Monday, November 3, 2008

The American Way

Its the American way......I eversogently tiptoe down the linoleum lined hallway of the nursing home. As dawn breaks I listen to the squeek of my new shoes drowned out by the upheavil of the alzheimers ward. The screaming and the cries no longer catch my attention after so many early mornings. Confusion reins as I wipe the fatigue from my eyes after a long weekend on call. Trying to fit in a few quick visits before rushing to the hospital and then the office.

I enter the room quietly and stumble for the bathroom light to shatter the heavy darkness. " that you?". An elderly woman squints through the haziness of sleep. The clock on the side of the bed reads 6am. "No, it's Doctor Grumet." "Oh...I thought you were Joe....where is he?" Joe has been dead for a decade. After having this conversation on multiple visits I no longer correct her.

"So how are you feeling....any pain?" She again squints trying to avoid the light eminating from the half closed bathroom door. She talks with her head pointed slightly to my right, " can't see! I could see yesterday but now everything is blurry!" The macular degeneration robbed her years ago. But every morning she wakes up with the same tortured sentiment.

I gently rest my hand on her shoulder for comfort. My stethoscope probing her back and then chest. I recognize the same faded night shirt that she wears every day. Over her heart a sticker is gently pealing from the fabric. Someone had obviously decided a pin would be too dangerous.

The words on the sticker pound my eardrums with laughter and mock my own sense of self importance as I drive to the hospital....

"I voted today"

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