Until last spring my husband and I had always been active and independent. We entertained, played cards, went fishing, attended fairs and festivals, RV traveled, grew a garden, maintained our home, and enjoyed a variety of hobbies.
We envisioned living in a home of our own the rest of our days.
We never for a minute thought we'd reside in an assisted living community.
And then during Easter weekend I suffered an attack of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo [BPPV]. You may have read my story at that time. Shortly afterwards, I put Palouse enews on hiatus because of numbness in my hands and nerve pain in my arms.
To friends and family, during the weeks following my BPPV, I described how doctors twisted neck in the CPR Epley maneuver that was performed in a hospital, and the follow up treatments I had at a rehab center. Emails about them flew between us for a couple of months afterwards, often crisscrossing in the Ethernet.
Doctors didn't tell me about CPR's potential complications which include the possibility of neck/back injury, or I would have refused the treatment. Forty years ago my neck was broken when the pickup I was a passenger in was rear ended.
On the Monday after Easter weekend, 2014, the medical specialist who performed the Epley maneuver on me failed to consider my previous medical history, or perhaps the doctor hadn't read my medical chart and didn't know about the 40-year-old graft in my neck.
As a result, my life changed overnight. I went from being primary driver and helpmate to my husband to being dependent on him for everything.
During the next three months I was transported by ambulance five times to hospital emergency rooms, before a doctor ordered an MRI. C-6 and C-7 discs in my neck were damaged by the Epley head maneuvers.
He referred me to a neurosurgeon.
Before the neurosurgeon's "earliest available appointment" on July10th, I accidentally became a drug-addicted great granny for seven days, overdosed and went blind for several minutes--who quit cold turkey, and plunged into withdrawal hell!
Names of doctors omitted to protect them--however, in all honesty what happened to me was partly my own fault, because I'm conditioned to naively trust physicians.
Since I don't even take OTC pain pills I hadn't a clue about today's reality.
A prescription for Hydocodone only meant pain relief. I didn't realize it was a narcotic drug! A very addictive narcotic drug! And it always means you need more, more, more ...
When my doctor's assistant said, "The goal now is pain management until you see the neurosurgeon: Increase the dose," to me it meant just that. Take more Hydocodone. It didn't translate in my 81-year-old brain to "doctor's orders don't always include 'no more than X per day'" or "go online and educate yourself about the medication."
Later, my neurosurgeon said Hydocodone doesn't work for nerve pain. She prescribed Gabapenten, and increased the dosage in small increments to achieve temporary relief. I went online to Mayo, and read all about Gabapenten before one pill went into my mouth!
Suffice to say, it was a summer of convincing events and steep learning curves until we accepted the inevitable--our health, stamina, and safety issues showed it was time for a major lifestyle change. So moving into an Assisted Living Community [ALC--not to be confused with assisted living *facility] seemed to be our best option.
Our only previous experience with an assisted living place was visiting friends who moved into Orchard Crest in Spokane Valley, Wash., a few years ago. We've since learned that many former Palouse region residents also live there.
For those wondering what assisted living means, A Place For Mom is a premier website to learn about assisted living, where this link provides an explanation of the basic services.
Late this fall we rented an apartment at Broadway Court Estates, an ALC where the meals, maintenance and transportation we desire are included.
We appreciate the conveniences. Personally, my health is improving and I welcome the safety of walking indoors, as well as outdoors on the community's landscaped grounds. Use of my hands without bringing on unbearable pain is improving.
Walking in the warm pool daily, prescribed by my neurosurgeon, may help me avoid neck surgery. I'm hopeful that I'll be "fixed"--as my neurosurgeon promised--and someday I'll be able to drive again, and regain some of my former independence.
So there you have it. That's our story of how we came to live in an ALC--and I assure you that although the details vary widely, fellow residents of Broadway Court Estates each have a story of what brought them here.
Two weeks after the shock of moving into an apartment nearly the size of the Montana home where we raised our three children, the happiest things we've learned are that other residents are impressively friendly, meals are good, and the housekeeping and maintenance staffs are excellent.
It's easy to see why those who've lived in this assisted living community anywhere from a month to a dozen years--when asked how they like it--invariably answer, "I love it! Wouldn't live anywhere else."
Although many people live in assisted living communities because of health problems, aging and/or diminished mental status, others choose this lifestyle for a wide variety of reasons, including the simple convenience of not owning/maintaining a home. Most find the social aspects, which often include stellar entertainment, attractive. Many appreciate the convenience of indoor pools and exercise equipment with personal instructors.
I have created 21st Century Old Folks Home, *** ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITY ~ A LIFESTYLE OF FULLNESS *** ~ The goal of this website is to help and encourage those who never imagined they'd move to an Assisted Living Community, but nevertheless are faced with the challenge.
I hope you visit the blog, and share the URL with others. There's no telling when you, too, might be suddenly faced with the tough decision of moving to an assisted living community.
Come back often. Please leave a comment to guide me as I take up this new challenge, and to encourage others embarking on this phase of life.
It's been a pleasure to share the news on the Palouse, and I'll miss that, and interacting with librarians, town clerks, clubs, organizations, and the friendly residents on the Palouse.
Sadly, the time has come to say "Adieu."
The North Palouse Washington e-Newscast and it's links will stay live until the domain expires, March 27, 2015.
Mona Vanek, Editor