Friday, January 13, 2012

Life in Rehab

(This blog entry pertains to an experience I had in May/June of 2008.) 
My new home away from this time was the Tuskawilla Nursing & Rehab Center in Winter Springs, FL. I knew the facility well having watched it being built. My Mom had been a patient there in 2005 after a fall required surgery and rehabilitation.  The PT/OT department was outstanding and it operated seven days a week. In the beginning, I would get therapy every single day, then it would go down to six days a week. I was very impressed with the schedule since it meant I would be getting plenty of rehab... just what the doctor ordered. I was not going there for a party. My plan was solid. Get into a routine of rehab and get myself up, walking and moving about in the shortest period of time possible. I left the hospital able to transfer from the bed to a bedside commode. That was a major milestone since in my previous experience, I was still using a bedpan when I arrived in rehab. So, I was already ahead in my action plan. When I did get to the center, (it was early evening, just after dinner time) I told the nursing staff that I needed a bedside commode. They quickly complied with my request. 
The food at this center was also superior to my previous rehab experience. Here, they gave me a weekly menu and I could, if desired, request an alternative to the main entree at lunch or dinner. That certainly made it much easier to eat well, since my daily food choices were actually my own. I could, at least, pick items I wanted from the planned menu. At my last location, each day was a surprise. Here, I knew what I was getting -- for better or worse, you might say, but knowing was better than a daily surprise. In some cases, it offered me other options. I was able to have family bring me meals if I wanted something different than what was being served. One day, a new found friend (a man in rehab following knee surgery) and I had my brothers bring us Thai food for lunch. What a treat! Everyone was jealous.
The staff at Tuskawilla proved to be friendly and for the most part, compassionate and caring. Of course, there were those moments when (if we pushed our button and the light was lit outside our room and no one responded quickly enough) well, let’s just say, there were challenges. These things happen, and in a rehab center... you are not connected to the nursing station via a voice button system. So, you can’t tell the nurse or aide why you need help. You push your button and a light goes on outside your room. If no one sees the light, you wait. And wait. And perhaps continue waiting until help comes along. If you happen to light your button at the same time as another patient, you may continue waiting even longer. There is no priority system. You wait until help arrives. In some cases, it does come too late. (That could mean a patient who is unable to get out of bed on his or her own may have an accident.) There were a few close calls, but fortunately, I managed to handle most of the situations that arose. There were those few frustrating times, when I really wanted help immediately and did not get it... but again, I survived. I also hated being left on the commode when an aide left the room and got busy elsewhere. I sat and sat ... and waited until someone returned to help me off the commode and back into bed. Not an easy thing to do, but I tried very hard to realize that there were others who needed help. And unfortunately, only so many aides available to assist. 
I have the utmost respect for these men and women who take on the job of an aide in a rehab center or hospital. It is not an easy job nor is it glamorous. Actually, it is quite the opposite. It is downright nasty at times and yet, these dedicated individuals do their job with great compassion and understanding. Yes, they may not answer the call bell instantly or get to the room in time trying to respond to the light, but they do come. And when they are with a patient, they do a lot. 

If you would like more information about becoming a CNA, here's a link:

Testing for CNA exam:

Registry for CNAs.

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