This is my last week of occupational therapy

If I were not a [Jewish] Buddhist, this would be my Mad As Hell and I Can’t Take it Anymore moment.


It is 3:04 AM. I am making coffee. Washing the dishes. A shower is overdue. At 8:10 a Cataride para-transit bus will pick me up here in Downtown State College where parking (believe it or not) is a problem.

This is the parking lot at Addison Court–a residence for low-income elderly and disabled: A ghetto by any other name is a ghetto.


After riding through the astonishingly beautiful countryside of Centre County, PA, I will be arriving at HealthSouth, Pleasant Gap–one of an empire of 123 U.S. physical and rehabilitation hospitals based in Birmingham, Alabama. Coming soon, as a result of a recent merger, HealthSouth will have a new name: Encompass South. [East, West, and North still in the planning stage.]

Whenever possible, always go to the Securities and Exchange Commission 10-K form.

For some reason, the goyisha holiday known as Christmas has evoked my employment with the SEC. In the Christmas of 1979, at the recommendation of the heroine of the NYT Eileen Shanahan, my paperwork began writing speeches for the Democratic Chairman of the SEC. The following week before Christmas, I approached the new Republican chair of the SEC at Brooks Brothers and instead of writing for him in my apartment, he installed me in his suite at the old SEC building where frightened of giving a speech, he pulled the speech out of my typewriter before I could finish writing it.










This is what the parking lot at HealthSouth is like when I arrive before 9 this morning.


At 9, I will begin the routine Pittsburgh-trained Occupational Therapist Christine Vuchenich has established. The routine consists of:

  • Stretching exercises at her wooden table.
  • Weight lifting
  • Use of the Baltimore Technology shoulder stretching wheel
  • Push ups and other exercises.
Ask Chris about my progress reports. When I began, it took me 20 minutes to put on my pants. Now it takes five. This weekend, I published a poem about our conversations.









On Friday, progress stops. Then, I have to resort to in-home exercises. No sophisticated equipment. No informed instruction. Just hours a week of exercise exercise exercise.

Last week, I completed the 28 weeks of physical therapy with Shannon Duranko who received her doctorate from Slippery Rock University. For the first time (last week) I walked the length of the parallel bars and back.


Dr. Shannon Duranko prepares me for a physical therapy routine that helps me control pain. No more. The operative Biblical verse is the Third Commandment. Honor your father and mother. I am a father and a grandfather. HealthSouth’s other patients are mothers and grandmothers too. Medicare has institutionalized the breaking of the Third Commandment.










I do not have parallel bars at home.

What I have at home is persistence. Think of Medicare as city hall. I have already begun my plan to fight city hall. Medicare’s short-sighted cutback of physical and occupational therapy means that using movement to relieve pain likely will be replaced with using Oxycontin to relieve pain. Instead of continuing progress so I might use Lofstrand crutches and a walker for mobility–with the eye on the prize of being able to walk again–Medicare may once again spend unnecessarily for frequent trips to the emergency room or for hospitalization.

Penny wise pound foolish.

Time to get ready. When I return…