Yesterday was kind of a one off, I don't usually volunteer at the regular VA Hospital. They have another section north of town that I visit.
I found about about it when the VA sent us a patient for a neurosurgery consult. (No, they couldn't send him directly to neurosurgery, we have rules. Since he's a cancer patient, he had to transfer to oncology so we could arrange the consult. Yes, I know it doesn't make any sense.)
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, this was an absolutely delightful elderly gentleman who had fallen at home and we were hoping neurosurgery could cement his vertebrae to ease his pain and make him stable enough to walk again. They weren't able to do anything, so we needed a Plan B. We got his pain under control with medication, but he was too weak and unsteady to get around much even with a walker.
Sadly, he lived way, way, way out in the country with no near neighbors and his only relative was a daughter who lived several hours away and didn't seem inclined to offer much help. He was obviously an accident waiting to happen so I discussed the idea of acute rehab with him, hoping they could help get him stronger and steadier. After much discussion he reluctantly agreed and I called the VA to transfer him back to them. He went back and once a place opened up he was transferred to physical rehab.
Most of our patients have no money or insurance and are treated by rehab as charity cases, so they get one week of treatment and are sent home.
So I was surprised to find that the VA doesn't do that. When I talked to the VA version of social work I expressed some worry that he was not going to be well enough to go home anytime soon and her response was, "That's ok, he can have as much time as he needs."
She said the place where he was going was half nursing home and they would make sure he could either manage at home alone, find placement for him, or if he had no other options they would just keep him until something opened up.
Knowing his daughter wasn't around I went out the next weekend to see him and take him some M&M's (he used to ask the hospital nurses for them) and found that he wasn't the only one there with no family or visitors. So I started making it a habit, then somehow I got to trimming nails and cutting hair and now I try to do it at least once a month.
Today was that day, and it was fun and exhausting. My feet were killing me when I got home so I decided I needed a long, hot bubble bath. I guess Brian had never wandered in while I was in the bath before, because it really worried him. He offered a paw and kept trying to pull me out of the tub, like he thought I needed rescuing.
I finally blew some bubbles a him as a distraction and he really enjoyed playing with them until he decided to grab a bigger handful for himself and fell into the tub. Oh, if only I could have crawled out fast enough to grab my camera before he took off, but some how he's decided it's my fault he got a snoot full of water and he's still one pissed off cat.
I guess next time I'll close the door.