Fighting For A Better Day
Christie L left the Mansion nearly two weeks ago for the hospital, on Tuesday she was transferred to the Indian River Rehabilitation Center in Granville, N.Y. It was not where she wished to go, but there were no other beds available, and the hospital would not keep her longer.
She was disappointed. The rehab center she chose was four blocks from her mother and near her children, she was disappointed they had no room for her.
She has no choice about where she goes.
The day before she left, her back began to spasm, she was in great pain and heavily medicated.
She has continued her dialogue with me. Her doctors tell her that if she will work hard, she can return to the Mansion, where she wishes to go, and where she would be welcomed. Christy is young and very clear-headed. She is a former nurse, she knows the score.
She is also shy and withdrawn, but she and Red and I have made a connection and are continuing a dialogue that is unusual and revealing about the struggle for the elderly to stay healthy and thus control what remains of their lives.
I'll just re-post some of her messages to me this week:
Tuesday, first day at Indian River: "It feels so bad here so far. It is now 11:30 p.m. and I have not had any of my meds. I wonder if they forgot me. I just lost it! They claim they are waiting for orders from the doctors. I just can't understand how they would not have my orders already.I am exhausted, I will talk to you tomorrow."
Me: "Christie, you will have to fight to get out of there and back to the Mansion."
Wednesday: "I read what you wrote about me on your blog this morning, it made me cry. No one has ever said such nice things about me I do want to go back to the Mansion. I just have to get stronger. My hands are shaking as I type. I have never liked being a complainer. I always felt better in the back row, so to speak. My old life is over now and I have to make a new one. Well, I need to go. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Mansion."
Me. Thanks Christie, good to hear from you, keep on fighting. I believe you will get there. I hope to see you soon at the Mansion, Red will be there also.
Thursday: "I am having a very tough day. My back spasms are so very bad. It makes it hard to think straight. I did do physical therapy today and I pushed myself to do what they asked me to do. I want to get out of here soon. Sorry, I am talking confusion, I will go and try to sleep and hope tomorrow is a better day. Thank you for being my friend. Give Red a hug for me. Tell Maria hello."
Me: How are you feeling? Are you better today?
Saturday Morning; "I just got up. I slept good. The nurse is here to give me my meds but she has a lot to get out. lol. I take too many. I am going to hope for a better day. I have to look at is as a new day, right? Well, I will catch up with you later."
Me: Have a better day. Maria says hello. Fight your way home.
To me, the messages are hopeful. Christy is showing determination and some humor. She is owning her own care, she is listening to the doctors and nurses, taking her medications, eating properly, exercising. If she continues on this path, say the doctors, she will get back to the Mansion and regain some control over her life.
If she doesn't or can't, then she will go to a nursing home.
Most of the Mansion residents dread nursing homes, they feel there is often no return from them. So the stakes seem high for Christy, who seems to me to be fighting hard. I keep my messages brief, this phase is up to her. I want her to know I am her friend and am listening, there is not much more I can say.
For now, Red and I will stay away from Indian River and Christy's rehab, I sense this is something she must decide to do herself. Normally, the role of the volunteer and therapy dog handler do not extend beyond the place where we visit. But Christy has touched a chord in me, and if there is a connection, perhaps it can be encouraging to her, she is at a crossroads.
I've not done it before, I have no sense of what will happen. Christy has a lot of serious health issues to contend with, and she has to decide if she is ready to follow instructions. No one else can make that decision, surely not me.
Christy welcomes letters and messages and finds them encouraging. if you care to write to her, you can write her at this address: Christie L., c/o The Indian River Rehabilitation And Nursing Center, 17 Madison St., Granville, N.Y., 12832.