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Rehab, Day 13, Feb. 16, 2017

Obviously feeling strong enough to tell me to buzz off during occupational therapy. After two full weeks in rehab, my grandmother is feeling more like herself again, thankfully.

On Feb. 4, 2017, my 93-year-old grandmother began rehab, following knee surgery to repair a broken patella. This afternoon, Feb. 27 (Day 24 of rehab), she received orders from her orthopedic surgeon that she should pack up and move back home. Hereafter, she’ll do out-patient PT and OT a couple of times a week; the only time she needs to wear her knee brace, now, is when she’s putting full weight on her leg. Despite her age and recent injury, she can return to living a fully independent life, including serving as editor of our family business, a Jewish community newspaper. 

Needless to say, she is thrilled to be going home. Discharge from the rehab facility where she’s been holed up for the past nearly four weeks is expected to happen this Wednesday, hopefully.

My grandmother has humored me throughout her recovery process by allowing me to document (via 120mm film) her steps, literally, each day. I suppose this means that this project is going to wind down sooner than later.

With the demands of work, teaching and trying to buy a house at the same time–we’re aiming to close on the property at the end of March–I’ve fallen a bit behind on the film processing (14.5 rolls to be precise), scanning and posting on this blog. I plan to get caught up soon and obviously will share the results and the happy ending to this story. There will be a book when the project is complete.

More than anything else, this experience has given me some much-needed time with my grandmother. Without a doubt, she is one of the strongest, most resilient and most inspiring people I know.

Once again, thank you to all my tumblr friends for your kind and uplifting words of support throughout this journey.

~Michael

Rehab, Day One, Feb. 4, 2017

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My cousin gave our grandmother a plush red monkey toy to comfort her in bed. She named it Valentino in honor of Valentine’s Day. 

Rehab, Day One, Feb. 4, 2017

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My 93-year-old grandmother had a successful knee surgery after breaking her kneecap two weeks ago. She’s spent the past nine days in rehab.

The first few days of rehab were challenging, given that she lives a fully independent and active life, despite her age. Being bedridden now, with her leg immobilized and other bodily functions inhibited has led to much frustration and anxiety during the early stages of her recovery.

Family members, myself included, have spent as much time as possible at her bedside to help lift her spirits and to assist in whatever ways are needed.

Initially, I made a few photographs of her to include with written updates for concerned out-of-town family members and friends. These images, however, have taken shape into a photography project.

The aim going forward is to document, step-by-step, as much as possible, my grandmother’s recovery. Each time we visit, I’m shooting at least one roll of B&W 120mm film – analog, rather than digital, seems to be the appropriate medium for such a project. The best images will be complied into a book, I think, and I’ll also post some on this blog, to report on her progress.

My grandmother and her strength are the inspiration behind this project. I also credit Ted Forbes at The Art of Photography for encouraging photographers to produce “work that matters.” (I learned how to shoot and process film from his YouTube series.)

My grandmother has an orthopedist appointment tomorrow, at which time we’ll have a better idea of how long she’ll be in rehab. Based on what caregivers have said up to this point, we’re looking at three to four weeks, total. According to her PT and OT nurses, she’s ahead of the curve.

~Michael

Rehab, Day Two, Feb. 5, 2017

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My grandmother’s first steps on her own, following knee surgery.