What Would You Do?

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There are lots of upsides to being here in hospital for the past two weeks, believe it or not. I’m getting attention for my injuries and my medical condition and I’m getting better. I’m making new friends, albeit they won’t remember me once I go home. Let’s face it, they don’t remember me from one hour to the next, most of them. It’s one of the disadvantages of being in an orthopedic rehabilitation women’s ward. I am the only one here under seventy-five years old and I am the only one here with a sports injury. I was running races with my seven and five year old granddaughters.

The upside of all this from a writer’s point of view is the opportunity to study characters. And, trust me, these ladies are Characters, with a capital C. But the same opportunity brings with it a dilemma. Should I tell the nurses that the ninety-year-old in the end bed chain-eats sweeties.

When offered a biscuit, she invariably says, ‘Oh, go on then. I’ve not really got a sweet tooth, but, just this once. Have you got a chocolate one?’ Not got a sweet tooth!! I’m surprised she has any teeth!  Oh, wait a moment, she hasn’t, not of her own anyway. You think I exaggerate? She buys several…several…packets of hard sweets EVERY DAY…boilings, mint humbugs, soor plooms, fruit rock… Throughout the day, she decants the sweets, packet at a time into a tub she keeps on her hospital table, then, night and day…did you get that?…NIGHT and day… you can hear the tub being opened, the sweets being rifled through, one selected, then crunch, sook, crunch till it’s gone and straight on to the next. She is stick-thin. Stick-thin.

She is also mobile. Using a walking stick, she tap, tap, taps about the ward, also night and day. It’s somewhat disconcerting when you are wakened in the night by the tip-tap, crunch, sook coming nearer and nearer to your bed. The nurses have no idea what she is up to. What they see is a meek wee old lady who has trouble eating her food, trouble sitting still and trouble getting up in the morning.

I keep having too remind myself that none of this is my business. I have mentioned these things to one or two of the nurses, but, short of confiscating her sweets and her money, I don’t imagine there’s much they can do.

But, now for my real dilemma. in the week or so I have been in this ward, she has cunningly avoided all contact with water. ALL contact. She gets herself dressed behind her curtains nice and early then declares she has had a wash or even, sometimes, a shower. she told me proudly she has never had a bath or a shower in her life because the doctor told her when she was a wee girl that she only had one skin and she should look after it.

When she goes to the loo she emerges from the bathroom as though drying her hands, but the paper towel is dry. She even cheats when given pills to take by hiding them in among her rubbish. Again, I have mentioned some of these things to the nurses, but what are they to do.

And what am I to do? Become a self-appointed watchdog. Shepherding and policing her to healthier habits? Or should I just be in awe that she has made it to the ripe….ripe…old age of ninety?

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Yolanda Isabel Regueira Marin
    Aug 10, 2013 @ 06:52:21

    Be in awe … 24 hour sweet eating and no hygiene, she is superhero. LOL Thanks for sharing.

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  2. jennieorbell
    Aug 10, 2013 @ 07:13:31

    Oh Lord, she sounds like me. I hide mine behind the cushion on the sofa and allow myself three at a time – and then another three – and then … Hope you are up and running (ish) again soon Christine xx

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  3. glenperk
    Aug 11, 2013 @ 18:01:56

    Oh, the lovely experiences of recovery wards. Working in hospitals all my adult life, I am well acquainted with the sneaky actions of patients.

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  4. marianallen
    Aug 11, 2013 @ 22:27:43

    Unless her odor really bothers you, the rest is her business. But I’d really think twice about making an enemy of a cunning and mobile old lady with a cane. Maybe three times.

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    • cicampbell2013
      Aug 12, 2013 @ 09:30:51

      Hehehe, Marian. With you there. No, we’re great mates. She is super fun and we get a good old chinwag from time to time. I’m just doubly careful to swab the decks after she’s been anywhere I’m going!

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  5. shelharrington1
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 15:07:58

    Fun stuff, Christine – it makes me realize I’m not being as productive as I can be with some of my medical downtime. I need to keep the notebook handy!

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