CT Fall, Part III
Yup . . . the antiquated one. That thing should have been in a museum!
It had a hand crank at the foot to adjust the upper torso elevation. The other bed was electronic and had push button elevation adjustments . . . several ways.
So the CNA cranks the handle at the bottom, and says, “How’s that?”. My butt is sliding down the bed, and I’m trying to say, “Too much”, but nothing comes out because the scene is so surreal that I think I’ve descended to the seventh circle of hell and am speechless.
I speak finally, and ask her if I can get in the other bed, since it’s vacant.
She says, “I’ll have to ask tomorrow . . . they just told me to put you in this bed tonight”
As my butt slides down further, she leaves . . . but before she does, she hands me a call button.
As I’m sliding further, I press the call button. After what seemed like a long time, another CNA comes in and says, “What’s the problem?” (I don’t like the tone, but no point in saying so).
I ask her to crank it down some. She does, and leaves without comment.
Now my upper torso is almost completely horizontal, so I press the call button again.
The same CNA comes in again, and says, “Now what?” (definitely don’t like THAT tone and I’m thinking, “Look, you minimum wage queen” . . . CNA’s probably make more than minimum wage, but whatever they make, THESE gals were OVERPAID . . . “if it weren’t for me and the other patients here, YOU wouldn’t have a job at all”. Of course, I don’t say anything . . . am still incredulous.
The bed gets cranked again, the CNA says, “How’s that?”, and I say, “Fine” just to get the moron out of my sight.
Oh . . . one more thing. The CNA, before she leaves, gives me a lecture on how busy she is and not to keep calling her. Now I’m descending to the eighth circle of hell, and am coming real close to saying, “Just get the hell out of here before I put you over my knee and give you a few swats”.
This ain’t gonna’ work.
About this time, our caregiver and Miss Lynn visit.
My first comment? “Get me the hell out of here”
Our caregiver says, “Why don’t you try it for a day or so, and if you still feel the same way after that, we’ll take you home.” They visit and leave.
Hmmmmm . . . makes some sense I guess, so I’ll give it a shot I say.
But if I’m going to stay in this torture chamber, it’s going to be ON MY TERMS, NOT THESE CNA’s.
Now my Marine Corps adjust and adapt training kicks in.
That old saying, “Possession is nine tenths of the law” prevails here. So I struggle out of the ancient bed and climb in the new one.
After playing with the adjusting buttons and listening to the whrrrrr of the electric motors, the first smile crosses my face.
There were two TV’s in the room . . . one at the foot of each bed, mounted on the wall. I couldn’t get the TV at the foot of the ancient bed to work, but the one at the foot of the modern bed DID work.
The modern bed mattress was egg-crate foam . . . good for preventing bed sores.
So . . . push button adjustable, a TV that worked, egg-crate foam mattress . . . MOVE to THAT bed, Bob.
That night, I didn’t sleep at all because I was so upset. But at least I was comfortable and could watch TV. Didn’t press the call button anymore 'cause I didn’t want to get hassled for changing beds. No CNA visited for the rest of the night anyway.
Next morning . . . a new CNA comes in, but says NOTHING about me being in the other bed. That “Possession . . .” thing, I guess. “Squatter’s rights” and all that.
That previous evening, my caregiver had given me a few things from home. After I switched beds later that night, I laid those things on the old bed.
The “morning CNA” scolded me for having those things on the other bed: “You can’t keep your stuff on the other bed”. What do I do? Ignore her, of course.
I continued to put more of my junk on the other bed and never heard any more about it.
That second day, I explored more of the room.
Had it’s own bath . . . toilet, sink, call button, and shower wand for bathing sitting on the toilet. Permanent grab bar, too.
Out in the room was a sink and counter. Plus a closet.
That day I overheard a conversation that was enlightening.
The guy in the room across the hall apparently had the same first reaction that I did: “Get me out of here.”
He was telling this to the Head Nurse. Her reply: “OK . . . you can leave, but you need to know this. If you have to come back here, Medicare WILL NO LONGER PAY for your stay. You’ll be charged for it.”
Hmmmm . . . a hostage situation. All the more reason to make this stay ON MY TERMS.
As I settled into my room, I had it more and more like a “MAN-CAVE”.
One other thing I found out. My room was a “quarantine room”. I didn’t have any kind of contagious infection . . . apparently that’s the only room they had left.
As a quarantine room, it had its OWN ventilation. IOW, it had its own air conditioner, with the controls OPEN right there in the room. I could make it as cold as I wanted . . . and did.
Now, other than the wisecracking CNA’s (which I later defeated and I’ll get to that in a second), this was becoming at least tolerable: a comfortable bed, as close to a MAN-CAVE as possible, TV, and Air.
The CNA’s. I befriended the Head Nurse and the Head CNA (people like to talk about themselves, so I’d wheel down to the front desk, where they were and ask them questions about themselves). Got on a first name basis with them. That way, whenever I wanted something, I could say to a CNA, “Well, Doris said it was OK”, or “Mary said it was OK”. These smart aleck CNA’s soon learned I had some stroke and I never had a problem with them again.
Physical/Occupational Therapy (Some of this is prolly not news to you.)
Now the purpose of being in a rehab facility (of course) is to . . . “rehabilitate” yourself. In my case, it was to learn how to walk again.
To that end, there were daily sessions with PHYSICAL THERAPISTS and OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS.
For all the drawbacks of this place, these people were professional, skilled, and a pleasure to work with . . . albeit the Physical Therapists were a huge PITA (I’ll 'splain why I say that in a second).
Each morning one of them would come down to my room and then wheel me (later they made me wheel myself . . . which was expected) to their LARGE exercise room.
My understanding of the difference between Occupational and Physical Therapy is this: Occupational focuses on upper body strength, IOW, from the waist up. Physical focuses on lower body strength (like . . . walking), IOW, from the waist down.
My upper body strength is just fine, so the Occupational Therapy was a breeze. I actually liked it.
Now the Physical Therapy was a different story. I knew I needed it, but it was very very difficult and intense. I didn’t like it at all.
These people PUSH you to do things you didn’t know you could do (or WANTED to do, for that matter).
For example, they have the classic walking rails:
(This is one thing that the movies portray accurately . . . it’s a dramatic struggle just to take one step).
This was the dialog after I had struggled to make the steps to the far end:
PT: "Now walk back."
Me: What? I can’t take another step."
PT: "Yes you can."
Me: "No, I can’t."
PT: "Yes, you can."
Me: "Look, if I try to take another step, I’ll fall. I can’t even turn around to take the step."
PT: “Try . . . and I’ll catch you if you start to fall.”
Realizing she wouldn’t let me alone 'till I tried . . .
Me: "OK . . . but when I get back to the end where my wheelchair is, I’m sitting down."
So when I got back to my wheelchair, I plopped down. She promptly took me by the gait belt, raised me up, kicked the wheelchair away, and said, “Your wheelchair will be waiting for you at the other end. Now walk to it.”
Can’t remember the number exactly, but a PT told me that for every week of not using the legs, you lose 40% or so of the muscle mass.
I already had chicken legs back when I was using my legs, but now I had been inactive for about four weeks. I could wrap one hand around my thigh now.
If it weren’t for my upper body strength (I could hold myself up on those parallel bars), I don’t know how I could have made it down those rails.
There were some folks there (stroke victims, for example) who didn’t even have any upper body strength, yet the PT’s got them to go down the rails (watching them do it made you grimace).
Those PT’s know all the tricks of the trade, and I swear they would find a way for a person with NO LEGS to walk down the rails.
When I got there, I could hardly sit in the wheelchair for a few minutes, and then only with a back brace. I certainly couldn’t raise myself up and grip a rollator.
When I left, I was able to do without the back brace, AND walk while holding on to the rollator.
I exercise now . . . not because it will get me out of the wheelchair (IT WON’T), but because I don’t ever want my leg muscles to atrophy like they did. I now have “thunder-thighs” and my legs are bigger (with muscle mass) than they’ve ever been.
My experience at a rehab facility was not as miserable as yours (though barely tolerable). The place I was at had a sister facility down the road, and I heard horror stories, similar to your account, about that place.
I would say that 9 out of 10 rehab places are wretched places as you described. I just lucked out and got the 1 out of 10 that could be manipulated.
As far as the doctors saying you had a heart attack . . . those things leave unmistakable tracks, so I would guess that’s what the doctors were reading.
The kidney failure? Did you have a UTI? Are you able to go? Was it just one, or both?
Any kidney stones?
Did they do CT Scans on them?
Whatever it was, you must have somehow reversed it if you’re back to “100% normal” now.
Good for you. You’re a strong gal.