Some people get all the breaks. That goes especially for my mother, Rosina, who recently fell and broke three vertebrae in her back. Fortunately, rehab professionals have her back, which is good because my mother would like to get rid of it.
It was the third time in five years she has fallen and broken something (first it was a leg, last year it was a wrist) and she has bounced back each time, though she didn’t bounce each time she fell, which is why she has needed physical and occupational therapy.
I should mention that my mother is 93 years old and, as a legend of the fall, is in better shape, physically and mentally, than I am. She’s absolutely amazing, which she demonstrated when I visited her in the Van Munching Rehabilitation Unit at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut.
“Look at the bright side,” I told her. “You’re running out of things to break.”
“At least my head is still in one piece,” my mother pointed out.
“So is mine,” I said, “except it’s empty.”
My mother, being a good mother, just smiled.
In fact, she did a lot of smiling in Van Munching, which ought to be the name of the cafeteria. And she had a blast, especially with her friends Elaine and Eleanor, who also were there for therapy.
One evening, I joined my mother for an informal party in Elaine’s room. If there had been a curfew, they would have, of course, broken it. By the time they called it a night, I was exhausted. I guess, at 64, I’m too old to keep up with these nonagenarians.
I had a blast, too, when I met Mason, a therapy dog in training who was visiting from Indiana and has a foot fetish.
That was amply evident when the 2-year-old tri-colored Pomeranian, who has a tri-colorful personality, became infatuated with my size-11 sneakers.
“He loves feet,” said his owner, Barbara, whose sister, Cathy, was a patient in the rehab unit.
“Mason,” I said as I lifted my left foot and turned it over, “would you like to do some sole searching?”
Mason sniffed my foot and sneezed. Then he ran back to Barbara.
My mother didn’t need a therapy dog because she had a therapy son. And I found out first hand, followed by my second hand, how tough therapy can be.
It wasn’t tough for my mother, who’s an old pro at things like the arm ergometer, a machine with two handles that a patient must push in a circular motion.
“You’re doing great,” said Colette, an occupational therapist who watched my mother breeze through the 10-minute exercise.
“May I try?” I asked when my mother was done.
“If you think you can do it,” Colette said.
I grabbed the handles and started pushing. After three minutes, my arms were burning.
The conflagration continued when I tried to replicate my mother’s performance with two-pound weights, which she lifted upward, outward and sideways in reps of 30 each.
“I’ll never make the Olympics,” I admitted.
“No,” Colette said. “But your mother might.”
“She could have her own gym, Planet Rosina,” I said.
“You should sign up,” Colette suggested. “You have work to do.”
That sentiment was echoed by Ed, a rehab tech, and Chris, a registered nurse who trained at The Villa at Stamford, another excellent rehabilitation facility.
“Your mom’s fantastic,” said Ed, who talked with her about Italian food, obviously the key to good nutrition.
“We’ll have to get her out on the ice,” said Chris, who like Ed is a hockey player. “Skating is good exercise.”
My mother, a retired nurse who complimented Chris by saying he is a credit to their profession, replied, “I could be the puck.”
Everyone in the rehab unit said my mother is amazing, not just because she is, injuries aside, in remarkable shape for someone her age, or even mine, but because she has such a positive attitude and keen sense of humor.
“You’re fortunate to have such a great mom,” Chris told me.
I nodded and said, “Just call it a lucky break.”
— Jerry Zezima