Monday, October 1, 2012

Where have you been my blue eyed son?

I've been on a bit of a journey.......
a journey not only of body and mind, but of spirit and soul as well.
2552 Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, Ca. 92037

The pretty lady in that video really does work  at the La Jolla nursing home. She was one of the bright stars in my stay there. And her consummate knowledge of the day-to-day operations and her helpful friendly attitude and charming smile got me through the days.
For those of you have been reading this for a long time you may remember back in 2006 2007 timeframe I had a stay in a nursing home that I considered the most hellish place I've ever been in my life. And I've been in some hellish places. So it was with great deal of trepidation that I went to this respite care. I wasn't sure what to expect but I did know that this time I was not paralyzed and would be able to defend myself verbally and physically if the need arose.

I arrived around 11 AM on August 14, 2012 was assigned to room 25 A. It was a large two bed room a shared with an elderly gentleman who had taken a fall down the stairs while attending his granddaughter's wedding. He, his wife and son were very friendly and we spoke often during my stay there but on the third day they moved him to another room and for the next two days I had this large room to myself. Of course whenever the bureaucracy of the VA is involved things will get messed up and in this instance the mess up was quite serious. Despite all outward appearances I am still a quadriplegic and as such I require special mattress to sleep on that prevents me from getting bedsores and wouldn't you know it, the VA was supposed to provide said mattress but did not, and for two more days we went around in circles trying to get a mattress. The solution was provided by the maintenance man at La Jolla nursing home, he drove to my house and picked up my mattress from my bed and brought it here and installed it on their bed. After spending the first night on the standard mattress I was forced to sleep in my wheelchair because my skin had already started to break down after one night.

Day five of the stay brought a new roommate. He mysteriously showed up sometime after dinner but before I went to bed and he was sound asleep when I finally arrived in the room. The next morning when he awoke I was sitting in my wheelchair and he looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and asked "where am I?"
Having no idea how to answer that question, I pressed the call button for the nurse. But before the nurse arrived, the man-in-the-bed's daughter arrived and explained that her father was there on hospice. For those of you who don't know, hospice means they're no longer trying to keep you alive, the primary goal of hospice is to maintain a level of comfort and dignity as a patient passes on. The gentleman was a 96-year-old Korean War veteran and the few times I got to see him while he was conscious, it was quite obvious that his mind was intact and I think I would've enjoyed knowing him. His daughter was there almost constantly as well as many other members of his family. Four days later he went quietly to his reward, and for the next three days I was alone again in the big room.

I remember taking note of the mileage on my wheelchair when I checked in. It read 197 miles. When I was discharged it read 243 miles, so being the only occupant in the room really didn't matter much to me because I didn't spend much time in the room. I was speeding around the hallways and the courtyard meeting people, watching Netflix, and just in general exploring my new surroundings. I'm a genuinely gregarious person I have never been shy about starting a conversation with perfect strangers this place is full of them. It didn't take me long to discover that I was one of the youngest people in the place, and I was about to turn 60.

I was sitting in the lunchroom at a table next to three men, one of whom always wore a Harley Davidson T-shirt, and when I asked him, "do you ride a Harley or you just wear the T-shirts?"
He replied, "I just wear the T-shirts, I used to have a Harley but that was a long time ago."
I asked, "what model did you ride?"
He replied, "a big one!"
I kinda giggled to myself and thought, who spent $20,000 on a motorcycle and not know what model it was? But instead I said, "so why don't you ride one now?"
He replied, "motorcycles are dangerous – – people get killed on them all the time!" I was floored, and then his table mate said that he had once owned a motorcycle but got rid of it for the exact same reason, "people get killed on motorcycles."
So I asked, "did you guys quit taking showers?" And when they gave me a blank stare, I continued "more people die in the shower every day than are ever killed on motorcycles…" The third gentleman chimed in that he had once owned a motorcycle but because of the danger involved he quit riding it too. So I asked all three of them, "did they make you turn in your testicles to the charge nurse when you checked in here?" Thus endearing myself to them for the rest of our stay.

There was a man's man there. He is 80 years old, a former Navy war veteran who served during the Korean conflict and made quite the impression on me.

 His name is Francis LaSalle, he was born the 17th of 17 children in a town in New Jersey back in the day. He's a bright, intelligent, insightful gentlemen who kept me in stitches with his stories of the Old Navy and his life with 16 older siblings. After leaving the Navy he became a long haul truck driver and delivered automobiles to the 11 Western states of America. On the off chance that you're reading this Francis, know that I miss you and I will come visit you.

let me introduce you to some of the people that made a lasting impression on me, during my stay there.

First my favorite nurses,

This is Donya. A wonderful young RN who always appeared with a smile and a friendly attitude whenever I needed some assistance.

And this is Kathy my nurse during the second half of my stay.

A little explanation, remember I told you that I was in a large room by myself, room 25A? Long about day 10 I was asked to move to another room to make way for two females who needed to check in. Being the friendly guy I am I said no the first time. But they asked really nicely a day later, so I said "OK" and moved to room 65 B. During my stay in room 25 A, Donya was my nurse. However when they moved me to the other wing, I fell under the care of station three and was cared for by Kathy.

This little angel was my CNA during my stay in room 65. Her name is Jelly, and she is a consummate professional with a work ethic seldom found in people her age.

and this wonderful woman was my CNA during my stay in room 25. Her name is Elena, and her helpful, friendly, caring attitude gave me a sense of ease whenever she was present. And even after I moved to room 65 Elena would come over to make sure that all my needs were taken care of.

This is Claudia, the night receptionist who talked computers with me.

This is the activities director, a very pleasant friendly lady, who always smiled and was very courteous when I asked her "why don't you have AC/DC or Motley Crue,  play here?"

They did provide some very nice entertainment in the form of local musicians who would come in and play guitars and piano and sing quite lovely. But the music was from a generation that I was not part of, so I stayed respectful and quietly went to find other things to do...

With 2 notable exceptions.
The first was when this young lady showed up to  play for us at a "Wine and Cheese Tasting" event...

Her Name is Jasmine Commerce and she is a wonderfully talented professional singer song writer who shows up monthly to entertain the people in the home. I had drank two glasses of wine, My first alcohol in over ten years, and while she was singing "HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN" she invited us to sing along. And when I reached down and belted out the last verse louder than her amplified voice, all eyes were upon yours truly. Fortunately I did not drink a third glass of wine or I would have been up on the table singing.

The other occasion was billed as
a candlelight dinner.
With Mr. entertainment,

Joe Fererri

There was another person who befriended me by going above and beyond her duties assigned and made sure my transports to and from my VA appointments were arranged and scheduled without me asking her.

Lesset Ramos
We spent quite a few hours talking while she did her duties as a Unit Clerk. Her boyfriend is a former Marine and that gave us plenty to talk about. I asked her if she had ever heard of Chesty Puller and she said "who?" I said  he's The real American Badass. Ask your boyfriend if he knows him, because if he doesn't then he was never a marine. She texted, "Do you know who Chesty Puller is?"
His reply "A PURE BAD ASS"
She told me she's going in BDUs as Chesty for Halloween.
I'm waiting for pictures Lesset.

And last but certainly not least was the Head of Admissions, Mrs Piper Hatch

There isn't a nicer person in the whole of La Jolla than Piper. She showed me photos of her kids, her horses, her huge Ford Pickup truck and even had her husband bring her Great Dane to visit me.

Here are some shots I took in the courtyard, a place where I would sit and enjoy the sunshine or a quiet evening breeze.

Thank you for stopping bye and a special thanks to Karen and Nana Dianna and of course Ubermouth who all sent email to me asking if I was still above the sod. Bless you ladies one and all. And thank you to the folks at La Jolla Nursing and Rehab Center, including those not mentioned here and even the ex-Army guy who runs the place. Thanks for putting up with me. I'll see y'all about this time next year if you're willing.


MsDarkstar said...

I knew you wouldn't be able to stay away from your corner of the Internetz forever and so have been patiently pacing and waiting for you to return.

So... was the respite for you or for your home caregiver(s)?

Glad you've come back and caught us up on the state of your affairs! Missed you, my friend!

Cloudia said...

been WONDERING about YOU!!!!!
Thrilled to both see you post,
and also to read about care
delivered the RIGHT way to good

Very uplifting and generous of your to put this amazing post together. It should be an article in a Vet magazine or website. Why not submit it around?

Happy to see YOU, my friend. The Blue Angels been flying around Oahu, and patriotic stuff always reminds me of you. SAY! we are the same age LOL

Aloha from Honolulu,
Wishing YOU the Best
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >


I was so happy to see you posting!
You know, I have worked in quite a few nursing homes and I can say as a professional, they would have been overjoyed to have someone like you there to brighten their days and that of the other residents.

What a great attitude to blog it as if you were on a fantastic cruise! :)

You're so wonderful and a real inspiration, Kurt. xoxoxoxox


**** Private,to save me opening an email account because I AM that lazy***

I am so sorry my phone was off[ being in the hospital myself, it got turned off me being one day late, and they took 10 days to process my payment and turn it on!!!!]

I was hoping to text away and play games on FB[even though you did not want to o the latter]....but the good news is that I have rented my own pad now and move in momentarily!!

I hope that we can text soon.

Carly xo

Charlotte said...

I'm so glad your back because you've been missed. I enjoyed reading your post this morning. Now try not and get too addicted to the internet (story on Drudge Report today)as you crank up the music.

Elsie said...

I am so happy to see this post from you, KW!! I cannot tell you how good this post made me feel. I am smiling from ear to ear. I'm glad to hear you are doing well. Take care and be well, my friend!

Karen said...

You're BACK!!!!!!!....

Sounds to me like you were surrounded by some truly beautiful people, inside and out. A respite indeed.

Thanks for the catch-up, and I know I'm not the only one glad you're still above the sod, still full of that Big personality we all love.

Now don't go away.. I'm putting you back on my blogroll. We want to hear from you, dude. XO

Choleesa said...

So glad to hear something from you!!!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Ok I have to say this the old guys stopped riding motorbikes not because motorbikes are dangerous but because they got old and lost their nerve in my I have to say I am pleased you encounted some nice staff members, there are many nice staff members in nursing homes as well as some not so nice staff........thirdly did you notice that some residents never got visitors this pisses me off no end it is as if once someone gets old and goes into a nursing home they are forgotten by their love ones and speaking of loved ones I better get off my ass and go get ready to go visit my nan and yes she is in a nursing home I visit her every Wednesday with my mum....

Heidi said...

You draw women like a magnet. :) I once was the activity and volunteer coordinator for people in a nursing home facility. I loved that job. I hope you are doing well on this very day, right now. Happy October 4th! It won't be back again until 2013...

Betty Manousos said...

hi kurt, i am so glad you came back, you've been missed and i've been wondering about you!
thrilled you stopped by my blog and thans so much for the lovely comment.

i am so happy to hear that you're doing well.

take good care of yourself and be well!


big hugs!

Annmarie Pipa said...

thank you for your service. my whole family prays for you and all of our troops every single night. every single night. you gotta be feeling it.