The Importance of the Latest Old Age Suit
Becoming Stronger, Faster, Smarter in Old Age

Darlene Costner: The Worst Diet Plan Ever

RONNI HERE: As you know, a long-time contributor of wise and pithy comments to this blog, Darlene Costner, spent the greater part of December in hospital and then rehab after breaking a bone in her back.

She returned home a week ago and this is her report from the field. Enjoy.

* * *

Medical scales don't lie. I lost five pounds on the "stop eating diet" and never suffered a hunger pang. It's easy - just become constipated. Six days did it for me.

I can just hear you groaning as you push your breakfast away. I apologize for starting the tale of my recent illness with a most tasteless subject. Now that I have your attention, I will relate the story of my recent visit to the rehab center.

It's a good thing that the young man who pushed my gurney had me strapped in because I might have died laughing as he asked everyone within earshot, "What's your name?" followed by a detailed explanation of the origin of the name.

Since most were Biblical, I can't speak for the accuracy of his information but he seemed knowledgeable. “Darlene” stumped him though and he lamely said it meant darling. I do question that.

My next encounter with a man of faith was an elder aide whose expertise was how laxatives work (Or in my case, didn't).

After a lengthy explanation complete with a strange demonstration, he touched my foot and repeated, "God bless you, God bless you, God bless you." At that point I had figured out that God had pretty much forgotten me.

Not only had God forgotten me but the aides did also. My bladder was tested often as I waited for my call button to be answered. I have yet to understand why the longest wait always occurred when the need was the most urgent.

Another indignity that plagued me was the temperature of my room. Next to being sick, I hate being cold more than anything. After all, why else move to Arizona?

When I shivered all night with only another thin blanket to warm me (it didn't) and after complaints failed to force the nurses to do anything about my discomfort (apparently it was beneath their dignity), I got up out of bed and pushed my walker to their station and said, "I can't sleep because I am freezing and that is unacceptable."

I tried to whirl about in a huff but I am afraid that I just looked foolish as I attempted to show extreme irritation and nearly fell down as I slowly maneuvered the walker in the other direction.

After reporting this incident to everyone within earshot, I was moved to a warm room. I was elated that I got results by standing up for myself.

Well, my elation didn't last because the next day I got a roommate. A poor little bird of a woman who was suffering from dementia. This was my first encounter with that tragic illness and it was a shock to see how a mind can be destroyed.

For some reason she seemed to be fascinated with me and stared at me with a puzzled look on her face. Not just once in a while but constantly every waking minute.

The second night she was there, I was awakened by someone touching me. She was sitting on my bed holding my hand and trying to uncover me. It was most unnerving. The night before I left, I found her standing next to my bed staring at me again.

I can't begin to count the number of times I heard, "Will someone please help me?" She just never seemed to understand that the only way to get help was to press the call button and I had to press mine for her because the concept of pushing a button to make a person appear was beyond her.

I began this narration with a most disgusting tale and am ending it with a sad one. If you have gotten this far, you may want to sue me but don't bother. After I pay the co-pays I will probably have nothing left.


Good morning Darlene,
You have a delightful sense of humor. Thank-you for sharing. Happy you are home.

I'm glad you survived your hospital stay, sense of humor intact, despite the care you received.

Truly enjoyed your latest medical biographical account of your hospital stay Darlene. As stated previously by Linda C, the sense of humor reflected in your commentary of the endured event is commendable. I'm afraid that under similar circumstance I too my have evoked the name of "God" but unlike your apparent religious care takers that name would have been immediately followed by the word "damn", primarily for effect! :)

Glad you survived! No more falls! I hate to be cold too!

Definitely a good sense of humor but it would appear that it was sorely tried!
Keep getting better, please!

It was after my pelvic fracture and pain melds that constipated me when I discovered Fleet enemas. Wonderful relief! Glad you stood up for yourself, Darling. I mean Darlene. :-)

My, my - what a trying experience! Your sense of humor was certainly tested, and survived! Home must have never looked so good... Continue recovering well, Darlene. It's our pleasure to have you back.

Thanks for the very interesting story about what was a not-so-good experience. Better to laugh than to cry. I'm glad your roommate was harmless but can understand how unnerving it would've been =- at least you were warm. Glad you are home now and want you to keep getting better.
Thanks for sharing

It's a special skill set to be able to see the humor in otherwise frustrating and sad situations. You are a great role model and writer.

Welcome back, Darlene, you have been sorely missed. Your rueful wit is what I suspect got you through that lousy stay in rehab. I swear, you should write a short story about the whole thing, you clearly have the wherewithal to do so --

In the meantime, I just love hearing from you. It is indeed humor that will get us through things - even though your humor is necessarily laced with an undercurrent of irritation at how weirdly you were treated, by a staff that seems to speak in odd Biblical ways -- and that seems also to have forgotten that you.are.cold.

It's so irritating that it is hardly funny. That's what makes your wit so absolutely necessary.

Keep getting stronger now. And please keep writing!

Many of us have funny, or ironic, hospital stories mostly about dumb or clueless staff. Here is one of mine.
After lying in a hospital bed, in pain, for three weeks my doctor finally came to the conclusion that what I needed was some drastic and life changing surgery, which I was okay with. Everything was going fine up until an hour before I was to be wheeled into the O.R. A nurse came to me and asked if I wanted to see a priest. After I told her that I was Jewish she said "That's alright, we can have a rabbi here to give last rights or whatever they do."
"Rabbis don't do last rights", I said. "And besides, why do you think I would need last rights?"
She didn't answer, which just increased my pre-surgery anxiety.
Some people should just keep their mouths shut.

So happy Darlene is home and on the mend! Humor can be a great tool!
Although i've not worked in a hospital, i have worked in a nursing home. My Mother was in one for 11 1/2 years, as well. Sadly, it's the same old story; too much work and too little help or pay. The woman with dementia should not have been there. She's dangerous to herself and others. I hope Darlene isn't missing any jewelry!

Hospitals are only for those who are healthy and strong. Everyone else needs to stay away.

I'm glad Darlene is home and for her humor. On a more serious note, I believe this is why most of us dread going to a nursing home, even if it's just for rehab. Being a widow with no children, I'd be forced to go to one and not be able to come home and have rehab there. I find this very unnerving. I witnessed my husband die in a nursing home and the care was definately substandard. I do realize a lot is due to being understaffed and low pay. As more of us age, I wonder how it will be then and the expense....

Tabor ...
I agree 100%....

Ditto to your wit and humor in a dastardly situation. Having worked in a hospital and nursing home type places, I completely understand how these experiences could happen. You done good to be outa there!

Welcome back, Darlene, we've missed your contributions to TGB, and this today is wonderful. Take good care of yourself.

Darlene your a writer as well as a humorist what a great combination. Rest up and be well.

I join the crowd in saying welcome back, Darlene, and best wishes for your continued recovery--at home. I also agree completely with Mary, Tabor and others. I haven't been confined to any facility recently, for which I am infinitely grateful, but have had some unanticipated interactions with the health care system in the past couple of months. To say the least, I'd rather not!

Anyone who has experienced a similar intestinal issue will join me in saying I'm glad that such a highly unpleasant experience is "behind" you! That discomfort PLUS being freezing cold might have resulted in some pithy language from me, which most likely wouldn't have remedied the situation. While underpaid, undertrained and usually overworked staff are responsible for the hands-on "care" of residents, it's the owner/operators of nursing homes and assisted living facilities who are ultimately responsible. Unfortunately, many kowtow only to their investors and the bottom line. IMO, "care" and "profit" are two words that should rarely appear in the same sentence, but too often they do--and profit wins.

Oh Darlene, way to stand up for yourself.

I love it!

That woman with dementia would have freaked me the heck out.

I would have slept ramrod stiff, eyes wide open, bedpan for protection.

You told it like it is.

No sugar coating.

Here comes a HUGE high five from Largo, Florida.

*Theme from the movie "Rocky" plays in background*

Darlene, you not nay survived but did so with your wit and wits intact. A delightful account of a decidedly undelightful experience. Thank you!

Darn that "auto-finish," I was trying to say "you not only survived"

I so enjoyed your report from the field, Darlene, and admire you for maintaining a sense of humor AND successfully advocating for yourself while in rehab. So glad you're back here sharing stories and comments again.

Glad you are out of that place, back home with warm blankets, a bathroom near you and no one watching you all the time. You know how to survive and have a great scenes of humor, that's what we need to make it though the ps and downs.

Reading you experiences reminded me of something that happened to me while in the hospital.

After having surgery my appetite came back and I was ready for some real food. It was not showing up, I called to complain - no response. I was desperate. Got out of bed wearing my jonnecoat and using that contraption I was connected to, walked into the corridor looking for someone to help me - no one in sight.

BUT I did see a tray of food!! Took it and RAN back into my room.

That's how you survive a hospital stay!

after surgery my appetite returned

I have constipation issues myself -- and I don't understand why laxatives fail to work after awhile... Perhaps this could be a topic of a future "timegoesby" post.

I had been missing your comments on this post and had wondered if something had occurred -- I was hoping that you were only taking a break from us. I'm relieved that all is well now and that you're back in our midst.

Cold to me is actual pain. I grew up in Wichita, KS, where it's always either too hot or too cold and the wind never stops. Waiting to catch the school bus in the winter, dressed in the obligatory dress or skirt and blouse was pure torture. We were not even allowed to wear slacks on the school bus! As the wind whistled up my nether regions I shivered and shook and it took several hours after arriving at school before the goose bumps finally went away and my hands would quit shaking. When I would get home from school, I took advantage of the luxury of a hot bath to recover from the cold. Unfortunately the house we now live in, in the sticks of rural Tennessee, relies on a well for water and the water pressure is so slow that a hot bath is a mixed blessing -- I freeze to death in the tub while waiting for enough hot water to warm up in.

I love it that you're back and look forward to your pithy, humorous remarks about the next topic of discussion. I greatly admire you and evidently I'm not the only one!

So glad to be reading you again Darlene! And laughing ...

Dear Darlene,

Happy New Year to you! So wonderful to get your message on my blog, and read your beautiful writing, This is your old roommate, from the corner of the frozen tundra in rehab! (your first room!) I just have to say...I felt so bad for you when you were here! I am just so happy I met you, you were the highlight of my now 7 months inpatient, a joy to everyone who met you!

I just got your message on my blog, thank you! I have been busy, in pursuit of my bachelor's degree now. I will be discharging to a private, wheelchair accessible apartment! It was so great to meet you, and your wonderful son and daughter. When I get moved in, you and your daughter are welcome to come over and visit and see my work!

Keep us updated with the lovely posts, get well soon!

Love, Dew

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