Jamie Smith grew up in sunny Southern California. Standing at a height of 6’5” he enjoyed playing high school football and basketball. As Jamie grew into adulthood, he made a living working as a truck driver in the oil fields of West Texas and Colorado. After 25 years, Jamie relocated to Rathdrum, Idaho to be closer to his mother and sister. During that time he developed a love for some lifetime hobbies including golf, fishing and motorcycles.
During this time, Jaimie spent a lot of time climbing up and down from his rig. This earned Jamie bilateral total knee replacements. “It took me 58 years to wear out those joints,” Jaimie said with a chuckle. Unfortunately for Jamie, he required a revision of that first knee replacement and developed a serious infection. That revision would become the second of a frustrating eight surgeries. This resulted in two years of severe pain which left Jamie unable to walk, let alone enjoy the hobbies he loved so much.
Jamie consulted with local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joseph Bowen, and ultimately chose to have an above-the-knee amputation. Now that Jamie was close to his family and had a good support network intact, he felt he could make the decision to amputate with confidence. “One day I am going to be back in my daily game,” Jamie said to himself. “Even though it wasn’t going to happen with my natural limb, I need to get back with the common day, communication, not institutionalized, sitting at home by myself, with no chance to use my humor. I don’t want to say ‘I wish I would have…’.”
After the amputation, Jamie chose to transfer to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest (RHN) in Post Falls, Idaho. He was at RHN for ten days. Jamie worked with the physical and occupational therapists on wheelchair level training and how to safely balance with a front wheeled walker. His goal was to return home and be functional at wheelchair level until he could get his custom prosthetic limb.
Upon admission to RHN, Jamie indicated he was very scared and anxious about falling. But he soon found he was in good hands. “The staff here were very helpful,” Jaime said. “I didn’t have anything to worry about as they made sure I was safe.”
According to Jamie, the staff made sure he was comfortable, too. To accommodate Jaime’s height, the staff got him a larger bed. He said, “I slept like a baby from that day forward.” Jamie also stated that he enjoys being able to eat in the Bistro with the other patients. “The food is good, very good, dependable as there is always a choice. Eating and visiting with the other patients is helpful.” Before Jamie discharged home, RHN case managers/social workers coordinated continued care at home via Panhandle Home Health. They would help Jamie adjust to being home and functioning from a wheelchair and continuing his therapy.
Jamie chose to return to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Northwest once his custom prosthetic limb was ready. He would need to learn how to balance and walk with his prosthetic.
“I’ve been to a few hospitals with this. This has been the BEST hospital I have been to,” Jamie said of RHN. “I have observed other patients in physical therapy and everyone treats them so well. [The therapists] know what they are doing, very professional. They explain WHY they are doing what they are doing, so that I understand.” He also said, “you can tell the therapists, the nurses, the whole staff, they love their jobs. They have been so encouraging and they gave me so much respect. They show all of the patients respect. Even the doctors. Dr. Duba comes in every day to see me. He checks in on me mentally, physically, and addresses it all then.”
“I am so glad that I came in for inpatient rehab. I’m motivated, but not as much as they motivate me here.” He also said, “goal setting is a must. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s easy to fall into a laziness and it’s difficult to get back into working hard, getting back into your surroundings. They make it fun. I don’t think that I would have been as motivated at home, by myself, to do what I have done here. They push me to my goals, and my goal…is to walk out of here!”
Jamie is looking forward to getting back on the golf course. He just wants to swing the club and give his friend a good game. He also says that he is looking forward to getting out on his friend’s brand new fishing boat to do some fishing.
“I have a lot to look forward to,” Jamie added. “It’s gonna be okay.”