News & Stories

Jim’s amazing journey from wheelchair to weight room

Less than a year ago, Jim Berkman needed help with everything. “I couldn’t move in the IMG_8258.JPGroom. They had to lift me into bed. Help me get to the bathroom. I felt helpless.”

Now, his summer goal is to play in the Elks’ golf tournament. It looks like he’s going to make it.

We don’t know what’s wrong with you

Last summer, Jim knew something was wrong. “I thought I was done.” His friends weren’t going to let that happen. “They told me, ‘We’re not leaving until you go to the hospital.’”

He couldn’t move his arms and legs. Despite a multitude of tests, his doctors didn’t know why. One thing his doctors did tell him: you’ll never walk again.

Jim went to Short-Term Rehab at Knute Nelson Care Center. But after a month of physical therapy, his progress plateaued. Since he wasn’t anywhere near able to live at home, he moved to long-term care in the Care Center.

“Shot” knees: a blessing in disguise

Due to years of hockey, Jim’s knees were, in his words, “shot.” He was in a lot of pain. After cortisone injections gave him relief, he decided to try physical therapy again. This time he made progress.

Whether you call it determination or stubbornness – Jim uses both – he kept working outside therapy. “I noticed that most people in wheelchairs moved around with their feet. So that’s what I did. Three times a day, I’d ‘do my rounds.’ I’d pull myself all around the building.”

Ready for independence

By December, Jim had left the wheelchair behind and was getting around with a four-wheel walker. He was ready to live independently again.

On moving day, he wanted to walk out of the Care Center on his own. “My goal was to take my four-wheeler to a certain spot, switch to my cane and walk the rest of the way.”

“That day I came around the corner and I saw people lined JimB2.JPGup and clapping. I was done. I stopped and said, ‘Way to mess it up. How can I walk out when I can’t even see? My eyes are watering.’”

New home, new life

Jim loves his new, independent life at Grand Arbor. “It’s such a nice place. My friends come over, look around and say, ‘Holy cow!’”

Any day of the week you’ll find him in the Nelson Wellness Center. “They had to tell me to quit working out so much. That’s something nobody’s ever told me before.” (He’s lost 40 pounds since he entered the Care Center.)

He still has physical and occupational therapy twice a week and now uses a cane to get around.

Jim’s excited to get back on the links. He already has golf dates lined up, including with Brady, one of his physical therapists at the Care Center.

Jim is grateful for his progress and all those who helped him. “I can’t say enough nice things about the staff at the Care Center.”

He’s still mystified about what happened to him. “I don’t know why I can do what I do now. I’m a very lucky person.”