“Live one day at a time” is the motto for Hixson, Tennessee, resident Charlene Nowell.
With stage IV lingual and colon cancer, Nowell was struggling with everyday tasks but knew there was a way to improve her quality of life and regain independence. She came to Life Care Center of Hixson for help achieving these goals on Sept. 12, 2017.
“My cancer of the tongue has taken me as low as you can go,” Nowell shared in a letter. “The only thing you can do is live one day at a time. Believe you will make it back to almost normal, with the help and prayers of a lot of dear friends and people all over Chattanooga.”
When she arrived at Life Care Center of Hixson, Nowell was unable to walk, feed herself or manage her medications, and she was on a feeding tube. She needed extensive assistance to get in and out of bed, take care of daily hygiene tasks, bathe and get dressed, and she needed some assistance with sitting balance and rolling over in bed.
All disciplines of the therapy team worked with Nowell to help her reach her maximum level of independence.
Speech therapists used oropharyngeal exercises to help her strengthen her swallowing muscles and helped her get to the point where she can eat pureed foods and drink thin liquids like water again. She was able to discontinue speech therapy on Dec. 8, 2017.
Occupational therapists focused on helping Nowell with her self-care skills, and now she can do most of these tasks at a supervision level. She completed OT on Feb. 25, 2018.
Physical therapists worked with Nowell on strength, balance, gait and transferring from one surface to another, with the result that she can now walk, transfer, balance and get around independently.
“Life Care Center of Hixson has lifted me up and kept me moving back to an almost normal person again,” said Nowell. “I am so grateful for their love and care. Therapy has brought me back from death’s door to living again!”
Nowell returned home on Oct. 29, 2018, with caregiver support.
“Charlene was always so hardworking, pleasant and willing to participate in therapy,” said Josh Haislip, director of rehab services. “She gave PT her best effort and made great progress.”