In Sickness and In Health Part III: Learning To Live Again

This is a multi part series that will be posted monthly.

I wasn’t a good patient the first few days at the rehab center. I didn’t want to be there. I don’t do well with change, especially ones I don’t like, and I was still drugged, groggy, and not keeping track of things from all the hospital medications working their way out of my system. Things I usually would have bit my tongue and not said to people came right on out, the filter on my mouth was just gone, and I didn’t care if I hurt anyone’s feelings. If it ran through my mind, it popped out of my mouth, even more so than usual. I was not my normal self to say the least.

Within the first hour I was there a nurse decided to take it upon himself to decide which medications I did and did not need and took away my anxiety medication. Not his smartest move and that was just the first thing he did that screwed with my medical care while there. My first night there I awoke in a panic because I couldn’t catch my breath. Somehow in my sleep I had twisted around in the bed and ended up with my head against the wall at an odd angle that with a trach tube was cutting off my airway. I still couldn’t move myself because of my weakened muscles and panicked. I don’t remember how I got the staff’s attention whether if I screamed, if I pushed my call button, or if my roommate pushed hers.  The nurse got me turned around, but by that point I couldn’t be calmed. My blood pressure and heart rate were through the roof and nothing they did could get me to breathe more slowly.

I was sent to the ER and I took my bags that had never been unpacked with me. I was determined not to come back. After several hours of tests, a very rude ER doctor told me I could either go back to the rehab center or he could put me on the sidewalk outside to die. I had never been talked to by a doctor so rudely in my life. I tearfully returned since I had no access to oxygen at home.

The morning after my ER visit for my panic attack the nurse that had taken me off my anxiety meds got to meet my Mrs. Hyde persona thanks to still being drugged, lack of sleep, having my medication discontinued, and still not sure what caused it but when I got upset or panicked I was hallucinating. I had taken an immediate dislike to this man for some reason and the closer he came into my personal space the more I freaked out. He tried to give me my morning meds and I refused them thinking he was giving me something illegal (remember those hallucinations?). It became a whole big argument and I really made him mad and could have cared less because as far as I was concerned I wasn’t taking any crap from him. For someone who normally hates confrontation to the point of shaking and wanting to throw up, I went toe to toe with him and when he gave me an ultimatum I told him what he could do with those meds. Oh boy was he quick to give me back my anxiety meds after that! I wish I could say my opinion of him changed over my time at the rehab center and while I did learn to tolerate him and somewhat like him at times there was just something about him that kept me from completely changing my mind about him.

My husband was livid when he got to the rehab that morning to visit me because he had no clue I had been to the ER. On that second day there they switched my room because my first roommate talked all night long, the room was cluttered with her things leaving nowhere to unpack mine, she kept getting upset repeatedly asking who I was and why was I in her room, and I think also to make my husband happier about what had gone down the day/night before. I was taken further down the hallway to a larger room, with in suite bathroom, and a woman closer to my age for a roommate. They said they thought a larger room and less cluttered feel would help with my anxiety.

I had come from the hospital to the rehab center with a still healing bedsore and now a rash on my butt. I spent my first and second days with a cream thickly applied and a Depends covering me so that it could get aired out and hopefully go away more quickly. Physical and occupational therapists came to my room the first and second days and due to not being fully covered up down there I refused to do some of the requested items for my evaluations like try to stand or take a step. I asked how long they thought I would have to be there and was told at least six weeks or probably longer. That answer didn’t cut it for me and I told him I’d give them two weeks.

My third morning there I met the head of therapy and when she offered to help me shower I could have cried and might have, I honestly don’t remember, but I quickly took her up on her offer. I wanted my hair washed and my body to feel clean so badly it wasn’t even funny. She helped me start learning how to transition from the bed to the wheelchair and took me into the bathroom and helped me do everything. I got dizzy very easily at first sitting on the shower chair and trying to lean over to wash my legs so she washed more of me than I did and even shaved my poor ridiculously hairy legs that hadn’t been shaved since sometime in January and it was now April. I was freezing being in an open roll in shower but at least I felt human again. After my shower she helped me work on dressing myself and she tried to get some knots out of my hair.

My first few days of lucidity was spent with her, learning to dress myself, do transfers to the wheelchair, bed, and the potty chair they had brought to the end of my bed, being able to pull myself up into a sitting position if I slid down, moving my legs to sit on the edge of the bed, and just being able to hold my arms in the air long enough to brush my hair (what we could get of it loose that is) and teeth. Physical therapy was definitely the more painful of my therapies, but I was determined and had that goal I set of two weeks so I had to get down to business. I was also evaluated by a speech therapist just to be on the safe side since I had been deprived of oxygen. I was tested for pronunciation, memory, and to see if I had lost any vocabulary. I did have some memory issues, but nothing that warranted therapy so I only had to get signed off by medical, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to go home. I wanted out of there so I could be home with my family where I was sure I would recover more quickly. I felt I had already lost enough of my life to covid and was determined not to lose anymore of it due to being stuck in a rehab center.


Because of the length on my COVID-19 journey you’ll have to wait for the next in the series: In Sickness and In Health Part IV: Fighting To Be Me Again

Continue following along to see if I managed to get out of the rehab center in my goal of two weeks.

Previous Post: In Sickness and In Health Part II: Hospital Recovery