I know I have vanished “into thin air”…..Not really into thin air but into heavy, humid, insufferably hot air. I am in a massive county run rehab facility in Orange County NY.(and the AC doesn't work in my room). It is an immense building full of the forgotten. There are newly disabled people here and people who have been disabled most or all of their lives. There are the elderly---those with committed loving families and those whose families are long gone or who have put them here and left them to deal with illness and encroaching age alone.
I am in the very odd position of being a “youngster” among my white haired cronies here. I am considered to be a mere youth…yesterday a sweet lady asked my age and expressed surprise when I told her “53” because she thought I was “in your 20’s” LOL. I do consider myself to be blessed because I am not yet at the point in my life where this is a one way admission….I’m not yet here to live out my remaining days. However, I am disabled enough for this to be a little “too close to home.”
It is a different way of life here. One thing I must say. Paint is fading. Floor tiles are cracked and chipped. But the smiles of the staff are shiny and bright. They like their jobs. They enjoy their coworkers. They care about making life comfortable for these inhabitants. There is kindness, humor, and concern. I cannot speak highly enough of this wonderful bunch of people.
I do not know how long I will be here. It depends on how quickly I can figure out a way to get myself up the 6 deck steps leading to my front door at home. At best, it will be a week or two; at worst, another 4 weeks. This has put a huge dent in my resolve to bring this endeavor to completion. My original plan was to have this surgery; recover; and then repeat on my right foot as well. However, I never anticipated the level of disruption to my life that this would entail. It never occurred to me that I might be taken from my life and placed on the sidelines for weeks. The degree of recovery this would require never occurred to me.
It is true that I was extremely weakened even prior to my surgery due to the weeks and months I’d spent in my recliner when my muscles were deteriorating and flexibility and strength were waning because I was in too much pain to walk or work out. I am now trying to retrieve that lost strength. My physical therapist here told me, “Yes, get strong and have the other surgery and don’t let it throw you to the degree this has.” If only that was possible! I’m not saying it isn’t … I just need to creatively approach a method of adapting the stair rails at home so that I might lift myself with my arms….It might even be possible to do with crutches. I don’t know. What I do know is that a strong body will go far in buying me independence. It is my goal to work to attain that strength while I’m here. I know that, despite the hardships I have faced here, I have gained strength, courage and resolve from my stay here...as well as made some valuable new friends.