Saturday, December 10, 2011


The Alden Estates rehabilitation center in Skokie, Illinois, where I am an inmate--oops, patient--while my new right knee recovers from implantation Dec. 1, is quite a place. Because it caters only to knee and hip replacement patients, no long lines of moribund wheelchair-bound aged clog its corridors. (Actually, the only visible difference is that the equally elderly replacement patients hobble around with walkers and canes. The level of social excitement is only incremental.)

The ambience is small-cruise-ship, the corridors artfully disguised to make you think you're belowdecks. There's a small dining room whose staff seems to have been plucked off a Holland-America liner, complete with napkin origami famous among Filipino crews, and a cheery ice cream bar. The cuisine is to hospital food as Cordon Bleu is to Mickey D's.

The nurses, aides and physical therapy staff are uniformly sunny and competent.

The idea, the staff tells me, is to provide the happiest possible atmosphere for people recovering from joint surgery. A contented and motivated patient does better down in the bilges, where the torture chamber--oops, the therapy room--is located. The dungeon is camouflaged as an upscale fitness center, complete with reproductions of 1930s European golfing and skiing posters instead of shackles and fetters. Each day brings three therapy sessions.

The physical therapists may all be cheery and warm personalities, but they do have the dedication of Torquemada in getting their victims, er, patients to confess, er, work on range-of-motion and strength issues. That's what makes good PTs: one moment you want to hug them, the next strangle them. And they can take a joke. "My husband," confided one, "calls me a physical terrorist."

So exceptional is this place that society surgeons at nobby Gold Coast hospitals are shipping in their patients. You can tell them by their togs, tans, bling and botched plastic surgery.

For a mere middle-class Medicare patient who's an amateur bird photographer, Alden has another big attraction: a roomy aviary full of colorful canaries and finches. You can view some of the results on my other blog.

Call me contented. Most of the (Ow! That oits!) time.

Beauty amid pain: Therapy birds at the Alden Rehab Center.


  1. Ouch!...I mean, chuckle. Hope you're coming along swell.

  2. It does help to have a sense of humor about joint replacement therapy, and I am sure the PTs are well versed in one-liners.