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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Frailty

I came across a great blog tonight, Firegirl Follies.

So far I've been impressed by what I've read. The author clearly has found her career calling, and is fueled by a heart of compassion for people in need, especially those our society at large might prefer to forget.

I was especially touched by her post on her elderly patients, and only wish I could have such a gentle disposition!

An excerpt:

Another common favorite, "Leave me ALONE!" well, you called us to come help you, "well don't touch me!" ok, do you need to go to the hospital? "NO!" ok, why did you call 911 then? "because I needed help!" ok, well let us help you then, "LEAVE ME ALONE!"


I have to giggle in the most professional of ways, but I can't help myself, bless them. I can't remember how many homes I've been to, that the walls are covered in photos of children and grandchildren. Or the veteran, whom has scores of military photos and medals across the wall. I love to hold their fraile and bony hands, some of them not knowing where or who they are, to just give them a sense of comfort. More often than not, their hands are freezing, from poor circulation. As upset as they are, and as rude as they can be, I always think of their loved ones, and the history they carry with them. I try to always remember I'll be in their place someday, and hope someone will treat me kindly and with dignity. In a lot of cases, it's hard for them to feel of importance anymore.

Please go read the rest. It's well worth your time. Maybe some of you have parents or family who are suffering from age and long-term illnesses.You worry about whether those who care for your loved ones, well...really do care.

Yes, they do.

I am reminded of the work I once did in my various health-care positions. First adolescent, then, later in life, in an adult facility.

I wrote of this in her combox, but I'm going to re-tell the tale here, too.

We had a particular gentleman who loved to go for walks, and given what this facility was, he was free to do so.

One night, I received a phone call from a local Perkins. The girl on the line identified herself as a waitress and explained that one of our residents had given her our number. The resident was lost, he had told them, so they sat him down, got him some coffee, and said they'd call us. Could we send a cab or someone to pick him up?

Oh, yes, absolutely.

I asked to speak with him so she put him on the line. He identified himself and with a humble chuckle told me, "Well...I've gotten lost again!"  *chuckle*

I laughed with him, told him it was fine, I was glad he was safe, he said that all the staff at the restaurant were very kind and he was fine until a cab could arrived. He wouldn't go anywhere else and was glad to rest for a moment.

I spoke again with the server, thanked her for her help and she expressed relief that she COULD help. I got the sense that perhaps she was familiar with the elderly and that helping him was perhaps the highlight of her evening.The coffee for him, she said, was on the house.

Shortly after this, the cab arrived to drop him off and he came in, smiling sheepishly, thanking me for my help. I welcomed him home and he went up to his floor to let his staff know he'd arrived safely and, well...to go to bed.

This man, this very lost and confused man....was a decorated hero. He dedicated his life to our country in military service, had seen combat, had saved lives.

I didn't know that until after this incident. When I learned it I considered his frail form, his sometimes-unsure smile, and his always-polite and respectful way of addressing others.

I don't think that I've EVER met such a humble soul in my life. When I think of the word "humility", he comes to the forefront of my mind. This dear gentleman, this dear, fierce, brave hero who fought so hard for our country and lost so much, taught me more in his "frailty" than he could probably ever have taught me at the pinnacle of his strength.
*

4 comments:

Tara said...

I had a patient come in the other day, he was old, had trouble walking for the pain in his back--his wife said he used to be an airplaine pilot. When I looked at him, I thought back of how young and energetic he once must have been, but the years had now taken a toll on his body. The great equalizer of all men--is age--but inside we are still the same human beings we always were.

Melody K said...

Thanks for sharing this story; those humble souls are so close to God. I think you are right, that most of those who care for people in long term care, really do care. Of course there are some who are only in it for the paycheck, but they don't seem to stay around very long.

Adoro said...

Melody ~ Also those in emergency care...that's the blog I quoted from. She is a paramedic.

Mary333 said...

I loved the story of the elderly patient, Adoro. My uncle is like this. He is eighty and so humble and beautiful. I always feel blessed after just being in his presence. He doesn't even have to say anything, he just shines!