As a flatbed truck driver who spends up to 11 hours a day on the road, Sam Ross is also always on the go. But a work-related accident in August left him largely unable to move his left side.
“I’m kind of learning all of this as we go along, this worker’s compensation stuff,” Ross said. “I’ve never needed it before because I’ve never had an accident at work. But I’m very blessed I work for a company that wants me to have the best rehabilitation possible.”
The Fremont, Nebraska native turned to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals to help regain strength and learn how to do daily tasks with one hand.
Ross credits his Madonna care team for their enthusiasm and encouragement during long days and nights spent away from family and friends.
“I’m the dad, you know?” Ross said. “I’ve provided for my family for years, and when you get hurt and get shut down for a while, it makes you feel bad because you’re not that man anymore. At first I was getting discouraged or thinking I couldn’t see progress, but my team was always smiling, always reminding me what I was like when I first came here.”
Although confined to a wheelchair, the father of two made huge strides quickly. His kids and his wife, his biggest sources of motivation.
His care team responded with creative ways to engage him and tap into his interests. His love of basketball and cooking became skills he could incorporate into therapy.
“In occupational therapy, that’s our goal, to get him back doing what he was doing,” said Abigail Knake, inpatient occupational therapist. “It may not look the same as it did before his injury but he’s still able to do everything he did before.”
Being able to shoot hoops with his son or make a grilled cheese sandwich, things that may have seemed mundane before, are now things Ross cherishes.
“They’re emotionally hurt right now because they’ve never seen me like this, not working, so when I get home and them seeing me do things like this is going to encourage them, like ‘Hey, dad is going to be ok,’ so that means a lot,” Ross said.
While accepting a Madonna Spirit Award for his positive attitude and hard work, Ross mentioned another award that means a lot to him: “Best Sweeper of Rice,” an honor bestowed on him by his care team.
“We had done everything like two or three times and I wanted to practice something like cleaning up, so I suggested rice, thinking she’d just put a little on the floor, but no, she dumped it everywhere,” Ross said. “So, I put the dustpan between my legs and started sweeping!”
Now back home in Fremont, Ross said he’s eager to get back to work and get back to full-time dad duty.