On Monday, I did it! I had three huge black garbage bags filled with sweats—tops and bottoms of all colors, the dress standard at OC. I also had a large stack of books, mostly unread, presents from visitors who are sure “I’d like this.” And thought, of course, that I had all day to lie around in bed reading. I also had Oreo cookies, home-made truffles, an origami set, and a watercolor pencil set that Roseann began to teach me how to use. Not to mention all the creams, cosmetics, and leftover medications.
The hard part was, of course, saying goodbye to the staff and the patients. Some of the patients will leave shortly, in a day or two. Those are the happy stories: folks who have painstakingly learned to do the smallest of self-care chores, like putting on shoes and socks, and brushing teeth . They are the ones who are cruising down the halls with canes or walkers, or perhaps no assistance at all. The happy stories. All day today I’ve thought of them, and I was delighted when Ed called me from his home this afternoon, just to touch base and assure me that his house was warm (he had needed a new furnace) and peanut butter sandwiches were ok as a meal—ah, bachelors! We talked about how difficult it is to depend on other people to do things for you–Ed’s son took the day off work to help install the furnace. And Lisa the Magnificent daughter-in-law not only took me home, dragged in the stuffed, heavy garbage bags, and did my grocery shopping: this morning she picked me up at 8:30 AM and carted me over to the medical center’s Infusion Clinic.
That trip to Munson Medical Center was a little long today—some confusion about who I was and why I was there, but I imagine we’ll have the kinks worked out in short order. It is hard, getting a wheelchair in and out of a car, and getting me down the wheelchair ramp at my house, which would give Evel Knievel an anxious moment. I came home in the late morning, tired out for the rest of the day!
And as Ed said, the real issue for us is depending on people—even those who love you and are happy to do things for you. For Ed, an untidy bachelor pad is a very private space and he doesn’t welcome guests, even his son. For me, it’s 30 years of doing for myself, and suddenly finding that I can’t just hop in my car and go somewhere, or wash my hair whenever it needs it. The drive for independence and self-sufficiency is strong at Orchard Creek—being there was a lesson for me as I watched the daily struggles as patients learned new skills and our caregivers coached us and treated us with dignity, no matter how miserably we failed. (“Do you need to take a rest, Evelyn? Ok, then sit down for a few moments and then we’ll do ten more.”)
Keep the spirit, I tell myself as I hobble around my house. Go slowly, ask for help, stay strong, follow directions. I do none of these things well, and I must learn that these are the instructions necessary for a healthy recovery.