Monday, May 24, 2010

The rest home

Visited Bob alone, friends dropped me off. Here is the short version:
Bob sitting in a chair in the hall. Head down. Probably taking a nap. Next to him a woman about 60 years old with a mean look in the eyes, she is in a wheelchair. She is clapping her hands in a rhythm twice, then three times, back to twice. She stares at him. Then she starts to yell at him. He does not budge.I touch him gently not to startle him. He looks at me smiles, ignores the yelling like she is not there. She has pale blue eyes and they look mean and disturbed, her hair is neatly combed.  She yells louder and louder, I get a few words "you do not give a damn" .......another woman comes out of her room , she is almost bald, the bleach blond hair is still flowing on the back of her head. She is paper thin, she is very neat in white slacks and a red blouse, she also is very coherent (a rarity on this floor) she starts yelling back at the accuser.
"You stop swearing at this man, I will have none of it, you swear and I do not like that"
She turns to me and asks if I belong to "him". I answer meekly :He is my husband.
Then she really gets mad because by now the fighter is grabbing Bob's sleeve.
"You leave her husband alone, you are swearing at him, do not touch him"
With that she turns the wheel chair around pushes the noise at full speed down the hall.
Bob did not even see any of it.
He just sits, I gave him a banana and he starts to eat and shows me I should have half. He always did that, he always shared. I tell him he has to eat it all and I wait till it is gone.
It is very quiet now. The rescuing lady comes back and I say "Thank you" she smiles and goes back in her room.
It is so depressing, it is frightening, we think that this too can happen to me.
The thought is very scary. But then I evaluate what just happened to Bob. He just did not pay attention to any of it, he is in another world.
I kiss him goodbye and he waves, I can go he has no objections.
I meet the mean one in the other hallway she is yelling at someone else now.  She has a lot of people like Bob who do not care, me? she scares me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She scares me too. Others like her have scared me. The place makes me want to run away. In my twenties I worked on a skilled floor for under two months for those needing the most assistance. A nurses aid with 1/2 hour of training. A dumb patient frightened me out of my wits at the bath when I was readying the water in the upright bath. She took her hair off! I recall another woman, mute also, who had had diarrhea in bed and was so ashamed as I wiped at it. Her face and body spoke the shame. There was no time for me to spend as a companion to the residents -- many to care for or move to the lunch area. I couldn't keep doing the job. There were others I saw that could. It made me doubt myself and feel ashamed of me. I respected the residents. Then later, to have loved ones in care centers. So difficult. One of the hardest visceral things. I had to face myself every time.