Wayne Cates' pride and joy is his family—wife Anjanee, daughter Nevaeh and son Jerry. He loves pulling out the baseball, football or basketball and throwing them around with his kids, with Anjanee looking on.
One day, Cates began experiencing numbness and tingling in his feet and lower legs. The sensation slowly increased, causing Cates to lose his balance enough that he began using a cane. Cates' family doctor ordered an MRI to figure out what was going on with his legs. As Cates waited for the MRI appointment, the numbness took over in his legs and he had to use a walker to get around. Finally, it became so bad he was forced to use a wheelchair.
At this point, Cates needed a full-time caregiver. Since Anjanee was at work all day and couldn't provide on-going care for Cates, he moved in with his parents. His mother and brother helped him get dressed and use the bathroom and prepared his meals. "Being away from my wife and children was the hardest part," says Cates. "I wondered if I'd ever get the chance to play with my kids again."
The MRI showed Cates suffered from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the open spaces within the spine. This disorder places pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the spine causing pain, numbness, muscle weakness and more.
Cates underwent a laminectomy, which removes the back part of the lamina to create more room in the spinal cord. He also had vertebrae fused together to provide support to the spine. After the surgery, he had sensation in his feet — a good sign. But he was so weak from the long course of spinal stenosis that he could barely sit up on the edge of his bed. He needed rehabilitation to increase his strength and to relearn how to walk.
At Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, staff worked with Cates to strengthen his core muscles so he could sit up without help. As he grew stronger, staff introduced walking skills, and soon he could get around with the help of a walker. Therapists also worked with Cates to help him manage his daily living activities, such as getting dressed, fixing meals and doing laundry.
"The staff was great," says Cates. "They treated me like family and helped me every step of the way."
Although Anjanee had to drive from Modesto to Roseville to visit Cates at Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, she says it was "absolutely worth it having Wayne get his rehabilitation therapy at SRI."
These days Cates is walking on his own. He can happily hold Nevaeh and Jerry again and can play catch. "Life is good again," says Cates. "I've got my health back, and I've got my family back, too."