The building was tucked in a landscaped lot. It looked a senior care residence but it wasn’t. It was a neurological rehabilitation center.
A high school chum of the beloved husband had a massive stroke two months ago. It was tragic as they all are. He had it outside his car at 11 p.m. It was cold and drizzly and he laid on the ground until the trash collectors found him early the next morning.
Amazingly he survived. There was a lot of neurological damage, hence the rehab.
We drove to see him last week. It’s about an hour drive. He has been there four weeks. He has regained some speech but it’s not fast and barely audible (or maybe that’s my ears). He still has a tracheostomy and a feeding tube. He can’t swallow.
It was an eye opener for me. The place wasn’t bad or ugly but it was institutional. There was that faint smell of antiseptic and body waste. It reminded me of the days I spent looking for an assisted living place for my former mother-in-law. She had early dementia. It was severe enough that she couldn’t be alone but not so severe that she didn’t know what was going on. I remember her asking repeatedly to go home. Painful cries that broke my heart.
The rehab was clean but there were sick people in close quarters. The workers were great. Many were from Haiti and were true care givers. Everyone knew our friend.
When we got to his room I noticed how small it was. There were two beds with barely enough room to walk around them. He was fortunate that the other bed was currently empty. Can you imagine living this close to a complete stranger for weeks on end?
Our friend has plateaued. It’s not that he can’t recover more functions. He is starting to walk again but he has lost his spark. The nurse says that he needs to “want to” work at it but hasn’t been cooperating.
I don’t know how I would fare in that situation. I want to think that I would work like hell to get out of there but would I? Do you get overcome with the magnitude of the rehab work and the frustrations? Do you get homesick, maybe want your own stuff. Want your own life back? Do you think it’s the end of the good life?
Do you start getting that “walk in the woods” feeling?
We are hoping for the best. He looked good and seemed genuinely appreciative that we came. I wonder what he really thinks but that is his story.
This has made me realize that we need to be more prepared and it’s beyond cleaning out the attic and closets. We need to have a “When I Die” folder that includes a lot more than the clothes to get buried in (me) or where to toss the ashes (him). I don’t know all it should be but that is on list to work on soon.
The goal is to not burden the family whatever happens. Most people wait too long to do it. I don’t want to be one of those people.