Monday, August 10, 2009

Kessler Diaries--3--"It's Where Christopher Reeve Went..."

There were arms and legs everywhere. Jill, the hospital Discharge Planning social worker was an enviably tall woman: one of her legs ran the entire length of my body. She folded herself into the ugly chair at the foot of my bed, smoothed her skirt over crossed legs and started talking.

"Because you already have a mobility disability and the car accident has only increased your mobility issues, you're a good candidate for Kessler. In order to be eligible for services there, you have to stay in this hospital for three consecutive nights..."

One more night in a hospital room by myself with a tv and a decent view from the fourth floor wasn't a stretch. The patient from down the hall who called out"help me! help me!" incessantly could be tolerated easily by raising the volume of yet another episode of "Law and Order."

"...We're waiting for a bed at this point." Jill checked my paperwork in the file on her lap. I found her obvious intelligence and competence quite comforting.

"How long do you think I'll be there?"

She shrugged. "It depends on how your rehab progresses. You're going to work very hard there. It's where Christopher Reeve went for rehab after his injury."

Everyone around me, hospital staff, visitors, and diehard New Jerseyites mentioned Christopher Reeve when I brought up Kessler. His adult onset disability seemed to add a certain glamour to the myth of the quality of care at Kessler. I was going to where he went--to the original facilty in West Orange not 15 minutes away from my home in Montclair, NJ. It puzzled me slightly that while everyone was quick to talk about Reeve and Kessler Rehab in the same breath, noone ever brought up that he died from the complications of a bedsore a preventable condition, I thought, usually avoid by proper medical monitoring. Since SuperCompliant Crip was fully now activated in her present hospital bed, I didn't bring up this fact for fear of starting an arguement and somehow affecting my chances of getting into Kessler.

In the morning of the fourth day at my local hospital, I was very efficiently and quickly transported, via ambulance to Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange. I got into my room, 1086-bed 2 in time for lunch. When I asked which room Christopher Reeve had stayed in while rehabbing here, nobody knew the answer.

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