Sunday, June 8, 2014

Salt the Land and Boil the Sea

How much of a factor my probably too early release from HealthSouth affected what came next is a matter of debate.  When all is said and done, only Denise can settle the matter.  She is not forthcoming.  I will just say all I can say and everyone can draw their own conclusions.  Fair warning--I have rolled it over in my mind numerous times since my and come up with nothing but potential bald spots from where I have felt compelled to rip out my hair.  Fortunately, I am in possession of much self-discipline.
HealthSouth booted me out on a Tuesday morning twelve days after I was admitted as a patient.  They ordered a new walker for me--I had been using one owned my brother-in-law’s late mother--and two cases of tube feeding called is source.  I had to be out by noon.  A nursing assistant came in with a thick plastic bag and literally swept everything off the bathroom counter, nightstand, and moveable table with her arm into the bag.  Rolls of tape toiletry items…whatever it was, it was dumped in without a thought.  Whomever was assigned my room next must have been waiting on a stretcher just out of sight.  Fine with me.  I had enough of the boot camp-style therapy by that point.
 I had enough emotionally, anyway.  I was still dependent on a walker.  It is a point I found odd.  I had been discouraged by thinking I would have to walk unaided before HealthSouth would discharge me.  Lord knows how long that would take.  The appetite enhancer was coming to an end, as well.  They can only be taken for a thirty day period.  I am not certain if that means only once in a lifetime or something less dramatic, but taking them again has never been so much as entertained.
The ride home with Denise was odd, but more pleasant than any of our times alone in months.   She had her daughter, Kirsten, in mind.  I have already stated I do not have Kirsten’s approval to elaborate on her health issues.  Just know that she had been under medical care away from home roughly as much as I had since early November.  She was due to return a week after I left HealthSouth.  Denise feared her  father and sister would not be sympathetic to Kirsten’s fragile state.  Note she did not say I would not.  Her faith in how positively I interact with Kirsten versus her other family members is worth remembering.

  Things went relatively well for about a month.  Denise, a bit of a control freak, insisted on doing my tube feeding herself.  I obliged, thought it should be noted as well that I could and would have done them myself.  The feedings were four times a day.  The lunch break feeding was the only time Denise had to leave work to do one.  The feedings were supposed to be supplemental, but I often skipped eating real food in between them.  There was something comforting about being full without having to taste food.  I still ate, but only what I absolutely wanted.  It was advertised that I could maintain and gain weight exclusively through the tube feedings.  I took it as gospel.  On the physical side, I got around more, but I still used the walker.  This in spite of regular physical therapy.
What happened after that month was over is hard to tell.  The physical therapist began to alternate weeks with an occupational therapist.  On her first visit, she lectured me over my lack of independence.  She said that Denise was doing things for me I could be doing myself.  I assured her the only thing Denise was doing for me was tube feedings and then demonstrated I could handle it by doing on in front of her myself.  For two visits, I had to show this lady that I could bathe, dress, feed myself both ways, and go to the bathroom while still using a walker.  She only made three visits, so I assumed she was satisfied.  Denise, however, was not.
If you do not know me well, I am a fairly easy going guy until I get patronized.  Treat me like I am stupid or too crippled to wipe my own behind, and you have made an archenemy until you offer compelling evidence you are sorry for the mistake.  So I was clearly miffed at the dog and pony show I had to put on for the occupational therapist.  I was doubly miffed that Denise had, as I was concerned, my dependence on her.  My dependence was certainly far less than had been in months.  Her biggest responsibility was one she took on by choice.   So I asked why she had told the occupational therapist I was essentially forcing her to wait on me and foot when it was unnecessary.   

Denise was due to have abdominal surgery herself in June after my six year old nephew got out of school.   This was only the beginning of March.  Certainly, I was not turning somersaults in the hallway, but I just proved I could take care of myself.  Home health was still going to come aid me, too.  So what was this notion that I am going to be naked, unwashed, and gnawing on raw meat in a few months while Denise recovered from surgery?  Her response amounted to what an increased burden I had become with no end in sight.  She wondered even she could even have the surgery with me in my current state.

Our mother used to say things like that.  She would exaggerate a problem or even create one out of thin air, then blame it on one of us in order to guilt us into doing what she wanted.  I awarded Denise bonus points for using a legit health claim.  Our mother after used a mysterious stomach ailment preventing her from eating that came and went depending on her need to control our actions.  In reality, momma just did not want food to kill her alcohol buzz or the fun of throwing guilt trips on her little puppets.  I had played that game enough with our mother to know how to play it with Denise.
Good thing, too, because she quit the tube feedings along with all the other phantom labor I required her to do, whatever that was.  In a snap, we went back to the way things were prior to surgery in October.  I was once again a boarder in her house.  I handled the tube feedings on my own food.  I struggled mightily with the physical therapist’s aid to get rid of the walker, which I managed to do by the end of March.  If denise had been trying to throw me out the nest to speed up my recovery, it worked.  It was dishonest and cruel, but it worked. 
The weight gain did not come as quickly as it was supposed.  I hovered between 70-74 lbs right up until late May.  It was discouraging even though the general feeling was I would never weigh even the 95 lbs I once did again, nor could I regain the muscle lost.  Combine that with me now being back to solitary confinement with at best ambivalent wardens, and you can imagine how depressed my state was becoming.  I figured yet again my health could finish me off at any time.  I did not have to bother with suicidal thoughts.  As it turned out, my health did go badly again.
 I will cover that tomorrow.  The takeaway here is that after months of at least feigning concern for me, to the point of hiding my suicidal tendencies in order to keep me out of a potential involuntary committal, Denise abruptly went back to the old way of me just sort of being there in the house.  That is the way it had been for eight years by that point, but it seemed harsher now.  Maybe I was just thinking that because I was anxious to pass on.  I8 do not know.  But what I do know is that Kirsten, who was home schooled through correspondence cources and was around all the time, began having much of the same issues.    We were both becoming less a part of the household by the day, and we were not all that welcome in the first place.  

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