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I'M NOT (REALLY) A MUGGER
19 August, 2011
I seem to have caused bodily harm to a little old lady today. But let me lead up to the story gradually.
The day started with an unsuccessful trip to donate blood. Usually, the reason why they don't take my blood is because my hemoglobin count is low, but we never even got that far today. Before I had answered all the usual questions, they took my blood pressure and found it too high. This was especially strange because Bloodsource is usually the one place where I register normal while coming in high at the doctor's office. 169/110 was higher than I've ever seen at the the doctor's. The retest was slightly lower, but still too high for them to take me (someone suggested that if they had taken a pint of blood, it might have lowered my blood pressure!). They asked if I was under stress and I confessed that I feel emotionally affected by Kathy's impending death and she said that would probably cause the pressure to go up.
So I went home, unsuccessful and disappointed. I'll try again.
I had an 11:30 appointment to have lunch with the other Kathy, the one that I have lunch with every month. We meet at Olive Garden and have soup and salad, which is quite affordable, and we get caught up on our lives the previous month. This was a weird lunch this time because her month had been taken up in helping her adult children bury their father, her ex-husband. While this wasn't a painful loss for Kathy, it was for her children and, by default, for her, helping her deal with their loss and with cleaning up his house, which she described as that of a classic hoarder.
It sounds like his house was like my father's, when he died.
After awhile, she asked what was new with me, and I told her about Kathy and that I would be visiting her after our lunch. We talked about Kathy...but what more is there to say about that? What do you do/say to/about someone who is dying?
When I left Kathy, I drove to the convalescent home and found Kath's room. Ironically, she is in the room next door to the room in which her mother died.
Peach and Bob were there when I arrived, as was Kath's husband. Kathy herself was sleeping. Her husband said she had had a "difficult" night and that they had medicated her heavily to keep her calm and in her bed. I worked for The Psychiatrist long enough to know the effects of Haldol and didn't anticipate Kathy waking up while we were there. And she didn't.
We sat there talking about her condition, the fact that on Monday she will have to be moved somewhere, where being a decision to be made jointly by the current home, Hospice, Kaiser, Medicare and MediCal. It's terrible that it takes a crisis to make us realize how confusing health care for the terminally (or chronically) ill patient is. Kathy's husband pointed out that her father had paid $4,000-$5,000 a month to keep her mother in that facility, which they cannot afford, if insurance can't pick up the tab.
Peach and I couldn't look at each other because whenever our eyes met, we started crying, so we looked away, or at Fred, or at Kath.
Kath's breathing is so shallow. When she is awake, she is not lucid and is trying to take care of the money worries, the insurance mess, and anything else that she took care of before she became so sick.
Peach left to take her husband to his own doctor's appointment and Fred left to go get a prescription called into the local pharmacy.
That's when I attacked the little old lady -- but not really. I was getting ready to go because it was clear Kath didn't know anybody was there and she was not likely to wake up anytime soon. I decided to use the bathroom before I left. I went in and noticed that it was a bathroom shared by the people next door, and just then the little old lady opened the door. She saw me and looked like the character in "The Scream."
She closed the door, I locked her side and tried to hurry through my business, when I heard her moaning "oh...! oh...! OH...!"
I felt bad because I thought perhaps she wet herself because she couldn't get into the bathroom, but as I was leaving the bathroom (having unlocked her side again), her roommate was in the hall yelling "She's fallen! That woman has fallen!" and aids were racing to the room to pick the old lady up again. I decided it was my cue to make a hasty retreat before she talked about the terrible woman who had kept her from the bathroom.
I went to Kath and kissed her, told her I loved her and told her goodbye. Then I went outside to the car and cried.
Dammit, this is hard.
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