One Year Ago Today I Moved

A year ago today I moved from my family home in Emerald Bay to an apartment at Meadow Lake. I hate moving and don’t do it very often if I can help it – all that sorting, packing, hauling, finding, unpacking, arranging, and rearranging of everything. But this move was necessary and timely, and I’m grateful beyond words that I paid attention when God kept opening a lot of doors one right after another last summer. Everything I needed was here, especially the cats. Emma did not want to get picked up and moved from the back of the corner kitchen cabinet, but we all made it safe and sound.

This has been a good place for me at the right time in my life. My home is spacious and comfortable – the largest apartment I’ve ever lived in – with a screened in porch for the cats and for me when I can manage it with the walker. I look out at grass, trees, a garden, and have blooming crepe myrtles outside my windows which make me happy.

I didn’t know when I moved here that I would be in a wheelchair within a matter of days, but this is exactly where I need to be. I have the tools I need to live independently – housekeeping, maintenance, lots of grab bars, wide doorways, roll in shower, and a medical alert system. Because I can no longer drive, I’m grateful that weekday transportation is available to doctors and grocery stores. We also get amazing meals once a day so I don’t have to cook much, though I have a full kitchen.

I’ve made friends here with residents and staff. Almost all the residents are much older than I am, but there are a few closer to me in age – and really, I don’t care. I’ve never been with a more friendly and welcoming group of people. In many ways it’s like living in a dorm and not apartments, because we all look out for each other. The hard part is the high turnover as neighbors die, move closer to children, or go to assisted living. There are nine apartments on my hall and six turned over in the last year, including mine.

Moving was hard but I’m glad I made this one.

House warming 9 months late

I had a house warming party yesterday, over 9 months after my actual move in August 2021. But what with rehab and covid, it wasn’t realistic to have it earlier. Meadow Lake made it easy, though, and provided a private lunch followed by photos and a visit to my apartment, which most of my friends hadn’t seen. It was hard figuring out who to invite since I know so many people and we picked a date that fell on a Monday when the club was closed to minimize conflicts. It was so much fun to see these dear friends and to have the chance to share some of my life with them. I hope those who weren’t able to make the open house are able to come at a better time for them for lunch and a visit.

Housekeeping came Monday morning and did a great job making things tidy. I spun around on the weekend and put away papers, threw out random stuff, and dusted everything – which isn’t particularly easy to do in a wheelchair. My neighbor came over and swept off the porch so there weren’t rolling balls of cat fur or dead bugs. The weather was perfect for having the door open, letting in fresh air, but the cats showed no interest in being safe on the porch when they could be running around under foot, in the closet, or under furniture. They didn’t escape and were happy to have the house to themselves again after everyone left.

Day One of Phase Three

Today was my first full day at Meadow Lake. I can’t say that it was exciting – lots of hurry up and wait – and it started at 3:30am when they woke me up to pee so they could get a urine sample to analyze to be sure I didn’t still have a UTI. Which of course the UTHealth people had already done, but okay. Meant putting on the ugly green gripper socks and navigating a new bathroom with grab bars in weird places, or rather, missing one that should be there. Then I stayed awake so they could come and take blood to test the same things that the other place tested on Monday. So glad I’m not insurance wondering why they’re being done so much. I figured I might as well stay awake after that.

Meadow Lake rehab and skilled nursing patients are intermingled in “neighborhoods” around a central common kitchen and lounging area with a big TV (unlike the very dinky 17″ ones in the rooms unless you upgrade yourself). Yesterday I ate in my room because apparently everyone was doing that, but usually the residents in each neighborhood come out and eat together around a big table. My neighborhood is Cypress (they’re all named for trees or plants, I think) and there were eight of us sharing breakfast and lunch. The food is okay and unlike the other places, diet soda is not a beverage option. Rats.

Today I met with the social worker, who asked questions about my home situation and my mood, and was I depressed. I also met with a doctor, who asked different questions about my medical situation, my meds, and was I depressed. I’m sensing a theme. I also spent a short time in therapy before the doctor tracked me down there and took me away. My wheelchair has something broken that makes a lot of noise when I roll around so they’re looking for another one for me. No one has cleaned or dressed the small open wound on my back, though the doctor looked at it and said she’d report it to the wound nurse. We’ll see about that.

I admit that the therapy space underwhelmed me, but I’ve been spoiled by spectacular clean and modern equipment at the hospital rehab hospital. But it’s serviceable and I can do a lot without fancy equipment. Very grateful to have my red Theraband to help me do arm work, since I didn’t spy anything to help with that. I only got to work on one machine to help with leg muscles before the doctor tracked me down. The therapist was putting weights on my ankles before I did “marching in place” in the chair, though I told her that marching was not in my repertoire. Yet, anyway. They’re coming to get me tomorrow about 10, I think, for another therapy session.

May be an image of bedroom

Apparently there will be a care coordination meeting in the next day or so with all these people who’ve asked me if I’m depressed and checked out my abilities to figure out a care plan for my stay here, and hopefully some estimate of how long that might be. Obviously it depends on how hard I work, how the muscles respond, and how time and healing work their magic.

The space, though, isn’t very attractive, and no matter how long I’m here, I need to perk it up. My sweet friend Phyllis in Ohio gifted me with a gorgeous quilt which is now on my bed, and it’s lifted my spirits so much – like being wrapped in a hug. She made it in 2011 from the AALL conference logo that year, which was my year as program chair. We called it “OUR Quilt” and now it’s mine, truly a gift of friendship and love at the best time ever.

Therapy Notes – Wed. 9/1/21

How did it get to be September? What happened to August? Oh wait, I spent it in the hospital and rehab. No wonder I’m confused. I haven’t been outside for weeks. But that will change next Tuesday, September 7th, when I will be discharged from Olympic Rehab Center and moved to Meadow Lake skilled nursing. Closer to home – in the backyard, almost – but not quite there. BUT it’s where I need to be. I’m not ready to go home yet, much as I want to. I’m not safe alone for things like walking to the bathroom, which, let’s face it, is a pretty basic thing. Not to mention actually getting in and out of bed. And putting on my own shoes isn’t something I can do myself yet. So I still have things to learn. They will come and get me in a transport van and whisk me off with all my accumulated stuff for the next stage of this journey.

Today I had a different PT therapist because Veronica was off. We started out walking, because I told her that’s what we usually do, to get the walking done while my legs are fresh and strongest. I walked 100 feet with two stops on the way. My right foot up to about the top of my sock was feeling really weird and clumsy – and trying to explain it, realized that it was because my foot felt tingly needles and pins, something it hadn’t felt in over a year. The right foot has been basically numb dead weight, with the ankle frozen and unable to move up and down. The left foot is a lot better, still with the frozen ankle problem but able to wiggle toes and bend them up and down. But today the right foot felt for the first time as though it’s starting to wake up a little. I didn’t really notice a functional difference, but could FEEL a difference.

Yesterday afternoon Veronica used a TENS unit to try some stimulation to the leg muscles, to remind them how they’re supposed to work. Today we did more of the same, with the electrodes placed differently. Not sure if yesterday’s session was responsible for the “waking up” feeling of today, but it was worth trying again to see if there’s more sensation tomorrow. Every day builds on what came before. And after the stim session, I walked over to the Nustep (about 13 feet) and did 15 minutes on my favorite machine.

OT time was the usual 15 minutes on the arm bike, but changing up a level and adding hills for extra effort. I really don’t like this thing, but on the other hand, my upper body is a lot stronger. We followed it with more arm weights with pulleys and with the rickshaw and pull down weights. I know, it’s the same thing I do every day – because they work. Then we did another pass at using the bathroom commode from the walker, which was easier except for the standing up part. The commode is lower and there’s only a grab bar on one side, so it was MUCH harder to stand up. But so far today I’ve done it twice! I’m still sticking with the bedside commode when I’m in bed because it’s not safe for me to be doing much walking or foot movements without my AFO splints in the shoes, and who wants to put on shoes just to go to the bathroom?

Roommate situation is not ideal but I’ll deal with it. She’s a nice woman who is in a lot of pain from a fall in her house where she was alone for a long time before someone found her. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” for realz. I feel sad for her, because it sounds as though her children and grandchildren don’t pay much attention to her, though that may be completely wrong and just a case of “poor me.” But she needs help and that’s what they do here. I’ve been urging her to speak up early when she has pain or needs help, not wait to not cause trouble. A tip from one patient to another. That’s how we roll.

Oh, and one more thing I want to remember – I have been making my transfers using a walker and not the wooden sliding board. It feels like graduation.

Surprise Decision

View from my new living room

I’m moving! This wasn’t anywhere on my list of things to think about this week. But after a tour this week, I’m not only moving but doing it very quickly, because the apartment is almost ready now and the housing market is hot. My house on the golf course should sell quickly. It’s not on the market yet but will be soon.

So where am I going? A first floor 2 bedroom independent living apartment at Meadow Lake, which is a “continuity of care” community in Tyler not far from where I live now. It’s 1400 square feet, much larger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in, and is spacious and nicely appointed. They are screening in the patio for me which will make the kitties happy. Which of course makes me happy. The plan includes all my utilities, weekly housekeeping, and one meal a day. Everyone I’ve met is friendly and welcoming, including some friends from my current community who moved out a few years ago.

It’s the right move at the right time. But I’m very conflicted because I love this house and it’s been in the family since 1985; my parents were the original owners. I spent time and money doing that renovation (remember how fun that was?) and replaced all the windows. It’s beautiful and comfortable; I have history here, and friends, and a job. But it’s just too much space for me and the girls, and I’ve been worrying about being here alone if there are medical issues to deal with.

Having made the decision, I’m excited about the move. I’m used to apartment living and used to moving, which is a good thing because I have a TON of things to get rid of before I go, and I need to do it fast. I’m concentrating on making keep/donate/sell/trash decisions and will hire a mover to pack for me since the cane is making it awkward and slow to move boxes around. It hurts my heart to let some of the things go because I know their history – things like great-grandma’s blue and white platters, and the sterling bread trays that belonged to another great-grandma. But the family doesn’t want them and it’s time for hard reality of letting them go.

And for those wondering about my job – no worries! I’m still planning to work at the church which will be 12 miles away instead of just a golf cart ride, but very doable, especially since I’m working from home at least one day a week. I can meet friends for lunch and play Mah Jongg, and come back for special events if I’m invited.

I have a lot to do in a very short time. Say a prayer!