Doug C.

Doug C.

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Doug Clifton worked a lot. Putting in 65 hours per week, Doug worked full-time at The Home Depot and part-time in construction. When one of Doug's college-aged sons was in town, Doug took some time off. They attended a Friday night high school football game together.

That night, Doug noticed some sciatic pain but brushed it off. He chalked it up to part of the normal pain he endures due to years of physical labor. But by the time Doug said "goodbye" to his son on Sunday, the pain had intensified substantially. Even using the restroom had become difficult for Doug.

When Monday morning rolled around, Doug could no longer move his left leg. His right leg experienced increased weakness, too. Doug called his friend to take him to the hospital. There, hospital staff performed an x-ray and CT scan. They determined a transfer to Norton Downtown was needed for further testing.

At Norton Downtown, an MRI was performed. A doctor came into Doug's room and said he needed to be transferred to Norton Brownsboro for treatment. Doug recalls a lot of medical jargon and things he didn't understand. One of Doug's nurses gathered some information and explained things to him. In the T9-T12 region of Doug's spinal cord, the doctors found bleeding and a tumor. He needed immediate surgery.

At this point, Doug had lost all leg movement except in his toes. All sensation in his left leg was gone, too. Surgery proved difficult. The doctors needed to remove the back of the vertebra to scrape out the tumor. The tumor was cancerous.

After surgery, Doug remained with limited movement and sensation in his legs. Rehabilitation would be necessary, with Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Hospital being recommended.

Once Doug arrived at SIRH, he was so thankful to be there. He quickly realized how difficult and frustrating it was to suddenly be unable to take care of yourself with the ease you did such a short time ago. Doug met his nurses, Eric and Mandy, who assisted with anything he needed.

Doug also met his physical therapist, Emily Paulin, and his occupational therapist, Josh Martin. Doug credits Emily and Josh with teaching him how to live again. “They are fantastic motivators, and Emily knew exactly what I needed every step of the way," Doug recalled. "They believed in me and fought for me when I didn’t know I had it in me.”

Doug also credits Dr. Heink for being a great help to him when frustration got the best of him, and to help him transition through the tough moments.

Doug “graduated” to outpatient therapy at SIRH. He continues to thrive there with the support of his “humorous and genuinely caring" physical therapists, Gerry Ann and Jessica. Doug notes that they have made him feel like part of the family. His occupational therapist, Dave, has assisted Doug with his pre-driving skills. Doug also expressed thanks for the whole staff who continue to push him to do his best and get him back to "normal."

Today, Doug has resumed driving and walks with a cane and leg brace. He has set himself a goal for his recovery: to walk in the Thanksgiving five-miler with his brothers-in-law. And probably some SIRH employees cheering him on along the way!