Monday, August 24, 2009

People Come and People Go


A few months ago my mother-in-law was put into a nursing home for physical rehabilitation after her long hospital bout She had a roommate.

The roommate was a little old quiet lady that didn’t have much to say. She could talk but most the time she was very quiet. She had a special recliner next to her bed that she sat in a reclining position most the day and watched TV.

When we were bringing my mother-in-law’s stuff in I noticed on her roommate’s side someone was there working on a laptop. That was the only time I saw that she had a visitor that was probably a relative.

Her side of the room was covered with framed pictures of grandchildren and pictures of Mary and Jesus, little statues of Jesus on the Cross hanging here and there. Also, on a shelf was a miniature version of Michelangelo’s Pieta Statue.
There was also a stereo system and a TV. The TV was loud.

I felt like an intruder to the lady’s private living quarters. I felt she has claimed that room to be her room.

After a couple of days of a blaring loud TV Anna asked the lady was it ok for us to turn the TV down. She said gently OK.

After several days I noticed the lady was either in her recliner or in bed… never moving a muscle. Then I noticed that at every meal one of the nurse helpers hand feed her, spoon by spoon, or fork, as the case may be.

Then I begin to feel sorry for her. She had to wait to eat until all the patients were served. The same people that fed her were the same ones that handed out the trays… and many times when they brought food to a room it called for another action. The poor old lady had to wait sometimes over an hour until somebody could hand feed her. By then, I’m sure some of the food lost their heat…. Cold coffee…. Ecccchh!

After a few days she talked to Anna and Marie.

I always made a point to speak to her when I came in but she never spoke back. She just looked at me and studied me in a studious way.

One of the nurses’ aids told us that she has been there many years. I think she said 12 years, and also she was now in the Hospice plan now. They didn’t expect her to live more than 6 more months. I think why she was not in a hospice room was that she made herself a home in that room and didn’t want to leave it.

Twelve years! I wonder how many people she saw come and go… some just for the 30 day rehab stay and others dying… which must be a terrible feeling, waking up and notice the person in the bed next to you is not making any kind of sound, breathing or anything. And from past experience you are pretty sure you are lying next to a corpse.

A couple of times on Sundays while we were there the same two women came to visit her. They had a bible and held her hand and prayed. I recognized one of the women; she is a free sample hand-outer at Costco. I think they visited other patients there too… they probably had a Hospice list and as volunteers eased the condemned into a better religious frame of mind as not to fear the unknown of the Hereafter.

After I found out she had been there about 12 years and had 6 months or less to live I didn’t mind the religious statues and the personal pictures, or the TV – the whole room was slanted to her needs – that was fine… if I had been there 12 years and had less than 6 months of life left I think I would feel I have certain seniority rights.

At the end of 30 days we checked Marie out. As we were leaving the lady told Marie she hoped she would get her health back soon. It was sad, knowing the same wasn’t in her future.

Yesterday her name was on the obituary page. She was 85. She belonged to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marietta, which is only one block away from the nursing home.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Si's blog said...

What a touching story. So well told, too. And what a comment on life these days.

Hope that when my time comes, it it fast and furious. To think of 12years and no relatives to really care a fig whether you live or die.

Thought provoking. Thanks.

7:27 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

HOw sad, Eddie. It is good to know that you and Anna were nice to her.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Si & Judy,

I forgot to say that we were always doing something for her, like changing TV channels, getting ice for her.... but I'm sure her relatives would do the same, if they ever came around and when they did, leave their laptop in the car.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Si's blog said...

Mentioned this in my post today. See what happens when you bring up disturbing things?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

That is sad, Eddie. And you all were kind to help her out!

I remember when my dad was in the home, while he was up and active, there was a woman in a wheelchair who wouldn't raise her head, talk, or feed herself. Dad would talk to her when he saw her and his attention got her our of her shell. She would roll around with her head up, smiling, and roll up to the cafeteria table and eat with Dad. Then after they forced Dad out when he fell there and broke his hips (they didn't want to care for him like that and w/his alzhiemers), I returned for his things to take him to another facility. That lady was back to bent over in her chair, rolled up in the corner just like before Dad came. Everyone walked past like she didn't exist. So sad.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Si,
I looked on your post and there is nothing for today.

Carolyn,
I think some people are reluctant to help other people because in some cases you don't know what doesn't meet the eye. I know in the nursing home there is a lady in a wheel chair that roams the hall looking for someone to help her... and when you stop to help you realize you are trying to help someone that is detached from reality - like she demanded her doll back that her teacher took away from her in the 4th grade.... and she will follow you up and down the halls demanding that doll. I should have given her a rag-doll or something.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Lola said...

Such a sad story. I know the things you spoke about. I was in a home for rehab & saw first hand how things are done. Plus my poor mother was in one. I couldn't watch about her as she was in another state. I sure don't want to go there ever again.
As the statue, I saw that in person when it came to the U.S. There was not a dry eye to come out of the show room. Of course it was behind security glass. No cameras allowed so sadly I didn't get a pic of it but it shall be in my memory forever.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Lola,
I noticed that the nursing home my mother-in-law was at had a sign at the entrance that says, "No Camera."

I carried mine in anyway, and took some pictures of a friend who is also a resident there.

I got away with it, but if I took pictures of something more pitiful I they might have smashed that camera over my head - joking I hope.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Deborah Wilson said...

A sad story Eddie. I hate to see people (especially the elderly) end up in nursing homes. Pop had to go to one about 6 weeks before he died - but we were with him everyday.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

Deborah,
Good for you! Not everybody does that and I hope they made enough money to cover up their guilt.

My mother went to a nursing home and we went every day, but she didn't last 6 weeks... I think it was more like 2 or 3 weeks.

4:09 AM  

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