Ten days before Harry Opfar Jr. was to be married, a blood vessel supplying his spinal cord broke, resulting in paralysis from the waist down.
Wednesday, Opfar will be leaving the Intermountain Rehabilitation Center a married man.Opfar was married to his fiancee, Sarah Lyn Grace, a couple of weeks after the date originally planned, Sept. 29, in the rehabilitation center in the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. The Oct. 10 ceremony was performed by his father, Harry Opfar Sr., bishop of the Pleasant Grove 1st Ward.
The hospital treated the newlywed couple to a wedding-night room at the Excelsior Hotel. Occupational therapist Peggy Abegg said she helped set up the room for handicap access. Furniture was moved to accommodate a wheelchair and equipment was added.
At Opfar's return to the hospital, he was moved to the transition room in the Rehabilitation Center. The transition room is very much like a motel room, with a double bed, television, furniture and its own bathroom.
"It's great," said Opfar about the transition room. "I am enjoying being here. It's a lot like being on your own."
Abegg said that the purpose of the transition room is to prepare patients to go home. Patients are free to have their spouse join them in the transition room to practice living independently of hospital support.
The purpose of occupational therapy is to teach patients to be independent, Abegg said. Before patients return home, they have to learn safe care. A required safety skill is the ability of a patient to get himself up off the floor.
The rehabilition unit also has a kitchen for practicing independence. Abegg said patients have cooked whole meals for their families in the kitchen as the patient learns to get around.
Special gripping tools on long rods enable patients confined to wheel chairs to open high cabinets and to get items from the shelves.
In the transition room, Opfar makes his own bed and does all his own personal care.
Sarah Ophar said her husband has been to their Lehi apartment to help prepare it for his own homecoming. "He came home for the weekend and got the stuff set up."
But, despite her husband's training at bed making in the hospital, she said at home she will make the bed.