At 92, Elaine's fighting spirit shines on
A few days before Thanksgiving, Elaine Levine, 92, checked in for surgery to remove her left kidney – a necessary step after being diagnosed with renal cancer.
After a short hospital stay, she returned home and appeared to be healing. But by December, she had checked into her local emergency room with severe abdominal pain. Tests revealed blood clots in her bladder. Elaine needed surgery and a transfusion. Pneumonia set in and Elaine was placed on a high-level oxygen tube and specially pressurized mask to keep her airways open.
After she was stabilized, Elaine’s physicians and her family transferred her to Regency Hospital of Toledo for additional healing and recovery time.
She arrived needing significant oxygen and airway support. With the holidays approaching, her family hoped she would improve enough to celebrate with them. A physician-led team of therapists, nurses and pharmacists created a plan to help Elaine get there.
Respiratory therapists slowly reduced the amount of support the machines provided, allowing Elaine’s lungs to do more work. Therapists led her through exercises that strengthened Elaine’s chest muscles.
Concurrently, physical and occupational therapists deployed a mobility program, which helps rebuild strength and stamina in people with long duration illnesses. Elaine was able to sit, stand, pivot and transfer to a chair with assistance. But she could only walk three feet, due to her high oxygen needs. Respiratory, occupational and physical therapists worked together to build Elaine’s core, chest, arm and leg muscles. They took their time, allowing her rest breaks and offering encouragement along the way.
As Hanukkah approached, Elaine’s three sons – Hal, Ritchie and Neal – and friends decorated her room and brought gifts. The hospital celebrated with a holiday meal and gift bag for each patient. Elaine loved every minute, glad to be alive and enjoying time with those she loved.
After the holidays, Elaine was able to use her walker for longer distances. She felt more confident each day. She hit a milestone when, after approximately two weeks, she no longer required even a small tube of oxygen.
Occupational therapy rounded out her stay by helping her relearn how to shower and take care of other personal needs.
She left the day after New Year’s for a skilled nursing facility. After a brief stay, Elaine went home. Her son Hal is pleased to report she’s back to where she was before the surgery.
“Regency has some of the best caregivers around and they work very hard,” Elaine said.