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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Catching up: Moving Day

Thursday, April 14 was the day I was to move to the San Luis Transitional Care Center. The plan was to do physical therapy in the morning, then pack and get moving.

I woke at about two in the morning with the rash that I have had for months. During the first three days of my stay at the hospital the rash disappeared and I dared to hope that something in the meds I was taking was working on the rash. But its reappearance Thursday morning disabused me of that notion. I asked about getting the prescription antihistamine at the care center and was told that I could simply bring my own bottle with me. I therefore let Maryann know where to find the bottle before she came to pick me up.

We had breakfast and therapy. Shortly after eating, at about 8:40, I started to feel nauseous. This was the first time I'd had this reaction, so I suspected it was not from the pain meds. The nurse suggested it may have been the prune juice they gave me, because of its acid content. Whatever the reason I did not feel well. The nausea came and went during the day, so I was able to get packed, with help, and ready to go.

The hospital offered two options for getting to the care center: by private car with a friend or by dial-a-ride for about $40 for a ride just up the street. My choice was private car. I would have paid the $40 but I did not have any money with me (hospital instructions said "leave it at home") and they needed the cash up front.

Maryann came to get me at a bit after 11 a.m.  The above pic shows me ready to leave, wearing my pajamas. They let me walk out of the hospital. No walker, not even a cane, and I was carrying some of my luggage.  We arrived at the care center shortly after. As I walked in, again carrying luggage, several people gave me strange looks. "A new patient?" They did not comprehend how I could be walking so soon.  They led me to my room and immediately put Maryann to work sorting through my clothes and putting them away. They were ready to enlist her in any number of activities, in fact. She stayed around a while to keep me company during the welcome period.

I did get lunch first. A baked potato, fresh fruit, some kind of vegetable, juice, and coffee as I recall. The baked potato was nicely cooked and I was hungry. It was a better meal than had been coming to me in the hospital, so I was grateful.

The introductory period involved several people. One by one, people from the different departments came to talk to me. Usually at length. They explained their roles and asked if I had questions, generally. The dietitian came with the cook and they asked me many questions about my vegan diet. I gave them a list of easily-prepared foods that they should be familiar with that are vegan, and I told them other things I'd be happy to eat. It was clear that neither of them was particularly familiar with this plant-based eating. We might hope that everyone watches Dr. Oz and Oprah and the many others who have in fact brought real vegans into American homes, but no, that is not the case.  Maryann thought that I gave them plenty of ideas and I was as open as I could be, not fussy except for the no-animal-products part.

The occupational therapist came in to talk about what she does. She helps patients find ways to adjust to the somewhat disabled (or clearly disabled, depending on the patient) condition they will be in when they return home. She has tools and techniques for any occasion. The nurse came in, Gary, had forms to fill out and he was supposed to do a "skin check" as well, but each time he got called away, when he came back somebody else was in the room. He managed to do the skin check that night, after dinner. And no, no problems.

The head of physical therapy came along with a booklet in hand, containing suitable bed exercises and sitting exercises for knee patients. He talked about what they do in physical therapy in a general way and sometimes specifically, and he went on and on and on. Partway through I was feeling nauseous again and I told him I was not feeling well, but he kept talking.  He was interrupted by the cook, who told Maryann that all of the bread they use has honey in it. Maryann gratefully took off to buy me some "special" no-honey bread, and brought it to the center later. She escaped the rest of the PT talk. The physical therapist finally left when interrupted by somebody else. It was an exhausting afternoon and I hadn't actually done anything.

I was so ready to sleep. I lay down on the bed, alone at last. Except for my roommate Elinor, who was on the other side of the curtain.

To be alone with Elinor is not to be alone ever again. She asked me, out of the blue, if I knew what this "Boost" stuff was. I had no idea and said so. She talked about that for a while and segued to other topics, and from time to time I made what seemed an appropriate reply.

Dinner came. I ate, Elinore did not. She had no appetite (hence the Boost) and talked about that for a while. She had certain themes that she repeated and repeated. I'd say it was pretty clear at the outset that she had memory problems. I had listening problems. I was so exhausted that night and the one thing I kept thinking was, "how can I get away from this roommate?"

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