Yesterday afternoon, we went back to Rehab. Unfortunately, things just started off on the wrong foot. The instant the wheelchair transport arrived at our house, Bob decided he had to pee. Now you only have a five minute window to get to the van, or the van will leave, so I told him he'd have to hold it until we got there, because he still didn't have his shoes on and I had to get him in the wheelchair etc. So, he's agitated and I'm a nervous wreck and the day has just started. We get to Rehab and I rush him into the bathroom and, of course, he can't go. His urologist has doubled his medication, and doubled it again, and, you know, some days it seems to be working and others it doesn't and we were dealing with one of those days.
So, we leave the bathroom because Bob wants to go out and have a cigarette... (I know-I know-I know, don't jump all over me. It's bad for him, but he has so few pleasures in life--can't eat, can't drink--and it calms him down. And it's just a few a day and like I said, it calms him down... And he wants to. What can I say?) Anyway, we go outside and the Rehab Center is in the middle of this large hospital complex and, of course, everywhere is a "NO SMOKING" area, clearly posted. Pretty much the only place you can smoke is in the middle of the street, in the hot 90 degree sun and I'm not about to do that. So we find a bench where the ground is literally covered with about a million cigarette butts, so I figure this is the place. While he's having his cigarette, this very large, very unpleasant woman comes by and snipes at us, "Don't you see the signs? This is a No Smoking area." I'm thinking it's just best to ignore her, most of the time someone like this will just say their piece and move on. I kind of glance at her and then at the ground, at the bazillion cigarette butts, figuring she'll move on. But she doesn't. She stands there, hands on her hips, and says "Can't you read the signs? If the security guard catches you, there's a fifty dollar fine." I'm thinking, yeah right. But she still doesn't move on, and it's clear she's waiting for a response, so I say, "Thanks for the information, now why don't you mind your own business?" She glares at me, then shouts, "I'm calling security!!!" and then she shuffles off into the building, and I'm thinking, oh crap, but then Bob is nearly done so I'm figuring that by the time she gets to a phone and security gets there, we'll be gone. About two second later, lo and behold, here comes the security guard. So I say to Bob, "here comes security, you better put that out," and he gives me a look that reads are you crazy? Because he only gets a few a day and he's determined to finish this one down to the last puff. The guard tells him to please put out his cigarette and Bob simply ignores her and I stall for time saying things like "Is there a place in the shade where one can smoke?" and "gee, you'd think there'd be a designated spot somewhere, especially for someone in a wheelchair," and "look at all these cigarette butts on the ground," etc. Finally, the guard leaves and Bob finishes his smoke and we go back into the building, back to the bathroom, to try again, and still he can't go.
By then, it's time for Bob's appointment and I am completely irritated (by the Smoking Nazi woman) and frustrated (by the bladder problem) and freaking out because today is D-Day with Rehab and so much is at stake and so far, everything is going wrong. We are in the waiting room and Bob is just red-faced agitated and keeps pointing at his crotch (a gesture he makes when he needs to go to the bathroom) and I get up and ask the receptionist if I can take Bob into the therapy room and use the bathroom there. She says "sure", so I wheel him into therapy, straight-a-way into the bathroom and we pass his regular therapist, who is just then coming out to get us, and I tell him that we need to make a pit stop first. So there we are again, in the bathroom, and Bob can't go. The clock is ticking. Five minutes pass, then ten minutes. I finally say to Bob that we can't spend the whole therapy session in the bathroom, we need to get going and he screams, literally screams: GAAAAAA! But, he does hand over the urinal and I help him get his pants back on and wheel him out, all the while, just dreading whatever is to come next.
We come out into the therapy room and I see Bob's therapist, with his back to us, waiting at the receptionist's desk. The parallel bars are at the front of the room, near the receptionist, so I wheel Bob over to them. As we approach, I can hear the therapist and the receptionist talking and the receptionist is saying "He really did!" and she sees us coming and looks at me and says, "I was just telling him that Bob stood up on his own with Chris on Thursday! And I saw it! Isn't that right?" The receptionist is all excited and the therapist is looking confused, so I say, "Yes, that's right, he did. I think it was four times, total." The receptionist says, "See, I told you so!" The therapist looks like he can't believe it and grabs Bob's chart and starts flipping through it, evidently looking for Chris's notes.
After awhile, the therapist comes over, wheels Bob into the parallel bars and says, "OK, Bob, show me your stuff." Then, he stands back, waiting. I'm holding breath, because this is the moment, and can Bob do it? Bob is still red-faced and agitated and uncomfortable from not being able to urinate, but he grabs onto the parallel bar with his left hand and starts to try to get up, and I realize, oh no, he's leaning backward! So, I lean over and remind him "nose over your toes, remember?" and he readjusts himself and then I can see him mouthing "one, two, three" and up he goes! He does it, again! The therapist says, "Wow." A real understated "wow." No exclamation point.
The therapist sits down on the stool. They usually sit on this stool with wheels in front of Bob and usually, the therapist will hold onto Bob while he walks the bars, the therapist sort of pushing the stool backward as they go. But the therapist just sits there, not touching Bob, just sort of looking at Bob standing there and then, he says, "Well. Let's see if you can walk."
So Bob starts out, slowly, one foot in front of the other, holding onto the bar but without anyone holding onto him. Believe me, I am holding my breath the whole time because this is something new. He's never done this before. And he makes it! The whole length of the bars, without any help at all. He does this not once, not twice, but four times. Then, the therapist gets out the shopping cart. And Bob is able to push the cart twenty-five feet, the first time and twenty feet, the second time. Of course, two people are holding onto him, but he does much better this time then he did the last time.
Of course, I am just thrilled. So I ask if this means that Bob can continue his therapy now? That's when I'm told that it's all up to the other therapist, the female therapist, who has already written up the discharge papers. And she's not there today. And there's really nothing that he can do, because it's out of his hands and the paperwork is already done....
But he said that he would talk to her and see if she'll change her mind. He said, "I know your life depends on this decision, you've got so much riding on this." But he can't make any promises, because it's her decision and not his. And he doesn't know if the paperwork has been processed through the insurance or not and if it has, can it be undone?... So, that's where we stand.
We left Rehab and got on the wheelchair transport to go home. Pat is our usual transport driver, he's a real sweetheart, and has heard my rendition of our continuing saga each time he picks us up. Pat asked how it went and if Bob can continue his therapy and I told him the whole story and how the decision is in one therapist's hands. So Pat says, "well, Diane, I guess you need to go home and bake her a cake!" and I sort of laugh and he says, "Make that two cakes, identical, but one with cyanide in it, just in case."
We had a good laugh about that.
Bob's next appointment is Wednesday and his "last scheduled appointment" is Thursday.