Gaining the Tools to Venture Out

Milestone alert! I went to a public bathroom all by myself last Friday.


“What is it with this chick and bathrooms?” you may be asking yourself. Well, if you can’t manage to go while you’re out, then you can’t go very far or stay out for very long. After a certain age — maybe five — going around with a wet (or worse) spot on your skirt or pants is frowned upon.

Mom, my granddaughter, and I were going to hit the fabric and craft store on Friday. Mom wanted fabric and patterns. Cali wanted cake-decorating supplies. I wanted yarn. I hurried people along as best I could, but it still took the troupe 45 minutes to leave the house. Then people took their own sweet time in the store.

Finally, everybody had made their selections and it was time to go…to the restaurant across the parking lot for lunch.

Man, I really had to go at that point. And I made it! It wasn’t easy, but I now know I can take care of “business” while I’m out. Watch out, world! I’m leaving the house!

This, by the way, is no thanks to the home rehab place, which still hasn’t gotten permission from my insurance company for therapy. Mind you, my surgery was on November 16. It’s now been two weeks and the place hasn’t managed to get certification from my insurance company yet. I don’t believe they’re fighting for me. In fact, one person there said I may not be approved because “after all, you’re 62 years old.”

Huh? If I take after my grandmothers, I still another 30 or more good years in me.

Aside from some rudimentary things I learned in the hospital, I’ve not been taught how to do one darned thing. Basically, I can transfer from the bed to the scooter and back, and from the bed to the potty chair and back. I still can’t get into the van, but I figured out how to get in and out of the car. I like my car best, anyway.

I’m afraid to transfer to my shower seat so I take “bird baths.” I’m afraid to transfer to my kitchen stool so I can cook. I can’t seem to get into and out of a “real” chair (one of those comfy ones) without landing on my tush. I haven’t tried the desk chair yet. So I have the bed, the scooter and a dining room chair. None of which are comfortable.

So I made the decision to go for inpatient rehab. I called the head of the rehab department last night, and I’ve already had a home visit to gather some information to present to my insurance company. If approved, I’ll be in for two weeks. Yuck! But I do need it. Desperately!

As for attitude, I did have a brief pity party on Thursday. Picked a fight with my grandson, lamented the fact that I only have one whole leg, etc. It may have lasted about half an hour. I’m not really sure if it was about the surgery or about not being able to cook. I like to feed people. I also don’t like other people in “my” kitchen.

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  • Deb

    Congratulations on the public…uh, better leave that one alone! Anyway, I’ll bet it was great to get out!
    I can’t believe your insurance company! The crass comment is, hopefully, only the opinion of one ageist employee. Certainly better not be company policy.
    It would certainly be more efficient and helpful to have the rehab in your own home so you can deal with your own living situation, but inpatient rehab can also be very good, especially if they have a good Occupational Therapy department. Mine had us doing cooking, cleanup, laundry, bathing, toileting, getting in and out of bed, etc. I got some good ideas about working in the kitchen. And they didn’t act like I was 96! (I was 66 at the time, and I would certainly expect to be able to have rehab any time I needed it, no matter what my age).
    Best of luck!

  • Ellen

    Wishing you a full and speedy recovery Jan. Refuah shlaymah. Chag sameach too. I am so grateful for all I have learned from you over the years.

  • Margaret

    “Certainly better not be company policy.”

    It probably is. I was denied approval for a bone graft in my ankle because a. It’s experimental. and b. I was 55. Company policy.
    Scraping around in my cartilage was okay, although of limited value. The bone graft was off limits even though the results of the clinical trials have all been very positive.

    My surgeon and her excellent staff fought for me and won, but it took personal communication between her and the top doctor in the insurance company. And she didn’t take “No” for an answer.

  • Fran

    I admire your spunk getting out and about.
    I am sorry that the insurance rep was so insensitive. But perhaps you are better of in an inpatient setting. I think you will get more therapy that way. I was suprised that they released you to home so soon. Don’t worry though, inpatient therapy will not only help you negotiate your home but it should enhance your problem solving skills. The hardest part of being in an inpatient facility is being away from family and friends. Sure thay can visit but they don’t live there. I don’t want to make you down, but I want you to know you may feel down, which is ok. The upside of inpatient is you have the support of the staff and of other patients. I know you will do well in the inpatient, you have a good sense of humor and are obviously a hardworking person. I will be thinking of you. Take Care.

  • Jan


    Looks like I may be heading for inpatient rehab on Friday. Why not earlier? Because I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on Friday and the rehab place didn’t want to release me for my appointment.

    “Fine,” I said. “I’ll check in after my appointment. I’m not willing to risk what’s left of my leg.”

    Doesn’t bother me if they have to wait another couple of days to fill the bed. It’s their loss (of money).

    Mom is at the airport as I write this to fly back to South Carolina. I’ll miss her. She was supposed to fly back a couple of days ago, but I changed her ticket. I was laughing and told her I’d always remember how proud she was when I went to the bathroom by myself last week, as though I were 2 years old instead of 62. “Well,” she said, “it was quite an accomplishment. Both times.”

    I am so grateful for all of your comments, well wishes, etc. I would write in the comments section more often, but it’s awkward without being able to sit in a proper chair. Just know that I am reading everything and appreciating all of you.

    Jan Chait

  • Mary

    Jan – Am sorry to hear about your roadblocks with in-house rehab and the insurance company! Unfortunately, I think this is just a glimpse of what Obamacare will be like should it go through… sorry – I was not going to go political here! Stay strong and fight for yourself – I look forward to hearing from and about you each week. happy Hannakuh (sp?) Anyway … all the best!

  • Christine Richardson

    When I broke my knee, one of the most helpful things I ended up with was a secretary-type chair. It was especially useful in the kitchen, and allowed me to cook again! Much easier to scoot around in that than a wheelchair. I kept it for quite a while as my “speed rocket” to get from room to room. As for the snippy little creature at rehab, remind her “As you are, so I once was. As I am, so shall you be.”

    I have lots of info on OT stuff that I collated and organized for one of the teaching hospitals in Philly. Would be happy to send you a copy if you wish – just tell me how.

  • Cathy A.

    Way to go, Jan! Happy Hannukah (did I spell it right?), best wish in rehab, and here’s to the next 30+ years for all of us.

  • Maria

    I am 67 and anytime I have had surgery (3 times) I wanted inpatient rehab. Surgery is rough on your body and fatique is always an issue for me. Knowing I would have therapy, go back to my room, crash on the bed and wait for my meal was such a relief. I received help with bathing,dressing and was treated very kindly. I know not everyone has such good experiences. You have to do your homework. I have had many other surgeries in my younger years and I learned to not give up my power in the hospital, with the staff and in later years in rehab. Unfortunately in today’s medical world, you may have to fight for what you need and that can include proper pain management. Never, never assume you will just receive what you need. Always have an advocate available who can come to your aid, if you are too ill to fight for yourself.

    The physical therapy groups can be tough nuts to crack. Telling them you can’t continue with an exercise,means nothing to them. They only know that if they don’t get you through most of the sessions, then the insurance companies will release you and then the Physical Therapy Department loses money. Because of an inheritated muscle condition, excerise causes my muscles to contract and not release as they should. This can bring on pain and stiffness to the point moving is almost impossible. I have to tell the doctor and be sure he/she understands to orders moist heat therapy on my lower back after I finish my therapy.

    I hope you get all you need from therapy. Learn to enjoy the solitude and time for yourself to properly heal and make necessary changes to your life. Good luck!

  • Vicki

    Physios! I have had at least two very positive experiences with what I (being in the UK) call physiotherapists.

    I had one (which is not unique) with someone who had probably never got over losing the power she had as captain of the school hockey team. If you didn’t do what she wanted, she was affronted. She told to me to buy some new shoes – a week later I hadn’t done so, and she was furious. I buy shoes only when it’s absolutely necessary, and when I can find them in my size (tricky). She wasn’t having any of it.

    After a second period of being lectured on my inadequacies as a person I gave up going. Fortunately no one was going to lose any money.

    But I did buy some new shoes which might (almost) have met with her approval – 3 years later!

    So you not only have to fight for what you want, you have to be able to get rid of people who are not helping. Since I have ME/CFS, that means being quite selective about my medics, and prepared to be more than a bit selective about which advice I follow. Starting with “having diabetes means you have to exercise a lot more.”


  • Lorraine

    Happy Chanuka and best of luck with your insurance.
    Living in Canada I can;t blame obama. My insurance used to pay me within 7 to 14 days. This summer if they paid in a month I was lucky. My daughter who lives in Ontario and works for a large company said they posted a notice that the insurance would be paid at the end of a month.Fun and Games and maybe the economy. Take care and of course everyone knows we have to know where the outhouse is or I would never go out.
    Shalom Lorraine

  • David Spero RN

    Hi Jan,

    I think you should have more of those “pity parties.” I’m afraid that too often, we think we should keep a “positive” (smiley face) attitude all the time. I know I pressure myself that way. In my experience, it’s important to allow time to grieve also. Otherwise the pain just builds up inside.