Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Saturday at the home

Saturdays in the home are usually very quiet. A few people come to visit family members, but not much else happens. Maybe someone will die today. When you are in a nursing home it happens quite frequently. At least two or three of the old folks each month will pass. You won't know right away. Sometimes weeks will go by when you'll notice a familiar face is no longer there. You hope that they left on their feet, or at least rolled away in their chair. That they are healthy enough to go home. For some folks, this is their home. Their families have long ago left the care of their seniors to this Mormon owned nursing home. It's those people who wind up lleaving here horizontaly. A well-dressed man or woman, usually in a very dark suit, working for a funeral home, will wheel the body out in a tweed body bag. I remember seeing someone wheeled away a couple weeks ago. Today I learned I knew the person. Her name was Marguerite and she used to bug the hell out of me. She had short term memory loss so could never remember my name. She remembered that she was a Cree Indian and that she grew up in Ottawa, but not much else stuck. She was insanely protective over the house plants in the nursing home. When one of the receptionists trimmed back some unruly ivy in the reception area, Marguerite through such a fit they sent her to her room. She and I did not get along. She was always telling me that I was driving my motorized wheelchair too fast. I would tell her to mind her own business and then we would wind up telling each other to fuck off. Six weeks ago, when I was in the hospital recovering from double-bypass surgery, Marguerite suffered a stroke. She did not return until after I got back and I hardly recognized her. Other than being an annoying kook, she had seemed pretty healthy for an old lady in a wheelchair. When I last saw her she was very tiny. Her toungue hung outside the corner of her mouth. She could barely lift her arms. Sometime shortly after I saw her last, she died in her sleep. But that happened a couple weeks ago and I am now just hearing about it. They never tell us anything. They say it's out of privacy for the family, but that sounds like shit. What about her friends here in the home? They are left to woner, whatever happened to Marguerite?

2:00 p.m. Right now some residents are playing Bingo in the dining room. I tried playing once, but when I tried holding a chair out for an old lady, she took a swing at me. If you win at Bingo you get a quarter. Doesn't seem like much, but when the nursing home takes almost all of the money I've got, any extra coin helps. Four wins gets you a dollar, which equals a Coke from the taco truck in the parking lot. However, I found the cost of winning isn't worth it. Whenever you win, the group sings this stupid song. "(Insert name here) got a Bingo! Name got a Bingo! Bingo for name! Bingo for name! Yeah!"

So usually I hide in my room or out in the lobby. I'll check the Slog, but the posts and comments on the Slog on the weekends are pretty sparse. All you can expect is the Morning News, the recommendations of things to see, hear, or eat tonight. Maybe if Dan Savage or one of the other writers feel they have something that can't wait until Monday, they'll post something, otherwise the posts are pretty limited. Today there is nothing. Obviously Dan and the other writers at the Stranger have lives. I do not. For now, this is it.

I managed to get up and go to the Library, then Starbucks this morning before lunch, which once again, I did not feel like eating. I still have the two Prime Rib Dinners sitting in the refrigerator. I still don't feel like eating them. I will probably gift one of them to one of the other patients then try eating one of them myself before they go bad. The medication I'm on makes food unappealing. First the medication robbed me of boners, so I haven't masturbated in a very long time, now my second favorite past time, eating, no longer interests me. What's next? My hearing?

There is one thing I look forward to on Saturdays and Sundays. I get to do restorative therapy with Lamin. He is from Gambia and he is a Muslim. As he stretches my legs we often talk about Islam. It's very interesting. It's not a scary religion (I never thought it was). Not any scarier or far fetched than Catholocism or Protestantism. But Muslims have this belief that someone who paints or draws a picture of any living thing, not just Muhammed, will be judged by Allah. If the artist can't make the depiction come to life, then that person will burn in Hell. I think that's what is supposed to happen. I tried reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam" but grew bored about a third of the way through. Again, my medication has rob me of my attention span.

If I was to hazard a guess, I would say at least a third of the nursing staff, including the nursing assistants, are from Africa. I have met people from Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Besides English as their common tongue, they all speak different languages. A few a Muslim, there's one Roman-Catholic, but most are varying sects of Protestantism. One thing they all seem to have in common is that they are very laid back. It makes me wonder if Africans do not suffer the same health risks that African-Americans suffer. High-blood pressure? A far greater likelihood of suffering a heart attack than any other race in the United States? I don't know how to look that information up and I have been too uncomfortable to ask. Actually I could ask. When I've asked them about their countries and their customs they have been happy to answer my questions. You would think that many or most of the Africans came to make money to send home to their families, and perhaps some do. My impression from the news is that Africa is a poor continent. And that's true the farther you get away from the ocean. But I am learning that a lot of the people who live near the coasts do alright. Many of the Africans went into nursing because caring for people increases their Karma. No matter if they are Muslim or Christian, they all believe in Karma, they may just call it different names. One of the nurses I met, I beleive he lives in Senegal, he is comparitively rich in his home country. Although he is saving money for his eventual return to his homeland, he is here mainly because he wants to care for people. But I am in danger of over romaticizing their altruism. There are plenty of people to care for in Africa, but I doubt it pays as well.

3:30 p.m. I just got done shaving for the first time in three months. I look 20 years younger. No one notices. They won't notice for a few weeks when someone will ask if I am growing a beard. The home is quiet and devoid of activity. Nothing but College Football and other crap on the tube. I've had my therapy with Lamin and unless I eat one of the Prime Ribs, I have nothing to look forward to until tomorrow, which will be just like today, except less exciting.

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