Sunday, December 5, 2010
The Best Christmas Gift
This morning the fog lifted to reveal a bright sunny sky, which perked up our spirits after so many gray days. First thing, after coffee with my sister, I went over to clean for Faiza, the sweet little elderly woman I wrote about a little while back.
Faiza is going through a hard time right now, as her beloved Bill is in the hospital. At home, Bill was happy; his face lit up when one walked in the door, he teetered around on his walker many times a day, he ate his meals and watched his movies with his devoted Doberman, Lara, at his side. He was happy. He was home.
Two weeks back, Faiza arrived home to find him on the floor. He had felt a little dizzy and had fallen and couldn't get up. The ambulance was called, he was taken to hospital and filed in a bed, where they left him lying for two weeks. They did realize he had been dehydrated and that he needed more oxygen. Those things were fixed. But staff are too busy to do much more than maintain him. Faiza has been a warrior woman, trying to explain to the staff that he cannot be left lying down, he must be gotten up or he will lose his mobility. She keeps saying she wants to take him home, because he does better at home. But they keep replying he can't go home because of his mobility. "He is old. He can't get around."
But he was getting around before he went in hospital and was left lying in bed for two weeks. He should not even be lying down. At home he sleeps in a tilted recliner, with oxygen to help him breathe.
He has not been eating. Faiza finally found out they had been wheeling him down to a table where extended care patients were spoon-fed. He took one look, and figured he must be in really bad shape to be taken there. He refused all further meals because he did not want to go to that table. At home, he eats heartily, with his own two hands.
She went in the other day to find him lying with his eyes closed as if he was already dead.
"Bill, what is this? What is going on?"
"I'm dying, Faiza," he said.
"No, you are not dying. You cannot give up. You must try."
Faiza said she went home that night very upset, and she talked to God. "God, I have my pen and paper in front of me. I need you to put in my head what I am supposed to do. You tell me, and I will write it down."
What got written down on the paper was:
1. Call the private physiotherapist about treating Bill at home.
2. Call the masseuse about coming to the house.
3. Go and see Dr. G. in person.
Here is where my blood starts to boil. Faiza has serious mobility issues herself. She very recently had back surgery. She has had no chance to recover. She gets around on a walker and a scooter, but none of that is easy, when one is elderly and weak and exhausted. Her legs and feet are numb and give her a lot of pain and trouble. She had asked for the Handydart to pick her up from the hospital and drop her off at home, then come back to take her to the doctor's appointment. But they were late getting her at the hospital - there was no time to go home in between. Faiza asked if she could be taken instead directly to the doctor's office. The driver said no, her instructions were to take her home so that is where they were going.
Faiza got dropped off at home and this four foot something little woman had to go up in the lift, back down in the lift, teeter over to the shed, unlock the door, wheel out her scooter, drive it up to the back of her car, lower the car ramp, get the scooter in, raise the ramp, close the heavy door. Then she drove herself to the doctor's appointment, asking God to help her, because someone had to.
My good God.
Once there, she thanked the doctor very much for all he had done for Bill, and told him she was concerned because he was going downhill, lying in the bed, staff being too busy to exercise him, that he did better at home where she had home support four times a day for him, where he walked back and forth between his chair and the table, his chair and the bathroom, and out to the porch to smoke the one cigar a day that he enjoyed. She told him the private physiotherapist and masseuse both had agreed to come to the house to treat him. She asked could he please come home, because he was going to die in that hospital, he had given up.
The doctor was convinced. "All right, Faiza, Bill can come home on Tuesday." However, the physiotherapist in the hospital, who has so far done little for him, is disputing this, so it remains to be seen if he will be home Tuesday or not.
This little woman has a warrior heart, and she pushes herself, with legs that barely support her, but a will of steel that keeps the body moving forward beyond its capabilities. She says, "Bill is my number one priority. I ask for God's help and I will do whatever I have to do to take care of him."
I have been very worried about her, because the physical exhaustion of going back and forth to the hospital twice a day, and to her own medical appointments and physiotherapy, means she is getting no chance to rest, or take care of herself. She has been looking completely exhausted, peering out of raccoon eyes ringed with huge purple circles, just barely managing to shuffle one foot in front of the other. She is one of those women who takes care of everyone else, and she comes last, one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. But I worry. If anything happens to her, Bill is sunk indeed.
Today she had called me to come and do some cleaning for her. I decided I could wait no longer to give her her Chistmas gift, a soft fluffy purple fleecy blanket that I knew she would enjoy so much. She had no real blanket, I had noticed, and was using a utilitarian coverlet the ambulance service provides for its passengers. Not cozy, not soft and fluffy.
I handed her the gift bag and before she even looked in, she grabbed me in the tightest hug, just overwhelmed at being given a gift. She, who never stops giving. When she pulled out the soft blanket, and when I put it on her bed, she was thrilled. "In the color that we love," she said, stroking it.
I said, "When you get home, Doctor Sherry recommends you get under it and have a nap!"
As I went about my cleaning, she kept telling me, "I just love you to bits, you know, habibi. I love you to bits," and she just kept murmuring endearments while I cleaned and clattered about. It was definitely the most satisfying gift I gave this Christmas. It made me SO happy to give it!
She is the sweetest little woman ever. I pray Bill makes it, and comes home for Christmas. He is the light of her life. She has a heart full of love and she never was able to have children. He is all in all to her. I hope they have this Christmas together. And I dread the day when the inevitable occurs, and they are parted. That day is coming. But she says, "While we are alive, we live! We don't give up."
I brought home a couple of wonderful movies, I have a new poem on the go, and on the stereo is the most wonderful music. My Christmas gift to me was the k.d.lang Restrospective, a gathering of her best tunes. First, she stopped my heart with Skylark and then she just DID ME IN with Helpless. Oh my goodness, does life get any better? The new fresh light sage green paint has lightened up my living space, the new light laminate floors, make it feel like I have moved into a new place. My sister did all that for me. It transformed my living space and lifted my heart a hundredfold, to get those drab dark brown walls and that terribly worn 45 year old linoleum covered with new clean surfaces. Great music on the stereo, dinner at my sister's tonight, a good movie to watch after, a comfy soft purple bed to climb into later with a really good book...........nope, it just doesn't get any better than this!