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I have lived independently since the age of 24. Lived in my own apartment, paid my own bills and for the last 25 years worked and paid taxes. I have chosen to work for Westchester Disabled on the Move, because I believe in their mission. Therefore, hurting my back was not something I expected or wanted to happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a rewind button as part of being born? But this is not a reality and I like to live in the moment. Whether I liked it or not, I began a journey which led me to a nursing home and ultimately back to the community.

The Christmas Gift that Kept on Giving
I must say that this was the worst Christmas gift I ever thought I could receive. However, it did allow time for my Medicaid to begin working. Where indeed, I have personal assistance to aid me where ever I go. I wish I could have done things differently but reality always stings you. And Pride will always hurt you. I am sometimes too smart for my own good. Thank you and Happy New Year.

The Fateful Night
It was Christmas night, approximately 2am/ I am assisted to bed or shall I say body slammed by a friend. A few moments later I experienced severe pain in my lower back. I called 911 and my older brother Brad. I was wheeled into the ambulance and taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, in Suffern NY.

Welcome to Ramapo Manor Nursing Home
3am in the morning I arrive. There is Christmas garland surrounding the door and a Santa Clause smiling. I say to myself “What the f*** am I doing here? My back hurts like hell”. 3 hours later they are shoving a food tray into my face. I eat the food and go back to sleep, as I wonder how the hell this happened.
The amazing thing about this is I received no rehabilitation for my back. I must say, they asked. I declined saying “I am 62 year old man. I have no need to rehabilitate my back or any other part of my body”

6 Months in the Bird Cage
I must admit that this was the longest 6 months I have ever spent doing nothing, except reading books and watching daytime dysfunctional television. Why did this happen?
• The doctor did not want to risk the reputation of Good Samaritan Hospital , so he didn’t want me to go home without help. He undermined my choice to take a risk.
• The doctor did not want to put his medical license at risk
• I did not realize or was in too much pain to realize that I could have refused placement in the nursing home

Nursing homes are not home. Nursing homes strip you of your personal Identity. Nursing homes separate you from your family and loved ones. Nursing homes have no personality. They stink literally, the soaps they force you to use and the ones they use on your clothes. Before I began, some might ask why I didn’t say anything while I was in the nursing home, I did so every day. I did say something. In truth, the nursing home needs to take their piece of me too by keeping me as long as possible; and milking the insurance company as well.

What to Do in the Future?
1) I will not work until exhaustion
2) Say “NO” more often
3) Utilize personal assistants as much as possible
4) Be good to oneself always

If ever I find myself at risk of institutionalization again, I will follow this strategy:
1) Demand to speak to your primary physician before any medical care decisions are made. In my case it should be noted that my doctor at the time was ill, thus he was not consulted.
2) Let the physician make the decision in conjunction with you not for you. However, it should be noted that the ER doctor orders are absolute and they rarely take your views and desires into account. I had no relationship with the ER doctor so I was doomed by his subjective interpretation of my needs.
3) Prepare in advance for the possibility of a hospital visit by discussing with family and friends your preferences to remain in the community. Most importantly make sure that whoever has a medical power of attorney is on board with your independent living philosophy and preferences

I hope you will never visit the birdcage
Scott Smith, Program Director

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