On a motorcycle trip through Ohio more than two years ago, a crash left John (pseudonym) traumatically brain injured and partially paralyzed. He was put in an Ohio nursing facility for care, but he wanted to go back to his Southern home—a 10-hour drive away.
John lived at this nursing home when I arrived two years ago. He was soon after moved to another facility for more than a year. Then, this past December, he returned to see if he could improve his health situation and go back home.
Every day this 28-year-old father of two is encouraged to feed himself and do all he can so he can go home.
But John's behaviors and displays of anger make caring for him difficult. The nurses and aides deal with his outbursts and visibly keep their composure.
John constantly asks when he is going home. The staff tells him the facility is “working on it,” which does not seem to reassure him.
His mother calls, but she does not speak to him. In fairness, he has difficulty speaking and can be hard to understand.
Sometimes I wonder how he feels about his family and if he realizes how long ago he was injured. If he does have that understanding, his thoughts must be a maze.
And there are indeed barriers to John returning home. His physical condition and behaviors would make it necessary for him to live in a nursing facility in the South. There would likely have to be a Medicaid nursing home slot available in his home state.
His physical condition and tolerance would make a medical flight his best way to travel. Since the cost would be prohibitive, financial assistance would have to be made available.
With all of these factors, and despite the best intentions of the facility, I question if John will ever get to go home.