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.