orchard creek report

After a day back at Orchard Creek, there’s much to report!

Some of my patient friends are still here. We had lunch together—Marian, Irene, Trudy, and Marian’s husband, who’s now a patient as well. It was fun catching up with them, finding out how they are progressing and what the latest scandals were. One of the big ones was the prime rib dinner—remember when I wrote about that two months ago? Well, the OC cook tried it again, and he messed up again. They had more steak knives but the moral of the story is: serve beef stew, our expectations are lower. When you list Prime Rib on the menu, people don’t want shoe leather and they can get very angry.

I went to physical therapy this morning—the PT Police were among the first people waiting to greet me. I was waving my Munson-issued exercise elastic as a peace offering, but still they got me. I worked out both upper and lower body, and found how frustrating it is to go backwards. The hip without a joint in it is particularly unforgiving. Seated, I can raise my right foot about two inches off the floor. Period. How demoralizing….

But the good news is, so many of those who are still here are so improved. In particular is a crusty guy named Al, whom Gertie’s blog readers met on November 29. At that time, Al would sit through a physical therapy session propping his head on one hand, and usually dressed in a hospital gown. But he’s been holding his card games for his long-time Leelanau County buddies since early December: they come to OC, have lunch, and play cards at least once a week. Now Al is dressed in flannel shirt and pants, and nice new slippers. When I left OC it was taking two physical therapists to get Al out of his wheelchair and standing at the metal grab bar, huffing and muttering under his breath. He was up to three minutes standing time.

Now Al comes into physical therapy in his walker! His head is up and he is greeting people. And most amazing of all is his rendering of the ball/balance exercise, which involves holding an 8” ball in both hands, raising it over your head, then to each side. Al decides this ludicrous movement needs a song and begins SINGING in time to his motions—sounds suspiciously like ‘La Chucharacha” to me, but who cares? Al was having fun…

I’d say that the change in many of these patients was just short of amazing: they had more self-esteem and it showed in their posture. They had physical strength and confidence that I wouldn’t have believed possible—real success stories!

Another thing that hasn’t changed is the sheets. I mean, they do change sheets here, but the problem is that the fitted cotton bottom sheets don’t stay on the corners of the plastic-covered mattress. It never fails—about half way into a sleep session I hear “Whap”! That means that the upper right corner of my bed sheet has dislodged and is sliding toward the middle of the bed. Seconds later, another “Whap” from the left corner. Now imagine me, lying with a tangle of sheet around my waist, sliding back and forth on a bright blue plastic mattress. This visit, of course, I can’t manage to re-hook the sheets, and it won’t do much good anyway: they’ll just come loose again. This could be dangerous: the plastic is really slick. Were it not that there is such a deep depression in the middle of the bed, I could slide right out! Maybe I’ll see if somebody can’t find one of the nice stretch jersey sheets they keep hidden around here.

What hasn’t changed, of course, are the people. Kashia, the activities director, and I met years ago over a Cirque du Soleil project she was working on with her elementary school students, When I got to my OC room I found the walls decorated with red valentines and blown-up photos of Cirque-like creatures. And Patty is still here, bringing me coffee at 5 AM and wearing a medical face mask as a hat…. After breakfast, I caught her singing in the halls.

I don’t know how long I will be here this time—certainly long enough to get stronger and more confident and able to do the daily chores. If I have to go through this recovery process yet again, OC sure is a good place in which to do it.



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