Thursday, July 23, 2015

You can go back

Did you ever go back to your first school? I got to do that a few years ago. My mother-in-law still lives across the street from my grade school. I was visiting her on election day and went in with her to vote. Everything looks so much smaller than I remember it. I thought the gym was huge, we used to play 4 basketball games at once in there. I thought the whole school would line up after lunch in that giant gym. But when I went back as an adult 20 people and 10 voting machines filled up the whole room.

That's how I felt this Monday when I went back to the hospital where I spent the bulk of last summer......  I stepped off the elevator on the ninth floor and waited patiently at the nurses station while they were doing their paperwork. Then my favorite nurse walked around the corner.....

Let me digress and tell you why she was my favorite nurse. First, there was a Saturday morning where a physical therapist came to take me to the gym. The unusual thing about this was that it wasn't on the schedule that was on the whiteboard in my room. He said it didn't matter if anyone came to look for me the nurses would send them to the gym. But when I was in the gym for five minutes Lioudmila came storming into the gym. She picked up the intercom and said "Hello security - I found him." She then grabbed my therapist by the collar, which was awkward because he was 18 inches taller than her, and just said if you ever take one of my patients I'll have you killed.....  Second, she often join me for breakfast. Not just to past the time with me, but she would circle extra things on the menu so that the next day she can have dessert with me. And yes her name is Lyudmila. And I told her this true story that when my daughter asked me what her runner-up name was my wife quickly snapped back Lyudmila, thinking that is the ugliest name we can come up with. We even told the story to my nurse Lyudmila in front of my daughter. She thought that was funny because it was also her mother's name. 
So Lyudmila walked around the corner with a clipboard, she barely glanced up at me as she asked ,who I was looking for. "YOU". I am not much of a hugger, but there was hugging. And then the first thing I said was, "you're so short," then I saw the rest of the nurses and aides and said "you're all so short!" You see, I spent about five or six weeks on the ninth floor of the Hospital for Joint Diseases and none of them ever saw me stand up. When I was there, he took one physical therapist were three untrained aides to get me from a bed to a wheelchair. I was basically a noodle.

Then I went downstairs to the gym. It looked so frigging teeny Below is a video that was taken of me about 13 months ago. That hallway was endless, I remember it being a city block long and in my mind that is how far I walked. It took two people to help me get out of a wheelchair and three to keep me from falling back into it.

It was wonderful to see these therapists again, They were really happy to see me, not just because of me, but because they never get to see people who recover that much. In acute rehab they send people home while they're still getting better. And I got to show them what a lot better looks like.

When I was there I realized that was never gonna go back to my old job. I wanted to become a physical/occupational therapist. I asked one of them what it takes to become one, how much school? She asked me about my educational background and I said I have a Masters in Social Work. Ack, you'll have to go back to undergraduate school and take about a years worth of premed classes. Then three or four years of a competitive program in physical therapy, then an internship, then an entry-level job.  So I'll be like 60 and in debt I start working. Naw, I'll come back and volunteer. At the time I thought I'd be coming back to help push wheelchairs. But I'm not ready for that.

So, I went up to the recreational therapy department and reintroduced myself. Right now the plan is that I'm gonna be going back once a week. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do, maybe I'll help people update their blogs like they did for me a year ago. I don't want to belittle the educational expertise and background that recreational therapist had, but I think with my meager MSW I can do what they did best, spend some time with some patients and make them feel good.


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