A huge black face just inches in front of mine woke me from a nap here Respite Care. It was the face of a massive dog who belongs to one of the workers. The management allows staff to bring well behaved dogs to work with them. The dog is a hi-breed cross between a Bernese mountain dog, a standard poodle and I think a black lab. Her name is Carol and she's only one year old and an expert at checking out smells around the room while her owner does my bidding. At the end of her shift Carol's mom makes the rounds to all the dog-friendly rooms before going home so we inmates can say good night to the lovable, goofy dog who has quite the wardrobe.
Turns out respite care in the continuing care complex is really just a glorified room in assistance living only with occupational therapy and physical therapy brought in with a goal of getting me back in my own apartment. They originally said I'd be here 4-6 weeks but it's looking more like 2 or 3---fingers crossed---before l'll be able to meet the criteria that I have to meet. That involves being able to get in and out of bed by myself which is the hardest thing so far with my broken ribs but I'm doing it. And I need to be able to do all my own bathroom issues by myself which I'm already there. The physical therapist says I'm 95% there in terms of walking safely. She's already made an appointment with my niece to take me over to my apartment to evaluate what changes I'll need there. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to get a new mattress or box springs to lower my bed.
I thought while I'm here I might as well put on my investigative reporter hat and figure out what makes assisted living livable for those who have to stay. That's how I found myself sitting in a circle of 12 other residences singing 'When the Saints Come Marching Home' while stampimg my feet up and down on the floor and clapping my hands and doing all the others stuff that you might expect a music therapist to be leading residences to do in places like this. I've seen three of the musical therapists who work for the CCC and they are good musicians and singers. They've found a way to use their talents for good...and probably a more stable income than they'd get singing in bars. Some rich guy or organization provides a grant for their wages. I'm not sure but I suspect grant writing is a big deal around a continuing care complex that's a non-profit. I know they got grants to get a defibrillator over in one of the buildings and a superior germ/air cleaner for public spaces that cost over twenty grand.
As I sat in that circle while the young woman sang and played a guitar, though, I couldn't help wondering how the heck I got here and so suddenly. If someone told me I was gonna be staying here for the rest of my life with only 4 walls to stare at for most of the day I'd probably be just as cantankerous as my brother has been from time to time. I talked to a woman who has been here for 7 months and I asked her if it was a hard adjustment and she said, "No. I was ready to come but that doesn't mean it wasn't painful. I still had to leave a lifetime of memories behind in my house. But I was no longer safe there and I knew it." My brother with his short-term memory issues doesn't remember that he wasn't safe at home, so acceptance for him, rolls like waves out at sea---sometimes angry, sometimes calm. And I imagine sometimes he's also fearful, I know I've been flirting with that particular F word with the sudden loss of control in my life and having to depend on the good graces of others.
Not everyone there is as articulate as the woman I talked to up above. At lunch I sat at a table with 3 others and they were pleasant and curious about the new kid on the block. But when I asked what others did before retiring---a common ice breaker in independent living---none of them could come up with the answers. I felt really bad that I asked. But there was a sisterhood there for sure, of residents looking out for each other other. Making sure the ones who couldn't speak very loud but needed the attention of an aid got that attention, of making sure other people's walkers were parked out of the way and different little things that are very sweet moments. That tells me that no matter what stage of life we're in we're going to find humanity and compassion. Looking For the sweet moments in life has proven to be a little easier New Years resolution than I thought it would be.
I'll end this post with story I can't wait to tell everyone back at independent living. They have a shower room here where they take you twice a week to get hosed down like a poodle at a doggie foo-foo spa. I was in there tonight standing naked as The day I was born when the door opened and in walks a woman who I knew from independent living. It was 9:30 PM and she was looking for the exercise class that meets at 9:30 AM. Thankfully She didn't even seem to notice that I was naked because she couldn't believe she had to go back to bed again. "I had my breakfast and everything!" she said. "That was your bedtime snack," the shower attending replied. So many people have seen me naked since Friday the thirteenth when I fell that it didn't even freak me out to be having that conversation. I just told myself it was going to make good blog fodder.
I hope you heal fast, and I'm so glad you are being taken care of.ReplyDelete
Such a poignant post. We're all just a step away (metaphorically or literally) from needing help with our activities of daily living. You are making the best of it, which serves you well in your circumstances.ReplyDelete
I love what you say about shared humanity and compassion. We're in this together, and the curtain has dropped on all pretentiousness.
The pain from broken ribs is a unique challenge; we have to breathe, right? I've never had a broken rib, but I can imagine the challenges from just trying to take deep breaths, coughing or sneezing, or using those accessory muscles to get yourself out of bed. Hang in there Jean; we're all rooting for you and appreciate your updates!
I hope when I'm in the position you are now (if I must be and I suspect most of us will) I can write it with such charm, style and cleverness as you. I find this fascinating but the thing that most resonated was the speed with which you found yourself in this unit, so totally unpredicted. That's the kind of thing that scares the heck out of me -- not tying up the loose ends before the next phase. Knowing you, I'm quite sure you will be back "home" in two or three weeks versus the longer time. And meanwhile, we get to learn from your experiences.ReplyDelete
On another note, I don't know why it cracks me up that this big dog is called Carol. After all, I have a Lizzie. The kids have Charlie and I used to have Jack long ago. But somehow, Carol cracks me up!
Me too! All my dogs have had people names but Carol just doesn't fit.Delete
That is just so good to read, that you are progressing ahead of schedule! And that you have a dog checkin in on you - bonus!!!ReplyDelete
It sounds like you're working hard and making good progress, Jean. I'm sure you're anxious to be able to go home, but in the meantime, you're learning lots about respite care at your ccc. Having dogs come to visit and music therapy must be a day brightener for many. Reading about the sisterhood touched my heart. I often saw that when I worked with young children, too. It gives us hope that there are still many kind people in our world.ReplyDelete
Now for a big question: How's the food in respite care?
You continue to get well. I think you'll spring that joint in a couple more weeks!
Like an independent living, the food is the big conversation at all meals Only this is a little different is like what is that ?But it makes me happy That they serve dessert with 2 meals everyday.Delete
I hope you can get back to your apartment soon. These recent posts of yours were a wake up call for me and I am sure many other of your readers as well. Reading this post has helped me to process what my mom went through when she entered a nursing home at the end of her life. Heartbreaking stuff. Get better soon.....best, RobertaReplyDelete
I Just got word that I can go home tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! Guess I passed the test when the OT took me back to my apartment. There will be one more post from here, though, Already scheduled. And the OT and physical therapist and nurse will still come to my apartment to follow up until March.Delete
As my parents moved from Independent living to Assisted living to Nursing home living, I remember seeing kindness every step of the way. There were times when things didn't always run smoothly but there were so many instances of caring and thoughtfulness. Your post reminded me of that.ReplyDelete
I'm very happy that you've made so much measurable progress. You belong in Independent Living, for sure. I do think that this experience has been valuable, however; it has given you perspective and insight into a world that you heretofore only visited in a limited way. It has deepened your compassion and observation. And maybe your gratitude for your own situation, which is always a Good Thing.ReplyDelete
So true. I have lots of proactive ideas for making things easier on my nieces too.Delete
Just catching up and so glad for you that you are going home! :-) OH, and I laughed out loud at the dog named Carol. Like you, that just doesn't seem like a dog name, although our latest is named Maggie. LOL. Enjoy being back in your own space! Sending you a big cyber hug!ReplyDelete
Tomorrow!! Wow, I'm so happy for you, Jean! Singing the Hallelujah Chorus on your behalf.ReplyDelete
I see same way how my mom is always looking out for her roommate in this sub acute care rehab place & will ask us to do things for her, which used to annoy me, since I could barely take care of just one patient my mom's needs and she was adding other demanding patient on the list, & with my own limitation it was so much harder, but I understand how it was making my mum feel better when she was helping other patient via her children, so maybe was making her feel little bit in control that way. Any how I am glad now soon you will be going back to your apartment & you checked out respite care right now when you are still mentally fit & can raise the bar of that area improved & be a voice for those who can't do it for themselves.
I'm sure you're right about your mom feeling more I control when she can help other through you guys.Delete
Dogs can be so uplifting just saying, good to hear some good newsReplyDelete
Glad to hear you're on the mend, Jean, and going to go home soon. As for the dog named Carol---I had a cat named Fido. :)ReplyDelete
How that dog got the name Carol has to be an interesting story (find out before you leave!) I pretty much figured you'd be outta there before they predicted, what with all of us thinking we know you now we've been reading your blog for a while. 8>)ReplyDelete
had to laugh at "good blog fodder" oh how many times I've said those words! So damn glad to hear you're 95% on your way home Jean!!ReplyDelete
Congratulations on going back to your apartment!ReplyDelete
The mention of kindness and looking out for each other at the Assisted Living Centre really warmed my heart. Somedays, it seems so very dark as if there is no humanity left. ~ Libby
So, Friday the 13th did prove to be Bad Luck for you my Friend... but I'm so glad to hear you feel the level of Care at all stages of Life there will be properly meted out and give you some insight into what it's like, while you only need it temporarily. My Mom, when in Hospice, told me of being hosed off like a Dog at a Canine Spa, so it tickled me that you used the same description. Mom also ended up relying upon a Sling Lift to transfer her, which she said made her feel like a Chicken... I never quite understood what that meant for her, perhaps she meant Chicken as in Scared of being hoisted by a Sling and mebbe getting dropped? I know she got compassionate Care and her Placement, like that Woman you talked to, was something she also came to terms with, knowing she wasn't Safe anymore living on her own and that the level of Care for us Adult Kids, had exceeded our capacities.
Growing old is not for sissies!Delete
When my mom was in hospice, I hated being in the room when they moved her with that airborne sling. But I must admit that she always had a big grin on her face while being hoisted up in the air, treating it like some kind of amusement park ride. And the saying about growing old is absolutely so on point. Every day brings new insights about it.Delete
I wanted to sit on my bed and have my feet touch the floor. Not so with new beds! So I went on Amazon and found adjustable bed legs and changed out the legs. Problem solved and I was able to keep the new mattress I liked.ReplyDelete
I've seen those adjustable legs And I think they would work with some beds but not mine. I've got to call the mattress company this afternoon. I think I can just swap out the box frame. I got a 6" frame and I think they come in 2 s and 4 s.Delete
Now you've experienced the next level of care, go well and try not to return :-)ReplyDelete