In the things could be worse department

My rehab next door neighbor got word today that she is being discharged on October 28th. She’s been here since mid-August, after a stroke left her with right side motor issues as well as speech difficulty. She doesn’t know where she will going from here. She lives in a trailer that doesn’t have doorways wide enough for her wheelchair to navigate, and she needs some help with dressing and toileting. I’m not sure she’s able to deal with meals for herself just using her left hand. Her son hasn’t been especially helpful from what I’ve seen, and he’s her only family. Her money will only cover a few months of assisted living. I’ve seen the helplessness in her eyes, and the acceptance that things will be done that she has no control over or real input in solving. She worked as an ER nurse and understands what’s happening to her body even as she doesn’t know what happens to her next. It breaks my heart.

She’s not the only one. There are others in my pod who will be going or returning to assisted living after their limited time here in skilled nursing. I’m not sure if they are really aware of their situations; some talk in non sequiturs that are very hard to follow, if at all, and never about their condition. We also don’t see a lot of visitors here so I don’t know what kind of support they may have.

I’m so grateful that my body responded to therapy beyond what I thought possible at the beginning. I can walk limited distances, dress myself, use the bathroom, and wheel the chair around with dexterity. When I leave here, I’m going to a home that’s spacious and designed to accommodate my wheelchair and walker; even while I have lots to figure out and set up, I know it will work. It’s paid for, it’s mine, and I have funds in the bank to take me into my retirement as well as cover my immediate care needs. Everything above the waist is working just fine – brain, memory, speech. I have supportive family and a wealth of wonderful friends who make all the difference.

None of us expected to be here. We never could have planned it – you can’t plan it, either. You get hit by a car or a stroke or have a fall and boom, the doctor says you need rehab before you can go home. You could be here for a week or for months. You don’t have a “go bag” at home full of things you know you’ll need because, hey, you don’t know you’re coming. You don’t know what your body will do and what will cause pain or just simply be hard. Make it easier on yourself by having solid medical insurance coverage, and a medical power of attorney of record who can speak for you if you’re not able to speak for yourself. And even if you can speak for yourself, you’ll need a sounding board to make sense of options. They may not solve the problems, but they can help things from being worse.

Image credit: Photo 40802191 / Worse © Andreykuzmin |

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