Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.
Often, I see elderly folks who come into the hospital for medical reasons, and we are consulted either for depression or capacity, because their family or physicians think they need to go into a nursing home.
There was the 91 year old lady who sat with a straight back and her legs neatly together. She was often confused, but always formal and pleasant. She called me 'my dear', and would always say, 'come back and see me.' She had beautiful, paper thin, translucent skin.
There was the 76 year old man who said he was just lonely, and not depressed. I held his hand and he had an amazing grip. When I commented on his clasp being stronger than mine, he said, 'This is how it should be. You're a lady.'
I find myself going beyond the rules of my training and just spending time with these patients, talking to them, and yes, holding hands at times. They are such survivors, so much smarter than we give them credit for, have so much to share. Sometimes my affection comes through when we present, and somebody will joke, 'Why don't you take them home?'
When you've spent all your life taking care of your family, being strong, caring, you shouldn't have the spend the last years on your own. Sometimes, the family simply can't pitch in, they have their own problems, or the patient is too sick to be cared for at home. There is a reason, and that makes it easy for me to explain to the patient. But sometimes, its not as simple.
Thats when I feel stuck. And sad.