“You know what my usual breakfast is? Coffee and a cigarette.” Well, good morning, Lilian. Pass the Lovenox. I’ve still got an unbruised spot to the left of my belly button.
There are two more people I met during those first few days of Rehab that I wanted to introduce here because both of them played an important role in my recovery.
The first is Robyn, the Recreational Therapist. The what? Yes, you heard me right, a Recreational Therapist. When she first introduced herself, she explained to me that it was her job to help patients regain their hobbies and general enjoyment of life. There’s a JOB for that? She told me that our time would be limited at first, but she would see me more often, the closer I got to my release date and she asked me about my hobbies. I told her I used to garden and camp. She began to tell me about the Rehab Ward’s garden on the hospital grounds tended primarily by patients. Awesomesauce.
She told me I would participate in a field trip before my release to help me learn how to negotiate “the real world” again. A little niggle of fear began to grow. So I’m not going to just walk out of here completely normal again am I? I mean, I knew I was in pretty bad shape what with the wheelchair and the bladder scanner and all, but the mention of learning to “negotiate” the outside world was an acknowledgement that I wouldn’t be back to “normal” even when I left and I wasn’t ready for that yet.
Later she had me participate in a “group activity.” Let me just put it out there that there is nothing I dislike more than “group activities.” I don’t EVER assign them in my classes because I hate them so much. I was already getting my fill of forced socialization at breakfast and lunch (they usually relented at dinner at let me eat in my room). That day, Robyn cleared the tables away in the Breakfast Room and arranged all of our wheelchairs in a circle. Billie and Lilian were both there, but the mysterious Lily was not. Then, she passed out what I can only describe as giant plastic novelty hands. I just tried to google an image of one and failed. They were plastic hands in bright colors that you held by a stick. We each held one in our good hands. Then Robyn blew up a balloon and tossed it to Billie. We were supposed to hit it to one another with our giant plastic hands and keep it from touching the ground. Antisocial adolescent Katie kicked into high gear. This is stupid. I’ve been humiliated enough. Not doing it. When the balloon came my way, I made a half-assed attempt to hit it and I did. Oddly satisfying. Alright, one round. Next thing you know, I was laughing. Actually laughing. We all were. And she had me. Robyn had me. Hook. Line. Sinker.
Bonus: Robyn had a therapy dog that was with her all the time. Oceana was a black lab and we were free to pet her. My interest in getting a dog was suddenly rekindled fiercely.
I also met Dr. R that Tuesday after Memorial Day. Dr. R was the doctor assigned to the Rehab Ward. There were also rotating GPs who checked in with me on occasion, but Dr. R was the primary Doctor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (just looked up her actual title, thank you Google) for the Rehab Unit. She came in to chat with me and to assess the damage I had done to my chin with my Swedish-earning pratfall. First thing I noticed, she spoke to me like I was an intelligent, if not fully functioning, human being with actual feelings. She tested my left arm and looked at my left leg. I was embarrassed about the hair and she suggested I have someone bring me an electric razor. She confirmed that the staples in my head and belly were coming out on June 1st. Woo Hoo!
“Now, let’s talk about your bladder.” Dr. R went through several different possibilities for why it still wasn’t “turning on” and I why I was still being scanned and cathed several times a day including the possibility that the neurosurgeon had “gone through” that part of my brain to get to my tumor and there was some damage.
“So will it come back?” I asked. I had odd bits of lag time between sessions and often found myself watching CNN or other daytime television. Suddenly, I was noticing commercials for home catheter kits. Oy vey. Dr. R said she was going to add a new medication to my collection of pills to try and help my bladder recover, Urecholine. Oh good, the Keppra, Lovenox, stool softeners and whatever else they give me each day is not nearly enough meds.
I liked Dr. R already, enough so, that I was willing to take the plunge. “The Speech Therapist I saw on the weekend said I needed to see the shrink.” ***note to loyal readers, if you read that entry when it was first published, I inadvertently left out that tidbit. I’ve gone back and and edited it for future readers.***
“We recommend all of our patients see Dr. C at least once while they’re here,” Dr. R said.” She’s in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’ll put her on your schedule.”
“Good, because I’m a bit of a train wreck,” I admitted. “I used to have everything under control and could manage so many different things at once. Now I can’t even pee.”
“That’s totally understandable. It would be stranger if you WEREN’T a train wreck.” I think I love her.
I called this entry Desperately Seeking because Robyn and Dr. R are actually two people I would like to get in touch with again. I actually saw Robyn again in the real world about six months after my release and I’ll write about that in another entry. As for Dr. R, they’ve moved the Rehab Unit out of Riverside Hospital to an off-site facility and I’m not sure if she (or Robyn) went with it. I have recently found an email address for her and now just have to figure out how to compose a “Hey, Patient Six from May 2012 is doing pretty good now and blogging about you, hope you don’t mind” message.