When a nursing home resident doesn’t return after hospitalization

Christmas Eve I was having fevers, feeling chilled and shaking quite a bit. I knew there was a problem but did not know the cause. I talked to the nurses and suggested it might be a UTI or pneumonia, but with all the holiday business that got pushed to the side.

When I was not feeling any better the following Tuesday, the staff became concerned, but I did not want to go to the emergency room. My legs eventually became so painful that I could not tolerate it or stand, and I decided it was time to go the ER. After my arrival at the hospital, it did not take long for me to realize that I was pretty sick.

Several hours later, it was determined that I had pneumonia, a UTI and a kidney stone obstructing my left kidney. By 7 p.m., I was transferred to a private room on the floor and was on continuous oxygen and given antibiotics. I was able to sleep for the rest of the night except for interruptions for breathing treatments and blood draws.

I felt better the next morning but recognized that I had no means of communication. My computer and cellphone were in my nursing home room and the hospital could not call long distance easily. So I called the nursing home and asked them to bring my cellphone and a couple pillows for propping me up.

Therapy came each day to help me get out of bed or do range-of-motion exercises. The rest of the time I tried to get in touch with my sister—who was out of town—my other friends and my colleagues to let them know that I was sick.

About an hour before I left the hospital, I was told I was being sent to a sister facility of the nursing home that I live in because I was in isolation and required IV antibiotics for 10 days. A sister facility would allow me a private room, and it would protect my current roommate from needing to move for the 10 days I would be in isolation. I understood the reasoning behind this decision but I hated leaving all my “homelike things,” such as my bed, power chair and computer, at the nursing home.

At the sister facility, the private room is half bedroom and half bathroom, so the space is very limited. Thankfully, the nurses here set me up so I could use my cellphone independently. I am endeavoring to be a patient, to see out the last days of my isolation and antibiotics.

It looks like I will be heading back to my nursing home on Tuesday or Wednesday. I hope to be working and writing the next day if possible.

Topics: Clinical