Heading Home from Rehab

January 20, 2019

So, after 17 days of hospital and rehab stay, I’m being sent home. Ready or not, here I go. Hint: the real answer is no, I’m not ready. In fact, I’m scared witless. I have 2 sets of 14 stairs to get in and out of the house. One set is bare wood with treads. The other st is carpeted. I’m more afraid of the carpeted stairs. It’s cold outside which means that it’s cold in the garage where I’ve got the futon. Even if I could sleep down there, I’d still have to go up 14 stairs to go to the bathroom. Well, that’s not gonna work. I’m going to have to mostly live upstairs where the bathroom is just steps away from the bed which is probably fine. This means that once I’m downstairs I’m down there for the day. I’ll have to live in my reclining chair for a bit, too.

Unlike when I was in the hospital, there is no real planning to this here. There is no social worker talking to me about how this will work. No one explaining what the various steps are. No one making sure there’s even food in the house. Hint. There’s really not. There are no conversations about what my insurance will cover going forward.  I’m not really prepared for this. I thought I was going to be able to line up some help at home and haven’t been able to do that.

My sister can’t come out because of work,  my parents are on another planet and my aunt is trying to work it into her schedule because she’s helping with her grandson. I still don’t have a working cell phone. I’m sure there’s a reason for all of this chaos.

I live alone. I’m ready to be home, but not quite ready to be home by myself. If that makes sense. My family are mostly back in Minnesota or are in California/Arizona. I haven’t had a boyfriend here in WA in 6 years. There isn’t anyone who can some stay with me on short notice to help out. I’m feeling pretty nervous about this.

I’m eager to get home to my own bed where it’s quiet and the blankets fit the bed. I’m not thrilled about being there alone and going up and down the stairs with a cane. I’m not wild about how I’m going to manage showers, either. I don’t have a walk-in shower. I have a fairly tall tub surround. I’ve been told and shown a bunch of handicap bars and tub chairs and stuff while I’m at rehab. I have no mechanism to get any of this stuff purchased or rented and delivered to my house before I get home. Even if I did, there’s no way I’m going to be able to carry it up the stairs in my condition. So… more things to figure out.

I will have home health visits for some time after I get home. The first visit will be an OT to help assess fall risk in my house. There will be a nurse as well. The rest are on a schedule and there will be someone checking in pretty much every day for the next 6 or so weeks.

It’s about this time that I realize that no one at work has a clue what’s happened or where I am. To my knowledge, no one is looking for me. My phone is still dead and I don’t think about trying to call it to get voicemails.  This is concerning. Well, there is one coworker who brought me to the ER on the 5th, but because my cell is dead, she has no idea what’s transpired or where I am since I was admitted. I ask a nurse to help me search for a phone number for HR. She’s able to find the switchboard number. Good enough. There’s a company directory and of course I can’t remember anybody’s name, nor can I pronounce the HR person’s name in a way that this software will recognize.

I eventually remember a manager’s name, leave him a voicemail and ask him to call HR and Benefits for me. Oh, and remember how the hospital doesn’t have voicemail or ring to the nurse’s station? This unit doesn’t, either, even though they told me the first day that my phone would ring at the nurse’s station if I was away. So when I’m trying to coordinate help for when I get home, and I’m in PT sessions big chunks of the day, I’m missing calls because my cell’s still dead and the hospital phone doesn’t have a way to capture calls coming in from my family or my coworker to see how he can help. Great.

I eventually found a way to contact someone from my company to let them know I am still alive. Note to self: keep your HR contact phone numbers in your purse from now on. In fact, keep a paper with all the important numbers in your purse. Counting on the cell phone isn’t the best move.

Discharged

When the time comes to go home, I’m first told I’m going home around noon. Then it changes to later in the afternoon. The most bizarre thing about all this is that I’m not going back home in a medi-cab or with any type of nursing help. They’re sending me home in an Uber. Alone. No one will meet me at home.

I’m stunned. I’ve got a cane and an awkward bag of stuff to take back home. There will be no one to help. I can only hope a neighbor will be around when I get there.

Before I can go home, I have to be re-trained on how to connect my IV antibiotics again. It’s the same home nurse organization that I’d had before. I’ll still be on the antibiotics for a while. I have follow up appointments with doctors scheduled already. Home health is scheduled for a day or two after I get home.

This morning while I was getting ready to leave, one of the Occupational Therapy Assistants came in to check on me. She saw my phone and asked about it. I told her it had been dead for 2 weeks. We hadn’t been able to charge it. She jury-rigged the cord and was able to get a charge on it. I was both happy and disappointed about this at the same time. I kind of wanted to hobble in to Verizon with this dead phone and make them feel bad that this piece of junk phone hadn’t worked for over 2 weeks and I was feeling abandoned. One way or another I’m getting a new phone after I go home, and it won’t be another of the same model again.

I have a long list of prescriptions to fill at the pharmacy before I leave. I am wheeled down to the pharmacy and the door by a volunteer. The pharmacy stop isn’t as bad as the volunteer thought it would be. The nurses had called in all of the prescriptions far enough in advance. Because my phone is sort of working now, I order my own Lyft ride home. The ride is thankfully uneventful. I very carefully make my way up the driveway to the door. It’s January and it’s been raining. It gets slippery and I’m scared shitless of falling down.

 

 

 

About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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