Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: Introduction to the Ladies’ Table

Sandra Chisholm, angel of the ladies’ table
At 5 p.m. on Day 7 of my stroke journey, a tech rolled me into the fourth floor dining room of the Singing River Hospital Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center and pushed me up to a table surrounded by ladies, most of them also in wheel chairs. I had been discharged from Ocean Springs Hospital and admitted that afternoon to rehab at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS.

One of the first things I learned was that patients were strongly encouraged to join in the communal meals in the dining hall.  The second thing I noticed was that the men and women were segregated, women on one side of the room, men on the other.

By the time the tech had locked the brakes on my wheelchair, Sandra Chisholm, a lovely woman with silver hair, had introduced herself.  She promptly acquainted me with each lady at the table. She also included in her introductions their hometowns, providing a simple hook for starting a conversation.

Her gracious act made me feel at home and included. I decided then that if no one else did those introductions when Sandra headed home, that I would give it a try. My insurance was described as “generous,” and I was there for 27 days, longer than most of the others. As a result I encountered roughly three different sets of ladies during my stay.

Once Sandra was discharged, I tried to make sure newcomers received a welcome similar to the one that meant so much to me. My memory didn’t measure up to Sandra’s, but everybody pitched in when I stumbled on names.

Sharing meals with those ladies and seeing everyone working to overcome a variety of serious challenges during therapy cemented a solid sense of community and sisterhood for me. Such a simple thing, but breaking bread together was healing as well as an opportunity to develop new skills for coping with mealtimes, all  in the company of understanding dining companions. More about the ladies' table later. 


  1. This seems like such a good idea!! No one feeling out of place, each having their own struggles.

  2. What a great idea and how neat of you to continue the tradition. I hope someone took up your baton.
    Curious about the sex segregation.

  3. i am wondering why they spit the ladies and men. i have volunteered at a rehab center for 5 years, my dad was there for a year. his best friend was a lady from germany that sat at his table. this is a rehab and long term home, so that might be the difference. thinking back i remember 2 tables of 4 ladies each and they loved each other. but daddy's was 2 men 2 women. no idea where i am going with this so will shut up. i am glad you were met by sweet ladies to befriend you.

  4. Sounds like a good way to build up confidence amongst those who really know what you are going through. Well done for working so hard at recovery.

  5. Isn't it funny how we reconstruct the family group in the strangest of settings? Nice blog. I enjoy reading about your daily progress. You met some wonderful people on your journey. Dianne

  6. Making friends in the most trying of circumstances is wonderful.
    Thanks for taking on your journal with you. I appreciate it and I know you are right in the palm of His hand.

  7. I love that you took on a leadership role. I think that is part of why your recovery is going so well. You are serving as a leader to us all.

  8. Your account of your stroke journey is very interesting. The right treatment and conditions do a lot to help the patient regain normality.