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Purrfect


By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Fri, Apr 19th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

There are angels who walk among us. They tread the halls of the nursing home where I am recovering from knee surgery.

We humans are subject to the winds of time which sweep us along without consulting our will. We are carried along on a currant and sometimes find ourselves edding in pools of helplessness, pain and frustration.

Surgery exposes us to fear, uncertainty and surrenders control of our bodys and emotions to strangers.

What borders on miraculous is the compassion, sensitivity and wisdom of my caretakers in this nether world in which I find myself.

Three months ago I had replacement surgery in my right knee. On April 1st, I had surgery on the left knee, then returned to the nursing facility where I received a warm welcome.

I joined the parade of wheel chairs in the hall where patients hailed each other. “How are you?” they ask. “Just fine.” Fine just fine, the resounding answer. Which poses the question, if we are all “just fine” why are we here?

One person you don’t want to see first thing in the morning is your therapist. She is often young, pretty with bright eyes and a playful smile. She is there to inflict pain.

Actually there is no good time to exercise but without it there will be no recovery.

As I ease my foot forward curling my toes and pressing down on my thigh, my mentor murmers, “Perfect,” with satisfaction. I come to find out the word “perfect” is agreed on universally among all my caregivers. The smallest accomplishment is celebrated and softly the word “perfect” which is rolled out slowly with extra “R’s” as in “Purrfect!”

Periodically throughout the day from early mornings light, they take our vitals. Blood pressure has long been a source of suspicion to me. It’s numbers fluctuate like the stock market or gas prices at the pump. If you don’t like the result - you just do it over until the numbers are more favorable.

Not usually a subject of public discourse, the words “bowel movement” is considered important and of great interest. You aren’t allowed to go home until you perform. My favorite Dr. Oz Show was devoted to the intestinal track and it’s wonders.

Every worker here has certain duties. One collects the dirty towels and gowns daily. Another follows, bringing fresh towels and gowns. One day their timing was off. The person collecting the dirty linens came after the clean towels were delivered. The patients kept a watchful eye on the emply place on the night stand waiting for fresh linen, which never arrived.

One evening I unfolded my night gown and was startled to find it the size for a ten-year-old. No way it could cover my one hundred and ninety-eight pounds.

Such small matters are cheerfully corrected.

In a nursing home details are often important: the arrangement of pillows, adjusting the lighting and keeping the water pitcher full. In the middle of the night I reached confidently for the jug to fill my glass. It hadn’t occured to me the “spout” might be in a different place. Instead of being opposite the handle it was now on the side. In the darkness I ended up watering my bedside table and all the papers and objects carefully arranged there on.

Of course drinking all the water results in waking every two hours at night and a trip to the bathroom, which is just as well, in that time the ice packs on my injured knee have warmed and need to be replaced.

We have our lighter moments. We have musicians, concerts, sing-alongs and we often play bingo.

One Sunday I thought I was headed for a concert and found myself at a Baptist Church service. The message offered by the lay-preacher was “We don’t lose our value as human beings by losing our abilities.”

As night approaches, I remove my teddy stockings and slipper socks. Take my meds, arrange the ice packs, pillows, turn down the lights. As the cold penetrates and numbs the soreness of my injured knee I sink gratefully into the sheets and sigh, Ah! Purrfect!

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