Friday, December 21, 2012

Institute unlike any other?

I never quite thought about it, but the only times I was outdoors during my years in Hungary when my parents took me home for the weekends [or, in later years for the night]. We practically never left the building. I remember two instances we went on a trip. One was to the Planetarium, the other to see Disney's Pinocchio at the cinema. Those were such unique, incredible events that I remember them to this day. But I didn't feel playful. If anything, I remember being pretty upset. My parents were paying good money to send me there and I wasn't getting any exercises on those days. Every day was pretty much the same. We didn't go for walks or play outside at least when I was there and save those two special occasions we rarely deviated from the routine. But that's the thing- it never felt boring. I never had the impression that I didn't want to be there. I didn't count the minutes- unless it was Friday when I would finally get to see my parents. Perhaps it was the mindset that I've had. I was there to get better, to reach further, to make progress. Perhaps it was the fact that people who worked there, young energetic ladies called Conductors, were warm and seemed to have really cared about us. Perhaps it was the surroundings- vibrant and fun- Full of color and humor. I was a big Disney fan at the age of 8 and the floor seemed to echo that sentiment with Donald Duck posters everywhere. I was in a few closed institutions as a child. Be it for surgeries or rehabilitation. My parents tried a lot of things to get me to walk when I was a child. And let me tell you one thing: I think that how you feel about where you are and how you feel about yourself being there is just as important as what approach and method they use on you. There was a sense of optimism I wasn't able to replicate in those cold, distant places with white walls. I didn't feel like we were wasting time. There was a purpose to all that we did. We were never simply in the way. Over the years to come, elements of the Peto method spilled over to rehabilitation wards and facilities in Poland. My mom never wanted me to sit idly as I waited for the school year to begin, and she'd always find some exercise program to sign me up for..One Summer, I ended up Children's Memorial Health Institute's rehabilitation wing near Warsaw. It's really hard to explain why I hated that place. It was still a hospital. The OR's were in a different part of building, but every night I felt as lonely and abandoned as I did when I had my surgeries at the age of 6. I slept in a hospital bed. I wasn't wearing pajamas but was in a hospital room with a nightstand. When you went outside into the corridor you saw a hospital floor. In a truly Hungarian fashion we called the women that worked there "aunts". But they were nurses. The same cold and distant I will not be bothered type we called "sisters" when I was six, that tied my hand to a bed railing and told me to pee in the bed when I asked for a bed pan. Nothing that extreme happened that time around, but you'd see a lot of abandoned children, kids after surgeries and everywhere you turn sadness and depression. I wanted to be out of there, it felt like some holding place. We would do a few types of therapy every day, but there was nothing to look forward to. My mom noted that without parents present, some of those kids would not even make some of their daily appointments. There were there so long, that they'd be easily forgotten. These days I hate even going through a hospital and there was a time I had to live in one. It feels you can endure a lot  and work hard if you have hope. A lot of those places felt hopeless to me. And more than anything I wanted to not be there anymore.

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