After the Fact: I’m B-A-A-A-A-CK!!


Relatively speaking, this Valley has better health care facilities and services than nearly anywhere else in the state. We have three hospitals, local clinic offices and urgent care for a population that’s only slightly larger than the crowd that fills Broncos’ Stadium on a Sunday afternoon!

I’ve visited all three hospitals, either as a customer or a visitor, and have been impressed by all.  Undoubtedly, there are some things that could stand improvement, some personnel that should be greeting people at Walmart instead, but, overall, we are fortunate to have this kind of care.

Recently, I had the misfortune of spending a few weeks in the Alamosa hospital (San Luis Valley Health) where EVEN the food is five star! There are not enough positive adjectives to describe the doctors, nurses, techs, CNA’s and even student nurses who provided care while I was there, and I know I can be an entirely exasperating patient!

And would you believe they even sent me a “thank you” card? I’d reciprocate, but, even with Dollar Tree prices, I’d go broke if I sent one to each of the providers who helped me along the road of recovery with charm and cheer (and they can be a really fun bunch to know!)

After the first couple of times someone from the lab wakes you at 4 a.m. to draw blood, you out-grow your apprehensions, simply stick an arm out from under the covers and go back to sleep (yes, they’re THAT good!)  I believe I donated enough on this last visit to fill a good-size barrel. There’s even a frequent (though subtle) heralding of good cheer when they play Brahms’ Lullaby over the “P.A.” system to announce a new arrival. It made my heart sing every time, even if I didn’t know the family.   

The greatest advantage, of course, is that you are “buying local.” The care is as good as you’d receive at almost any hospital in a bigger city, but your friends and family can stop by to say, “get well” and keep you up on the gossip at work (or, in my case, at the Senior Center). The parking is nearby and FREE!

Oh, if you’re in a room with a north-facing window at the Rio Grande Hospital in Del Norte, you can watch the buffalo grazing in the field that’s nearly “next door.” Beat that, Denver General!

From the hospital, I moved into Monte Vista Estates for “rehab”, my choice determined by a previous stay at that facility and proximity to home though there are other centers that do offer that service. 

Though most of the “hands-on” personnel I’d met before were gone, there were a few hold-outs and the “newbies” were just as well-trained, just as competent and just as friendly as those I’d known before. True of any organization or business or even just a committee, there are always those who don’t really want to be doing what they’re doing but, what the heck, it’s a job and they’ll stay until they find something else.

On the other side of that coin are the dedicated, truly caring, exceedingly efficient and competent people who provide care for a diverse population of residents, from those who are nearly non-functioning to the very difficult and the temporary or short-term patients. Chris says she can tell when I’m getting better by the level of “crankiness,” but you can’t really be cranky when someone has gone above and beyond the “expected” to make your life easier and better.

Well, excepting the therapists.  They are making your life better, but they make you work HARD for every nano-bit of that better! On the days where I thought it would be nice to just loll about in bed or nap in the lounge chair, one or another of the therapists would show up in my room, expecting me to do cartwheels down the hall (at least!) or walk (with a walker) miles and miles to the “gym” (in the next hall). I progressed from being able to stand (with a lot of help) to walking (without stopping to rest) up both halls and back.  There’s just not much of anywhere I can’t walk now (with that walker). Maybe I’ll look more kindly on the therapists who will be visiting me at home.

Throughout this long journey, I’ve met some amazing and fascinating people, had some memorable episodes both laughable and encouraging, and learned valuable lessons (like being sure there’s a chair behind your sit-down when you do sit down!) but mostly, “Thank God for all those people who take care of us when things go awry” as said by my friend, Dee Rightley.

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