Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Funny mental image of the day

I was talking to a nursing student. We were talking about (oddly enough, since we were in a children's hospital) our experiences with elderly relatives who went dotty towards the end. She also described a little old lady who was something like 106 at a nursing home, with a high fever and contractures, and how they just keep saying, well, she'll probably die, but let's just keep getting her up, and how she wished they'd just leave the poor lady alone. She said if she were in the lady's place, she'd poke them in the eyes or whatever she was able to. She declared that she hoped when she was old and cranky she'd have contractures that would leave her middle fingers stuck straight up so she could flip off the nursing home staff and just smile sweetly and say, sorry, they're stuck that way. I like the way she thinks. She'll be a great nurse who cares about her patients.

My mom's worked as a nurse in nursing homes for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I'd sometimes sleep overnight in the chapel/social worker's office (why are those always the same thing?) and then spend time with the residents. One taught me how to play dominoes, including scoring. I signed songs from church to a man who was deaf. They loved having a kid around. I saw at an early age that people, when they get old, tend to be shelved away like old books, never to be visited except by the guilty on holidays. Okay, not everyone's like that...but a lot are. My mom used to like nursing homes--I think she had a hospice mindset before it became popular, and she said she would have had a hard time working with kids...but now it's become big business and I think she's pretty disgusted with how the patients are treated these days. I think she would agree with that student. I'll have to remember to tell her that story next time I talk to her.

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