Everyone goes through rough patches, and when Steve Calvert's hip started bothering him, he shrugged it off to deal with more important issues. His mother had developed dementia toward the end of her life and required full-time, in-home care. With limited options, Steve did his duty. He put his career coaching gymnastics, his life-calling, on hold and became his mother's live-in caregiver.
As Steve's hip grew gradually worse, he was diagnosed with arthritis, and a hip replacement was recommended. With his mother being his top priority, he decided to wait. Who was going to take care of her while he recuperated from surgery?
Upon the passing of his mother, he found he could not return to work as he had planned. Coaching gymnastics is a physical job, and there was simply no way he could perform the necessary actions with the level of pain he was enduring. Mourning the loss of a parent and facing an unexpected career change, Steve started looking for options.
He knew a hip replacement was his best bet to relieve the arthritis, but, like many (if not most) people, he was loath to get surgery. "I will admit it," Steve confessed, "I was a real coward." An added difficulty was the price. Having given up his job and losing his health insurance, Steve was caught in the same Catch-22 many under- and unemployed Americans find themselves in. He needed insurance to get the surgery required to work, but he needed to work to be able to afford the insurance.
While visiting a community health clinic in Moline, a physician's assistant recommended he try talking to the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). She wasn't sure if they could help him, but it was worth a shot. Steve took her advice, called DRS, and was paired up with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Kacie McIntyre.
Together Steve and Kacie began working on getting him back to work. They discussed other career paths, but Steve was determined to return to coaching. "Steve would pace around my office during our meetings because he could not tolerate sitting for any length of time," Casey said. "He was not able to tolerate bending, crawling, kneeling, or stooping." That is no condition for a gymnastics coach to be in, so, despite his reluctance, a plan was developed to get Steve the surgery crucial to his success. His love of coaching outweighed his fear.
Between an assistance program with Steve's local hospital and DRS, surgery became feasible. The preliminary counseling, doctor visits, lab work, and paperwork were daunting, but Kacie and DRS were there to help. "They did a lot of things that made it easier," Steve praised, "I would be hesitant to make all these calls and schedule all these appointments, and they did it for me. Then they would call me and tell me where I needed to be and when."
In December of 2012, after several years of debilitating pain, Steve received the life-changing hip replacement. Six weeks of determined physical therapy later he was back teaching boys gymnastics at the YMCA. "I'm coaching better than I have in years," the 60-year-old coach said, "No limp, my mobility is as perfect as it can get. It was a miracle surgery - really!"
Steven is grateful for the work DRS put in to get his life back on track, "These people are great," he said. "They take a super interest in you, they follow up with you, they are wonderful people, good people, and they care." Sounding a little bemused, he added, "And, you know... I wasn't even aware a program like this existed."
DHS' Division of Rehabilitation Services is the state's lead agency serving individuals with disabilities. DRS works in partnership with people with disabilities and their families to assist them in making informed choices to achieve full community participation through employment, education, and independent living opportunities.
To learn more, call 1-877-761-9780 Voice, 1-866-264-2149 TTY, (312) 957-4881 VP, or read about DRS's Services. Refer yourself or someone else for services using the online Rehabilitation Services Web Referral.