My favorite parts of being in a a rehabilitation place were fivefold:

First, I loved helping hurt others. What a blast it was after learning to walk again at the facility. One of my acts included helping a man, Robert, whose short term memory was deficient. So I wrote instructions and phone numbers for him to find his car, his wallet, his debit card number, his bank account, his social security account, his medical account number, his supplemental medical insurance information and I helped in other ways.

He did me a favor, too. When a CPA tried to steal his roommate’s expensive winter coat while the roommate was in the hospital, Robert forbade it. ( CPA’s are barely trained workers in rehabilitation. They change diapers and clean a person afterwards, deliver food trays, give sponge baths, change sheets that have been soiled by urine and bm, etc. … They do not get a decent salary and struggle to make ends meet. So no wonder it is alluring to steal a wonderful winter coat.)

I actually, too, helped families visiting patients. I gave useful information and visited lonely, as well as angry rehabilitation patients. Put another way, I loved the tasks that I undertook day after day. In fact, I tried to benefit everyone whose path crossed mine. Goodness, I was having a blast fulfilling one of my main life purposes to further life to improve!

Probably the most disgusting and loathsome task that I undertook on behalf of another patient was to clean out her bags. She had mold and mildew in them, along with half eaten fruit, and liquid infecting a massive amount of food. And I cleaned it all up. (I had been given permission by her for me to do so while she was temporarily away in a hospital and it was a troubling task, one not carried out by CPA’s since they were short staffed.) .

She was a 250 pound woman at five foot six inches height and diabetes index at up to 261 glucose level. … I am at same height at 115 lbs. and my glucose level is normal at 88. Oh dear! … I was always frequently helping her day after day.

I also aided people with obvious mental illness. They too needed extra care of the sort that I try to deliver. I can’t say that that was exactly fun, though. However while they could be volatile, they were not dangerous.

A second aspect enjoyed was the sunrise out of my window. It was stunning!

A third one was the extraordinary food at the place. Indeed I hashed myself out with the dietician and I showed myself as not eating foods that can lead to a diabetic state (a risk condition for me). So I was left to choose my own foods in double portions when she faced my resistance. … I will not be controlled by someone who would throw me into diabetes. Indeed my sister has someone as her dietician, a person considered the top dietitian in the US and out of John Hopkins, and my kin was given my diet with one minor change. I made sure that my own rehab nutritionist knew that. So she finally left me alone.

A fourth one was the people in the rehabilitation gym. The gym, itself, was exceptional, but best was the staff — the physical and occupational therapy staff.

They backed my plan to cut back on opioids for a patient, whose brother had died from an overdose of them. Thus they contacted the rehab doctor about the topic, as did I. … How could she possibly have rehabilitation treatment when she is only sleeping, begging for more opioid drugs, hallucinating and eating out of control?

A fifth category is that some of the other staff was excellent. They are a very dedicated and kindly bunch.

On the negative side, some of the people were simply deplorable. For example, one slopped urine on the bathroom floor from from my roommate’s catheter. I stepped into it at night and she denied the happening. So I got out of bed with my wet socks and made her stop lying. Yet of course, she could find me no clean medical socks, mandated to wear in the center. Therefore, I had to wear my urine soaked pair all night long.

Then there was the social worker that gave me no iota of help and acted as if she did. Wow!

How about a CPA not using gloves, picking up urine and bowel movement soaked sheets with his bare hands, constantly lying, trying to steal from absent people currently in the hospital and wiping his mouth on a sheet before making a bed? What?

How about another CPA leaving a person without sheets for fifteen minutes and saying, “You think you are the only person here?” Meanwhile the patient is cold in her hospital gown.

How about her lying about a bedpan and throwing out bedpans since she doesn’t like cleaning them despite the waste of money in always buying more of them?How about her telling one patient to call the police on her as she decided not to come until the patient had had diarrhea all over herself and bed despite wearing a diaper? How about her telling another patient, “You are annoying,” which she said to me because she didn’t want me to assist others.

In response, I told her that the director of staff likes my showing caring and compassion. Often combative, she shut up toward me after that except for one time more.

In summary, there are good and bad factors in a rehab setting. I suppose that this is to be expected. How not given that rehab places are certainly a mixed bag?

Sally Dugman lives in MA, USA.


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