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You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down: the Steve Woodley Story

Sarah Benbow, Executive Director of Communications | Jun 24, 2020

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Walker Methodist’s history dates back to 1876 and our core health services have shifted over the course of our timeline as the needs of our communities have. We specialize in senior living, yet have a robust Transitional Care (TCU) program that meets the needs of any patient recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. That TCU service brought us Steve Woodley in 2018 who was recovering from both injury and surgical repair on two different appendages. We love when our patients and residents are motivated in their personal wellness pursuits, and Steve was one of the most motivated patients we’ve had. Here’s the story of how he got back on the bike.

 

Hitting a Rough Patch

It was a picturesque August, Saturday morning, and Steve was riding his bike around Lake of the Isles Park in Minneapolis. An avid cyclist and active person, Steve was out doing what he loved.

He hit a patch of gravel and lost his balance. He went down hard, hitting the unforgiving pavement. Unable to get back on his feet after the spill, two runners noticed Steve and called an ambulance. He was taken to the emergency room at the University of Minnesota. Steve not only fractured his hip but broke a bone in his arm, too. He needed surgery to repair both. He said, “The very next day, I had surgery. Interestingly enough, it was two different surgeons. One operated on my elbow and one operated on my hip. I guess they’re pretty specialized these days.”

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He continued, “From there, I just spent a few days recovering at the hospital. After they discharged me from the hospital, I wasn’t really ready to go home; especially to our house because we have a split level and I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs. I needed to go someplace for rehab before I could go home. I ended up at Walker Methodist’s TCU.”

Steve spent almost two weeks at Walker TCU continuing rehab, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and according to him, had “as good an experience as I possibly could here. I was a very motivated patient, so I didn’t want to stay anywhere very long except getting home. But I had a very positive experience here.”

I needed someplace that she would feel happy in

Transitional Care for
Long-Term Goals

The goal of any patient in TCU is recovery. Focusing on the outcome and end result is paramount to the success of the journey. For Steve, the end result was even more motivating as his family counted down the days to his son’s October 5th wedding. Steve vowed to walk down that aisle without the use of a walker — or even a cane. Perhaps a tall order, but with less than two months to the big day, he was committed and shared his vision with his TCU care team.

Steve recalls those early post-surgery days. “I was really, really motivated. When I walked down that aisle, I wanted to do it without a walker and not be walking with a cane. The thing is with hip replacement surgery, the first thing they do is get you up and they get you walking the very next day after surgery. So that’s what they were trying to do with me, but it was more complicated than that because I also had a broken arm. So I couldn’t use the walker as they normally would, because I couldn’t hold the walker. Really, it was more complicated. I had to trust the process, and help myself stay in the recovery mindset. I needed to do the work that I needed to do and keep at what the PT and the OTs were telling me to do.”

He continued, “[My PT] helped in my recovery, but I was always just looking back. He helped me reframe my thinking. Instead of going all the way back before the accident and what my capabilities were then, instead, I focused on what could I do a week ago and what I could do now. It just really helped me keep a positive attitude in my recovery.”

Champions & Cheerleaders

Steve said, “I’m very active. I love to work out, ride my bike during the summer, running, and walking. We have an elliptical trainer down in our basement, so I workout pretty much every day. So it was really hard for somebody like me, who is really active and used to working out all the time to suddenly completely be unable to walk more than 10 steps.”

I asked Steve what it was like to be at the mercy of the process, and trusting the path.

He said, “Trust? You really just have to trust the process, trust that the physical therapists and the occupational therapists have worked with people like me before and they know what they’re doing. And they just are going to give me the treatment plan that I need to follow and I just need to trust them and follow their directions. So as hard as it was for me to do that, I did the best that I could in terms of following it.

The people I worked with were always just encouraging me and pushing me without really discouraging me or pushing me too fast. So it was always just that gentle nudge to do more and just continue to improve and do the work that I needed to do so that I could go home. So, one of the things that I heard again and again, which was very positive was people said to me, Oh, Steve, we’ll have you out of here in no time because you’re so young. And for somebody who had turned 60 years old and was still struggling with that milestone a little bit, that was really nice to hear those words. And I guess compared to other people here, I was on the young side!”

And one of the best pieces of advice, I’ll never forget it, was one of the physical therapists here and he said, “People like you, Steve, are in a lot of ways, you’re hard to work with because you’re really used to being active and you’re used to doing things and so you’re always comparing yourself to where you were before the accident.

STEVE

You’re thinking, I used to be able to do this and I used to be able to do that. And he said,

That’s the wrong mindset to have.

Steve Woodley

Compassionate Homefront, Compassionate Healthcare

The Walker team was fantastic. Being separated from my family was really hard. I actually felt really, really bad for my wife Kathy because she came and visited me every day in the hospital and every day in the TCU. And there were some days where I just said to her, Honey, you don’t have to come to see me every day, because I felt bad. This was a total disruption in her schedule. So even though I felt bad, she wanted to do it, and it really meant a lot to me for her to do that. My oldest son, he was just moving to Chicago, so he was kind of in that process, and I felt bad because I wasn’t able to really help him to get ready. He also was preparing for his wedding. So that was hard too, but they came and visited me frequently and just I really, really have the most supportive family and that absolutely helped a lot. It made a big difference.

All the people here were really encouraging and you could just see the difference that makes for patients. There were two things that really struck me. One was just the gentleness and the compassion of the staff. Everyone I interacted with. It was amazing. It made me appreciate and especially combined with the experience of being in the hospital for a week, people who are in the nursing or care profession, like the people at Walker. Just to be able to do that, I don’t think I could do that job. It’s just such a difficult job. So, that was one of the things that really stood out for me. And then the other thing was really just the positive atmosphere. You could absolutely get the sense very easily that people enjoyed working here and they liked their coworkers. They liked doing what they were doing, and that just came through loud and clear. And that just makes such a difference in the way that they care for people.”

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The Farewell Ceremony

Steve said, “My last day at Walker, as much as I enjoyed the stay here, I was really motivated to get out of here. My wife had shown me a picture as I was coming in the door two weeks before and I was pretty banged up; I needed a wheelchair to get in through the door. She took a picture as I was walking out the door upon discharge and I literally was walking. I still needed a cane then, but I was walking out with the cane, and just to see the difference in less than two weeks of coming in with a wheelchair versus walking out. That was really just a great feeling and that sort of summed up my whole experience here, of how much progress I had made just in that short time that I was here.”

Water bottle and headphones

Getting Back on the Horse

There’s the old adage of getting back on the horse that bucked you off; it’s a story of conquering your fears or failures head on. For Steve, that meant slowly getting back to a routine and regime of physical activity and hobbies — including cycling. He recalls the timeline.

“What was it like to get back on the bike? People have asked me, So have you been back on the bike yet? My accident was in August. The doctor told me, there’s no way you’re going to ride the bike the rest of 2018, which I knew. My wife wouldn’t have let me on the bike either. But that following spring in 2019, it was time. I think it was harder for my wife for me to get back on the bike then than it was for me. But you’ve heard the thing about when you fall off a horse you have to get back in the saddle, it was sort of the same thing, where I was a little bit apprehensive about it.

Getting on that bike again, wow, but I got on and after a few times it’s like, Oh, this feels like nothing had happened before. Although I am a lot more careful now. Not that I wasn’t; I had an accident. I always wear a helmet but I am a lot more careful now. I’d just as soon not go through that again if I don’t have to,” Steve said.

That’s the thing with the TCU. The recovery services are available for the unavoidable and unexpected rough patches anyone could face. “Walker Methodist TCU made me feel like I was a very important patient of theirs and that they were really invested in my recovery,” Steve concluded.