By Ed Milewski
Editor’s Note: Ed Milewski will give testimony tomorrow in front of the Colorado Health and Human Services Committee on SB11-170 a bill to bring parity to Nursing Home Medicaid reimbursement and Home and Community Based Services. Tim Wheat of CPWD writes a companion piece to this about Ed’s nursing home transition into the community: Community Transition and Sustainable Independence.
I had told my daughter I would join her on her first century bike ride at the end of October 08. We had done a metric (61.5mi) before (Aug. 9 97) but she had never done 1oo miles before; and I’d gotten a bit out of shape my self. I’d been living at a Buddhist retreat center for about two years. So in April I started training.
It was May fifth, and a beautiful Southern California afternoon so I took a short twenty-five mile training ride from Morro Bay up the cost on Highway 101. I decided to turn back at the top of a short hill of about four hundred feet high. I just then realized that I’d forgotten to retrieve my mirror for my glasses from storage (that I usually use un road rides). Checked both directions and started to turn, BIG MISTAKE; I should have gotten off the bike and been able to fully check out both directions not having the mirror. I hadn’t noticed the car coming up from behind! (I’ll skip all the ifs; would have, could have, should have, ext. as they don’t really amount to a thing in the end. Except as above for fellow cyclist.)
About a month later I found out just how big a mistake it was. I awoke in a sub-acute care ward two hundred miles south in Camarillo; I had been in a coma for twenty-six days! I’d been in an accident; I’d suffered a fractured skull, a snapped neck, three broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a shattered right rotator cup and ball. I had a breathing tube coming out my neck, and a feeding tube out of my stomach. Most everything had healed by the time I woke up aside from the tubes hanging out of me. I wouldn’t be made aware of the accident report till a year later.
What surprised me looking back on my imageries, is that I wasn’t the least bit emotionally traumatized by it. I guess I’d absorbed the Buddhism better than I had thought. This was simply the way it was; it is said that “That which is, is the only life we have to live with” so wishing for things to be different wouldn’t have accomplished a thing. Not thinking about it further, I just went about what was required to regain my heath. I figured I had owed that much to those who had put me back together. I have found out since then they had said I had the body of a forty year old, not the fifty-nine year old that I was at the time. I guess those past eleven centuries and bike camping tours must have had some effect.
So I learned to walk with a walker quite unsteadily, a few feet at first, then longer as time went on. There was no movement in my right hand at first, and not much feeling in my right arm, either. The neurologist had thought he’d done everything correct, then as a result of this complication he sent me to have some vital-stimulation on my fingers. It worked only for my fingers at first; it took a few more months for my arm to feel normal. They had me work my legs on an exercise bike, and a table mounted pedaling device for my arms. The breathing tube was removed about July of 08.
While in Camarillo my daughter’s in-laws Ron and Linda came by often; and many friends and fellow sanga (fellow Buddhist practitioners).
My daughter Kristine had visited me a number of times, though she and her husband Pete had moved to Colorado years ago. It had been getting too expensive to remain living in California. The retreat center I had lived at was quite hilly and I couldn’t do my job in the foreseeable future; so we talked it over and she checked out nursing homes close to where she lived. It turned out lucky for me that she chose the one Boulder and not the one in Broomfield were she lived.
A of friend mine and fellow Ojai sangha member, Corinne who is a nurse practitioner, flew with me on Sept. 11th 2008, to Denver. We met my daughter and her husband there, Kristine had arranged transport for me in a specially equipped van to take us to Boulder Manner(a rest home). Kristine came with me. Corinne & Pete followed the van. Corinne stayed with my daughter for a week and visited often.
The therapy carried on much as it had before, but with much more in the way of speech therapy with the intension to assist me in my ability to swallow. The rooms I was assigned to and the roommates were more than acceptable; though I got along much better with the nurses, aids, and therapist then with the other clients.
I was able to keep on the road to recovery, with plenty of therapy; and by using a side- walk three-quarters of a mile long out side and with in the facility parking. Nobody said I could use it, but nobody said I couldn’t either; so I started with the wheel chair. I found out that I would need a therapist along if I was to use a walker outside. After a while I was allowed to use the walker inside by myself. I had asked my daughter to buy me a four wheeled walker, because Medicaid wasn’t aloud to pay for it till I left the rest home. The home had about a third of a mile of linked corridor loop inside that I was able to use at will with either the chair or walker.
I found out that I’d been sued by the person who had hit me for damage to her Bentley to the tune of twenty thousand dollars. After my daughter and I talked to her or her lawyer, I can’t remember which, and told her the shape I’m in and my present income; I’ve had no more contact with them.
There is an organization here called, Center for People with Disabilities, which I was alerted to by one of the social workers at Boulder Manor. CPWD helped me immensely in getting to know how to get about on the bus system, which is absolutely great here. The buses are wheel chair accessible (they lower in front, and will either put out a ramp or lift), and they have a couple of seats that fold up to allow for a couple of wheelchairs.
CPWD also helped getting me section 8 housing, and a wheelchair accessible apartment. Pete my son-in-law used my income tax return and my sister’s money to fly to CA. and pack my stuff and send it out here .So with the help of CPWD, the state’s program for moving costs, and furniture, I was able to move into my own apartment by September 2009. Still working hard, it’s a long hill back.
I got a hospital bed and feeding pump from Medicaid, (I still have to lay on my back with the top portion of the mattress is up thirty degrees for over night feeding of one hundred ml. of levity, a corn based version of ensure). I take another eight oz. can at about noon. I still use the wheelchair most of the time, I’m much faster in it that then with the walker.
I’ve got a nurse that comes by for an hour on Monday mornings to check my vitals, fill the weekly med-boxes, and ask me how I‘ve been. There is also a group of nurse’s aids who take turns with assistance for an hr. at 8am and 8pm, and a house keeper for about 2 hr. on Tuesday at noon to clean and do the laundry courtesy of CPWD. So I’m doing quite well considering the state of my health and the BIG MISTAKE.