Open Letter to All Doctors, Nurses and Caregivers
The Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University; Wikimedia images
I've been spoiled. Though I’m much older than I ever expected to be, I've been very lucky to have enjoyed excellent health all my life, fortunately escaping any serious maladies. Yes, I've had a few surgeries; but because of my general good health, they were a breeze. For example, less than a week after each of my two hip replacements, I was walking without a cane. I have taken my bounce-back ability for granted.
A while back, however, I was hospitalized for five days for a surprise bout of pneumonia which floored me. I lost my voice and trying to talk exhausted me. Nausea debilitated me. Even with a walker, my legs refused to support me.
When an attendant wheeled my gurney from the ER into a room, I was upset to see an old woman there. They had promised me a private room. I did not want to share space with that old crone. Oh, wait. That wasn't my roommate. It was a mirror.
Sick as I was, I realized that the image in that mirror was what everyone saw when they walked into my room.
"No! This isn't me!" I wanted to scream, adding, "It could be you! And it will be — much sooner than you think.”
It's true. The older you get, time whizzes by faster than you can possibly imagine. When you're young, the future seems eons away. (It's not. It's tomorrow.) And you think that when it finally arrives and you're old, you won't care. (You will.)
I'm very fortunate. A couple of days into my pneumonia hospitalization, I felt strong enough to comb my hair, even put on a little lipstick and swap that miserable hospital Johnny for my own PJs.
I shed twenty years and began to feel more like me — the person whose vivacity and vitality people always complimented. I was back.
Most important, though my body has aged, my mind has still not deserted me (so far). It breaks my heart to see so many who aren't as lucky who spend their days in wheelchairs and beds, staring into space. I beg their caregivers to see beyond those vacant stares and to treat them like the people they once were — and still are inside that drug-induced stupor.
Remember, some day that could be you.
And some day is just around the corner.
Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book is Confessions of a Domestically-Challenged Homemaker & Other Tall Tales,available at Amazon.com and other online book sellers. Grandmother Goose: Rhymes for a Second Childhood is available as an e-book on Amazon.com for the Kindle and at BarnesandNoble.com for the Nook at $2.99; the paperback edition is available for $9.95. Her books of humorous essays, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, and If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun can also be ordered at Amazon.com or through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724). Her website is rosemadelinemula.com.
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