initially, she only had enough strength to transfer from the bed to a wheelchair, but was eventually able to use a walker. Her ability to walk greater distances improved. She even practiced walking in real-life environments such as sidewalks, grass and carpet to challenge her balance and endurance.
Overall, she says her "ah-ha" moments were when she could walk and take care of personal needs without help — making her feel that much more independent in managing everyday tasks. She also felt she turned a corner when she could do her own hair. It was the little things that added up to big things for her.
After 12 days of rehabilitative care, Leslie was able to return home, excited to be able to resume taking care of the household and being with family. She admits that she really just wanted to get back to her life.
Leslie chose Helen M. Simpson because her doctor – who she says saved her life – recommended it. When asked about her experience, she noted, “Things have been very good. You all get an A+!"