At the age of 22, I had my two month nursing home stay. I am not afraid of them now.
On Oct. 31 I was moved from Heartland hospital to Living Community of St. Joseph for extensive physical and occupational therapy.
I was greeted and admitted into the facility by people that I knew. One was the mother of a friend of mine and a chaplain that was a friend of the family. I knew immediately it was where I was supposed to be.
I remember that on each floor there were caged birds and I would have someone wheel me in the wheelchair out to see them when I first arrived.
It was here that miracles happened.
When I was first admitted two ladies had to use a hoyer lift to get me out of bed and into the wheelchair.
When I left, I was walking with a walker. I entered with a nice woman having to feed me and I left holding the fork myself.
My physical and occupational therapists cared about me and wanted to see me walk again. They went above and beyond what they had to do and spent a lot of time with me, some even off the clock. Every time I would be able to do something new they would get as excited as I would.
I became friends with several other people who lived there.
Several of the older people gave me their phone numbers to keep in contact. One of the lady’s daughters would pray with me in the morning. In December the family members of some of the people there bought me Christmas presents.
I enjoyed their company. The patients were always encouraging and they all told me I would get better.
I consider myself an independent person. Before this, if I wanted to do something or go somewhere, I just got into the car and drove there.
It was hard not to be able to do what used to be simple, everyday things. It is so easy to get angry in that situation and I am sorry to say I did get angry.
What calmed me down was what a chaplain at the hospital told me. She said that it is a gift to help others and a gift to receive that help.
I grew spiritually during this, even when I was angry, because I felt this condition was not fair to me (or anyone else) and that I was not strong enough to go through this.
Living Community had Mass every Saturday and worship service every Sunday which helped me quite a bit. I went to nearly every service, even during the week that was the darkest for me.
I can see now that I am strong enough to deal with this and that my God never left me.
The support of family, friends and those that started out as strangers has made a world of difference to me.
I have a new outlook on how caring, compassionate and loving people can be. But there were people at Living Community that did not get as many visitors as I did.
I can not stress enough how important it is for family and friends to visit people in nursing homes. It does make a difference in their lives.