Strange how quickly we can fall into different patterns in life. Don's been in the hospital seven days now and already my days are in a rhythm that dovetails with his. By eight o'clock I'm up to shower and have a Slim-Fast for breakfast before taking off for the hospital on the other end of town. I stop for a Starbucks's caramel macchiato when I'm almost there and carry it into the hospital and by the time I've reached the fifth floor it's gone. The empty cup gets tossed in the waste basket by the guest lounge but not before reading the bit of writing that is printed on the side. Today it said: "Secret santas and soup-kitchen elves walk amongst us. Are you one of them? If so, we'd just like to say, 'Way to go.' That's what the season is all about." I'm not one of those but I second that thought although I was slightly disappointed that their usual bit of philosophy got set aside for that holiday message. Sometimes their mystic words stay with me all day long.
The mornings go fast in Don's room with succession of professionals coming and going. Today it started with two physical therapies who got him out of bed and wheeling his chair up and down the hall. Then the head of the rehab department came down to talk to us about the possibility of moving Don to their floor to get him stronger for transfers before releasing him. The social worker came next to interview me about our needs at home. "No, we don't have steps." "Yes, we have grab bars." As soon as she left Don had urgent business to do in the bathroom which took two men and a truck to get him on the toilet. His lunch came next and then a nap.
I went down to the café while Don slept. Chicken again. Already I'm bored with hospital food. Then I took a side trip to the gift shop to read the magazine covers before heading back upstairs. The afternoon was quiet as I read Barack Obama's book, "Dreams From my Father" until it was time to order Don's dinner and go back home to a sleepy, old dog who looked as if he hadn't moved all day long.
Every day I go down to the hospital thinking this will be the day Don will come home. After all, it was only suppose to be one night in the hospital. But INR readings were keeping him hostage at first and now they've added his physical ability to get back to his 'base line' as a second criteria to meet. Base line for Don is independent transfers. Part of the trouble at the hospital is that all the bathroom grab bars are set up for left side disabilities and Don is right side disabled. I requested a room change thinking they'd have reverse set ups in other rooms like they do every other room in motels. But this beautiful, brand new hospital has absolutely identical rooms through out. Identical rooms, I'm told, are supposed to make the nursing staff more efficient. Maybe so, but it sure puts all the right side disabled stroke survivors at a disadvantage and in Don's case it's making him look more caregiver-intense than he'll be at home.
Tomorrow we're expecting another snow storm to come through so I'm not looking forward day eight's commute.
Jean Riva ©