I’ll have to transfer to another gurney to go upstairs. This is terrifying, as the first few gurney transfers nearly destroyed me.
“Can you skoochie yourself over?” a nurse asks. Aha! A graphic art term!
“Hillary,” I call from my bed, “tell her, can I skoochie or what?” Humor prevails once again, and I make the switch without falling to pieces.
I say goodbye to the sweet CNAs who took care of me. A few minutes of disorienting back-travel through hallways and elevators and I’m on the top floor of the hospital in a room with a fantastic view of the entire Rogue Valley. I’m in a new bed, but there’s still one of those annoyingly sticky 3’ x 3’ pads underneath me.
Wayne goes about re-decorating the room with my father’s picture on the shelf, plus the plants and flowers people have brought. He pins get-well cards and the cat poster onto a bulletin board.
It’s quiet up here. Staff members are quick to inform me that 6th Tower is the cool place to be. “When you press the call button, we’re there.” There's an atrium where you can dine with the other patients, a whole PT gym, a soda-stocked refrigerator, plus therapy dogs who come to visit. It almost sounds like camp, and I’m looking forward to getting some rest.
The head nurse of the PT unit, Geneva, comes to see me in the late afternoon. She looks to be around my age, a kind, soft-spoken black woman who holds my hand while she speaks healing words of courage.
On the elite PT floor you get a schedule outlining the appointments you'll be having the next day. Breakfast, Occupational Therapy, Lunch, Physical Therapy, Dinner. Someone refills your giant plastic sippy cup with fresh ice every eight hours. Thankfully, the bedside commode in my new room has a regular, hard seat.
And that "rest" thing? Ha! Not even. The next morning a nurse is in my room at 6:00 am to check my vitals. They have rolling computers now, with all your information on them. It reminds me of a modern-day hurdy-gurdy. Now and then I hear a helicopter come in for a landing on the heliport below us, and leave again. They’re loud and rise close to my window. I wonder who’s been plucked from a remote location and spent time not only on their back being lifted by strangers, but also immobile and airborne.
“How come I don’t have a cast?” I ask, pointing to my extra-large left leg.
“It’s on the inside,” Susan says. “Do you want to see it?”
She goes out and returns with one of those rolling hurdy-gurdy computers, bringing up my chart.
A moment later the image of my left femur comes into view. A titanium rod with what looks like zip-ties holding the broken pieces of my bone to it. There are two screws at the bottom of the titanium rod, just above my knee.
“Whoa…” I breathe.
Susan gives me a rolling tour of the entire floor, including the PT gym. Tomorrow we'll get started on stretches and continued hobbling.
Later on, Wayne shows up with the baggy, pajama-type clothes I’ve asked for, plus a few toys. My iFart hand-held fart machine, for instance. Yeah. I’m not afraid to admit it; we actually have more than one fart-generating toy in our home. You would be amazed at how such a simple thing can quickly pffft you out of a funk. He places my Tin Man bobblehead on my bed table.
Wayne tells me our kitchen walls have now been restored, and the windows are properly framed in. He’s found a wonderful man to replace our last contractor, whom he now refers to as “Richard Weed.” I’ve felt too weak to worry about the house for the past week, so I’m glad to hear good news. We’ll want to have those windows in place once fall comes. He also lets me know that the heinous ladder which let me down so callously has now left the property. He ditched it at the local Habitat for Humanity “Restore.” I am banned from ladders for life.
A while later a man named Bill comes for my first OT session. He tells me stories about his cats while gently rubbing skin softener on my left fingers. He asks me more questions about our house, such as how I might be able to get around once I’m inside.
I learn the basics of wheelchair travel: how to lock and unlock the brakes, propel myself, and turn. Later I’ll be learning how to dress myself. I’m plodding onward, doing whatever people tell me because we know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I accept my situation as du rigueur, although I'd prefer to kick back and watch Disney cartoons. My eyesight is a bit off; I've been experiencing nearly 20-20 vision although I find it hard to focus on things like crossword puzzles and books.
Rhonda, my other OT, comes in to give me my first shower since I got here, in the “shower chair” – a chair made entirely out of PVC pipe, with a plastic seat. I’m still scared to transfer from one thing to another for fear of falling over, but I wheel myself into the bathroom and stand up, shuffle around with Rhonda’s help, and ease into the chair. Warm, soapy water pours over my filthy hair for the first time in more than a week. Ahhhhh… I hold my left arm up to avoid getting my splint wet. A few remaining twigs drop away, racing for the drain.