Mobridge family adjust to life’s changes

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By Katie Zerr

One incident can change life as we know it and a Mobridge family is learning to live with results of an accident that changed their lives in a matter of seconds.The family of Gordie Hoisington has learned that adjusting to life with limited mobility is challenging to say the least. For Gordie it means the daily struggles of relearning tasks we do each day of our lives and take for granted.

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, Gordie was working on the roof of the home near Glenham when he fell from 12 to 15 feet off of the roof onto the ground, landing on his back.

He was transported to Mobridge Regional Hospital where he was stabilized and then sent on to St. Alexis Hospital in Bismarck. Gordie had surgery to repair his injured spine and spent more than six weeks in the Bismarck hospital recovering from surgery and beginning therapy.

For now, Gordie has lost the use of his lower body from the mid-chest down. He is going to therapy in Mobridge three time a week and has feeling in his legs.

“The doctors are optimistic,” he said. “If we could control the muscle spasms, I could continue to try and build up some muscle. Right now we are kind of at a stand still.”

That is caused by the constant spasms each time he moves. He said if he lies perfectly still, the muscles are fine, but even a small movement and his legs begin to twitch.

The involuntary muscle movements are a good sign according to his doctors and it shows the spinal column is working.

“All spinal cord injury patients have muscle spasms because injuries cause confusion in the cord area,” he said. “I am on about 20 different medications to try and control the spasms.”

The medications are “kind of a double-edged sword” according to Hoisington as he can try to control the spasms or take pain medication that allows him to continue therapy.

He said he hasn’t taken many pain meds as his therapy now consists of electronic stimulation of the muscles to keep them from atrophying while trying control the spasms. That is done with the help of a special cycle equipped with electrodes that stimulate muscle tissue during pedaling action.

“We are working with our insurance company now to purchase this specialty bike so I could continue my therapy at home,” said Gordie.

He said he is sleeping well at night as long he keeps perfectly still. Any movement causes the spasms to start. The family plans to visit the doctors in Bismarck in the near future to adjust the medication and hopefully get the muscle movement under control.

His wife, Rachael, and daughters Linde, Lexie, Adrian and Libby have had to learn how to help Gordie get through his daily routine from his wheelchair.

“The girls have had to do more around the house,” said Rachael. “They have learned to help their dad get in and out of his wheelchair. They had to grow up for sure.”

The accident has changed the entire dynamic of the house. Instead of getting the kids ready and off to school in the morning, the family works together to get that done and take care Gordie’s needs.

Rachael takes him to therapy three times a week, and tries to get whatever he will need through the day to a level he can reach before she goes to work. The goal is to equip his truck with special controls that will allow him drive and give him an amount of freedom again. He would be able to drive himself to his therapy appointments.

“Family and friends have been working to get the equipment installed on his vehicle,” said Rachael. “We are in the process of dealing with the insurance company on his therapy bike, but that is a long process.”

There have been adjustments to their home to accommodate the wheelchair. Aa ramp has been built and grab bars and a hand shower have been added to the bathroom.

There are other adjustments that have been made in order to help Gordie reach the things he needs from his wheelchair. The kitchen cupboards are an obstacle, so glasses, bowls, plates and other things are brought down to the countertop before Rachael leaves the house.

“He has his good days and bad days just like anybody else,” she said. “When he has more spasms it is painful for him, but he has been standing more in therapy and that has helped.”

Gordie stands with the help of special equipment and Rachael said stretching the muscles in his lower body helps to relieve the spasms sometime up to six or seven hours a session.

At home, she and Gordie have stretching therapy sessions once or twice a day depending on how intense the spasms are. The range-of-motion stretching helps relieve some of the spasms.

She said the support of the community has been wonderful for the family and she can’t go out without one or two people stopping and asking how Gordie is doing.

“This has certainly opened our eyes to what people living with a handicap go through on a daily basis,” she said. “There are so many things we take for granted.”

One of her pet peeves is people who park in spots reserved for those who are handicapped.

“It makes me angry to see someone walking from a building to a car without a sticker,” she said. “There are people who really need those spots.”

Gordie is fighting a cold right now and that is serious for someone whose muscles are not working correctly because of medication. The muscles of the stomach that are used to cough are not strong enough for him to clear his lungs. The danger is that his lungs will fill with fluid and he could develop pneumonia.

The family remains optimistic about his recovery and hopes the spasms can be controlled so he can move on with his therapy and his road to recovery.

– Katie Zerr –

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