The nurse looked at me as I tried to lift my left leg out of the hospital bed while the nurse had to lift my right leg slowly and place it over the side of the bed and smiled and she said, “You know being in your 60’s isn’t old anymore. You aren’t really old until you are in your 80’s or 90’s.” I held onto her as I tried to hop with my good left leg, onto the portable raised potty next to my bed. I cannot give you any details about the why and wherefores explaining the last few weeks and how I ended up in the hospital. Someday, I will be able to explain, so please keep reading my blog each week. I can probably tell you this however; I was in the hospital for several days and then went to a rehab facility. I was in terrible pain and still have pain.
I will say one thing…. I am so grateful to all of the kind, gentle, careful, thoughtful nurses and nurse’s aids and doctors and technicians that work everyday and night with seriously ill patients, some patients who will not survive and some who will keep improving to live happy lives. Somehow these dedicated health workers continue to their jobs in an efficient manner with a smile and a caring expression; often working round the clock helping others. Thank you, thank you and thank you again, for all of your help and constant kindnesses that you bestowed on me.
What the last three weeks have shown me was a prolonged glimpse into the real world of old age. It isn’t fun to be bedridden and unable to get out of bed or to even turn over on your own without help. It is pretty terrible to have to call for help when nature calls: and two nurses have to stand and hold you up so that you don’t collapse while doing your business in the plastic portable high chair of a potty that was placed right next to the hospital bed. I was given the choice of a plastic bowl that was to be placed under me in bed, or a diaper to wear or thirdly, the plastic portable high chair potty which would carry the added pain involved of trying to stand, but which I preferred to the diaper or the plastic bowl. Then there is the continuation of the humiliation of the basic hospital gowns. BTW who ever came up with that name…. hospital gowns, really??? A gown should be a sparkly something that Miss Universe wears while walking on the stage at the Miss Universe contest. The U.S.A. has put men on the moon and now space probes on Mars and you mean to tell me no one has been able to make a decent hospital gown that is easy to remove without exposing one’s derriere? By the third day of my hospital stay while still in a great deal of pain, a therapist arrived at my bedside with the duty of showing me the possibility of walking with the help of a walker. It finally occurred to me that I might put in a request for a clean hospital gown while adding a second gown that could be worn like a coat, thereby covering my backside. This would eliminate the possibility of any persons who happened to park their cars in the garage next to the hospital (which was the view from the window of my hospital room) from having the shocking experience of confronting my fanny in their rearview (pardon the pun) mirror.
While in the hospital, I was ex-rayed, MRI’d, ultra-sounded, poked, pricked, blood taken, lifted, wheeled, oxygen added, blood pressure tested, fever checked, medicine given and constantly physically checked by really the nicest, sweetest women and men one could ever meet, (and men… who might be reading this)…. all of the lady nurses were really, really, pretty. The male doctors were also very cute. A nice place to be hurt or ill if the occasion arises, at least there were attractive people gazing at you day and night.
The most difficult, part of my journey into my visit to old age (besides the pain and the inability to walk and or to do things for one’s self) was the second part of my journey to the rehab facility. The facility was clean and I had a large room and a large bathroom with a high-seated toilet. The furniture was old and looked like it had been in use since the early 1950’s. The colors of the furniture and the walls were grey and green. Men and women in their 80’s and above were walking slowly with their walkers, past my open door. No one was smiling or talking. The food that arrived for dinner looked a lot like mush. It was supposed to be chicken potpie but if I could have taken a photo of the dinner, you wouldn’t have recognized it as food. It was a very depressing visit and I knew that instead of getting better I would be feeling worse if I had to stay more than a few days. I couldn’t sleep after having been in bed now for several days and I was placed in a room that was right next door to a man who was nearly deaf. He didn’t talk to people, he yelled and screamed at them. His yelling continued day and night into the early morning hours, each day. The rehab facility was more like an old people’s home from the 1960’s than a rehab facility. People played bingo in the main lobby, however, most patients stayed in their rooms. I made a vow to myself that I have to make some sort of plan, so that I will never have to be placed in a similar facility in the future. It isn’t a pretty or a happy place to exist.
I am home now and yes, there is still some pain and issues to be faced in the future; but what a joy to be in my own apartment, with my own furniture and lovely paintings on my walls. My oldest son is staying with me for a while and he is a wonderful help. My youngest son arrived yesterday for a short visit to a rousing welcome from all of the pets. I get to gaze out of my almost floor to ceiling windows while watching the world go by. Yes, it is good to be alive, surrounded by my children, pets, treasured items, good books, all of the things that make me, me. This last week I spoke with some of my relatives by phone and by text, as well as several of my very good friends, old and new. So I took the journey into old age. As Bette Davis said, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” Still I am so grateful and glad to continue on this very interesting, journey called, Life.
Until Next Week…