Some good, some harder

The best part of today was getting an in-patient visit from my brilliant hair stylist for my first haircut in 12 weeks. It wasn’t possible to go purple again, though it would have been really fun, but oh, the relief of seeing my normal style again as wads of gray hair cluttered the floor. Would have loved the chance to rinse out all the little hairs but my shower day isn’t until Saturday. Alas, I will have to make do. It will be here soon and at least I look more like myself.

My PT rollator adventure was not uneventful. That thing really is fast, and I asked my PT if we could put a weight on the little seat to make it feel more stable until I get more used to how the handles work. That’s how I learned to walk with a regular walker, decreasing the weight until it was just the walker itself. I started on hardwood, moved to carpet, swung around a couch and came back to hardwood to get back to the wheelchair.

That’s when I got flummoxed. I turned the walker which went FAST and my right foot, which always feels heavy and clumsy, got tangled with the rear right roller, and I fell into my wheelchair. Not on my butt, but sort of my shoulder. The good news is I was wearing a gait belt and didn’t hurt myself, but it shook me. At least I didn’t have to do the bar standing leg exercises.

But I didn’t get out of doing them sitting down later during OT. Everyone always wants me to march in place and get those knees up. Except they don’t GO up, even when I’m squeezing and trying my damnedest. They’ve told me that I need to keep doing it to fire those muscles in hopes that they will decide to wake up and actually work. I watch other people easily raise their knees high and want to trade mine in for newer models but alas, I’m stuck with stupid knees that don’t get the message. I’ve been concerned because I don’t want my inability to march in place at will to be a reason I can’t go home. I know some things I need to be able to do but they are functional things like “put on shoes by myself” not exercise goals. Think I’ll ask about that tomorrow.

My nifty device to hold my shoe in place arrived today. I’m not sure how it works yet but I’ll try it tomorrow – and will bring it to OT in the afternoon if I can’t figure it out myself. I also got two new pairs of ugly super wide diabetic shoes (the ones I’ve been wearing are old and stretched out) and a new folding walker that’s the same model I used at the Olympic Center. It’s a wee bit wider than the standard one but not as large as bariatric models, and I liked it. My room looks like a medical supply room, with the AFO’s, wheelchair, two walkers, orthopedic shoes, and AFO shoe device, plus my blue leg lifter, a reacher tool, sock aid, and a clever toileting aid. Don’t ask about that.

Therapy continues

More of the usual stuff – walked to PT in the morning, did standing leg exercises at the bar (kick forward, march in place, kick back, kick sideways, bend up, squats). Then did more leg exercises seated in the chair, and 15 minutes on the bike, followed by another spin around with a rollator, this time on carpet and not the hard hallway floor. That sucker really is fast and I found my arms were really tired from squeezing the handles too hard trying to make it slow down, even though I know that you are SUPPOSED to do that by gently squeezing the brakes. Yeah, like I’m going to remember that when I’m trying not to have the thing fly away from me. It’s a good thing I have a while to get used to this because it ain’t as easy as it looks when you watch a bunch of old people all using rollators to scoot around their space. I asked my PT about her guestimate for my discharge, and she said probably 2.5-3 weeks. That puts it right where I had it myself, and I’m now targetting October 15th as my date

OT was this afternoon, and again, more of the same – arm bike, hand weights, practice standing up/sitting down, and standing up with a walker batting a ball with someone else holding on with only one hand. Okay, I used to think that would be impossible but it didn’t seem that hard, which tells me (again) to remember to celebrate the small incremental changes and not get bogged down in the hard scary new stuff.

I love my kitties and it made my heart so happy to see them, but it’s even harder to be back in this place now. I just want to be done with it and moving into the next stage – but my body isn’t ready. There are things I need to learn, to strengthen, to figure out physically to make sure I can manage on my own at home. Will I need to hire home health? What about a Visiting Angel? How do I interview for that while in rehab? If I wait til I’m home, how can I get clean? I can’t shower on my own yet and probably won’t for some time.

I don’t feel that it’s okay to cry and get depressed over what I’ve lost, in part because I don’t know what’s just missing for now and what’s permanently gone. That’s going to take me a year to know. I have to suck it up and power through no matter what. It’s not enough to just want to be home and cuddle those furry girls. I have to be ready to do it and not risk having to come back into residential rehab.

I’m in limbo rehab land now. I’m not in Emerald Bay anymore, with that active community of friends, golf, events, parties, Mah Jongg, and I’m not really at Meadow Lake, which also has an active community that I’ve barely discovered. Rehab land has a cast of residents (aka patients) who have a wide variety of problems, plus a revolving cast of care givers. We residents don’t know each other except the bits revealed as we notice that this one is deaf without hearing aids and that one has dementia, or the other one had a stroke and has limited movements, or another broke a hip in a fall. Meal times are almost completely silent, and the food isn’t all that appetizing so we don’t want to linger anyway. We mostly stay in our rooms except for therapy time with TVs blaring and interruptions to get meds or have our vitals checked yet again. And of course, in therapy, we see how very different we are. It’s isolating and lonely. Guess that’s great incentive to work hard and get home stronger and able to stay there.

Home visit – with cats!

I went back to my apartment today after seven weeks away. Okay, seven weeks and one day, not that I’m counting. Alas, I couldn’t stay; I was there with my physical therapist to do an assessment of how it will work for me when I do go home – what do I need to get, move, rearrange. That was the purpose but I was distracted by wanting to see and love on Ellie and Emma, who were not at all sure about the wheelchair but were lured by Mommy’s voice and familiar smell. It was hard to leave them.

The best part of the apartment is that there really isn’t that much that we have to do to get it ready for me. Some furniture rearrangement, moving rugs, seeing if we can get taller legs for two chairs so they are easier for me to transfer and get out of. Putting something under the recliner to keep it from moving when I’m getting up or down. The shower chair is good; I need a toilet lift with arms to help me get up, but not a drop down grab bar. Clothes in the closet need to be rearranged so frequently worn things are on lower bars. The kitchen is workable though the microwave over the stove might as well be in Siberia. I’ll talk to the PT tomorrow to see what I forgot and/or what she noticed that I didn’t, and what that means for what’s left of my recovery before the move. Of course, there will be continued work AFTER that, but it will happen in familiar territory.

What’s hard now is the open endedness of time here. In the hospital, it was clear that I’d be there until surgery, then a few days, then rehab. Olympic Center rehab gave me a defined discharge date at the end of the first week, so I knew how to factor the time. But this place just seems endless because there is no idea when I can leave, although I know it’s coming. It could be so much worse, I know. My next door neighbors are not in good shape and may not be getting better fast enough to stay longer than whatever Medicare decides is their alloted time – and she’s not sure where she will be going after that. Me, I know I have a great apartment with excellent adaptive design and two beautiful cats just waiting for me. So I’m going to try to stop complaining and just concentrate on getting stronger.

In OT today I had to step up on a shallow stair. Actually, not even step UP, just put my foot on the stair and put it back. It was impossibly hard and I cried at how hard it was to do something so simple that I took for granted two months ago. I think I’m doing well and then something like that just stops me in my tracks. I’ve come a long way but there is such a long way to go and I can’t give up just because it’s hard. I want to get back every bit of functionality that I can, which means working really hard all the time. It’s tiring.

In PT today, in addition to walking and leg exercises and the bike, I tried using a bright pink rollator walker. I see so many people use them but had no idea how very light they were to use and how FAST they go, which means using the brake to slow it down so it doesn’t fly away from me. I didn’t think I would be moving to a rollator at this point in my recovery – my walking isn’t that steady – and am not sure I’m comfortable with it, even while having a rollator would be a lot easier than a wheelchair and a folding walker. Well, it will be easier after I learn how to use it properly. One little spin in the hallway doesn’t do it by itself. But again, it’s a step. At least I don’t have to try to step up on it.

Care Plan Meeting

My meeting was scheduled for 1:30pm today in the front conference room. People who I was expecting were the head of therapy, dietician, director and assistant director of nursing, and the MDS coordinator, plus me. Who actually showed up? Me, therapy lady, and MDS person. The dietician was off today and we never heard from the nurses, which was disrespectful at best.

The meeting wasn’t actually as helpful as I thought it would be, primarily because tomorrow is my home evaluation visit; Therapy will know more about what I need to be able to do to be safe there than we know now. But I asked a boatload of questions anyway. No target discharge date was given; that may be available after tomorrow’s home visit.

Devices and tools including grab bars, wheelchair, walker, shower chair and other things but not the AFO shoe device I need will be ordered by therapy for me and delivered here, then moving down with me when I’m discharged. I want to be able to just use a walker in the apartment but have a problem getting from my bed to the bathroom without wearing my shoes. Either I adjust to transferring to a wheelchair and using that, or I have to put on my shoes at, oh, 11pm when I have to pee.

Therapy is going to let me look at bed rails to see if they would work without my needing an adjustable bed. The patient next door to me has some in his room, or at least I think they’re the same thing, and if so I think they’ll work. But I’m hoping they’ll let me try them out at least overnight so they can order them for me if needed. Way cheaper than renting a bed if it can help me sit up easily. I won’t know until I try – and I’d rather not have to rent a bed (and get sheets for it) if I have other options.

If something goes wrong after I get home – if I realize I’m not really ready to manage being there – I will have an option to go back here for additional rehab. Of course, I’d rather not. Once I’m home, I want to be able to stay there. I could hire home health or visiting angels, and will have to hire someone anyway to help me with showers, laundry, and things I haven’t thought of yet.

I did have some comments for the missing medicine people but they’ve already been relayed by the MDS Coordinator. Namely, I’m getting inconsistent doses of Trazodone; that needs to be checked and corrected. The timing of my Lasix second dose is way too late in the day to be practical, and they really REALLY need to stop giving me Miralax except when I ask for it.

I’m sick of this place. I’m ready emotionally and mentally to move home. I’ve been gone seven weeks today and that’s the longest I’ve been away ever. Of course I say that every week and it keeps getting longer, but sometime hopefully soon it will stop and I can go home.

Family Visit This Weekend

My wonderful sister-in-law Cece came for a visit this weekend, and it was sooooo nice to see her! She was last here in July helping me pack up umpteen boxes of stuff to give away before my move. Saturday afternoon we mostly sat around chatting, first in my room and then outside on a porch getting some lovely air. We ordered take-out Chinese food from Liang’s for dinner (yumm!) which was a delicious break from institutional food. She spent the night with an old childhood friend from Houston, went to church with them this morning, and came back about 3pm for some more visiting. I took the walker for a stroll around my “neighborhood” which is about 80 feet (I think) so she could see my walk, and she brought me dinner from Whataburger. More Yumm!

I’ve asked Cece and my brother to come help me move home when my discharge date comes, which I’m guestimating to be in another 3 weeks. I’ll know more about timing after my Care Plan meeting tomorrow. But I’m definitely thinking about going home more, and what I either need to know or know how to manage. Putting shoes on in a big part of that. Yesterday I managed to get the left one on after 25 minutes, but the right one was impossible. Something must be done, because doing it myself would require 3 hands and I only have two. I did some online research and found something that I think will work. It should hold my shoe securely while I wrestle the AFO splint and foot inside. I’m going to ask therapy to include this device in the list of aids and tools they get me before I leave.

I spent a lot of time today with my legs elevated because legs and feet are super puffy with water retention. The nurse wrapped both legs in Ace bandages for compression, which should be removed before I go to bed. But since they gave me a diuretic about 6pm, I’m sitting on the bed with my shoes on for as long as possible; I know I”ll have to go to the bathroom at least once soon, and I also know I can go to the bathroom on my own wearing shoes instead of the stupid green gripper socks. I hope I’ll be able to find someone to take them off when I’m ready to actually try to sleep.

I have a busy week ahead. PT and OT every day. Care plan meeting on Monday. Home Assessment visit on Tuesday. Haircut on Thursday (yayyyyyy Malorie for making a nursing home visit!). And rest. I need to remember to rest. It’s also part of my healing – that and seeing kitties on Tuesday.