Written by Mary Rose Betten
by Mary Rose Betten
Remember tales of people sent into the future to deliver a message back to the rest of us? Well this is your lucky day. Yes friend, you are in the right place at the right time. I am bringing you a glimpse into the future from the urine-scented walls of a care center in Southern California. I am going to print it in capital letters so you receive it full strength in the privacy of your own body.
Picture this: A Physical therapy room. Wood floor, people in wheel chairs placed strategically against the four sides of the room. Got them pictured? Now we are talking reality here so on one side behind the wheelchairs. . . therapists are working on computers. They seem to be therapists typing up reports concerning the work they did with people in the wheel chairs. Occasionally one of them leaves his computer, another therapist takes his seat and they argue who gets to use which computer. While they continue to argue we …wait a second. What the @#$%^&* are therapists doing on computers in a physical therapy room? Yet this scene is exactly what I am experiencing in a state certified care center. This is the way the medical world bills insurance. I just never linked computers and human pain in the same room.
These folks in the wheelchairs aren’t your everyday senior citizens, these folks are in pain. Some loll their heads about, some make sounds too agonizing too describe, most are busy performing their exercises. If this physical therapy room were a scene in a movie you’d hope for classical or soft guitar music but I remind you again, this is reality; in the corner under a couple boxes of Kleenex a radio plays rock and roll and a commercial comes on for Viagra cautioning: “Should you have an erection that lasts more than four hours to call the Smithsonian,” at least I think that’s who they said to call, the medicine ball was bouncing and the lady next to me was moaning.
The therapists work diligently, fastening belts on patients, tossing them balls, adding weights to be lifted. Busy people. I tell myself take in these sounds, feel this mix of desperation and desire, I am alive, not dead, I have a choice. I study the faces of the aged patients. A commercial comes on asking if I own my own home. You bet I do. I realize I never felt so at home in my body. This body I have taken for granted waits for me to return to the outside world with my discovery. I’ve been given a second chance. But without compassion and exercise I won’t make it. I must make a conscious choice. The walls close in on me, I must make a decision. The computer age or the civil war, it has always been about decision. the sound of human misery never changes. I never connected compassion with exercise like I never connected computers with pain but this is 2010 and I want to bring hope out of my full knee replacement surgery. I can learn to change; I am ready to change. In this glimpse of what is possible: I CHOOSE LIFE.
Hi M.R. Did I ever tell you how amazing I think this glimpse of possible future is? But we don’t have to go there, and I think we can help others avoid this depressing place. I had a glimpse of another future, where we can help…Really, I guess it’s the past, because in it, I flashed back to the potato famine in Ireland, where a desperate man was about to commit suicide. I told him not to do that, that I was from the future, and had come to tell him–others would also come to help. Maybe if we really listen, we can hear the words of others–angels, spirits, future generations who want to help us. It’s hard to listen sometimes…What do yo think?
Oh, Mary Rose, I’m so glad you choose life, but you make it sound like such misery. I feel for you.
I can smell the scent of urine already! Thank you Mary Rose for exposing the underground world of therapeutic rehabilitation. I’m glad you survived with your wit intact!
To take this experience and write about it, then send it out to do its work–you are an artist and a fighter. Go get ’em, my friend.
I so appreciate those who are not driven by fear but instead live life as though fear were insignificant. Your story is well said. lv, Roxie
I think that it is always significant when one decides rather than to live life fear based they choose to go forth as if fears were insignificant or nonexistent. Your story is well said. hope to see you soon, Roxie
Mary Rose, you rock once again, I am proud to know you!
Life has always been more fun when Mary B gets going! Just keep doing what you are doing. Keeps us all young and ALIVE.
I spent the weekend in a tent, under stormy skies, cooking in the open, loving it all but feeling every 75 year old muscle when I returned home. Planning on going back to work at PBS this fall and not thinking about wheelchairs, drooling on my bib or anything like that. However, I know the specter of the inevitable lurks very close by. Age – phoooey! Thanks Mary for this great and cogent piece of writing.
Leave it to you to make a margarita out of a sour lemon! I, too, am so glad you are choosing life-and to rejoin us soon. It’s a scary scenario where you are.
I love that reference, a margarita our of a sour lemon!!! That is marvelous!
thanks for giving us a glimpse of that world, so we may be a little more prepared. Keep up the good fight. We have been warned. I’m wondering what we can do about the computer care?
So what time should I come by for you? And where would you like to walk?
I love this decision; now Nurse Ratchett doesn’t have to raise her voice! ; )
Beautiful. I am glad you Choose Life!