I am pretty sure many people – friends and family – have given up on my beautiful man, and some of them think i should just move on too. Get a life, hey. (Some of the family are probably bloody glad i don’t because they don’t have to cope, but that will be a discussion on another day, sometime soon.)
He speaks almost no english although the meaning is sometimes clear from context and inflection. I don’t think he knows any longer how stricken he is… he is just trying to survive, and often with that joyous boyish spirit which he used to adventure through the rest of his life, and with which he revered The Female.
I didn’t really want to go visit today – thought it would be good for my mental health to stay away in my own space. But at the end of the day I went.
“I think he’s in the bath,” a staffer said.
“Oh. It’s Saturday.” (Don’s bath is scheduled for Tuesdays)
“I know but he resisted all week.”
So i hang around, chat with patients and hug a crying one, because I felt it was right and on the principle that love can’t do any harm at this stage, or any other.
Then i see him coming down the hall, semi-holding hands with the care aide, semi-leaning. Alarmingly frail, although one has to remember a bath is an enormous overwhelming experience, every time new.
“Hey!” He sees me and opens his arms joyeously. The aide says, “See i told you a pretty woman was here to see you.” Her words are lost in our loving reunion (he doesn’t know my name but he knows me still most of the time ) and she is able to move on, gliding smoothly away, to her next care.
We find two chairs and sit, holding hands.
“This is a wonderful place to live,” he burbles amid the word salad. “I am so happy,” he sighs. He nods at the aide who gave him the bath and says, “Haven’t we seen her before?”
Later she tells me she decided to try for a bath (must have been a ward priority because it was a new shift) and, after he had been given some extra calming drugs, he waved happily at her. She asked if he would come with her and he said, “oh yes, I’ll follow you!” The bath without incident, no fear and anger, an event ending happily all around. Need to know: staff are a bit cautious of my mostly gentle man, because his fear of the bath can lead to big-time unpleasant melt downs.
The point? Not only the extreme diligence the staff show in caring for their wards, but how skill- and labour-intensive it is to provide good care.
When it is well done, the patient and we the relatives, as well as the new temporary staff-family, all benefit. We have a guy who is lacking a lot of old skills but still exhibits his basic joy in living and his humanity.
As do we when we provide that care to these lost travellers.
And I rest easier tonight.