#Bionic man. 2.9. Saturday, April 9, 2016. After I’m discharged from St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center tomorrow morning, Gale will drive me home. Outpatient PT starts on Wednesday. Even though I’m only taking a small dose of oxycodone before therapy each day, my mind is still too fuzzy for complex thinking. So, I will only attempt some random thoughts on this past week.
- Despite my rather narcissistic focus on my own physical pain in earlier posts, I was overwhelmed each day by the scene in the big therapy room. As difficult as it was to observe people with multiple limbs and body parts severely injured or missing and their pain, three things told me that these truncated bodies were still human: perseverance in the face of such loss, the care of the therapists helping people regain basic human capacities, and the love of family and friends watching, waiting, transporting.
- More upsetting than the physical pain of others was the sadness in the eyes of some, particularly the very elderly and frail. Whenever they weren’t engaged in some task set by the therapist, some would sit with a hand on a cheek staring off into space, lost and lonely. I must admit to selfishly wondering whether I’m heading for such a future. If I don’t die from some trauma or ravaging disease, I envision fading away reading, meditating, and listening to music in the company of family and friends. I was reminded this week to be ready for that dream not happening.
- Once I learned the rules of the road at St. Lawrence, I avoided any more altercations over my “independence.” I did, however, cause a minor bureaucratic flap between occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT). On Tuesday, my physical therapist asked why I wasn’t wearing sneakers for our sessions. I said that tying the laces was next to impossible. She suggested that I could get elastic laces at OT so I could just slip the sneakers on and off. I should have paid more attention to the looks of consternation on the faces of OT staff the next morning when I showed up to ask for elastic laces. After a bit of nattering and admonitions not to say who gave me the laces, they very kindly laced up my sneakers and sent me on my way. In every one of my succeeding OT sessions there were multiple comments about my extraordinary request and about who was going to have to fill out the paperwork. On Friday afternoon my physical therapist said that she had been admonished by OT not to send any more people for laces. Turns out that in OT’s procedures elastic laces are only for hip transplant patients, who get them through their occupational therapist. The final touch was the appearance of an OT staff person in my room on Friday evening asking whether I had used the sneakers in my PT sessions that day and inspecting the sneakers to record some details for his records. I couldn’t make this up.
- Working through pain is not the same as gaining physical fitness. During my last PT session this morning, my therapist recommended that I use the walker to move around the floor that my room is on. As explained previously I had been using my wheel chair to get around in order to avoid confrontations oover “doctors orders.” Tonight I used the walker to go up and down the hall a few times. No confrontation, but I realized that moving this relatively small distance made me tired. Even though PT has required great effort this week, I have spent most of the week sitting down, not making much cardiovascular effort. Lots of walking around Princeton with Gale and Toto coming up this week.