Just before we went to North Carolina last week, I had jury duty. When I went through security, as I expected, the alarms went off. After explaining that I have two artificial knees, the guard “wanded” me and asked if I were happy with the way they worked.
“Well, not entirely” I replied. “They have ruined my kick boxing career!” We laughed and I went to the courtroom to perform my civic duty. But it brought to mind the whole knee replacement experience, so I looked up this old post. It addresses my thoughts and raised awareness that resulted from my time in rehab after knee replacement 15 months ago.
Re-reading it did me a lot of good. Comparing the drug-dealing trial defendant with the hard working staff and others I met at the facility, helped reaffirm my conviction that most people are basically good. In this post, I hope you find some tidbit worthy of your time, whether or not you read it when it first appeared. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
June, 2010–After 3 days in the hospital and 14 days in rehab, I am finally going home. I can’t wait.
It’s not so much that I’m eager to leave this place as I am simply eager to go home. Rehab has been a very positive, educational and meaningful experience. I’ll come away from this place with more than a new knee.
I’ve met incredible working women, seen patients with more challenges and courage than I hope to ever have need of, and watched residents in the final chapters of their lives, facing the end with a wide array of grace. They have enriched my life and given me a new appreciation for the blessings God has showered upon me. Here are a few of their stories.
In my first therapy post, I mentioned Cynda, the 20 year old CNA who writes poetry. I’ve grown very fond of her and learned more about her struggles and triumphs. Pregnant, unmarried and on track for an unhappy future, she enrolled in a high school for girls much like herself. It changed her life.
She searched, enlarged and reached out to her meager support system, finding unexpected loving daycare for her son with his paternal grandmother. Initially, the arrangement was for the duration of Cynda’s CNA course but has been extended into a permanent arrangement while she works.
Much to my surprise and delight, she sews! For Cynda’s 12th Christmas, her wish for a sewing machine was granted. No one in her family sewed, so Cynda read the book and taught herself the basics. She has made some clothing and done necessary household mending, but her love is the creative end of sewing. Does this girl have spunk or what? We’ve made tentative plans for her to visit me at home for a few sewing classes.
Margaret, 49, is a new nurse on staff, having recently relocated from Pennsylvania. Desperate for a job, she works two 16-hour shifts on the weekend. This single mom, driven by the need to pay her son’s college tuition, commutes 1 hour to work, spends 16 1/2 hours on her feet (she is supposed to have a 30 minute lunch break, but in reality, she grabs a bite of her sandwich between rounds), then drives one hour home and sleeps for 4 hours. She pops up and drives back to work for a second 16 1/2 hour shift.
Before her first shift, she irons two uniforms, packs two lunches and sets out a basic breakfast. I cannot imagine her fatigue, but she declares that she is just grateful for a job.
Walter is a homeless 40-ish young man with mild cerebral palsy. A year ago, he was discovered unconscious, lying near his camp. After recuperating in the hospital where his medical issues were addressed, he was sent here for rehabilitation. Tremendous efforts were made to find a place for him in a sheltered environment, but Walter refused all offers and returned to his place in the woods.
Recently, he was found again, unconscious, having suffered a stroke. He has returned to this facility where his minimal progress makes it clear that he will become a full-time resident, never again to return to his “home” in the woods. What appears to everyone else to be an obvious upgrade in lifestyle is viewed by Walter as confinement, an enormous disappointment.
Upon returning home, I will be newly grateful for so many things–my knee, my general good health, my beautiful home, my loving family, my rich life. But I will not forget Carole, Maxine, Cynda, Margaret, Walter, Susan and all the others who have touched my life these past 17 days.
Both my knee and my perspective have been rehabilitated.