After several weeks away, I have returned to the friary and am trying to catch up with the mail. Believe it or not, there was enough to fill a shopping bag.
The last three weeks have been spent first at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and then at Alden Estates of Skokie. The latter institution is a “specialized” nursing home; they treat people who have recently undergone either a knee replacement (as was my case), or a hip replacement. I had never heard of this place beforehand, but it was suggested to me by the surgeon who performed the procedure. Luck was with me as it was included in my insurance network.
I have never been in this kind of situation before. However, for two weeks, from February 4 through February 18, I was cared for by the staff of this nursing home along with twenty-seven other patients. For two solid weeks, I was treated to nothing but kindness – pure, unadulterated, kindness. No matter how many times I had to push the little red button to request assistance, someone showed up with a smile and said, “What can I do for you, Father.” When I first got there, I was not allowed to leave my bed without assistance. So I had to call someone each time I needed to use the bathroom, each time I needed an ice pack, each time I needed assistance in getting dressed, etc. You get the picture. I was becoming a little self-conscious about the number of times I had to push the button. So once I said to the nurse who came in, “I am sorry to be such a bother, but I need to go to the bathroom again.” His response was typical. “Father, this isn’t a bother. We are here to help you. If you want to bother us, try getting out of that bed on your own. Then we would be bothered.”
Every day, I had three therapy sessions. My physical therapist was a young man who obviously knew what he was doing. I began to see progress after only a few days. He never failed to compliment me when I did something well. He never failed to ask me if I was dealing with the pain well. He held on to my “gait belt” whenever I was doing the prescribed exercises. At the same time, he also challenged me to do the exercise and to push through the pain.
The auxiliary help was also very kind. An older man cleaned my room every day. A nurse’s assistant helped me dress, brought me fresh water several times a day, changed my bed linens daily, and always entered the room with a big smile and a warm “Hello.”
I realize that this was their job. However, they not only did their job, they did it with kindness, gentleness, and a very caring attitude. I will always remember them with gratitude. I will also try to learn from them how kindness goes a long way in easing a difficult situation. God bless them all.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator