Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hallmark Had Nothing To Do With It

What started as a bleak day brightened considerably. I was up and in pain at 4 am, couldn't find a position to lay back down that didn't hurt more than sitting on the edge on my bed,  I didn't call for a pain pill, instead I toughed it out until breakfast, building myself to a pity party that broke out after breakfast. I was scolded by the CNA and the nurse because I was obviously in pain and wasn't managing it correctly. I should ask for the meds when the pain starts, not wait so long that it becomes embedded..  

I rolled my way back to my room crying.  I was wiping my eyes and blowing my nose on my third tissue, sitting on the potty, when someone knocked at the door--as usual.  I asked "Who is it?" The male voice said "Maintenance."  I said, "No. Sorry."  

The next voice was female, "Barb, It's Rita, Are you on the commode?"  "Yes."  "We have a delivery for you. Can I bring it in?"

I invited her in thinking it was the surgical hose the doctor had ordered for me,

It was an Edible Bouquet with a "Thinking of You" balloon.  Suddenly the pity party was over.  I got my act together and prepared to face the day.  I shared some of the fruit at lunch with fellow residents and the nursing staff.  Everyone said to say thanks to the sender. It brightened their day as well.

I have the balloon tied to the handle of my wheelchair, so all can see that some as nice as Deb was thinking of me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Rehab

You may be wondering how I can have no time to write when I am sitting at a skilled nursing facility with only 2 sixty to seventy-eight minute of scheduled physical and occupational therapy Monday through Friday.

Me too. I should keep an oral diary of how I spend the minutes of every day, but I would be afraid to look at the results. I know that they will wake me at 7:30 each morning to ask if I will be coming down to breakfast. Usually I am awake two hours by then.  5:30 the pain often wakes me and I spend the time it takes the sun to rise trying to unwrap myself fro the coil of sleeping without crying or moaning. One morning when I gave in too loudly, I had 2 CNAs at my door thinking I must have fallen.

So from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm when I have settled in bed for the night is 17 hours. Where do they go? Here's a schedule from memory of one typical day:

5:30 to 7:30- Waking up, sublimating pain, wishing someone would guess oe sense I need pain meds and bring them to me. I don't squeeze my call button because I like to think of myself as stoic. It takes part of that time to hurtle myself off the bed toward my walker  for the three steps and turn shuffle that gets me to the bedside potty chair. The potty chair has an invisible call button on it. I know this because someone always knocks on my door as soon as I sit on it.

7:30 to 8:10 Dressing, transferring to wheelchair and wheeling down to the dining room. Pulling up my pants consumes the greatest part of this time. I can't stand up to pull them up yet because it means I have to let go of the walker, reach around and tug--a destabilizing act. I have to wiggle, rock, and tug left right and middle to get them up to my waist. A dip at the back center seam worthy of a plumber is the common result of this system.

8:10 to 9:10 Breakfast:  Most of this time is spent waiting for the meal to be served. Officially the dining room opens at 7:30 but nothing is ready to serve at that time, not even the coffee. This meal is you choice of a combination of eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee, tea, and bread of some kind. You can add a hot or cold cereal. You can have it all or just one item. Fruit is scarce except for the juices, raisins in the bran or a banana which they will grudgingly fetch from the kitchen for you if you are not on the "no banana" list as I am.

9:10 to 12:30 Therapies:  I know this is 3 hours and I am scheduled for 2 to 2 and 1/2. The leftover time is taken up by vital sign checks, meds, and rest which the therapists are very generous (some might say too generous) to give you between exercises.

12:30 to 1:15 Lunch:  Back to the dining room. This is the main meal of the day. Since Wednesday this week, we have a posted menu--state inspectors are here, more on that in another post--but often before that no one knew what we were having until it arrived from the main dining room kitchen.  Lunch consists of a protein, a starch, a vegetable, a bread, and a dessert.  An alternate protein is usually available.  Typical menus are fish, (or ham) potatoes, broccoli and a bowl of canned apricots; or chicken breast, (or shrimp) potatoes, mixed vegetables and apple crumble.  The other day someone complained at a meeting with the state inspectors that there should be a choice of dessert for diabetics.  Boooo! Up till that time I fooled myself into thinking all the desserts were made sugar free, otherwise why were they giving them to us diabetics.  That noon, after the meeting that broke up at 11, the diabetic alternative appeared. Pineapple cake was stripped of its sugared pineapple topping and given to us plain.

1:15 to 5:00 Free: A large expanse of time. I should write. Instead, I call friends, text my sister, read magazines, play angry birds, work puzzles, and sometimes entertain visitors.  On somedays, without notice, the therapy schedule flip flops to the afternoon. This makes the freed morning time useless because you never know when your therapist might pop in to take you to the gym giving you both morning and afternoon sessions.

5:00 to 6:00 Supper: a lighter meal than lunch. often a sandwich and soup. or a salad and chips.  Usually the dessert is pudding or a fruit cup.

6:00 to 10:30 Free: One more ample allotment of time. I should write here. But my sister visits almost every evening and how can I ignore her to do that?

10:30 to bed where I lie awake until 1, 2 or even 3. Another time to write. Instead I watch TV

There you have it. My schedule where I find time for writing here at rehab but I don't do it. Rehab is not unlike home in that way. I did not include the time I spend moping, dozing. sometimes crying.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Almost a Week Later

So much for the plan to come back later the first day and write more about my experience.  Here it is on Sunday, just now coming back. Since Monday I have had 10 hours of physical and occupational therapy. All you exercise enthusiasts are snickering at the paltry sum. I know it doesn't seem like much but it occupies a full morning or afternoon each weekday and is far more than I did at home were I avoided any movement that would cause me pain.

I still have pain though I have learned to ask for medication before my sessions. I have increased the weights on my arms from 1 to 3 lbs and on my ankles from 1 to 2. My standing time has increased from under 30 seconds to 1 and 1/2 minutes supported by the walker. Long way to go, but it took a long while to get to this point.

I have had knee problems for years. Bad knees run in the family. All the members of my immediate family have had knee replacements. I am stuck with the original deteriorated components not for sentimental value but due to the need to lose weight first, a seemingly impossible task for me.

In February, though, I was inspired by a tv commercial to go get some shots for my feet. I have had numbness in my feet which paired with my knee glitchiness have made me wary of driving. This clinic promised improvement through their "breakthrough" treatment and I decided to give them a try. The decision surprised my sister. I am usually so wary of doctors. She'd been suggesting cortisone shots for my knees for years. I had never complained much about my feet.

Doing the treatment series for my feet involved twice weekly shots (5) in my ankles and some electrical stimulus on my shins. February and March went by. Mary drove me to my appointments.

After experiencing some success in the foot numbness, I learned the clinic also did knee injections. I signed on for that series. Too bad I never investigated the success or composite of either injection set.  The ankle injections were an NSAID combination of some kind. The knee injections were supposed to stimulate the regeneration of cartilage.  In the long run neither of them worked. My ankles were constantly swollen. My knee pain diminished but never stopped.

During the process, I discovered my back pain was becoming my primary concern. It went for occasional discomfort to almost constant aching. Only when I was sitting in certain positions did it abate.  Climbing up stairs was excruciating.  Going down them was a little better, but scary.