Monday, April 21, 2014

So Where Has This Guy Been, Anyway?

I have endured a long internal debate over how much to reveal about my life since July.  It is obvious I have been out of touch.  It is also obvious I have gotten extensive medical care after being abandoned by my sister.  You are all smart people.  I am certain you have at least suspected I currently live in a long term care facility.  If you have figured that out, move to the head of the class.  You are correct.
  Ego was the main barrier to me not revealing my status as a nursing home resident before now.  But who can be in possession of any ego after all that has happened to me in the last year?  The last ten years, for that matter.  Everyone already knew I was practically a shut in--and not exclusively for health reasons--while keeping up my previous blog.  My current status is not much of a step back from that.  Besides, it was going to be extremely difficult to write honest posts here without revealing my living arrangements.  So there you go.  It is out in the open.

    I am living at Oakhaven Nursing Center.  It is mostly a senior care facility, but there are people of all ages in residency.  I am not even the youngest.  There is a lady here with advanced MS who is 32 years old.  I have five years on her.  There is also a quadriplegic in his forties and a few in their fifties.  The oldest resident is 105 years old.  She is strong as an ox, too.  Her hearing is bad, so she does not always think you have heard her trying to get your attention, so she will reach out and grab you with a grip like a vice.  You are not going anywhere until you hear her out.   In between the youngest and oldest, there are many wild characters.

    I came to Oakhaven in the middle of July when I no longer fit the description of someone who can be an inpatient at a rehab hospital.  Whatever that means.  With Denise cutting me off completely, I did not have a choice.  I will reluctantly admit relocating was a good idea as far as my health was concerned.  At the time of admission, I weighed 81 pounds and was still wobbly on my feet, as much from anemia as lingering problems from my slow recovery from surgery.  But it was and still occasionally is a scary place.  No one talks about it in order to shield themselves emotionally, but Oakhaven is a place mostly for the sick and dying.

    I rarely ventured out my room for the first month.  The staff frequently tried to engage me, but I said very little and did even less for a long time.  Efforts to contact Denise by both the social worker and me were futile.  Here I was completely abandoned and facing the prospect of spending the rest of my life in a nursing home.  At the time, my options looked much slimmer than they do now.  I despaired, spiraling downward for months until the inevitable happened.  But that is another post.

    I have painted a nasty picture of Oakhaven.  It would be unfair to leave it at that.  After an extremely nasty spell I will post about later, I settled down and befriended the nursing staff and management.  I am one of the few residents--not to sound mean--who does not have some level of dementia, so I can socialize with staff in ways they do not usually see outside of residens’ family members.  Speaking of, I have developed relationships with many of them, too, especially my roommates’ families.  Oakhaven is a Christian environment, as well.  There are church services and Bible studies to go along with the general conversation regarding the subject I enjoy with most everyone.  There are many activities in which to participate.  Since I am my own responsible party, I can leave at will as long as I do not go out alone.  I have been out to eat and shopping with various pals among the nursing and physical/ occupational therapy crew.   These are the first regular, fun outings I have had in years.

    Oakhaven purchased a laptop and set up a hotspot for me in late January.  They sneakily put the wi fi on the other side of the building in order to lure me out of my room more often.  It worked.  I have set up in the telephone room, east wing dining hall, and even the lobby.  Being out in the open more has allowed me to meet more people.  In doing so, my fears  of the future.  There will be plenty of time to write about this stuff later.  For now, at least you know where I stand.

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