Where I Belong

(Four years ago) It is day seven of nine at a rehab center where I am placed following a second hip replacement. Additionally, I contract Shingles and family is not allowed to visit. I am highly contagious. I immerse in devastation.

The physical therapy staff is exceedingly helpful and kind. They work with me and cheer me on.

My roommate I finally get is a saint yet needs quietness to heal.

The rehab center culture reminds me somewhat of the Japanese culture (where I was proudly birthed) in that the staff is so exceedingly polite, it is difficult to get a straight answer ~ or any answer. Residents appear to be content and lively. Most ache to go home when one listens for the layers beneath the words ~ those not spoken.

I admit to the following infractions ~

  • Caught by a staffer (me!): walking barefoot in hallway
  • Caught again (me): asking a staffer in the dining room how I might be served breakfast (do I go through a line or have a seat?) Additionally, if I am in isolation, why am I allowed in the dining room? I am obviously confused and deeply frustrated.
  • And yet caught again (me): giving more than one piece of candy to precious Halloween children.
  • Still getting caught (me): a good-humored staffer wanting to get vitals finds me visiting a friend’s room. My new friend’s roommate (with severe dementia) begins to fuss that I should not have vitals done in their room ~ that I have my own room right across the hall ~ then when vitals are complete I apologize and leave. She becomes very agitated wanting to know who told me and what they said, not remembering she’d said it all ~ right in front of me.
  • Again caught (me, after very carefully making certain I was not taking someone’s seat): sitting at a lovely breakfast table with three 95 year-old beauties. One apparently did not want me there and thus began a process of “freezing me out” with complaints about me (mean girl 101). I began to get the giggles.
  • Last time, caught (me): photographing two resident friends after observing other photos being taken on Halloween. A staffer stood over me and insisted I delete each photo. I did. Referring to HIPPA laws, apparently asking permission before shooting is not enough. I was a very bad girl.

BioEthics: the concept of patients along with their medical team working together with equal voices. I am looking for signs of this practice. It is difficult. (Keep in mind, I have developed Shingles along with a another hip replacement at University of Florida at Shands.)

Quotes: actual & paraphrased

Rosalee ~ Her words: “I am German. My mother was a Nazi. I left Germany as young woman, alone. I have one child, Erik.” She is beautiful in her looks and spirit. She is inspiringly kind to me.

Diane ~ An always-smiling walking poet with comedic lines delivered in a constant flow. She is relatively young, very well-dressed, beautiful and dark-skinned. She is always a treasure to everyone. It is a bit of a puzzle as to why she is a resident here. She brings great joy to all.

Unknown sources:

“I don’t think she should be having that done in our room (vital’s taken). I don’t think she should be in our room at all, I tell you. She has her own room right across the hall!”

“I don’t know how long I’ve been here. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know when I’m leaving. I don’t know what happened.”

“I just want to go home.”

“I really want to go home.”

“This place is my home. I’ve been here seven years.

The words of fellow residents break my heart, over and over. Yet while recognizing the privilege to be in this place, hearing their spoken words, I call a friend and escape.

Home. My home. Where I belong.



November 2, 2013 

Addendum: I return every few months and enjoy seeing my old friends. My seven grandchildren and their mother sing hymns to the residents each month. It is a delightful time.