Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: At the Ladies-Only Table

During my first meal at the Singing River Hospital Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center I wondered why ladies were on one side of the room and men on the other.

The women, who outnumbered the men, were at a long table created from shorter tables shoved together. The men’s table was shorter, and unlike the ladies’ table, had a number of unfilled spots. Typical of my post-stroke experience, the question about segregation of the sexes dissipated from my consciousness as abundant distractions claimed my attention.

In the days that followed, however, I noticed two things:
1)    When every spot was filled at the ladies’ table, there was no hesitation about placing a female at the men’s table. The opposite circumstance never arose while I was there. The men always had extra room at their table.
2) I liked having a ladies-only table.

 At the ladies’ table we eventually started sharing, mostly funny stories about ourselves. The presence of men probably would have dampened the hilarity since no matter our age (none of us remained in the “young” category), race, size or our reason for being in rehab, all of us shared a certain sense of modesty.

A conversation that started about the horror of discovering that a male tech was going to help with our shower, evolved into laughter at all the details from each of us. And we realized that we shared more than the initial shock. By the end of that meal, each one of us had articulated our realization and acceptance of the reality that these male techs were just doing their jobs, and we needed to let them do their jobs.

Our personal chronicles also inevitably included the fact that the male techs made a conscious effort to help us maintain modesty. Their strategies differed, but their respect and compassion were evident to us and appreciated.

Before my admittance to the rehab center, I had already accepted the help of male nurses and techs in personal situations. I admit, however, that I was in for a surprise on my first morning at the rehab center. My female occupational therapist, was on hand that Saturday morning, acquainting me with safe showering and other skills I needed to develop to take care of personal needs post-stroke. I was startled when she dragged a male therapy tech over to introduce him to me – while I was on the toilet.

Never able to let a moment of silence exist without filling it, I blurted out, “Well,  I’ve never before been introduced to a good-looking man while I was on the potty.”

And, yes, I shared that bit of embarrassing information with the ladies. You can see why we congregated at the ladies-only table. Our humor, while often low on the wittiness scale, lifted our spirits and was definitely healing.

Next: Fay’s Story


  1. I think humor must always help us heal. This is a funny story in many ways. I too would have to say that I've "never been introduced to a good-looking guy while I was on the potty."

    My children were delivered by male doctors, so I guess it should be reasonable to think that we would be cared for by male nurses.

  2. My word!!! Well, perhaps the males would be just as embarrassed that a female employee was helping them with their baths. Your stories are all so interesting, and I still think they should all be put together in a book! I await each post to read what is next. And also, not to be morbid or anything, but some of us may have a stroke at some point, and we will be clued in now as to some things to expect.

  3. I'm with Ginny on the book. Your humor really takes the bite out of a situation any of us could someday be in. I am so glad that the other ladies are also laughing. Sorry that the men don't seem to be.
    I can see the point of male nurses since I am sure there is lifting and positioning involved and hay, if he is good looking----.

  4. This is exactly why I like female only gatherings and loved my undergraduate girls college. We can be so bad when the men aren't present, and I think sometimes we need to vent. Great post. Thanks, Dianne

  5. Humour is a great healer - and it is a help to be able to share with other women.