Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I was visiting my hospice patient last week. When I first started seeing her, she was bedridden, slept a lot, and was receiving last rites from the priest. Now she seems to be doing much better, is up in her wheelchair part of the day, and can sit and talk with me. Granted, we talk about things I suspect she experienced in her past, or things she thinks she sees, but that's okay with me. Every now and then, however, I get a glimpse of the lucid personality that still lurks underneath the dementia and confusion. I was reading quietly to her, and she motioned with her hand to have me look up. When I did, she smiled at me, then something in her eyes shifted and looked almost sad. "Oh honey," she said, "I'm so tired... I'm so tired." I could tell this was the real woman talking to me, expressing what she was really feeling, and I felt for her. What must it be like to be so old and frail, unable to move much on your own, feeling the weight of the years and your infirmity weighing down on you? I touched her hand gently, and said, "It's okay, you can sleep now." And I watched her eyes flutter closed, one hand still picking gently, busily at her oxygen tube.