Monday, March 06, 2006


Well, it's not rehab the way you are thinking, it's more like old people's rehab for broken bones and lost lives. My mother has had her third broken leg part in four years (well her same knee was operated on twice, the 2nd time, this time, being a full replacement) and the second time she has gone to this same rehab center, chosen by her for its convenience to her apartment, which of course is very important because she jogs back and forth several times a day ... not.

Well she arrived this evening, feeling stir crazy after being in the hospital for three days, and they didn't immediately give her a wheelchair. Normally that might be procedure, but remember, she this is her third time in four years, almost to the day, so she is an expert wheelchair user. First thing after I arrived, toting her suitcase and knitting, she asked me to go into the hallway to take a stray wheelchair.

Now this rehab center is also an old age home where most of the residents are ancient and cannot move without the aid of another human. They are completely bedridden, and have to be taken from bed to their wheelchair using a sling, and their diapers changed around midnight. This is not my mother. She is 64 in 2 weeks and quite chipper. A real pistol. And except for her week right leg, she is in pretty good health, also in spite of 3 packs of day since she was a teenager.

So she was thinking that those other people wouldn't miss their wheelchair and the nurse would find them a new one in the morning. I, however, felt uncomfortable just taking it so I found the head nurse and asked her politely if my mother could have a wheelchair sooner rather than later. I made a strong, compelling argument that would stand up in a court of law. I explained how expert she was in wheelchair usage, being that she's used one three times in the past four years. I explained how happy it would make her to not have to ask for help to go to the bathroom. And I explained how it would help the nurses if they could focus their attention on other more needy patients while my mother could wheel herself around, get her own tea and her own paper towels when she spilled her denture water. But no, I was given the polite "we will try" speech and returned to give my mother the bad news - no wheelchair until tomorrow.

Not one to take no for an answer, she ordered me to move the visitor's chair next to her bed, where she swiftly transfered herself (but not without a hard grimace) to the chair - a vinyl padded armchair, with no wheels. She pulled herself, using her one good leg, and her arms against the bed and wall, until she jerked herself into the hallway and down the hallway, until someone noticed what was happening. I cowered in the room, unable to stop laughing, but still afraid that she would be put in lock-up, or whatever they do to disorderly old people.

Soon enough an aide found her, and I overheard a conversation about there being no tissues in the room, and how she had to come out to find a box of tissues. In less than a minute my mother was wheeling herself back into her room in her brand new wheelchair, grinning with success, and happy that she could go to the bathroom in peace.


Dhskee said...

Oh, Jill, this explains so, so much.

Anonymous said...

Well, my dear cousin I know your pain all too well, after all our mothers were cut from the same cloth. But in the end isn't ALL about our parents happiness.