My People

I am in a skilled nursing facility, recovering from a heart attack. Actually. I’m recovering a stent procedure given to stop the heart attack.

I don’t believe there was going to be a recovery, it was a major failure and quite scary. In either case, I only had a few days in the ICU, the rest of the time, before going home, is to be spent in a skilled nursing facility.

You could say nursing home. Probably because it is filled with nurses, and people from homes, who can’t get the care needed at home.

It is often viewed as a last place to go in order to die. Actually, there are hospice care facilities for that, but the tradition is long. This place is filled with people waiting, but not always waiting to be well.

It is not the Bedlam of Old London, but in the quiet of the night you can hear the plaintive calling out for attention, “Hello, hello?” There are bedside manual alerts, but when your need is great, there is no confidence that they are working.

I still have my usual sleeping habits, I nap, and I’m up at all hours of the night. Sometimes I peek out my door into the hallway to witness the late night environment.

There is the grey haired elderly woman, who is nearly mute, who pushes her wheel chair with one foot, while grabbing the wall rail to pull herself along. It is one in the morning and she has been doing this all day, recording a marathon of hallway journeys. Will this help to release her to her home?

There are more than a few nearly catatonic patients, victims of strokes, that are brought out into the public areas, hoping to create stimulation and response. They sit quietly, but they do not track the busy movement of patients or nurses.

I am one of the lucky ones, I am free from pain, I have very little demands, and I am clearly recovering. Still, I witness the group of people that I belong to, and I have great empathy.