Tuesday, June 16, 2009
OLD AGE BLUES
Seems like whenever a bunch of people get together, any bunch of people, for a fairly extended period of time, dramas arise and get thicker and more complex until they become 'reality,' the people divide into factions and nothing can be done about it. This is how churches break up, how marriages break up, and other associations break up. We humans will make drama out of anything. It's called making a mountain out of a molehill. We love drama.
I've been in a crazy situation recently with ultimately about a dozen people thrown together around one man, all wanting to help him in his hard time of creeping up on death, the slow fade. People who wouldn't otherwise be so cooperative with each other put aside whatever heisitations they might have for the benifit of Jr. Every one agrees that's what we're about and we get along very well. Then this one and that one want this for Jr, but these over here want something else, and the offices at the nursing home have their own agendas. Then there's talking behind backs and all that goes with that.
I happened to be in his room the first day the Social Worker of the place came in to introduce herself. She was sweet and gave a great long routine of how she's not like other social workers, she works for him not the system, that kind of thing. All the time I'm thinking, after living in this world long enough to get white hair, there's something about this I don't quite believe. I've found that every time somebody comes on to me like that, the opposite turns out to be the case. While she was talking, I was thinking I don't believe a word of it. Since then, Jr doesn't even know who she is. He never sees her. That day a couple months ago was probably the last time he saw her or heard her name. That's not necessarily so, leaving room for my present state of mind that's rather aggitated, but if it's an exaggeration, it's not by much.
Like this morning I was told she's telling it that I'm "spearheading a movement" to get Jr home by telling him he's ready to go home. I'd rather she tell that to me than someone else. It set that little ole molehill to growing and I'm saying, Lord Have Mercy, of course I'm telling him he's ready to go home. The physical thearpy people in the rehabilitation department have been telling me for two weeks he's ready to go home. He's completed his rehabilitation. If Jr had no hope of going home he would shut down and waste away in despair. I see no reason for Jr to feel despair. I don't want him to despair. He's not afraid of dying. He's in there for rehabilitation, not to wait for death.
Jr wants to be at home. And when he says he wants to go 'home' he doesn't mean he wants to die and go to heaven. He wants to go back to his own bed. He sleeps on his left side every night. In the nursing home bed he can't sleep on his side, has to sleep on his back. So he can't sleep. Of course, someone can say he can indeed sleep on his side in the bed there, but he, himself, hasn't found the way after a couple months of looking for it. He doesn't like to take sleeping pills, which means he only gets a good sleep every fourth night or so. It's become his pattern. I've suggested something like Tylenol PM. No, wouldn't have it.
Then one night somebody gave him an Ambien, a way powerful sleeping drug for somebody who doesn't use drugs for this, that and the other. He's of the old way. When he got up in the night to go pee, of course he fell and hit his face on linoleum floor with cement under it. It broke open a 17 stitch cut on his forehead and gave him a knot that looked like half a tennis ball pushing through from inside his head. The whole upper left quadrant of his face was yellow and purple. Then it's his fault. He's "a walker." He gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom when he needs to pee. It's part of his life. It's what he does. He needs to pee. And they didn't know he was "a walker" until he fell, which kind of blew my mind considering he's in their care way over a month.
I've been patient with them not wanting to let Jr go home and find the physical therapy people really good. What's happened is I've been there so much I'm entering the zone of hearing more than I want to know. I don't like it, but it's what we humans do, have done all along so much it's not just tradition, it's archetypal. Cats are born knowing how to use a litter box. We humans are born knowing how to make dramas out of anything. I'm making my own drama of it right now. In fact, I'm letting off steam, because the drama has become emotional on my part. I have become determined to get him out of there first day possible.
And I'm done being nice. I was nice all the way through the banged up head incident. I asked nurses, the social worker, and others what happened. No one knew anything about it. An ambulance comes in the middle of the night and takes him to some hospital, stitches up his head and brings him back in the middle of the night. It's not like nothing is going on. The old boy in the room with Jr told me about him falling and pointed to where he fell. Told about the ambulance taking him and bringing him back.
His was the only information I was able to get from anyone. The blood was all cleaned up. His blanket that keeps him warm at night next to the air conditioner was taken away because it had blood on it. It's been a couple weeks without a blanket at night. Blood washes out very easily with cold water. They know that. I want him at home where he can call his own shots for his own well-being, not have to be expected to sleep next to an air-conditioner without a blanket.
I'm about to the point that I'm ready to become such a nuisance they'll want him out of there to get rid of me. I'm willing to let him stay a few more days for the slow turning wheels of The System to get all the paper work done, etc. But if it takes more than a few days, I might be tempted to make an ass of myself and set a few people to hissing when they hear my name, like I did at the nursing home in Sparta escorting him out the door, him bent over his walker.
Jr is a humble man, way more than I am. For him there's a point, just like for me there's a point, where a man takes the matter of living his own life into his own hands and will walk away from anything to that end. He has plenty of support at home, no slick cement floors, and his own window to look out at the weather, his own life to get back into for at least awhile. There's no telling if/when he has to go back for the final stretch. In the meantime I'd like him to be able, as a friend whose life I care about, to have his life back. I'd rather he be at home and live a short time than live a long time in a place where everything he does is directed. I just prefer than he not die in despair when he doesn't have to.