Medical history

In my closet today I found a lined piece of paper folded up inside a book. Nothing profound, just some notes I had jotted down during my OT internship living in Providence. I was trying to keep a more personal record of my everyday interactions with patients. Something more human than the treatment plans I labored over every night.

I'm glad I found these. I remember each of these patients clearly.

January 21:

Portuguese, 91 years old--constructional apraxia. This morning he put his straw in his pancakes and leaned over to take a sip. I had to redirect him 2x. The confusion in his eyes made me want to cry for him. How hard to grow old. Later, we laughed together over the language barrier.

Walking down the hall with a patient we heard E, a little old African American woman, legally blind, twisted and shriveled in her chair singing, "Amazing Grace", her head tilted to the side. Beautiful voice. When she finished, everyone at the nurses station stood up and clapped.

January 22:

The therapist I was shadowing said he was her hardest patient yet. An Asian man who insisted on watching Good Morning America during ADL's and refused to sit while grooming or dressing. He kept referring to the differences between The East and The West as excuses for everything. I could barely stifle my laughter the whole time especially at his comment while dressing, "I'm too intellectual for this nonsense!"

And, on the back of the paper, a poem, which as weak and rough as it is, brings back a visceral anxiety, remembering those three months:

Every week I face my fears
and pick them up
and put them on. I wear them
like a sweater
all week long.

Til Friday comes
and gasping, I can
throw my fears aside.
They sit there in the corner
and watch me all weekend long.


gretchen said...

Oh my word, I love this post and I'm sorry to be so trivial, but I just got the BEST excuse ever for wearing my bathrobe till noon: I'm too intellectual for the nonsense of getting dressed!

I know your time in RI was a nightmare for you, but every time you mention it I remember you and Keith coming over to visit us one weekend in our first apartment--it's always a happy memory for me!

Anonymous said...

Your poem is good for lonely people who are looking for someone to visit them for the weekend. "They sit there in the corner and watch." It can give you that watched feeling and that's good enough for some of us. If the watching troubles you, just go to a room that has no corner.