In our last newsletter we closed with previewing how difficult Ruben’s first few weeks of therapy would be. Well, they have indeed been difficult, but also fruitful. Rubén spent two and half years in an uncomfortable bed unable to care for himself after being shot in the neck and left for dead. While his family and others did as much as they could Rubén was losing weight and losing hope because there was nothing else that could be done for him in the community where he lived. Because of the sanitary issues and skin ulcers from being in bed unmoved for too long he suffered regularly from various infections. Some were very serious, and quite frankly, medically speaking, he should not still be alive. But alive he is and we are grateful to be able to give an update on the results of his first seven weeks at La Casa De Rubén.
At one time Rubén had as many as five skin ulcers but as of last week the last one is completely covered with new tissue. Dr. Maria is heading up the continued efforts to improve his care and hygiene so that combined with not having skin ulcers will reduce the amount of infections. Because some of these things have gone on for so long his body has become very antibiotic resistant so things have to be managed differently going forward.
It is equally amazing to see how his body has reacted to only seven weeks of physical therapy. He is sitting much more upright in his wheelchair. His head used to slump over to one side because of the way he laid in bed and the loss of muscle mass but after a few weeks of therapy and a steady nutritious diet he has regained strength in his neck, shoulders, and arms. He can control and hold up his head and stretch out both of his arms fully. He is even regaining small amounts of control over his midsection so that he is now starting to sit up by himself although only for a few moments. Before the shooting he weighed 132 lbs and had gotten down to as low as 98 lbs with most of that loss being muscle tissue since he was lean to begin with. We haven’t weighed him recently but we know he is gaining weight and we estimate him to weigh somewhere between 105-110 lbs.
Dora, his therapist, is teaching him to focus his mind and use it to re-teach his body how to send signals to the muscles in his legs. He has no control of his legs; they move involuntarily and his knees and muscles got super tight due to lack of movement. However, already it is much easier for Dora to stretch out his legs than it was a few weeks ago. She tells him to relax his leg muscles and many times when Rubén really concentrates on this his legs extend and stay relaxed and longer for periods of time. The two biggest milestones in my opinion are the fact that with the help of a “stander” Rubén was able to stand up for the first time in 2 1/2 years. And just a few days ago he began using his arms to move his wheelchair. He can’t go far yet but we know that soon enough we might not be able to keep up with him!
So we’ll conclude this post much like we did the last-please pray for us and for Rubén. Despite the progress he has made he has a long way to go to gain mobility and independence. His hips are twisted and his back and shoulders are seriously out of alignment. He needs to receive Botox injections to loosen up various parts of his body to advance the physical therapy and we need get a new neck MRI for the neurologist he is now seeing. This is in addition to the routine supplies that he needs.
Also please pray for us as we continue with this ministry. We need much wisdom to build and grow this ministry properly. And please pray about making a financial donation to help us keep operating and expanding La Casa De Rubén. There are others we know who need to receive the same kind of care as Rubén but we need more space and resources. Without the generosity of others we will not be able to help Rubén and others like him. If you have questions about La Casa De Rubén please contact us and we’ll be glad to explain in more detail the opportunities and the needs.
Thank you all so much, God bless.