After two short-term stays in the rehabilitative unit of a nursing home, Norton Wasserman isn't exactly ready for a third visit if it isn't necessary. But, he says, all in all, the experience isn't so bad. It's also the right thing to do if you're really not ready to return home after a stint in the hospital. "Rehab is a good thing to do. Sometimes it's necessary," he says.
Wasserman had a hip replacement last January that led to his first stay in rehab. More recently, Wasserman had spinal fusion surgery which required another stay in rehab. Both times he chose to stay at the Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Skokie.
It wasn't a tough decision. Some people, those with pre-planned surgeries, tour rehab facilities in advance and pick the one they like the best. But Wasserman was familiar with the Lieberman Center. His wife, Rachel, who has Alzheimer's disease, has lived for seven years in the long-term care section of the building. Though the rehab unit is on a different floor than where his wife lives, Wasserman was able to visit her during his stay when he wasn't busy. "I spent time with her," he says.
With his wife living away from home, and no one else to help, Wasserman knew he'd have to spend time in a rehab facility before he could return home and manage there alone. "Rehab is not home," says Wasserman, a retired attorney and resident of north suburban Deerfield where he was a village trustee. "But it's not bad."
Both times, Wasserman stayed in rehab about two weeks. The experiences were somewhat different because of the nature of his surgeries. A typical day begins with an early wake up. The staff helped him dress and get ready for the day. He ate breakfast in the dining room on the rehab floor. After the hip replacement, Wasserman had morning and afternoon sessions of physical and occupational therapy. "They work you hard," says Wasserman. "But I had very positive results."
After his spinal surgery, instead of physical therapy, the doctor ordered Wasserman only to walk a lot. "The staff did a good job of taking care of me," he says. The Lieberman Center has a staff physiatrist a medical doctor trained in rehabilitation who manages each patient's recovery protocol. Wasserman had trouble with an incision from the surgery and a nurse at the Lieberman Center was able to care for the wound, something Wasserman says he couldn't have done for himself at home.
Wasserman returned home when he was able to manage on his own. But a visiting nurse and physical therapist came to his home to continue treatments. They showed him how to get around his house safely. Once he could drive after the hip replacement, Wasserman received physical therapy at a facility near his house in Deerfield. "I did that for several months as I recovered," he says.
Wasserman's advice to those facing surgery and a short-term stay in a rehab facility: "It's not what I would recommend for a vacation. But rehab was the place for me to go."