“What did you do in life?” he asks cheerfully, interestedly, and I nearly punch his lights out.

“The last time I checked,” I say, dryly, “I was still doing it.”

He’s about 18, just entered college, determined to be a doctor some day. He’s got a way to go on the bedside manner, but he means well. He’d crept into my room, reached for my arm in the dim light of the nightstand, and is dutifully asking me personal questions as he “takes vitals,” blood pressure, oxygen saturation, temperature.

I’m his practice patient, the practical part of his education. The caregivers at the Fortress work with local colleges to show students the ropes, and he’s drawn the night shift in my wing. Most of the students are ready to graduate, so I wonder how this freshman got into the program.

“Do you prefer ‘Mrs. Morgan’ or ‘Cynthia?'” he asks, “I want to be sensitive to your needs and respect your age.”

I really am going to punch his lights out.

“Robert,” I say firmly, “I am not retired. I have a job. I actually go out in the world on occasion. Not everyone in The Fortress is 89.”

With that, he flicks on the bedside light. “Oh!!! I’m soooo sorry!” he gasps when he sees me, “I didn’t realize. You’re my last patient tonight and everyone else is so ol…retired. I guess I should turn on the lights before I start the conversation part,” he finishes.

“A distinct advantage,” I agree.

On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)

I documented my adventures in remobilization in this blog. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all posts.