I have an elderly aunt that has been in the hospital for a while – all the normal issues that one would associate with being in ones late 80’s – and it is part of life.
My sister works in the same hospital. She is an ER nurse and ambulance paramedic. And if that isn’t enough she often signs up for a remote Evac team.
That is a group of people that are on pagers 24 hours a day. When the pager goes off, she gets a cab to the airport and jumps on a sleek nearly new Lear Jet – This Lear is outfitted for a couple of stretchers, medical supplies and equipment, a few nurses, a doctor (maybe) and 2 pilots. It is light and fast. She can leave Victoria and be across the Mexican border or to Hawaii in little over 3.5 hours.
But I digress.
My aunt has been in hospital for a month. In those 30 days I have gotten to know people on the ward… lots of people. And the following names have been changed to protect their privacy and identity.
Maxwell is 82, a millionaire and a former jet pilot. He lost his wife of 42 years last Spring, took a fall, had a mild heart attack – he has been in for a month and wants to go home. But he cannot. He is feistier than a junk yard dog but without some of the important things in his life – and being less than complete, he isn’t ready. He might never be ready.
Daisy is 48 years old and suffering from the latter stages of brain cancer. She is brighter than a super-nova and more cheerful than a roomful of Shriner Clowns. She is really good about where she is going. Her 18 year old daughter… not so much.
Her name is Willow. She is a 21 year old personal trainer and kinesiologist. And judging by her level of anger and sadness, there are a lot of folks that are working with her that are getting the crap kicked out of them!
Daisy, on the other hand is oddly circumspect and resolved – her biggest worry is whether or not she will start acting like an asshole as her illness progresses and devours more of her essence… and how her daughter will cope without her guidance.
Daisy muses, “Willow got a nose ring… I hate body piercing… and I threatened to disown her…” she titters with a diamond glint in her eye.
I whisper closer, “You better get on that!”
We both laugh disturbing and amusing her room-mates at the same time.
I feel boastful as I peel the shrink-wrap off of my CD and sign it – and brag about my brief writing stint on CSI Las Vegas… Daisy chirps, “Willow loves CSI Las Vegas! Damn a celebrity in my hospital room!” “Relax, you’re the celebrity…” I head her off.
In my daily two hour plus visits to the hospital, I spend as much time with aunt as possible and then do my rounds. Max and Daisy used to be my Aunt’s room mates but they have been shuffled around some.
Believe it or not, I find that I am quite funny and empathic (and sympathetic) around the sick and dying – and I am not sure why. With Daisy, I crack lines faster than Robin Williams and with Max, I sit quietly and listen to his stories from his glory days in the Air Force. They usually get 15 or 20 minutes of my time each. And they seem OK to have a stranger talk story with them for a few minutes each day.
In this continuing series, I write about a new phase in my life – and my experience with the Autumn of life.