January 12, 2019
They tried to make me go to rehab
I said, “no, no, no”
Yes, I’ve been black
But when I come back, you’ll know, know, know
I ain’t got the time
And if my daddy thinks I’m fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab
I won’t go, go, go
So… I’m goin’ to Rehab. Not the kind Amy Winehouse is talking about, though. This is more like I had a nasty car accident or stroke and I’m going to learn how to walk again rehab. The kind you see on “60 Minutes” where the Iraq or Afghan veteran who lost his leg is being treated with a new fancy prosthetic leg rehab. Except that where I’m going probably won’t have any of those vets around. Just lots of older people with walkers.
They moved me to the oncology floor last night. I’m getting a Kadcyla infusion tomorrow before I head to the other hospital for rehab. My bag is re-packed. I’ve gotten a shower. I’m still a little wobbly on the walker but getting better. My phone’s still DOA. At about 1 pm, a medi-cab driver showed up to pick me up. Let me just say I could smell him from more than 10 feet away. I thought at first that something in my bag to set down in something nasty. Nope. Not me. Not my bag. Hope it goes away.
He was a decent enough guy. He kind of reminded me of a friend’s ex-husband. Kind of soft spoken but nice. Sort of had a Minnesota accent. And no, my friend’s ex never smelled like poop. Nice try.
He wheeled me down to his fancy minivan where I got in chair and all. He locks the brakes on the chair and has some sort of blocks so the wheels don’t move. It wasn’t too bad a ride over to the other hospital.
When I got to the other hospital, we parked in the front circle and he wheeled me in through the front door. I got wheeled past a fancy coffee bar. Smelled good. Kind of wished at that point that I actually liked coffee. I hadn’t had anything decent to eat for over a week. Although I did get to a point at the hospital where I figured out the 4 or 5 things on the room service menu that were edible. They generally don’t screw up eggs much. I also learned that they don’t mess up egg salad sandwiches much, either. Macaroni and cheese is inedible. Broth/Soup is bland and flavorless. Hamburgers aren’t hamburgers at all. Not sure what they are but they’re gross. Chicken sandwiches are okay. I did finally get so bored with what they had that I tried the pot roast. It was all right.
During my previous stay a month ago, I figured out that I could have Door Dash bring me real food. So while I was in the oncology unit, I ate pretty well. Not quite as well on the Neuro floor, mostly because I didn’t have the brain power to care, and also that my phone was DOA After arriving to the smell of decent coffee, I had higher hopes for the food at this place.
Just a note for Seatteites or if you’re ever staying downtown Seattle:
Mad Pizza is really good. Smith does a weekend brunch that I’m sure is to die for if you’re sitting at a table in the restaurant because it was still really good luke warm after being delivered to my room. Also, Din Tai Fung delivers downtown. It’s kind of spendy, but a nice treat. I like dumplings and they’re a testament to the fact that garlic makes everything taste better, including spinach and kale. Their green beans are super yummy. And best of all… they have melted chocolate dumplings for dessert.
Okay, so back to my arrival at rehab.
I got checked in by a nurse. We spent probably a good hour going over paperwork, vitals, doing an ultrasound of my bladder to make sure it was emptying when I used the bathroom, and generally getting me situated. I will be here for a few weeks, or at least until I can get to a point where I am more self-sufficient again.
We talked about my left side weakness. I started out by describing my lack of control over my arm as “Michael J Fox hand. I could reach for things and try to pick them up, but the spatial part of my brain would put my hand somewhere not where I wanted it to go and I’d have a hard time telling it to grasp things to pick them up. When I tried to hold it straight out, it would wave around a bit.
There is a very rigorous schedule in rehab. There are at least 3-1/2 hours of therapy scheduled per day. Don’t plan on getting much rest if you ever have to go to one of these units. They’re busy and they’re noisy, and you won’t have enough time in between these appointments to get in even a 30 minute nap. There is Physical Therapy (PT) at least once or twice a day. It can be 30 minutes or longer, and there are multiple sessions during a day. Occupational therapy (OT) is the same. The OT is usually the one in this setting that takes you to shower. They make sure that you know safe ways to get yourself bathed without falling down. A good skill to have. Then there’s Speech Therapy. This one seems odd at the face of it, but it’s not really about talking.
The Speech Therapist makes sure that you’re able to swallow food and liquids without choking. A good thing. Then, once that’s out of the way, this is the person who makes sure you can think straight enough to do daily tasks. So can you keep track of your appointments, your medications, and generally use common sense if you had any before all this started.
The nurse explained the bed and chair alarms. I’d already graduated from needing those at the hospital but they decided I had to earn the right to have them turned off. I also learned that meals are at specific times. Breakfast is at 7:30 am. Lunch at 11:30 am and dinner at 5:30 pm. I don’t remember the last time I ate on an actual schedule. I generally eat when I’m hungry. I’ve been more of a grazer my whole life, and more so throughout chemo, so this eating on a schedule thing was going to be interesting. The menu, however, looked a whole lot better.
After getting settled in and learning who my nurse and nurse’s aide was, plus where the call buttons and such were, it was time for dinner. I had some pasta. It was pretty good. Although, anything different from what I’d been eating the past week was going to be fairly appetizing. When ordering for a meal, I basically ordered for 2 meals at a time. When ordering for dinner, the breakfast order goes in at the same time. This is a little difficult to get used to as well. When I’m eating dinner, I’m not yet thinking about what I want for breakfast. I am so used to getting up and waking up for a bit before deciding if it’s a cereal day or a waffle day or an egg day.
Another thing I learned on my 1st day was that the hospital was quiet compared to this. My room is right in front of the nurse’s station. There’s a lot of activity there. At night they try to be sort of quiet. The other thing was that there is some construction going on at the hospital. Not sure if they’re building a new building or parking garage or what. It’s not like I can get up and look out the window to figure it out. So at 4:30 am there are construction trucks outside. These trucks have backup alarms. At 4:30 am next to a hospital where people are supposed to be resting. On the 2nd night, they not only went beep-beep-beep at 4:30, they dropped a big load of metal beams on the ground.Then at 5:00 am, there’s a shift change at the nurse’s station. There’s an awful lot of break room/water cooler blabbering out there at 5:00. Then at 6:00 other patients start waking up and forgetting they have bed alarms and then at 7:00 they come in and wake you up so you’re ready for breakfast.
I’m on a floor with 15 other patients. All of them have had heart attacks or strokes and have fallen and hit their heads. I didn’t get to meet anybody else today. It was a lot to get here and get settled in.
A fun fact about hospitals? Even if they’re relatively new, the heating/air conditioning systems suck. I happened to be in one of the old wings of this building. The room is either hot and stuffy or cold and breezy. There is no in between.
Another fun fact: The warmed (or not) blankets they bring in do not fit the bed, and the mattress and pillow are covered with plastic so you are either sweating or freezing or sometimes both at the same time. So… I ended up tangled in all these blankets, which made it fun to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Thankfully, they don’t generally wake people up in the middle of the night unless they absolutely have to. My bladder felt otherwise. There’s another story here I’ll save for later.