Left to right: Barbara Foster, physical therapist; Patrice Fitzgerald, occupational therapist; Lorraine Edwards; and Kathy Behm, director of rehab

By Kathy Behm, director of rehab

 

On Oct. 24, 2017, Lorraine Edwards had a special reason to visit Life Care Center of the South Shore in Scituate, Massachusetts.

 

Just two weeks after the first anniversary of the accident that took her husband’s life and her left leg, Edwards returned to the facility that got her back on her feet to say thank you.

 

To call Edwards and her husband, John, “motorcycle enthusiasts” would be an understatement. For 50 plus years, they had crisscrossed the United States multiple times riding together on John’s Harley Davidson. On Oct. 16, 2016, Edwards was once again the passenger on the back of her husband’s bike when tragically they were struck by another vehicle.

 

Edwards was unresponsive, and her husband passed away on the scene. Edwards was airlifted to a Rhode Island trauma unit, where she was diagnosed with multiple trauma-related injuries, including shoulder, arm, finger, rib, hip, leg and ankle fractures. Her lower leg fractures were so severe they ultimately resulted in a below-the-knee amputation.

 

Edwards underwent surgical repair of her right elbow, and her left arm required sutures from her elbow down and around her thumb and wrist. She suffered from severe blood loss and multiple medical complications.

 

On Oct. 26, 2016, she underwent further amputation of the left leg to above the knee. She stayed in the hospital for 18 days, and when it was time to discharge, she wanted to come home to Massachusetts. She chose Life Care Center of the South Shore in nearby Scituate, arriving on Nov. 3.

 

Edwards was non-weight-bearing on all four limbs. I met her on her evening of admission.

 

I was struck by her unbelievable positive attitude. I expected to meet a sad, newly widowed woman mourning the loss of her leg along with the tragic loss of her spouse. Who I met instead was a bright, beautiful, positive spirit who told me, “Don’t go easy on me. I’m here to get some work done so I can get back home. I know it’s going to be a long haul, but I’m ready for it.”

 

Not being able to bear weight on either arm or either leg made everything hard for Edwards, but every single person who entered her room, from housekeeping to nursing, including rehab, got the same positive attitude.

 

“Don’t do it for me,” she would say. “Let me try. I am eventually going home, and I will have to do this myself.”

 

With Edwards’ tremendously positive attitude and indomitable spirit, she did indeed get home on Feb. 6, 2017. She was independent with her self-care, home management and ambulation. She walked out the door on a brand-new prosthesis.

 

When Edwards stopped by this Oct. 24, she showed off her newest prosthetic leg and thanked all the staff who helped her through a tragedy that to so many seemed insurmountable.

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