SLOW AHEAD Kate’s Journal

Fly Me To the Moon

A strange title perhaps, but that describes the motion taken after a large surgery. My “short vacation” didn’t send me home tanned and energetic, still wallowing in the pleasures of days on a sunny beach somewhere, but it DID get me back home.

The 4 1/2 hour surgery installing a donor vein in my right leg has been an apparent success with the minor inconvenience of a large skin tear on the lower leg which defies efforts to heal itself. There has been a persistent swelling problem as well demanding the elevation of my foot.

There have been nurses, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist checking and giving high marks to my recovery, however, a couple of hours after the PT nurse gave her approval, I slung my leg up and onto stacked pillows and felt an ominous and extremely painful snap in right hip, hence the title of “Slow Ahead”, Very slow today.

Now, to reminisce on the past three weeks, and using them as a learning experience, my last connection to the world of the fairly healthy was in a large well-lighted operating room where a team of professionals gathered about my bed and as all airline pilots do, went over their various jobs, after which I blessedly entered dreamland.

A week in the hospital being looked after by caring nurses most of whom were from the Philippines, prepared me for a “restful” week in a Skilled Nursing Care facility or nursing home. I’m grateful to all of them.

An ambulance with two cute paramedics whisked me out of the hospital just as night was falling, and deposited me in a decidedly unfamiliar facility, with another patient sharing the room.

No one came to give me instructions as to what I should do in the darkened room with only the light from the nearby hallway. Attempting to sit on the bed, it slipped away from me as it had not been locked. Someone entered quietly and tossed a gown and a diaper onto the bed. When I said I didn’t need the diaper, she seemed to think it was necessary. I left it there and got into bed.

The other occupant seemed to be an elderly dark woman curled in a fetal position and muttering to herself in a strange language. She soon accelerated her voice crying “Hello! Hello! Hello”. I soon became aware of other voices throughout the place calling for help. Making my narrow mind up not to talk to her, I attempted to sleep.

Thoroughly disgruntled, early the next morning I called my daughter and hissed “Get me OUT of here!” She asked me if it was like “One Flew Over the Coo-coo”s Nest”, and I said “Yeah”!

I took back my earlier decision and said “Good Morning” to my room mate. When the doctor came later in the morning they conversed in an unfamiliar language which I later found to be Hindi. This was the language she was muttering in all night. (I found out she was from Fiji.)

As the nurses and others filed into the room and evaluated my condition, I began to realize something which had never occurred to me: a nursing home is not a hospital. The nurses who circulate throughout the place have very different types of conditions to deal with. There are people in pain or who think they are in pain who cry and shout all night. No nurse could keep up with the demands immediately, and yes, it could be like the movie “One Flew Over the Coo-coo’s Nest.” It is purely a matter of perception.

Both physical and occupational therapists gave me exercises each morning which greatly helped me on my way back.

The woman from Fiji left and the room was mine for a day or so, and then another patient was brought in. The nurses brought in a large crane-like machine to weigh her and she hit the scale at over 400 lbs with no mobility whatsoever. Her son came to see her and he too, weighed over 400 lbs. Dressed in shorts and a canary yellow Warriors t-shirt and a knit hat on top of his head of the same color, he made a fetching fan for the winning Oakland basketball team.

When her son departed for the game, his mother began shouting and crying for nurses to come take care of her immediately. She too was from Fiji so a great deal of her calling was in Hindi. Most of the nurses here were Indian with the same language. We have indeed a large ethnic population, a great many of whom are Indian and Asian.

This woman was so annoying that the nurses simply ignored a lot of her demands which made her yell all the louder. One evening I quietly asked “Please don’t shout” to no avail. Later she began shouting and crying and my usual patient demeanor left me. I got up in the middle of the night and went over to her bed. “Listen,” I said. “I am a very old lady, and I have had a lot of pain my my life; and one thing I have learned is that crying will NOT help, so SHUT the H— UP!!” I will hasten to add that it did no good.

On my final night a middle-aged woman spent the night flying up and down the halls in a wheel chair screaming “Help Me! Help Me!” She was completely out of her head and had no idea what she was doing.

I have since talked to friends from the medical community who tell me that most all these places are the same. The nursing is very good as well as the attention given to food and medicines and the care given to the physical therapy. I was left with good and in some cases fond feelings towards some of the nurses, but I don’t want to go back.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

22 thoughts on “SLOW AHEAD Kate’s Journal”

  1. A sad tale about the nursing home, Kate. Here’s hoping you don’t have to return.I am glad you are out and on the road to recovery, even if it is slow. I imagine the week in the nursing home felt like a month. –Curt


    1. I take it as a learning experience. A skilled nursing facility is not a hospital, so my original conception was wrong, and I am glad to say I can still learn from my mistakes! Thanks Curt. I hope your journey is going strong. I have enjoyed your posts.


      1. The learning experiences never stop. The journey was wonderful. Peggy and I are now back in Oregon after 11,000 miles. I will be blogging about it for the next couple of months, at least. 🙂 Take care. –Curt


  2. Awful! I wish I’d had a dislike star to click on! My mother was in hospital once and her lovely cerise robe was stolen daily by a fellow patient. When the nurses asked her to return the robe, she said, “You don’t want me to be cold, do you?”

    Your post is wonderfully coherent, though; and that’s a good sign. I hope you continue to recover well and I’m sure you’re glad to be home.


    1. I have heard that you don’t want to take jewelry or anything you value as it could disappear. My father was in a nice place in Oregon though for many years though I wanted him to come to California. The nursing care was great though.


      1. Yes, my mother had excellent care during the last few years of her life. It was a small place, privately run. Everyone on staff was very kind.


  3. Goodness. I think Cuckoo nest and Bedlam spring to mind. We are all lucky to get out alive, Kayti. The many experiences of nursing, strange languages and demented patients make for scary reading. Some years ago I was in a hospital and had a band put around my wrist with a woman’s name written on it and was so close to getting a hysterectomy done. Since then I have worried about what happened to the woman patient with my name on it.
    I hope you are well on the mend, Kayti. I started to worry a bit and missed your cheerful writings.


  4. I am so sorry for the terrible experience. But the good news is your surgeon went well and you are on the mend. I am sending you good thoughts and wishes.


  5. Oy vey. Reading of your trials and tribulations in the Black Hole of Rehabilitation made me remember what my mother went through. The hospital was great, but those intermediate care facilities can be desperately bad. Even when the staff is good, they’re often hamstrung by the preferences of the administration: particularly re: cost-cutting. I fear landing in one of those places about as much as I fear anything, particularly since I don’t have any family to run interference for me. I’m glad you’re out, and in touch with us again.

    Despite all the chaos that surrounded you, it’s possible that it was an indication of one good thing: they weren’t routinely dosing people with Haldol or other medications to keep them quiet. It’s often done, not for the patients, but for the convenience of staff. It’s really an unfortunate practice.

    Well — keep those feet up, and your spirits, too. It’s so great to see you!


    1. Thank you my friend! Once I figured out that rehab was not the same as the hospital it became a learning experience. The nursing and the nurses were great though.

      My dad was in a long term care place in Oregon which was lovely, but 2 or 3 times they took him out to a home. One was good, but run by a nurse and it turned out to be not the right place. The other looked really good–large, few patients, run by a couple. They said he could keep his dog which made him happy as he had him boarded full time and we got him out for visits when we went every few weeks. Well, the new “home” mistreated the dog, stuck him in a barn away from the house and just left him. Our daughter found out and drove down from Seattle and rescued the dog and then we took Dad back to the nursing home where he stayed. Turned out that the couple who ran the place were crooked. This was the 2nd or 3rd place they had tried to run with disastrous results. All about the money as usual.


  6. Whew! So glad you are out of that place. The worst thing about recovering from an operation is the feeling of helplessness. You did well, and your sense of humor is intact! Take good care, and go slow!


  7. Hello from Paris, Kayti! I want you to tell us about your hip. Is it OK? What was the painful snap? You have me concerned. I hope you are having a better day; that you have good coffee and maybe a small swig of wine. I know you love Paris…we’ve had no rain, can you believe it? The weather has been splendid, the food, divine. The garbagemen (sanitary engineers) are on strike so the fragrances around town leave much to be desired. We took a cooking class. Ron learned how to make Coq d Vin. I have lots of pictures but my iPad will not accept them from my camera because of storage..and yet my iPad and iCloud tell me I have room. Boo hoo! Thinking of you often. Send my love!


    1. I’m so glad the rain stopped for you. I think Cori comes home today & said it was lovely weather. London is sunny and warm today too I don’t remember when you will go.Your cooking class sounds so fun. Ron should be proud.
      Hip is sore–no idea what happened but it’s getting better. Needed help putting my pants on today though as I can’t bend it well. Fine thing!
      Waiting for pictures. Love to you both. AK


  8. Kayti, what a nightmare! You make it horribly vivid. I’m so glad you have family and friends to support you and that you don’t have to rely on places like that. All my love and best wishes for a good recovery. We love you xx


  9. So pleased that you are home safe and sound and are well enough to write this post. Sounds like the nursing home was a very “challenging” place. Not somewhere to linger unless you had to and it must be a very hard place to work. Keep getting better x


  10. Oh, Kayti, I hope you never go back and that I avoid nursing homes as well. I’ve spent long hours in such homes with various loved ones. They liked and appreciated many of the workers and benefitted from the therapy, but, like you, hope never to return. When I think of nursing homes I think of the pitiful or angry outcries for help and the pervasive smell and renew my pledge to take care of myself, though I know that won’t necessarily keep me out of one.


    1. Once I realized that nursing homes are not hospitals, it was easier to hurry and get mobile! My Dad was always fearful of having to go to one, and unfortunately that happened. For the first year he turned his wheelchair around to show his back to anyone coming into his room—nurses or family. He was so angry. Then his sense of humor clicked in and he decided to have a relationship with the nurses. They were so kind to him. Even going so far as to take him out fishing a time or two, and a promise to take him to Reno which he dearly loved. That never happened, but he could always hope. He died happy in Oregon instead of coming here to California which he always denigrated.


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