Days of Emotion

Now that I had collected the keys to my apartment, I felt more at ease about having found a place to live. While I had no plans to move in immediately, it was nice to know that I could. The staff at Chateau told me that they could not release me until my insurance—which had been suspended while I was in transitional care at Chateau—was reinstated. As long as I moved out before the end of the month, I would not be charged to live at Chateau in July. However I would still have three meals provided for free each day. Thus living at Chateau for most of July was cost effective anyway.

In addition to the staff at Chateau not yet being able to release me, the program nurse from my new apartment building had to examine and interview me. She had to know my needs and deficiencies before the staff took charge of my care. She came to see me that same week. The conversation was fairly casual, but when it was done, she had completed a lengthy questionnaire. She apologized several times for having to ask me so many questions. I assured her it was not a problem: things had to be in place before I moved in.

Now I was just waiting for the paperwork to be finished on both ends. I started making preparations to move out. The first thing I did was concentrate on getting a month ahead on the blog. Next I decided to start using fewer clothes. That way I would not be in danger of leaving behind large amounts of laundry. I even had Kevin stop bringing Mary by to visit twice a week. If we were about to be living together permanently in a few weeks, I did not see a need to interrupt Kevin’s schedule. I wanted to be ready to move everything in a total of two hours. Since I was only moving one street over, this would be entirely feasible. It could be done in two car trips.

A few days after the nurse came by for the intake interview, an occupational therapist at Chateau told me that they needed to confirm whether I would be able to live safely in my own apartment. They had questions about whether I would be able climb stairs, shower safely, cook for myself, and administer my own medications. Apparently they had no idea where I would be moving. I explained that I was moving into a building that was for disabled occupants only. There were two elevators and every entryway was wheelchair accessible. I even showed her a picture of the bathroom; it could accommodate a wheelchair or shower bench, and there were grab bars for safety. The therapist took this information back to the therapy department, and I assumed that was the end of it.

The following day, the physical therapist asked if she could perform a stair evaluation. This consisted of going to the stairwell and walking down and back up half a flight of stairs. I swiftly descended the stairs, stepping down each time with the left foot then bringing the right foot to rest beside it. At the landing, I turned and ascended. Each time I stepped, I now stepped up to the next step. These were the step-throughs I had mastered a month earlier. The therapist was quite impressed, and I was happy that the evaluation had afforded me an unexpected chance to show off the results of my hard work.

A few days later an occupational therapy intern came up to the fourth floor to find me. She told me that she had to do a cooking assessment. I told that I would not be preparing my own meals at the apartment. The staff would be doing this as part of the assisted living program. She said that they had to do the cooking assessment regardless. Their paperwork from the state had to indicate a score. I decided to make toast and scrambled eggs with cheese. This was a simple meal to make, and afterwards it was easy to clean up. We had finished everything in less than an hour, so it didn’t take much time out of my day.

The following day, the same intern found me again and told me that we needed to do another evaluation. At this point, I was really growing restless about not knowing when I would be allowed to move. I snapped at her telling her that the therapy department needed to let me know upfront how many more evaluations they needed. I immediately felt guilty for my tone, so I apologized and asked her what she needed me to do. She had me organize medications using a pill planner and count out money for a purchase. After all of this, I thanked the intern for letting me work with her and wished her well in her career.

The final independent living assessment consisted of an occupational therapist asking me a series of What If questions. I had to explain what I would do if I were cut, stranded, attacked, burnt, or had someone attempt to steal from me. I had to demonstrate that I could safely shower on my own. So even though I had been doing so for a month, I took a shower by myself so they could check off the item on their form.

I had finally completed all of the tests for therapy. However the last thing I had to complete was the Minnesota Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) waiver. Filling out this form is how one qualifies for insurance, food support, and affordable housing. I could not be discharged from Chateau until this form was completed. A temporary county worker came by the facility to get my services restarted. This process consisted of him also filling out a lengthy questionnaire, after which he told me that my services would be restarted in a week.

What really annoyed me was the uncertainty of the process. Had they been able to give me a projected move date, I could have gone on with my life and structured things around it. But this process seemed so vague. “It won’t take that long” conveys no real information about how long the process will take. It feels very dismissive and impersonal. It’s as though the worker is announcing, “I’m officially done with this part of my caseload; I don’t have time for questions.” I understand that the aid worker might not want to commit to any concrete timeframes, but I would have been perfectly satisfied with “It normally takes ten days, but I don’t want to say that expectation.”

In addition to putting my mind at ease, such information would have been vital in helping me to organize tasks. I could have fit activities and appointments into my calendar, while saving days eight and beyond for packing. It would not have mattered if things had not strictly matched this timeline; the exercise of multitasking along a set timeline is great brain training for a person who is about to live independently.

The uncertainty was difficult, but there was not much I could do about it. All worrying about things I could not control would do was rob me of sleep. This would in turn make balancing far more difficult, causing setbacks when I was ready to move out on my own. So I started ramping up my workouts again. I began doing more weight training and committing to a minimum of 80 reps for each exercise.

It was about this time that I accidentally discovered that my gym had massage chairs. I had previously only used the Hydromassage beds. I would go in, ask for a massage bed number, and be assigned a number. One day I asked for a massage chair.

The person working the desk asked, “Do you want Hydromassage or the massage chair?”

I hadn’t known a choice existed. The attendant led me to the Black Card Membership section of the club., where the massage and tanning rooms were. The coin-op chairs were recliners that looked intriguing. I sat down and the attendant fed two coins into the slot.

In a few seconds, the chair began to hum. It cupped my calves and shins then reclined on its own. Then little massage finger beneath its surface began kneading my hamstrings, calves, spine, and clavicles. It felt wonderful. I relaxed, closed my eyes, and repeatedly rolled my shoulders. As I sat there blissfully, my body seemed to almost fall asleep. When the chair had finished, my chair returned itself to an upright position. I tried to stand up, but I fell back in the chair. My body was a little too relaxed. I sat back for a few seconds and let my body prepare to rise again.

Outside of the gym, blogging and trying to not think about the moving deadline, I decided to try socializing more. That would help me to stop worrying so much about when Chateau would release me. It would also help me to enjoy the functional ways in which all of the working out had improved my body. After all, the three years of physical rehabilitation had ultimately been about returning me to a normal life.

One of the first things I did was go out for the World Cup final. France had made it through and was playing against Croatia. So my friend from France was coming back to Minneapolis to watch the match. Since we had been able to get in before, Karine and I had agreed to go to Brit’s Pub for the match.

I didn’t even have breakfast at Chateau on the morning of the final. There was no way I wanted to risk being late. As soon as I arrived downtown, I saw hordes of people dressed in blue. I could tell that Brit’s was already extremely busy. I tried to walk as quickly as I could. When I arrived at the pub, all the seats on the main floor appeared to be full. My heart sank, as I was sure that there were no seats left upstairs either. My stamina had improved greatly, but there was no way I would be able to stand for four hours. So I asked the hostess if there were any seats available.

She led me to another dining room. It was almost full. One table for six was open. It was in the front of the room, just under a large flat screen. She asked me if it was okay, believing that I might not want to sit so close. I could not believe my luck! This location seemed perfect. My view would never be obstructed; I could actually hear the telecast; the restroom was a short walk away. I told her that it would be okay. When the waitress arrived, I quickly ordered food in order to make sure that the table was occupied by paying customers.

Karine did not arrive until much closer to kickoff. I had saved seats for other people, but they were Croatian supporters and chose to sit on the rooftop lawn with other Croatia fans. Still, it felt so magical being back in a packed pub for a World Cup final, when just walking again had only been a fantasy fewer than three years before. I had wondered whether I would ever live in Minneapolis again. Now outings like these were just part of life again. I’m sure that one day the novelty will wear off, but for now I will try to hold on to this feeling of enchantment.

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