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Friday, April 13, 2007

God Bless the Blue Haired

Some days the senior citizens gang up against me. I think they stay up late at night, plotting revenge for anything and everything that may have gone wrong during their lives. Other days I get to be a part of their team. And we always win.

Because the nursing home I am working at is a state funded facility, state employees come periodically to make sure that everyone is well taken care of, and all of us are doing our jobs correctly. The state came for a visit Monday and have been there all week. Being new, I hadn’t learned all of the rules, and being temporary help, they didn’t think it was worth the time to show me everything. My boss says I’m a real natural, which I think is why she was slightly lax on training.

Lucky for me, I am working with the dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Sure, at first glance, one may feel sorry for these people. But after getting to know them, they are happier than most well people I know. Some live in their own little worlds, where their imaginations go wild. Others think of nothing but the good old days. Most of the time I feel like an actress. I play the role of who each of them needs me to be at any given time. The place reminds me of the movie “50 First Dates” but my side of the building is like the character 10-Second Tom (from the same movie).

One lady is certain I am her niece. So I have taken to calling her Aunt Bernice. It works for us, and makes her happy. You should see how her eyes twinkle when she sees me. She just lights up. I wonder if her niece knows how much she is loved.

Another lady whose company I thoroughly enjoy, has some seriously colorful language, kinda like me. She can carry on a good conversation sometimes. Other times, her disease gets in the way and causes her to say a handful of phrases that may not suit the moment to anyone but her. She says “Hurry, get me a cane. Hurry, get me a nightgown.”

One day I asked her, “If I get you a cane, are you going to hit me with it?”

And she said, “Probably.”

You gotta love her honesty if nothing else. But she gave me more reasons to love her while the state was there watching my every move. A state employee walked up to her and said, “Hello,” in a sugary sweet voice.

She replied, “Hurry lady, I’m shitting out my ass!”

Classic Laverne! It was so hard to not laugh! God I love that lady! And to top it off, she scared the state lady away, and she didn‘t come back for the rest of the day.

This other lady, Ester, is always looking for something sharp to cut off the seatbelt on her wheelchair. It isn’t a restraint but it is difficult to take off. It was ordered by her doctor because she kept sliding out of her chair and falling. Anyhow, everyday she asks me to give her scissors, a pocket knife, a needle, a cleaver or a butcher knife, just so she can take her lap belt off. Every day I lie and tell her I will get her a knife the next time I go shopping. It’s a little white lie that makes her feel better, for the moment. I can always get on her good side by offering her a cup of coffee too. Whatever works, right?

Yesterday, I’d just finished telling my boss how well things were going after Laverne saved me from the state lady. Upon my return to my side of the building, I heard Ester screaming, “Help! Pocket knife! Somebody help me! Oh God! Pocket knife! Help! Pocket knife! Somebody! Pocket knife!”

To the untrained ear, or that of a state employee, one may think there was an armed robbery in progress, rather than a lady who just wanted to take off her seatbelt. Holy shit it cracked me up! When another lady from the state came running to see what all of the fuss was, I explained the situation to her. More then anything I wanted to leave her hanging just to find out what she wrote in her report, but I didn’t want the nursing home to get a fine over something that turned out to be nothing.

I hadn’t planned on getting attached to the people who live in this nursing home, because my stay will be short. But with as much fun as I have, and as much as I enjoy their company, that is likely going to be the hardest part of the job.