By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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“Scooter!” someone says.
“I listened to you a little bit on the radio,” says someone else.
Crestwood Health and Rehabilitation Center: Nice people, nice place, but Howard “Scooter” Chapman hopes he's never coming back.
After finishing his radio show on KONP this morning, Chapman will return to Crestwood for what he hopes is the final time.
“Tomorrow I go home,” Chapman, 81, said Tuesday morning.
“I come back from work, and I go home. I check out.”
That's fine with Crestwood.
“Having people 'walk out on us' is our main goal and motivation,” Crestwood Executive Director Michael Littman said.
“When this happens, everyone wins: the resident, family, physician, facility and community.”
It all started May 2 when Chapman fell off his back porch.
“I don't know how I did it,” he said.
Chapman sustained a list of injuries nearly as long as his accomplishments, which includes longtime KONP host, longtime voice of the Port Angeles Roughriders, longtime referee/umpire for various sports, member of the WIAA Hall of Fame, former sports editor at the Peninsula Daily News and its predecessor the Port Angeles Evening News, and president of the Port Angeles Salmon Club.
“I tore all the quads and all the ligaments off the top of both knees,” he said, “and injured my shoulder — a torn rotator cuff in my shoulder.”
After surgery performed by Dr. Henry Yee at Olympic Medical Center, Chapman checked into Crestwood on May 5.
His legs were put in braces to keep his knees straight.
For 45 days, he couldn't bend them.
“You can imagine, with both knees, I couldn't do anything for myself,” Chapman said.
He required two therapists to help him do everything. Everything; getting out of bed, sitting in a chair, even those things that humans are trained at a young age to do alone.
“It was awful,” Chapman said.
“They did the best they could. They weren't used to somebody rehabbing with two knees gone, and not able to move them.”
All along, Chapman was focused on getting well enough to return to work.
“Most striking to me was his hope and motivation to get better and get back to work as soon as possible,” Littman said.
He returned to the air at KONP on July 14. (His boss, KONP General Manager Todd Ortloff, would pick him up at 4:45 a.m. each morning, and Chapman's wife, Loretta, would drive him back to Crestwood after the show.)
But the real milestone was last Friday.
“I made a goal to do the announcing at the Sixkiller golf tournament, and I did that,” Chapman said, referring to the Sonny Sixkiller Husky Golf Classic at the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course.
“It was great. I felt like I was back almost to normal.”
“I've got another goal to be able to walk up the Civic Field steps to the booth by September,” he said.
“It's going to be tough because there's no railings there.”
Port Angeles' first home game is Sept. 11 against Vashon Island at Civic Field.
Chapman also is planning on providing the play-by-play for the Roughriders' season-opener at Port Townsend on Sept. 4.
While wearing the knee braces, Chapman's physical therapy was focused on rehabilitating his upper body.
“Once the braces came off, then they started rehabbing on the knees, and it's gone pretty well,” he said.
“Yesterday I walked with a cane from the gym [to] here. They were hanging onto me with a belt, in case I slipped.”
Then he had to relearn to do minor things that get taken for granted, such as put his shoes on and get dressed.
Despite an eagerness to get his life back to normal, Chapman realized the need to do what therapists ask and maintain the proper pace while rehabbing.
“You have to tell them when you're tired and not lie to them,” Chapman said.
“I don't want to be back in here, so I've tried to be the model patient.
“I don't want to come back.”
Chapman will continue out-patient therapy after checking out today.
Then he will continue to pace himself.
“I've learned to have more patience,” he said of his nearly three-month ordeal.
“And I'm going to value my time, I think. I'm not going to waste a lot of time.
“The kind of stuff I have to do at home, I have to get out and saw kindling for the winter and clean up my garage and do my cars and put away my umpire stuff that's still in the car from May.
“But I'm not going to be able to do that right away. I've got to force myself not to do that right away.
“Because, sure as hell, I'll slip and fall and buckle a kneecap and I'll be right back in here.
“So I've got to have patience.”
The staff at Crestwood honored Chapman's efforts and success Tuesday by presenting him with a black jacket with “Scooter” sewn in gold over the right chest.
The gift touched Chapman to the point of bringing tears to his eyes.
“Let it go, let it go,” Littman said. “Then get out of our place.”
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.