The Cripple Report: The Rehab Games

April 6, 2017

 

San Diego, California

 

It is amazing how much goes on when you are admitted or discharged from a medical facility.  Such is the case at the Pomerado Hospital in San Diego, where I have come after breaking my ankle on a hike on April Fools Day.  (Ironic, isn’t it)  For both the admission and the discharge,, an entire troupe of players parades in and out:  papers to sign, evaluations to be given, diet preferences to be explained, etc., etc.!  It wears a cripple out!

 

I eventually got checked out of the hospital and into the rehab center.  Actually, the rehab center is a euphemism for a nursing home…  I begin assessing the situation.  Most of the staff are “Techs,” very young—probably in their early twenties.  They do the grunt work—respond to people pressing their call buttons, change sheets, get people off and on bedpans, etc.  They have a great comradery—constantly bantering with and teasing each other….well into the night…but they all are quite friendly and kind…

 

 

Learning the Rules

 

The place is fairly noisy, but with my door closed, it doesn’t bother me.  I am in a mellow state and pretty ready to retire, probably induced by OxyContin. I had just fallen into a deep restful sleep, when, you guessed it, a Tech opens the door, turns on the light, and announces that he needs to get my vitals. My eyes are very light sensitive and I jump, throwing my hands over my eyes.  Grrrrrrr!  He leaves and I cannot get back to sleep, so I decide that a trip to the bathroom might be in order.  I get my walker and pretty easily pop to an upright position, and begin the hop/slide the walker/hop/slide the walker routine.  I didn’t turn on the bathroom light because, as I mentioned, I hate bright lights.  Big mistake.  For some reason, I lost my balance and tumble down.  Don’t worry—I wasn’t hurt, other than a heavy thump of the side of my heavy foot coffin on the floor.  I pushed the call button and a tech soon appears.  She is concerned, asks if I am hurt, but doesn’t come over to help me up.  She reports that she must get the nurse and she will be right back.  Minutes pass…  Tired of waiting, I assess the situation, then reach for the grab bar attached to the wall and, using my good leg, pull myself up.  “Not that difficult” I say to myself!  Finally, a good five minutes later, in comes the nurse.  She is not mean but immediately launches on her speech about how I MUST call for help each and every time I get out of bed.  “Yes Ma’am,” I say contritely.  She is right.  Back to bed, and “clunk” I’m asleep!

 

 

The Punishment

 

The next morning, barely past the crack of dawn, an upper-level enforcement officer marches in and begins hooking me up to a “wander alarm.”  She pins one end of a 6” tether to the sheet and the other to the shoulder of my gown.  I inquire and she crisply explains that it is protocol that, when someone falls, they must fit them with this alarm to alert the staff when the patient tries to get out of bed.  However, with the short tether, the alarm would be going off if I even tried to sit up.  I calmly apologize for having not called for assistance during the night, and promise to reform my ways.  “That’s what they all say,” she retorts. I immediately decide that this is totally unacceptable.  Emotionally I feel like I’m being tied from head to toe in restraints.  I realize that they are concerned about me, but I know that their worry about liability is a big motivator for this action.  My blood is boiling, and I struggle to keep my voice calm.  I tell her that I cannot accept the alarm and that if she feels she must attach it, I will immediately request to be discharged.  She pauses, and with a small voice says, “Well, you can refuse if you want…”  NOW she tells me!  I say again how sorry I am to have not asked for help and try to reassure her that I will henceforth be a model patient.  I certainly do not want to fall again, so I promise myself as well that I will be a diligent cripple and ask for help each time.  This will be a challenge for such an independent soul as I…

 

We have one screamer on the wing I’m in, an adult male.  Actually it broke my heart to hear him wail and sob like a child, but with a man’s voice.  What anxieties he must face to get so upset!  I was very impressed to hear how calm and sweet the staff was in trying to console him, and quite soon, he subsided, very much like a baby who wears out.

 

My new motto: “Deal with it.”  Food? Deal with it.  Being awakened in the middle of the night to take my blood pressure:  Deal with it.  Having to press the button for help every time I want to move the 4′ to the bathroom: Deal with it.  This resignation has made my attitude a lot better.  I surely can’t complain about how great the staff has been here!

 

Playing Fish with my 86 year old neighbor:  I had to reacquaint myself with this game, since I hadn’t played it since my childhood.  Basically you ask your partner for a particular card (“any 4s?”).  If they don’t have it, they go fish for one from the main deck.  We were such a pathetic pair.  She’d ask me for 4’s, I’d say no.  I’d ask her for 2’s; nope.  Then we’d both forget and she’d ask me for 4s again, and I’d ask her for 2s again.  Lot of fishing going on!  Probably the OxyContin I tell myself.

 

Life here is not exciting, but not too bad.  My mind is constantly churning, thinking about the motorhome and my car.  Deal with it!  Tomorrow is another day…

 

10 Comments

  1. Charlene
    Jul 2, 2017

    So feel your emotional pain in your words. You are always so isotope–nice that you are real here. Love you!

    • Charlene
      Jul 2, 2017

      Positive!!!! Have to love Siri

      • Rhonda
        Jul 2, 2017

        Sorry–I’m totally missing the Siri reference. Unfortunately I’m an Android girl!

    • Rhonda
      Jul 2, 2017

      Emotional pain was short lived! Everything turned out fine! Thanks for being such an loyal reader and commenter!

  2. Sandra Nettles-Rhodes
    Jul 3, 2017

    Rhonda, Your description of a night in “rehab” was like reliving a similar experience. My reasons for being a nurse and working in healthcare for 50 years seem worthless in today’s environment, but having a survivor like you with a way to get around the rules that made someone see you as a person changed your outcome. Great job!

    • Rhonda
      Jul 3, 2017

      SO great to hear from you, Stranger! There cones a time in life when you can’t just cave! Hope you are doing well yourself!

  3. Gaelyn
    Jul 3, 2017

    Good for you to stand up for your rights, even if you had to compromise. I am a bit confused as to whether you are now out of rehab and hopefully home.

    • Rhonda
      Jul 5, 2017

      Hi Gaelyn, Yes I got home! I’ll be posting the last segment of The Cripple Report” later this week. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Kathleen Covalt
    Jul 5, 2017

    You are always so positive and very entertaining! Glad you are home.

    • Rhonda
      Jul 10, 2017

      Thanks so much for following my ups and downs, Kathy! Writing the blog helps me see things more on the lighter side.

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