Here in "rehab" land, those of us who are temporarilyconfined to bed or a wheelchair, have little control over the slowly moving hours and days of our lives.
There are two things that help me to get through these long days of waiting. Both are on the wall, facing my bed. One is the calendar. One is the clock.
Every morning, I have someone move the marker on the calendar. It gives me a feeling of how my stay is progressing to see when I'll have my next "care plan" meeting, my next evaluation, my next doctor's appointment. And, when I look back to my admission day, I'm encouraged by how far I've come.
The clock on the wall, with its slowly moving hands dictates the hours and minutes of my days. The arrival of breakfast, lunch and supper are always highlights. And the clock also marks the therapy sessions, the visits from the floor nurse with medications, as well as stops by my designated CNA (certified nurse assistant), housekeeping staff and on and on. Yet, though I watch and wait, I have no control over any of it.
Fortunately, the experienced and dedicated folks who work so hard to restore each patient to his or her best abilities, understand both our frustrations as well as the limitations we bring with us when we are admitted.
Although some of the patients, at least when they first come in, resist the twice-a-day sessions of physical and occupational therapy, they soon learn that the hard work necessary in these vital rehab steps is the only way to return to the lives they have enjoyed.
In my case, I knew the therapy sessions were my ticket back home. So the mild pain and frequent exhaustion were a small price to pay.
By the way, you may have wondered, as I did, why older folks like me and others who are long retired should take "occupational therapy." After all, we're certainly not seeking employment.
But occupational therapy is actually focused on the "activities of daily living".......personal care, bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, etc.
For those who have experienced a fracture of the extremities or a stroke, for instance, relearning such formerly-simple tasks can make the difference between success in rehabilitation and failure.
But whether physical or occupational therapy is on the day's schedule, the one constant about life here is the endless waiting. We wait for our meals, for our meds, for the therapists to come, for the change of shifts in order to get the help we need.....and on and on and on.
Yet somehow, as the clock on my wall continues to tick off the hours and the calendar shows the slow march of days, the therapy begins to pay off. Little by little my strength comes back. I begin to stand on my "good" leg. I make slow but encouraging progress.
One day, the calendar will mark the day i can go home and pick up my life.
In the meantime, the clock on my wall and the calendar beside it have convinced me once again of why those of us who dwell in "rehab land" are called "Patients."