In Brief—Thoughts about daily encounters and experiences in the Old Folks’ Home.
Wrinkles, Walkers and Wheel Chairs—
Aside from the laser treatments every second day, the routine is much the same. I rise at 06:00 or earlier depending on what kind of night I’ve had. Because of the colostomy and the gastric PEG, I sleep on my right side, occasionally experiencing a sore or numb arm from sleeping on it. Not pleasant, but it’s reality.
I stagger to the bathroom and go through the usual routine of practicing swallowing, shaving and getting dressed. Simply putting on my socks is an effort. It’s not easy and I often wonder if this is the future. Some days, nothingness feels like a blessing. Generally, I’m doing fine and always look forward to the treatments and pleasant conversation with N. who is ebullient, creative and very smart.
Thank goodness for the computer and the Internet. I recognize that it’s just another toy, but for me it’s a connection with the world. I browse the news with my usual skepticism, occasionally submitting a comment to something that moves me. Because I am an information junkie and have opinions about lots of stuff, I respond to the messages from American friends who send me their thoughts and experiences. Oh, yeah, and I check out Pinterest before the first feeding of the day.
Being fed is pretty much the same every time except for the person whose job it is to hook me up. Most are female, but there are a couple of men. Some are lively, some funny, some provide me with the weather or their candid views. Unfortunately, a few have to be watched like a hawk to make sure everything is done right. I’m exacting and know how it should be done. Regardless, the feeding hour gives me a chance to review what needs to be accomplished during the day. If I’ve slept poorly, I doze.
At the moment, I am moved to grumble that I suspect that the early days of a bland liquid diet after years of dietary roughage led to my colostomy. No roughage. Just a suspicion, mind you. In any case, it’s too late now even though I have insisted the dietitian provide me liquid with fiber.
At midday, I struggle to swallow a tiny prostate pill before my outdoor exercise. I struggle into my warm jacket and shoes and set out behind my walker for a few circuits around the yard. I wonder what it will be like after the snow comes. On inclement days I get my exercise by wheeling through our department into the next. Different wrinkled, grey-haired old folks who look at me as if I had two heads and don’t say a word in response to my “Hi.”
These are residents in a different department. Some sit in wheel chairs, unsmiling, waiting for the midday meal to be served. One old guy sleeps on the couch. He looks like he’s dead, mouth open and immobile. Warehousing is the only way to describe us. Old folks just waiting for tomorrow. A few of us are lucky enough to have visitors like my wife who brings the family dog. Many seem to be alone…just waiting.
Afternoons are much the same. After being fed, I sit at the computer, often working on blog pieces that have come to me during my feedings. That’s what I’m doing now. Composing. Polishing. This happens to be a fruitful period that followed a dry spell when I felt my creative juices were drying up. No doubt that will happen again and I’ll be convinced senility is setting in. Some day, I’ll be right. Right now, it’s flowing.
Late in the afternoon—assuming treatment is over—I’ll read. Reading is one of my great pleasures. An addiction that’s fed by a good friend who knows my varied interests and sends me books that keep me entranced until it’s time for the evening meal. Beats opiates. [BTW, the shingles is retreating.]
After the evening feed, it’s a rush of eye drops for glaucoma and cataracts, hurried exchanges of messages from friends and relatives and preparations for bed. Then it’s bedtime. And always spitting into my bucket to keep from choking on my own saliva…even at night. Always spitting.
A typical day at the Old Folks’ Home.