If you ask the staff at Castleview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, miracles do happen.
Miracles are seen and felt through the achievements of the patients at the center, and on Tuesday, another success was celebrated, as one patient was able to walk out the center’s doors and back into the arms of his family.
About four months ago, Alvis Delk, 72, was wheeled into Castleview, unable to walk or even perform simple daily tasks on his own.
Albert Fuller, an occupational therapy assistant, was on staff when Delk was admitted and said he is impressed, even amazed at Delk’s progress.
“When Mr. Delk came in he was non-ambulatory, suffering from severe confusion and disorientation,” Fuller said. “He could not function on his own. It took two people just to get him out of bed.”
The spry senior citizen took a fall that left his body battered, bruised and broken.
“I was going up into a lady’s attic to do some work,” Delk explained. “The ladder snapped and I fell 13 feet onto the concrete below.”
That painful moment remains clear in Delk’s mind.
“The last thing I remember is that I asked the Lord to look over me, protect me and keep me from being killed,” Delk said. “And he did.”
Delk’s head and back took the brunt of the blow, causing severe damage to his spine and trauma to his head.
“When he fell, he fell with such force that he suffered a compression fracture in his back and there was injury to his brain,” Fuller explained. “He suffered a subdural hematoma caused by a concussion when his brain hit the inside of his skull.”
Due to his fragile state, Delk needed constant care and supervision. His basic motor skills, safety awareness, judgment and decision- making abilities had been affected.
“For about two to three weeks, he really didn’t know what was going on,” Fuller said. “He wasn’t able to perform basic functions such as walking, standing, bathing, dressing or even eating.”
Delk would have to learn to walk again. He would have to learn to use his judgment skills and cognitive thinking. He would have to be taught to recognize the differences between safe and unsafe decisions. He would have to regain his balance and control of his legs, his back and his mind.
As with any patient who suffers a brain and spinal injury, Delk had a long road to travel before he would be out and about again.
The recovery process started slowly.
“About one week after he was admitted, we tried helping him walk for the first time,” Fuller said. “It took two to support him and he was only able to move about five, or maybe seven, feet.”
During the early stages of his recovery, his therapy focused on the basics. His daily routine included transfers such as sitting and standing or moving from the bed to his wheelchair. Strengthening exercises helped him slowly regain muscle control. He worked to regain his coordination by performing simple tasks such as reaching for an object.
“In the beginning, we started slow,” Fuller explained. “We worked on simple extension exercises, we started with two sets of 10.”
Slowly, small progressions were made. After a month with physical therapist Mike Hodges, Delk was able to walk about 50 feet.
The effects of childhood polio complicated Delk’s case.
“The lack of muscle content on his left side made learning to walk again very hard,” Fuller said.
But Delk never gave up.
Physical therapist Diana Heath, who has worked with Delk for the last three months, said his progress has been tremendous.
“He is very determined,” Heath said. “Every day when we came in, he was there, waiting for us at our door. He was always ready to go. We worked with him for two hours and he never resisted any of the treatment.”
Through his determination, Delk is now up and moving. With his cane for support, he walks easily. The five feet he could cover in the beginning has increased to 1,000.
Delk remains positive and said the treatment he received at Castleview was second to none.
“They, the people here, are very intelligent,” Delk said. “They helped me out a lot. These people running this place especially Brenda (Jones, assistant administrator), are very nice people.”
A few who saw Delk in the early days of his recovery thought he might never walk again. With a smile, Delk will tell you they were wrong.
On Tuesday, as he prepared to walk out the doors that he was wheeled into almost four months ago, Delk wore an enormous smile. He had been through tough times and came out the winner.
“This is the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Delk said. “Through the grace of God, I came out of it and overcame it and now I am going on with my life.”
He says first he thanks God and then the people at Castleview who helped make him whole again. Last, but not least, he thanks his family and friends.
“I have a wonderful family who loves me dearly and they are waiting for me now. I have to get home to them,” Delk said. “And I have to get home to my two dogs, my buddies P.J. and Lucy. They take care of my yard. We take care of each other,” Delk said. “I have been in Stephenville for 36 years and I have made a lot of friends and I want to thank each and every one of them for coming to see me over the last few months.”
The healing process will continue as Delk refamiliarizes himself with life outside the center.
“I have to watch myself,” Delk said. “It is my body and I have to take care of it, there’s not going to be anyone out there to take care of it for me.”