Thursday, May 29, 2008

MY FAVORITE PATIENTS

Another beautiful morning in the Keys. Sunny, warm, a light breeze passing through. I'm on the patio, having my coffee and blogging. Too pretty to sleep. And I'm really not that tired. Last night the ER was not that busy AGAIN. I can get used to this.

I enjoyed my work last night because a lot of my patients were of my favorite variety: the Little Old People. I really like the elderly. For some reason, I've grown to appreciate their years of experience and wisdom. I like talking to them, hearing their stories. I realize that they are in the twilight of their life, their friends and spouses passing away, like a diabolical countdown. I know that THEY know that at any moment, they could be next. As my father used to say, "Anytime after 60 you're on borrowed time." Sometimes they're just lonely and need a sympathetic ear because everyone ignores them. Our culture is not big on the veneration of elders.

My Little Old People tell me great stories. A patient tonight was telling me he was a medic in the European theatre during World War II. He witnessed history. He also knew that WWII vets were dying at a rate of over 1000 daily. He knows he's in countdown mode. I made sure he knew it wasn't going to happen tonight.

Maybe because I was raised without grandparents, I tend to truly appreciate the time I spend with Little Old People. I met both my grandmothers in my late teens. By that time, the granddads were dead. Unfortunately, those were the circumstances then. Communism had a way of separating families, and mine was no exception. So I had to make up for lost time. I had a wonderful grandmother, however, who welcomed me in, even though she never held me as a baby, or saw me grow up. She was a tough old bird with everyone, except me. And she lived to be a ripe old age, over 100, so I did get to spend time with her and listen to her stories.

My Little Old People make me realize that it's scary getting old, losing your health and your faculties. It's frustrating when your body fails you. It's even worse when your body fails you, but you mind is crystal clear and still 21 years old. We're going to get there soon enough, and if you've noticed, the older you get, the faster time seems to fly. They have also taught me that they, too danced and loved, suffered losses and still came out standing up.

So in between the drug-seekers, the drunks, the broken ankles and the endless complaints of belly pain, there is a little oasis. It's one of my Little Old People, who needs a little more care, a pinch of patience and a friendly smile. Someone who walks a little slower, needs to be handled a little bit more delicately. Someone who calls you a "pretty girl" when you haven't been a girl in years. That will be us someday.

I'll just say one word: KARMA.

1 comment:

buttercup58 said...

I love the little old people too.they seem to appreciate everything so much more and it's wonderful to see a twinkle in their eyes and hear their stories.
I hate how society treats them.Unless they have caring family they are just locked awy and ignored.