My dear mother was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. (I posted about her recent hospital stay here.) During her time in stir (as it were), she was poked and prodded and put through the usual battery of tests. Considering her recent 88th birthday, hospital staff operate with the standard presumption that she’s lost her wits, so she’s quizzed by everyone who enters her room: “What’s today’s date? What year is it? What are the names of your children?” She’s usually very patient with the questions, answers them compliantly, but quickly makes known her desire to be at home. (It’s as much like prison for her as it could be … which is why I described her being in stir.)
Mom is used to the hospital routine because before her blindness set her back, she’d been a long-term hospital volunteer. (She loved it!) Additionally, her history of past TIAs and hospital stays due to DVT has made her familiar with some of the staff and several of the physicians.
When she and I finally had a chance to talk by phone (in between repeated interruptions of hospital personnel coming in to speak with her), she told me she’d actually been sitting in her doctor’s office (for a routine visit) when nonsense word salad poured forth from her lips. The doctor observed for a bit and then excused herself to consult a nearby neurologist. Soon thereafter, Mom was checked into the hospital.
Because of her blindness, the normal hospital television remote is a challenge for Mom. She can’t see well enough to watch the programs, so the noise coming from it bothers her. When she thinks she’s pushing the “Off” button, she’s actually hitting the “Call” button, unintentionally summoning every nurse on the floor to race toward her room! (Apparently, this happened more than once during her short stay!) There’s another down-side for my mom in connection with the “Call” button: if she really needed help, she’d likely have trouble finding the right button! These are the kinds of challenges from blindness she’s encountered over the last five years.
Part of Mom’s daily meds regimen is taking an aspirin. On the day she experienced this TIA episode, she told me she’d taken her medications as usual, but when the pills were on her tongue, she knew immediately the aspirin was missing. As a blind person, she’s learned how to compensate and work around this disability (not seeing the meds) but if she drops a pill before it reaches her mouth, she may hear it clink on the floor … or she may not.
Worst of all, she won’t see a pill if it slides across the floor or if it lodges in a crevice under the kitchen cabinets. Anyone who has tried to find something on the floor – in the dark – would have some understanding how big a challenge this is … but sighted people always have the option of turning on a light. My mom doesn’t enjoy that luxury.
As she related this story to me, I must admit I envisioned her crawling around on the floor looking for that lone, elusive aspirin. She eventually gave up trying to locate it, and now she believes that’s why she had the TIA. (I’m not a physician, so I can neither confirm nor deny.) But my mind played with this humorous image of her down on the floor, and before long, a poem had worked itself into form. I share it below.