Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's Called Respect

One of the folks I visit weekly has Parkinson's Disease...this is a nasty one that gradually (sometimes not so gradually) takes away one's ability to do anything. One of the obvious signs is an uncontrollable shaking of the limbs; but the symptoms go much further than that, eventually they will inhibit the ability to walk, eat, talk...well, I think you get the picture.

Anyway, this lady has moved along, as this disease has assaulted her dignity in so many ways, accepting whatever it hands her and making the best of it. I noticed that she had an adult potty standing against the wall in her bedroom; it was a new fixture. I asked about it and she said "It just appeared. I didn't ask for it and I don't want it but there it is."

Here is what one looks like

She went on to ask what she was supposed to do with it. She can still manage to get up, with help and the REAL toilet is only about four steps further that this portable thing. Is she honestly supposed to get help to get to the adult potty so she can then smell the after-effects for the rest of the night (or day as the case may be)? She is rather adamant about it. She wants it gone. It is not only a matter of pride and decency but using it (in her mind) means...the end. Don't they get it?

I heard her lament and down inside somewhere I was cheering for her. Good for you I was saying. You are still a person that deserves respect. You've got mine. Then the conversation moved on to other things. This was even more distressing.

She doesn't get many visitors; when she does is it her children (just a few years younger than me) and it seems that with each visit she gets more and more upset. They come for the obligatory visit and spend time in her living room with her. So what is the problem, I ask. They come with their computers and hand-held gadgets. They are physically here but they spend all their time on those blasted gizmos. So I let her go on about it. I know what she means; I see people out for dinner and everyone at the table is pushing some buttons or yakking into a cell phone...everybody wants to make a connection, but not with each other. I had to confront someone on the way to visit with her. They were obviously texting while driving, swerving all over the road. I decided that it was safer to stay behind them at 55mph in a 70 mph zone than to be in front of them.

So, you're feeling that they are rude and being insensitive toward you? Yes, that's is exactly it. Well, I know what you mean but I am afraid I don't have any answers for you.

Oh, by the way, I won't be here next week I am taking a little trip. She says, while you are at it see if you can find someone in need of the potty...I want it out of here!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Me? Fragile?

There have been two elderly ladies in the Hospice Home where I visit for several months without having shown any significant decline in status. Both of these ladies have opted to transfer/move to rehab/nursing centers. The thought is they can better mingle with other folks and get a little more physical activity.

Both exhibit a depth of determination that underlines their vision. This is not what one would call a rally. This is a festering of life wanting to be lived. And so they moved.

Each to a different facility; each on the same day.

I visited the 97 year old on Wednesday evening; I remember she has commented that the nights get really lonely. The shock on her face when I knocked on her door and entered the room was palpable. The grin flashed quickly and grew as much a humanly possible. I was very clear to me that the move was very scary and once in place...the new place, very lonely. Just to know someone cares; it is written all over her face...the gratitude. It is the unexpected love that shocks you the most I think. The rehab hasn't started yet but she is hoping it will soon. She wants to walk again.

Then on Thursday I visited with the other lady. When I got to her room she was visibly emotionally drained, curled up in bed and in the much as could be in a semi-private room. When she heard my knock on the door she turned a little to see what was going on. Then the relief of seeing a friendly face overtook her. She was weak and crying. I hugged her and then hugged her some more, clearly this is the medicine she needed just then. We talked about the move and the settling in process, we walked to the solarium and talked a bit more. But really, it was the hugs that she really needed.