in someone else's wheels

The first few days, which included filling out paperwork, undergoing a full-body mole and sore check, eating pureed foods and being raised out of bed with a lift, did nothing to validate her decision. When she wedged her wheelchair into a corner and could not get out, she cried in frustration.

“All I wanted to do was shut my door and stay in here,” said Ms. Murphy, whose “diagnosis” was a mild stroke that affected her right side, difficulty swallowing and chronic lung disease. “But I understood I had to go out.”

Not everyone does. Some patients want to talk for hours, while others act out, like a woman who pinched Ms. Murphy as hard as she could. Many sit in the hallway by the nurse’s station each day because it is a hub of activity. Emotions run high.

Ms. Murphy said she soon learned that many patients cried because they knew that they would most likely never live anywhere else, or because they missed family and their old life.

- Experiencing Life, Briefly, Inside a Nursing Home