Monday, December 11, 2006

A Shitty Day

The title may get me blocked from any number of screens (though why everyone else's filters should work better than mine which allows 200 email offers for watches, stocks, and erectile dysfunction solutions each day is confusing me). But it's the truth. While the shit didn't hit the fan, it was everywhere else.

Roger and I were actually experiencing a slow day at Omega House. We had every intention of doing a major cleanup in the kitchen as instructed. Only four residents were on hand and one of them was heading to church so we figured after bed changes we were good to go on the whole kitchen thing.

Silly, silly us.

We rushed into the den when we heard one of the residents call out. "M" had fallen out of the chair. As we helped him back to his seat, we noticed his clothes were wet. Since he wore a catheter we knew what it wasn't. I, being ever the hopeful one, started looking for the orange juice glass he'd obviously spilled.

Roger, whose head was not as stopped up as mine, pointed out that it wasn't juice.

We helped the nurse get him first in the wheel chair and then back to his room. Roger assisted in there while I tended to disinfecting the den furniture. I arrived in time to see how bad the next few minutes were going to be. (For those of you who think I've already shared way too many details already, just skip this blog entry now.)

What we couldn't quite figure out was how it could be everywhere . . . thighs, calves, even his feet! And so very much of it. . . I swear nurses should get combat pay.

My hero, David, did the bulk of the cleanup with Roger assisting. I held the trash bag and made the executive decision that most of the soiled clothes were beyond rescue. As David finally cared for the wound that made this man's backside look like hamburger meat and had the diaper halfway taped up, Roger was the first to see. Seems "M" wasn't finished with his moving experience.

We started over.

Bed baths weren't new to us but working around all the soiled sheets and clothes and wipes and whatever was certainly ... uh ... interesting. I scrubbed on his feet for quite some time --somehow rationalizing that if his feet were cleaned that would wash away all that I'd just seen. We bathed him and bathed him again. David came to the door to tell us he had visitors and we tried even harder. We were determined to make his day new again.

"M" was fairly clueless we were even in the room. He's heavily sedated and doesn't really make sense when he tries to tell us something. But we responded to whatever he was muttering as if he were a Nobel Peace Prize winner uttering great bits of wisdom.

We gave him the bath. We gave him new sheets. We gave him new clothes. We gave him his dignity.

He'd had a shitty day, but his friends never knew.

And that's what volunteers do.


texelct said...

I can't even come close to imagining what 'M' is going through, but I do know what it's like having to depend on someone to clean up my messes. I know what it's like to have your dignity hanging on by a thread and then to have an "Angel of Mercy" (AKA- nurse, VOLUNTEER)restore it.
It seems I have some new heroes.

KC said...

Mark, I didn't know your story until just recently. Wow! I'm really glad places like this exist. I won't to believe that one will be there for me if I ever need it. 'Course I hope and pray I never will!