Pam Davis with Conway Healthcare and Rehab Center staff
One year ago, Pam Davis weighed 747 pounds. She was bedridden, dependent on others and had very little self-esteem.
Today Pam is 279 pounds lighter. She now walks, lives independently and is excited about her future.
Davis cries when she tells her story, although she is quick to say her tears are tears of joy. Sitting in a wheelchair at her new home, she explained how the staff at Conway Healthcare and Rehab Center saved her life.
Davis had been bedridden since October 2003, she said. She had been unable to live alone for 10 years and family cared for her in her home in Madison, Arkansas.
Pam used to work as a bookkeeper, but was forced to retire and start drawing disability when her weight issues created knee problems.
She was admitted to the hospital, August 21, 2007, with a severe skin infection due to an injury she sustained while getting out of bed to use the bedside toilet chair.
While in the hospital, she was placed on a 1,800 calorie diet, which resulted in much of her weight loss, she said.
"But I still couldn't walk," she said. "I thought I was going home, but they sent me to rehab."
Davis did not realize that Conway Healthcare and Rehab Center was both a nursing home and a rehabilitation center. She was beside herself when she saw the nursing home patients.
"I just thought it was over. I'm 43 years old. I didn't know it was going to be a nursing home. When we came in the doors and I saw those people in their wheelchairs and I figured out where I was, I thought, 'This is where I'm going to die.' I figured that's what I would do."
The staff immediately began working with her, she said, asking her about her interests, to which she replied, "nothing" and what was important to her, to which she answered, "going home."
"It was my intention to lie there and not do anything. I wasn't going to work with rehab, but (physical therapist) Ryan (Davenport) and (occupational therapist) Karen (Bach) kept coming down there and wouldn't leave me alone."
Davis laughed as she described Davenport's persistence. She said she told him she was not going to physical therapy, to which he replied, "Okay, I'll be back."
"I thought he was going to give me a day or so to think about it," she said, but he returned every 10 minutes until she complied, she said.
The first day she walked in rehab, she said, "I thought I was going to hyperventilate and die." However, she said, beaming, "It was better than winning the lottery. I haven't liked myself for a long time. I didn't have any mirrors in my house. But now, I love me some Pam. I see myself as a winner."
Davis said, "I've come so far since I've been there. I couldn't get out of bed. It took two of them to get me out of bed. I couldn't sit up in the wheelchair. I went in there really pitiful, but I walked out."
Davenport said, "It's because we believed in her. She can walk around her apartment. She's come a long way physically and emotionally. We just had to teach her to believe in herself. She gets all the credit because she worked really hard."
As Davis was preparing to be discharged on July 2, she made the decision to stay in Conway. Chana Tucker-Rosbia, Conway Healthcare and Rehab Center's activity director, found Davis an apartment and had it all ready for her to move into upon her discharge. The staff threw her a going-away party, complete with housewarming gifts of all kinds, Davis said. Living on her own is like a dream for Davis.
"I still can't believe it," she said. "I've missed out on a whole lot, but I'm fixing to get caught up. There's some places I've got to go, some people I've got to see. I want to go to Wal-Mart. I want to go to the movies and I want to go back to church. If I could go back to work, I'd become a CNA," she said, explaining she has been inspired by the staff at Conway Healthcare and Rehab.
"I had to take responsibility for my own life, and it feels good to be in charge of Pam," she said.
Davis was asked what she would say to others who think they cannot lose weight.
"It's not over," Davis said. "Every day you wake up, try. I want to be able to stand up and wash dishes without sitting down. I can't, so I do it until I have to sit down. I used to eat buckets of chicken at a time. I eat rice cakes now, and I like them. A Lean Cuisine is a meal. If there's nothing you can do but lie in the bed and raise your arms anything that will burn calories. Pray. Surround yourself with good people. When you find people who care about you and believe in you, it makes you believe in yourself, and when you believe in yourself, there's nothing you can't do."
As for her own future, she indicated she plans to continue losing weight.