Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Bed Next Door



Such an innocent picture, a bed neatly made.

Such a dark meaning.

We entered the palliative care unit for a visit with our friend Tessa. She is in a small private room that is fronted by a tiny waiting area off which there are only two rooms, hers and anothers. Every time we've visited we've been part of a small group that was divided by 'she who is in the left room' and 'she who is in the right room'. This time however, the left room was left empty.

The bed was made.

The bed was waiting.

For the next. Not the last.

Tessa was not having a great day. Breath is becoming more difficult. Fear becoming more of a constant companion rather than and pop in visitor. She was sitting up on the side of the bed. I remembered, suddenly, the rush of euphoria I had had when I left, for the first time, the Intensive Care bed that I had laid in for days. Was that years ago now? Wow. I realized, as only one who is in a wheelchair can realize. If you can sit - you can move.

I suggested to Tessa that we get a wheelchair and head downstairs for tea. She simply nodded. She wanted away from the oppressive realization of the empty bed next door. She rolled into the coffee area, surrounded by the loudness of life, the quick moves of the healthy. She sipped tea and listened to us talk. She spoke of her fears, briefly, and then realized that she had thought she was never going to leave the room she was in. Yet here she was, surrounded by wailing babies, having her voice drowned out by people shouting orders to the clerk working the counter, have the sense of being normal in abnormal circumstances. She brightened. Absolutely brightened. She relaxed back into the comfort of the wheelchair and simply enjoyed her tea.

It was only a moment.

A simple moment.

But it mattered.

And it was made available by a chair on wheels. A chair that can take someone from one place to another, from home to work, from theatre to restaurant, even, from deaths door to coffee shop table.

I don't know who first put wheels on a chair but when the roll is called up yonder, paradoxically, I'll stand them a drink.

Because, for just a few minutes, we were able to take our friend a little bit away, from the bed next door.


Maggie said...

Wow. What an awesome gift. How lovely that you saw what was needed and could materialize a chair for her, and a trip away from that room. What a delight it is to leave the room you had thought you would never get out of.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you could take Tessa away from that room, even for a little while.

My husband was badly hurt when an elevator fell and trapped him beneath it. Just before Christmas they transferred him from the hospital to a nursing home, and it would be four more months before he was well enough to leave. Our house was in foreclosure, at that point it wasn't clear if he'd ever live in *that* house again. Too many steps anyway.

Christmas Eve we used a wheelchair to take him out, just long enough for the church service. Wheels make a difference.

Kristin said...

I'll join you in standing them a drink. My brother-in-law has muscular dystrophy and may someday be in a chair. I'm just glad that option exists.

Kristin said...

BTW, a way to protect yourself against Blogger blips is to use Google Reader and subscribe to your own blog. That way, even if something messes up, the post is still in your reader. That's how I retrieved a post Blogger ate during this latest mayhem.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad Tessa has friends who are sensitive to her needs, and realize that even just a simple gesture, or short visit can make all the difference to brighten someone's day.

And, thanks for reminding me that although my family is facing many difficulties, much of my own families' joy, and the joy we can help bring others is diminished if we continue to allow ourselves to become lost in our own little world and our own problems. I realize that our increased problems/issues over the past year, and the time and energy spent addressing them, has robbed us of our joy and pleasures in life ... and we're going to get back into visiting friends and family again -- it's precious opportunties that we can never get back again ... so thanks for sharing with us ... we're going to jump back into living again, and not just existing (and spending all of our energies on fighting the system).

On a separate topic, if you or the other readers know where I can find recommendations on a good homeschooling program for high school, for teens with intellectual disabilities (in particular, my son has Severe Asperger Syndrome), would you advise, as it seems that the school/district personnel do not recognize their actions/inaction as inappropriate, despite the impact they directly had on Andrew, so I'm uncertain he will return to school. If you don't know, it's okay, as I'll keep looking for the information. :)

Elizabeth & Andrew

Cindy B. said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are in hospices and to those who work there and those who visit.

This is for Elizabeth and Andrew: Have a look at She has a huge audience (20,000+ hits when she has a contest) and you can probably find someone there who would have some ideas for you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

I have been thinking of Tessa a lot.

I think Tessa is blessed having friends like Joe and You. I think you are blessed with a friend like Tessa!!!

Sending positive thoughts
Julia from Germany

Noisyworld said...

Everybody feels trapped by 4 walls.
Fantastic job gentlemen :)

AkMom said...

Thank you, Dave