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The Many Steps of Recovery From Surgery: Follow This Patient's Path

July 29, 2021

Janet Wilbur knew she had to do something. Daily pain from a condition that created a 50 percent curvature in her spine made it impossible to live a normal life. She finally was forced to take a leave of absence from her job as an English teacher at Norwich Free Academy. As she began researching treatment options, she remembered the excellent care her mother had received at Hartford Hospital more than 40 years ago and decided Hartford HealthCare was the best place for her. Wilbur’s journey through the Hartford HealthCare system of care began at the Bone & Joint institute in Hartford, where she was received an evaluation before being referred to a neurosurgeon to have anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) neck surgery. “That surgery is not for the faint of heart,” Wilbur said.  “But after how well my mom was treated, I knew I was in the right place.” [caption id="attachment_34893" align="alignleft" width="557"] Lee Bennett, Supervisor of Rehab Services at the Hartford HealthCare Health Center in Pawcatuck, with patient Janet Wilbur working on exercises to help her strengthen and improve her movement following a recent surgery.[/caption] Following the procedure, she was admitted to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit at Hartford Hospital, where she remained more than two weeks. While there, she worked closely with the unit’s nursing and therapy teams to help regain full function of her body. It was an arduous road to recovery, but she said she was inspired to keep going each day by her caregivers. “My stay on the inpatient unit was spectacular and is one of the main reasons why I was able to get to where I am today,” she said. “All of the staff I saw there were phenomenal and they really helped me stay motivated to keep moving and get me back to feeling like a normal person again.” When ready to transition off the unit, Wilbur was immediately lined up with an occupational therapist from Hartford HealthCare at Home who would continue to work with her in her own home. Today, Wilbur is finishing up her treatment at Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network’s outpatient clinic in Pawcatuck, working with the staff there, including Site Supervisor Lee Bennett, to make a complete recovery. “I am just so impressed with the seamless care I received on so many levels with Hartford HealthCare,” she said. “I am now 14 weeks out from my surgery and am walking two to four miles a day with no pain, which is amazing because I have lived with being in pain in everything I did for so long.” Wilbur says she was initially told that her recovery could take up to one full year, but said that after working with Bennett and his team she feels like she is ready to get back to teaching, which she plans to do when school starts again in the fall. “I feel so fortunate that I made the choice to go to Hartford HealthCare,” she said. “They literally saved my mom’s life and now have helped give mine back to me.”