Monday, March 15, 2010

Where I hope we never are

Today, I'm sitting in my doctor's office waiting room (and sitting and sitting and ...). Got in some good reading time, at least.

At one point, those of us doing the waiting hear the sound of someone talking loudly, upset, then what sounds like crying. It's approaching the waiting room from inside the office. Sure enough, it's crying, it sounds like someone's saying something about diapers in an anguished way. It's an adult voice. We can hear another adult voice trying to soothe, to hush.

The door opens, and it's an elderly woman, crying, railing to her black female caretaker, "Why won't you listen? Why won't you listen when the doctor says it's not Alzheimer's; it's only dementia," as the caretaker shhhhs and OK nows and gets her out the door, headed for the lab.

Those of us scattered in the waiting room do what humans universally do in such uncomfortable situations: We all pretend like it isn't happening; we ignore it. And, I get it -- what can any of us do? Other than a sympathetic look to either or both of the women. But even then, that inner voice hisses at you to look away, that it's rude to look....

Mostly, it was heartbreaking, on many levels.

For the woman, whatever her diagnosis, clearly on the losing end of the equation, the downhill slide.

For the patient caregiver who likely heard many outbursts and was used to what many of us have to become used to: the regression of an adult back to a childlike state.

And it made me wonder about her family; where were they? Were there any to be heartbroken?

It made me flash on my family, how we're all spread across the country from each other.

(Sucio licks my knuckle in sympathy. Now it's a full-bore head butt.)

Mostly, I thought about how I don't want to turn into that woman someday. And how while we have say in our health in how well we take care of ourselves, we can't control the wiring within and how it might twist and turn.

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