"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

True Love....Or Denial?

This post will be about a lot of things I've saved up to say, but mainly about one issue in particular.

So I have this patient that has brain cancer, and multiple brain tumors. As an aide, I really don't know many details at all, except that she has been stuck in bed for 25+ years because of brain surgery gone wrong 25+ years ago. They hit a wrong nerve or something I suppose...Like I said, I don't know all the details.

Her appearance is....ghastly. She is in her 60s and is bald, with maybe a couple strands on each side that stick up behind her head like horns. SHe has sores all over her head (I'm not sure why). But she does have pretty eyes. Now, I know for a fact that although it may be true that she suffered some brain damage, I know she can definitely hear what we are saying, and she will sometimes even respond. She watches everything that is going on around her and I can tell she is processing information. There have been multiple occaisons where she smiled to something I said or after having had her for over 2 weeks and gaining her trust, she will smile when I walk in room. She can sometimes also answer "Yes" or shake her head no when asked a yes or no question.

Now the issue is her husband. At first I thought I was witnessing worlds best marriage. Her husband comes in every single day and spends a couple hours at her bedside. When I walk in on the two of them he says things like "She gets more and more beautiful every day, doesnt she?" I respond with "Yes." with a smile. He responds back with "No really, she really does. Every day. She's just gorgeous." He also talks to her, tells her everything about his day. He tells me about her past, how she used to be the sweetest woman he ever met, how pretty she was. She had a doctorate in education, she taught young kids...He tells me how they had 25 years of a blissful marriage, how she never spoke a word or ever made any argument. She wouldn't hurt a fly.

At first I thought this was sweet...borderline very sad, kinda creepy...kinda not-human like. But I didnt think much further on it. Last night, her nurse however asked me if she puts up the same reaction when I go near her, how she acts very scared. Her eyes look scared when ever you touch her or go near her. She tenses her body up (her arms at least, her legs dont move) and she sort of will try and pull away from you. I told the nurse that yes, she used to do that to me but now she trusts me and all you have to do is explain you wont hurt her and what you are doing.

We both started to wonder why it is she feels scared. There is most likely a logical reason. She did spend quite some time in our local nursing home. Did something happen there, repeatedley?
Is her husband doing some sort of emotional or physical abuse, or neglect? She was under his care for a good 10 ten years, and she was forced to go to hospital/ nursing home because she was neglected in terms of horrible bed sores.

The interesting part is when we tell the husband she has to go to back to the nursing home from now on. He insists she come back with him...but we had to wait for him to get his new apartment so it would be 2 weeks, and we can't hold her for two more weeks. He starts getting very angry saying how this is a "conspiracy" against him and her that we dont let her go back with him. But really, he can barely walk, how is he going to take care of her? Turn her? Prevent her from getting more sores? She needs to realistically be in a nursing home, but he cant see it. He doesnt see her for what she is right now...he is seeing 30-50 years ago. . . Also, they mentioned that this situation often happens because the spouse wants to collect that persons SS, so they will elect to keep them living in a house rather than a nursing home, where the nursing home gets the SS....Interesting thought.

It just worries me. Is she screaming inside when he comes around? She can't say phrases. She never screams. But I know she's in there....And i know this sort of stuff happens. I just wish I knew and wish he would realize he is not suited to take care of her any longer.

Will write more soon, but currently on the run.

~ A Writer in a Nurse's Body