Sunday, November 15, 2009

back with a scarf story

Ok...so it wasn't a hangover. I called out on Thursday and spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday pretty much horizontal. Vertical was just too much of a challenge for me. But I'm back in full force...well, almost full force. (I tried out my spankin new sneakies today for a 10 mile run and ended up doing a 5 mile run. Ten today was like vertical on Friday)

Anyhoo...

I've had the following post bouncing around my brain for about a week and it's either write it down or have my head explode. I don't want to call out again next week, so -

THE SCARF

Last week, while clearing out the storage area, I came across a handmade scarf. It's really nicely made, all warm and snuggly, something that you'd get from a grandmother or a nice older neighbor who babysat for you when you were little. I got it from a patient's wife.

A few years ago, I was working in a nursing home. One of the patients was always in his room; always in bed, in fact. His wife came in every day and sat next to his bed, reading to him, playing music, and knitting.

One day, she approached me and asked me if there was anything I could do to make her husband more comfortable. I didn't really know. But I went in to see him.

He hadn't been out of bed in almost a year. His knee was contracted so that his heel was almost touching his buttocks. He spent every moment he was awake moaning in pain. I set about seeing if we could make this poor guy more comfortable.

I started out just stretching his leg and then splinting his leg a little bit at a time until we got it out to about 90 degrees. Then I got a wheelchair to get him out of bed.

It took quite a while until he could actually tolerate sitting upright in a chair for any legnth of time. But we eventually got him up to 2 hours per day. Two hours isn't a tremendous amount of time, but it was enough him for his wife to take him outside in the fresh air or for him to listen to school children who came in to perform for the nursing home residents.

We even talked about getting the speech therapist involved to see if he could eat while he was sitting up. (he was getting all of his nutrition by G-tube)

I would love to say that he had a dramatic turnaround like Robert DeNiro in Awakenings. That he woke up and had long conversations with his wife and we got him walking through the garden and then he went home. I can't say that though. That's not what happened.

What happened is that he got sick and ended up back in bed. He stopped tolerating the wheelchair for more than 15 minutes at a time. He eventually got over his illness and we started the whole process over again.

As much as we all want to change the world in one giant, fell swoop, sometimes all we can do is make one very small change and hope that makes a difference to somebody.

I guess it did to his wife. She presented me with a nice homemade scarf to say thanks.

I have held on to the scarf for years, from one residence to another, and all the way across the country. I held on to the scarf because it reminds me of the small difference we can make. It also reminds me of how love can persist no matter what the circumstances. She was in there every day, all day, by her husbands side. She looked out for him and did whatever she could to make him more comfortable and knitted scarves.

Here's the thing, though: I will never wear that scarf. It's nice, it's warm, it's handmade. But it's just not something I'll wear.

And now, it's time to pass that scarf along to somebody who will use it. Passing the scarf along will not make me forget where it came from or what it reminds me of. And in addition, I've now passed along the story as well.

Go do your own little thing to make the world a better place. And don't doubt the power of love. It can thrive in the most difficult of circumstances.

1 comment:

geekhiker said...

Very cool story. I wonder, do you not wear the scarf because of the significance of it, or are you simply not a scarf person?