Thursday, January 14
From my bed at the Good Shepherd Rehab Hospital, I am treated to a panoramic view of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, and as a bank of storm clouds approach from the east, the sky turns a foreboding, cyanotic shade of blue.
I am tired. Bone weary. Throughout the day I’ve been receiving updates from my nurse regarding my transfer status to a local Continuing Care Retirement Community called Luther Crest that I have requested for a short stay for sub-acute care.
Now, it’s late in the afternoon and the updates have slowed to a trickle. After all, I say — as if I were addressing a Town Hall Meeting — I’m just a patient in this managed care equation. All the decisions related to my Medicare Advantage Insurance — my primary reimbursement insurer — are made by a group of people who wouldn’t know me in a phone booth, have never spoken to me, and don’t give a rat’s ass about my plans, dreams and goals.
Friday, January 15
And now, after a fitful night of sleep, it’s Friday morning.
When I sleep, I turn on my BiPap unit. It’s a machine that pumps the room air into a full-face mask I wear to prevent sleep apnea and snoring by opening up airways with pressure. It takes some time to get used to it.
Another day at the rehab hospital begins with a shower and breakfast: I have three dietary “filters” . . .I’m on a Cardiac Diet (low fat, 2,000 cal); 2G Diet (less than 2,000 mg. sodium); and liquid restriction(less than 2000 ml).
It’s 9:00 AM and I’m off to the gym for my first Occupational Therapy and Phyisical Therapy classes. Each class lasts one hour and after 2 hours of therapy I’m exhausted from walking, standing, and a panoply of strength and endurance exercises.
I’m pulled aside after my final series of arm bends and told that the Medicare Advantage insurer has decided to give me “an indeterminate stay” at Luther Crest.
The wheelchair van arrives at 1:00 PM and I’m off to another segment of this mystical journey.
– – – To Be Continued
Editor’s Note: Read Part 1 of “Mad as Hell” here.