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The Fall, And I Don’t Mean the Season | The Tales of a Stroke Patient | Joyce Hoffman

The biggest problem I had was with my body not functioning like it used to. I wasn’t walking independently, and sitting on a regular chair was a challenge. But that’s what the wheelchair was for. I didn’t need to walk–yet, and the wheelchair forced me to sit upright, even if the staff had to strap me in. But all systems were “go,” if you got my drift, and that was one less thing to worry about.

It was in the beginning of the fourth week at Rehab X that I had a problem that I couldn’t surmount. It involved a CNA (no surprise there) and getting up in the middle of the night. Your first question would probably be, “What was I doing up in the middle of the night?”

But if you really thought about it for a nanosecond, you will probably come with the answer: I had to go to the bathroom, and that was because I kept hydrated all day, so afraid my “peeing” would stop working again. That was MY idea, but the doctor assured me that wasn’t the case. I didn’t wholeheartedly believe him and I was incurring another problem: skepticism.

I awakened at 3am, even with my headset, to the sound of snoring. At first, I couldn’t decide if the snoring bothered me more than getting up when all I wanted to do was sleep. But after one minute, I had no choice. I pushed the call button. A CNA arrived after about ten minutes. She was the CNA I had on most overnights when I awakened early in the morning. Her shift was 11pm to 7am.

“What the matter?” If she was studying my body language, she would already know. I had one leg crossed on top of the other.

I was still gesturing and pointing when I spoke. “I hafta go t’de bafroom.” But despite my restructuring of English language, she understood me.

“I’ll see if I can get somebody to help,” she said. And then she took off.

CNAs were a mixed bag. Some of them would take me to the bathroom by themselves and others called for help. I didn’t know what was the difference between those who would and those who wouldn’t, but I know now.

Nursing staff have among the highest back and shoulder injury rates of any occupational group. In many cases, nurses may experience the pain and suffering long-term, ruining their careers. So I didn’t fault the CNA to get help, but when she returned to my room, she was alone.

“I can’t find anybody, so let’s try to do it together.”

There were several things, using handy hindsight, that were wrong about that statement. First, was there no one to help her if she felt that help was needed? Second, I couldn’t help someone who was trying to lift me. I couldn’t even walk at that point, so “together” was out of the question. And third, what she mean by “try”? She helped me anyway, despite my feeling of gloom and doom.

And then she dropped me, just like that. I could feel the icy linoleum as I plummeted to the floor, flat on my side. And then the announcement came–too late, in my opinion.

“I’m pregnant.”

Why are you telling me this now, after the fact, I thought to myself. Although I could speak now, her actions rendered me speechless. She left my room in a hurry, and in about thirty seconds, returned with the RN. The two of them returned me to my wheelchair. A flutter of activity, meaning a few nurse types, began to assemble in the hallway. And I had one more question: Where were they before this accident happened? The CNA probably didn’t look hard enough, if she looked at all. I reminded them again of the bathroom.

They took me and I used it, but I wasn’t happy. If the CNA was pregnant and didn’t feel comfortable getting me in the wheelchair, she shouldn’t have tried. She could have asked the nursing crowd, which got even larger, congregated in the hallway. This place, Rehab X, was a mess.

The CNAs, the daytime shift, were back to take me for a hip X-ray, and everything turned out fine for Rehab X. Nothing was broken except my spirit. In my case, I had a bruise, actually a hematoma, on my hip that was, according to the globe I had at home, like the size of Russia. I was given an icepack that I had to use three times day for a week. But the second day, I only received the ice pack in the morning. And the third day, I didn’t receive it at all. I gave up asking.

That’s how Rehab X was, a hit-or-miss place. I wanted to get out of there. However, I would stay there for three more weeks, as it turned out. As much as I improved my mood at Rehab X up to that point, that accident set me back almost to the beginning of my stay. Just three more weeks, but the end of the tunnel was nowhere in sight.

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