I didn’t have time to blog earlier in the week because I was busy doing battle with the healthcare systems in this country. Yes, I was lifting my muscles and stretching my legs for a sprint that I made with Medicare.
“Your mother is going to be discharged from rehab this Friday, she is not making enough progress” said social worker B, “but, she is not safe to go home by herself.”
“Where will she go?” I said as I began to fear my greatest fear that my mother would never go home again.
“She can stay here under private pay, or she can go into the nursing facility,” said B, “but her physical therapy will be cut way back.”
“How will she get stronger if you take away more than half her therapy?” I said as I began to fear my greatest fear that my mother would never be able to fully walk again even with her walker.
It was fitting that when I was dealing with my many fears this week that I had an opportunity to attend an inspirational lecture with Rabbi Kushner, the author of “When Bad Things Happen To Good People,” and a new book, “Conquering Fear.” You see, according to Rabbi Kushner, “fear is not to be banished, fear is to be managed.”
As I listened to Rabbi Kushner, I realized that I had used all three of his wise tools to help me deal with the fear of my mother’s fate in rehab. I had used light. I had used salvation. And I had used my strength to conquer my fears.
Rabbi Kushner says that by “letting a little bit of information or light into one’s life can help calm fear.” (That’s what I did. I listened to the information my mom shared with me about the right to appeal her discharge. I listened to my cousin who is is conversant in eldercare and took good notes. And as I let the light into my life, the fear of my mother’s fate in rehab became a little less scary.
“We will appeal tomorrow morning. Yes, we will,” I said to my mother on Tuesday night with a tad of Erin Brockovich in my voice. “And we will win.” (Go Erin. Go Erin. Go Judi. Go Judi.)
Rabbi Kushner says that salvation is another way to conquer fear. “Never let someone else’s opinion of you define who you are or shatter your sense of worth,” he said. “Don’t try to cope with it alone.” (I wasn’t going to let doctor M who only spoke with my mom for a few minutes determine her fate in rehab. No. No. No. Just as Rabbi K says, “sometimes people make mistakes.”)
Rabbi Kushner says that strength also helps to conquer fear. He says that “when we have great fears, that sometimes we have to dig deep to find the strength we have in ourselves and if we find our strength it can help us deal with our fears.” He says he has faith because people are so resilient. (I did dig deep this week. I found my strength from deep down in my soul. I was the proud daughter of a strong mother, a mother who is 89 years old with a zest for life and a lot more to give. A mother who is not ready to sit still in a wheelchair and settle in silence.)
“My mother is making progress. She has improved in her physical and occupational therapy in the past 18 days. Isn’t that correct?”
“Yes,” said the therapist.
“My mother is a strong woman. She has lived alone the past 20+ years and if you continue to give her rehab there is a chance she will be able to get stronger and improve even more. Is that correct?”
“Yes,” said the therapist.
“Then why are you discharging my mother now?”
“Oh, oh, oh, okay, we’ll talk to the doctor and see if we can keep her a little while longer,” said B.
Rabbi Kushner is right, “growing older is scary.” (But, I do agree with Rabbi K that as I age I am beginning to cherish my wisdom more than my youth.)
What’s that about baby boomers Rabbi K? What did you say about my generation?
“Baby boomers as they pass through every stage of life have made changes.” (Yes we have.)
“And they will continue to make changes as they age.” (Yes we will.)
“Old age will be a destination and a blessing to look forward to…to read…to volunteer…to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” (Rabbi K is so smart…he knows all the things I want to do in the future. This lecture is almost like my astrology session.)
“The years ahead are fewer than the years behind.” (Yes, that’s true too. I hear you, but I like the stuff about volunteering and reading a whole lot better.)
“When you are old and sick, death will not be scary. Death will be the answer. Death is the end of life like a period is to the end of a sentence. It defines and evaluates life. What happens to the non-physical entity of ourselves, our soul, lives on after death.” (That was a pretty heavy ending to an inspirational evening.)
Earlier in the day, there was a message on my cellphone from social worker B. “You’re appeal has been accepted. Your mom’s discharge for Friday has been cancelled for now.”
Ahh, ohm, ahh, ohm….I breathed a sigh of relief. My fears subsided. A sense of calm came over my body.
“We won,” I said to my mom before I went off to hear Rabbi K.
“Yes, we did,” said mom. “I was so impressed how you spoke to those people like that…saying how strong I was.”
“I had a great trainer,” I said. (P.S. – I never told my mom I was afraid. Some things are better left unsaid. I learned that from my trainer.)