On New Years Eve, 1964, when I was 6, I remember crying my eyes out to my mother because I didn’t want 1964 to end since it was such a good year for little me. Years later, I cannot wait for 2016 to end. Sure, there were a few bright spots, but for most of the year it simply sucked.
I don’t remember 6 weeks of it. I started the year quite ill, in hospice care. Sometime in April I became sick enough that I was placed into a skilled nursing facility. My family was told that I had “a week, tops” before I would die. I woke up near the end of May in Bishop Spencer Place, a retirement/skilled nursing/intermediate care facility affiliated with our diocese. Back in 2002, before ordination, I did my field work assignment/chaplaincy training at BSP. It’s a huge facility covering an entire city block in midtown KC about a half mile west of Saint Luke’s Hospital. It proved to be a wonderful place for me to heal.
The staff addressed me as “Mr. Egger” but none of the staff ever introduced themselves to me by name for the whole time I was there. I noticed a hierarchy of races in the facility. Most of the RNs were White or Black, (as were the nursing assistants,) the LPNs were Black, and the housekeepers were Hispanic. Two of my favorite nursing assistants on night were Pakistani women, and I miss them. The work they did was amazing. As an RN I knew how helpful a good LPN could be, and the LPNs at BSP were more than good. 🙂
Wake up time for me was usually 0530, to take an early morning med. Breakfast was at 0700, lunch was 1100 and supper was 1600. Lights out at 2100. I was dismissed from BSP in late September and I’m still working on adjusting my times. Usually I struggle to stay awake until 2200 and still wake up at around 0330, but I’m finally sleeping in until 0800.
There wasn’t much for me to do there except read or watch television in my room, which I shared with a man who watched Fox News 24/7. The facility is constructed in a semicircle. The nursing station was in the middle, a large room, with three hallways extending outward with rooms. Most of the hallways had at least 60 residents. One was for skilled nursing, one was for rehab, and my hallway which was for those with lesser needs. I noticed that there were “regulars” who sat in the room that was the nursing station. I found an open chair and it became my perch, where I could watch the nurses and residents interact, or spend my time reading. My sister took me out for Saturdays away from ‘the home,’ as I called it. BSP was within walking distance of a Half-Price Bookstore, and we’d go there or stop to shop for me. (We could keep food in our rooms.) It was so good to get out of the home and see the ‘real world’ of Midtown KC. There was also a really nice Sun Fresh Market within walking distance. The city traffic prevented actually walking to the market.
One of the treats of being out with sissie was lunch. Midtown is full of some wonderful restaurants. My Yelp account suggested some really good eats for us. Jerusalem Cafe serves really good Middle Eastern food. There were several pizza places we ate at, too.
I didn’t get too many visitors. My bishop stopped by. Dawn and Becca visited. My kids were in town several times. Some clergy friends visited. I became good friends with the spouses of two of the residents; they were surviving clergy spouses. I found out that there was a group of retired clergy that met in the chapel for Morning Prayer every Thursday. This became an oasis for me. I knew all the retired clergy who participated. Deacon Leslie lived in my hall, too, and she often visited for MP. I hear she’s in hospice now, and I pray for her every day.
In August my granddaughter Gila Rae Afton was born. She’s an amazing little one and is growing and learning more with each passing day. She’s changed Annie and Ben’s life forever and they are great parents.
We adopted Becca Tish this past year; another bright blessing. She’s an adult, and we found out that adult adoptions are legal in Missouri. She calls her birth parents “egg donor and sperm donor.” It’s pretty cool looking at her new birth certificate with OUR names (Tishie and me) on it as mother and father. Becca has lots of health issues, but she’s putting on weight and become much more assertive.
Other than a head cold that won’t go away, my health has been getting better since I returned home. Thanks to two new meds I can take a 7 minute shower without getting short of air. That’s *huge* for me since my lungs have always been my nemesis. I’ve been on a plateau for two months. Sometimes I worry about dropping the other shoe, yet this extended plateau is a blessing.
I’ve also renewed my friendship with my New Living Testament (NLT) study bible. It’s a brilliant translation and my nose is in it perhaps too often. My day is woven with reading, prayer, and playing fetch (yes) with our 6 month old kitten, Luna.