I have spent the past 18 months in a situation that has been a source of constant frustration for me. As a result, my reactions and behavior on occasion have been expressed in anger and negativity.
I came to this facility for rehab when my reduced mobility due to a badly damaged arthritic knee made independent living too difficult. I needed to increase my strength before I could undergo surgery but it was 4 months before physical therapy was finally started.
Getting around was difficult even with a walker and anxiety kept me from eating in the dining room or participating in group activities, so that time was spent almost entirely in bed. I grew weaker and increasingly depressed. My roommate during that time was 94. She spent her days in the dining room and her nights asleep. Her only communication was to curse at the aids if she was awakened during the night.
I read every mystery, thriller and action/adventure novel in the small library. I watched TV when programs and movies come on that engaged me, which wasn’t often. I enjoyed conversing with the people who attended me. But despite all my efforts, my depression remained.
It was 5 more months before I had my knee replaced. Another round of PT began. Normally I would have been able to resume my independent life after 3 months, but my right shoulder had become increasingly more painful and less useful. I had been favoring it for some time and getting by with cortisone injections, but it was clear that I would no longer be able to put off a having a replacement. I went through 2 more roommates in the 5 months following my knee surgery. The first wasn’t much more compatible with me than the last, and spent little time in our room.
Finally I was assigned a room where I could claim the bed by the window. No longer was I tucked away behind drawn blinds and privacy curtains. My depression disappeared. I began to write and to enjoy my crafts once more. The facility is located on the outskirts of a small town here in southern Idaho. I am able to look out my window as the seasons change at the surrounding farmland. There is a line of low hills in the distance. I am thankful for all these things even though the only opportunity I have to get outside is to go to doctors appointments.
Within a few days of this move I got my third roommate, Pearl, who was exactly what I needed. Though she only stayed a month, she was the first real bright spot in my life here. We became close friends and still text each other often.
The upcoming surgery would mark my fifth joint replacement in 15 years. Both hips had to be revised during that time as well. I had both hips replaced and the right one revised in 2005 alone. I had accepted early on that I needed help during my recovery times though it wasn’t easy. I had been diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease. In other words, my body bad betrayed me.
Despite all my efforts to stay centered in the present, I resented the fact that I was no longer able to work. Being confined indoors for long periods is difficult for an outdoor person and having to give up most of the activities I enjoyed was even harder. Indeed, it was humbling.
My current roommate, Deb, is closer to my age. With many shared experiences in common, we immediately struck up a friendship. She has a quick wit and a positive attitude that even my lingering bouts of negativity can’t diminish. But she has cancer and was given only a few months to live. She is confined to a wheelchair. On bad days she mostly sleeps. When she’s up, her pain is evident and she shows little interest in anything. Still she doesn’t complain. I feel helpless to comfort or assist her. But I try to insure she has help when she needs it. We look forward to the good days.
When I think about her indomitable spirit, I am ashamed of my resentfulness. I am thankful for my life, my overall good health and an active mind. I believe everything happens for a reason. Every person, event and experience is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to become a better human being. We are free to choose what we do with it. I believe this with all my heart. But still I am frustrated. Still I react with impatience. I miss the companionship and comfort of my cat and being able to go out into Nature. These things nurture and heal me. Neither the meditation nor all the positive reading I do can replace them. I want the freedom and increased options work on my laptop gives me versus having to do everything on my phone.
I read a post yesterday on journaling for healing. I was unable to find the site again or I would share it with you. I realized that though I had journaled about the facts of my experience with my disability over the years, I had never written about the feelings that were a part of it. I had buried them all this time and was continuing to do so.
I was reluctant to let go. I wanted my resentment. It was a wall that kept people from getting too close. An excuse to show anger. A reason to fight against the rules. Deep inside I felt damaged, unacceptable.
This is something I need to do but I don’t know if I can. I want to be whole again, emotionally and physically, but I’ll settle for being the best human being I can be.