On January 4th, Mark moved to Pate Rehabilitation, an intensive brain injury and stroke rehabilitation program in Dallas. We had very high hopes for this rehab facility as they came highly recommended. Our insurance approved outpatient rehabilitation only, so I ponied up $650 per day to cover the inpatient portion of his care so that he would not have to travel the 60 miles roundtrip from our house to Pate Rehab.

Prior to leaving for Pate Rehab, he tested negative for Covid. Four days after arriving at Pate Rehab, he tested positive for Covid.

Long story short: after 3 trips to the ER with severe dehydration from not being properly cared for and having 80% of his belongings “lost” at Pate Rehab’s inpatient facility, he’s now home.

Therapy comes to us now.

I wish I knew then what I know now: home is best. I had such high hopes for him at Pate Rehab from all of the things I was told. I really believed I was doing the right thing for him.

I don’t doubt that Pate Rehab is a brilliant brain injury and stroke rehab facility, but the lack of rudimentary care (e.g., hydration & checking someone’s blood pressure before giving them massive doses of BP-lowering drugs) at Pate Rehabilitation’s inpatient facility was infuriating. They put my husband’s life at risk multiple times.

Other than that minor life-threatening thing, his stroke-affected leg was noticeably stronger in early January. But all of that has been undone because of the exposure to Covid at Pate Rehab and their lack of care.

I don’t doubt we will get that back in time, but it’s horrifying to pay $650 per day and not receive the most basic rudimentary care. I’m beyond dismayed. Trying to get his stuff back has been a chore; their social worker avoids me.

I suppose if we had done outpatient, or maybe gone to a different one of their facilities, things would have been different.

When Mark arrived home, he was pretty distressed from his experiences in January at both Pate Rehab and the hospital. It’s taken a week, but he’s finally starting to feel a little more like Mark.

Everyone in the medical industry from nurses to doctors to social workers told me I wouldn’t be able to properly care for him at home. It will be too hard.

It’s not.

What was hard: driving 60 miles to Dallas every day to see him and only being able to stay for a few hours because I have a teenager at home. Being unable to focus on much of anything at home/work because I’m worrying about him at the hospital. Trying to figure out why Pate Rehabilitation’s nurses dumped him at the hospital without providing the hospital any background on his condition, his medications, or anything else. Getting Covid myself from being exposed at Pate’s inpatient facility because a nurse thought putting a FAN on a Covid patient was a great idea. (Nevermind the guy who sprayed himself in the face with Lysol instead of using proper PPE.) Being unable to really be of support to Mark at the hospital because I am worrying about Claire at home. Trying to keep Claire’s life as normal as possible in the midst of all of this. Arguing with idiot social workers who apparently don’t know how to do their jobs. Arguing with doctors and nurses and physical therapists who don’t know how to pick up a phone to communicate an issue.

THAT. That was hard. Distressing. Horrifying. Soul crushing.

Thanks, Pate Rehab. You did a bang up job.

At some point in the midst of him being in the hospital, something broke in me. I felt a little like Sarah Connor in The Terminator, and I was at war. I had seen too much. Instead of guns, I had words. And my words were at war with a healthcare system that is more death preparation than healthcare. Every phone call started with my defenses dialed up to 11.

I apologized to one person who stopped being such an asshat and got things done, but the rest will not forget me. There will be post-graduate college classes that will begin with stories of the wife who could monologue rage at an unprecedented velocity. It is up to them whether they will learn.

I’ve learned.

Your healthcare is your responsibility. Use the system and steel your defenses, or the system will destroy you. Do what you can to stay healthy with diet and movement, mindfulness and intention, and avoid institutions that are more devoted to guidelines, rules, and standards than meeting patients where they are and providing exceptional care.

That all being said, I did meet quite a few exceptional healthcare providers, and Mark’s current doctor is impressive. We’ve landed in a good place after a grueling and soul crushing journey.

I still have a few more battles to fight, including getting Mark’s belongings returned from Pate Rehab (god forbid they go out of their way to actually look for things and send them back or return emails or phone calls). But I’m ready. Prepare yourself.

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