Stayed strong to rehabilitate from her fall

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Deb Kovacic realized a broken ankle wouldn’t keep her down for long

Deb Kovacic of Fairport, NY, now knows that a fall can happen to anyone—at any time. Especially when you least expect it.

“I was just putting a new mattress frame together in my spare bedroom when my right foot got caught and I fell the wrong way. I heard the crack in my ankle, and my left foot didn’t feel right after I came down on it, either.”

Deb, who lives alone in her townhouse, had to crawl on her hands and knees down the hallway to her bedroom to call for emergency services. An ambulance took her to the Emergency Department at Strong Memorial Hospital, where it turned out she needed surgery for two broken bones in her ankle. An X-ray showed that she had also broken a metatarsal bone in her left foot. She spent three days in post-surgery and couldn’t put any weight on her feet. “I couldn’t even use a walker to get to the bathroom,” says Deb.

Clearly, she couldn’t go home alone from the hospital. A discharge planner at Strong arranged for Deb to receive care at the Episcopal Church Home’s Center for Rehabilitation. “I was so glad to go to the Church Home,” says Deb. “My mother lives at Brentland Woods and loves it there.”

While she did rehabilitation—remarkably, for only 10 days, which is a shorter than normal stay after injuries like hers—Deb enjoyed her private room and all the advantages of rehabilitative care. “They got me up in the morning and helped me to the bathroom and with getting dressed for the day, and I did physical and occupational therapy mornings and afternoons. Every day I had healthy choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When I wasn’t doing my therapies, I could relax in my room with TV or my tablet. Then the staff would come and get me ready for bed.”

Deb was very grateful for all the assistance she received. “This really threw me for a loop. I was really active before this fall, taking exercise classes and going out with my friends, and I’m not the kind of person who likes to ask for help,” she says, “but the staff at rehab were all so kind, caring and supportive. They didn’t let me get down about asking for help.” The staff was confident she could go home when Deb was able to use a walker and hop on just her left foot—but she was limited to living on the first floor of her townhouse. “It’s been tough,” Deb says. “If it hadn’t been for all the people who came to visit me at rehab—and here at home—I would have gone stir-crazy!”

Before she arrived back home, Amy, her social worker at the Church Home, arranged for Deb to continue receiving physical and occupational therapy at her townhouse, along with help from aides through Lifetime Care. It was important to continue strengthening her legs and hips while she was recuperating and wearing protective boots on her feet.

In addition, Deb’s social support was evident. friends that Deb used to work with set up a Meal train® for an entire month. “I had someone come by with dinner for me three times a week, with plenty of leftovers, so I didn’t have to cook,” she says. “And so many of my friends visited me to keep me company and keep me inspired. I’m a very social person, and I love my friends!”

Deb kept her most prized possession and symbol of strength — her grandmother’s treasured rosary — nearby during this ordeal.  “My grandmother came to this country from Italy. She had two boys before she had my mom, but died giving birth to my mom. My grandfather gave the rosary to my mom when she was old enough to understand the circumstances of her birth, and she gave it to me when I was in my twenties. I think of my grandmother and what her life must have been like, coming to a new country and leaving behind everyone and everything she knew. I imagine her as a strong person and someone I would have admired greatly.”

The retired administrative assistant to the principal at Fairport’s Brooks Hill Elementary School, Deb is looking forward to being active again, and spending time with her family and enjoying her two dogs, Allie and Chloe. Her son Christopher and his family live just a street away, but stopped over to visit, and her brother helped care for Deb’s dogs while she was laid up. Deb’s daughter Katherine has two twin boys and they live in Santa Monica, California. Deb looks forward to seeing them again soon. “They grow up so fast,” she says. “I travel three or four times a year to see them so that I can keep up with them and want to see them again soon, once I’m completely recovered.”

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