For the past three weeks I spent a lot of time visiting Peg at the nursing home. On the day she was admitted, I met with the home’s doctor. He told me that the average recovery time for someone who has been bed ridden is four days of rehab for every day spent in bed. Peg spent four days in bed so my rapid fire brain calculated sixteen days of rehab. Yet, to be very honest, Peg looked like she was just a few hours away from a casket. I went home and prayed. Then, I dialed an agency that provides full time help.
After twenty days in rehab Peg is smiling again, and attempts to walk at every chance she gets. She presents a fall hazard to the home. She began complaining about the CNA who takes care of her, and she has been refusing to take medications. She is ready to come home.
I had a different theme for this post when I began, but the phone rang a moment ago, and quickly changed my train of thought. The nurse at the home called to report that Peggy refused to eat anything including her favorite, ice cream. I spoke to Peg on the phone to coax her into eating something. She promised me she would. I remained on the phone and over heard the nurse urging her to try a spoonful; she broke her promise. I know if I were there, I would get her to eat something, but it would take forever to make it happen.
This afternoon, at lunch, I was coaxing Peg to open her mouth to take food when it occurred to me that every woman at her table was exhibiting the same tendency. They all needed someone to coax them to eat, and to shovel the food into their mouths. They wouldn’t eat by themselves, but they would eat a bit if they were fed. The light went on, and I realized it was the need for personal attention that probably caused them to respond. When you are alone in a home filled with strangers, strange furniture, strange food, and upset about being there, the only thing on your mind is going home, or dying.
Time is all one has while living in rehab. The rehab part takes twenty minutes of your day, the rest of your time is spent sitting, watching, napping, waiting for the next meal, or the next pill. Taking an hour to take five bites of food doesn’t seem long, except to the caretaker. To the resident it is precious one on one time with a care giver.