Archive for April 11th, 2011
Posted on April 11, 2011 - by Nurse Virginia
I was a student nurse and Mabel was a sweet little white haired woman in her early eighties who had had a major stroke. Mabel didn’t have the use of her left side. Taking care of her was what we referred to as “total care.” Totally changing her incontinent product (in those days they were cloth) and washing her privates. Struggling to dress her, a woman who was unable to assist in any way.
Mabel couldn’t even sit up without some hands on support. Yet she continued to wear hose, a slip, dress, sweater a little make-up and jewelry. By the time I was done it looked like I had just taken a shower. But Mabel looked like a million bucks, at least I thought so. I remember she was so sweet and thankful, and I thought it was so cute that a nursing home resident (we called them patients in those days) still wanted to carry her “pocket book.”
So all decked out and holding her pocketbook, I proudly pushed Mabel to the beautiful day room where other sweet little old ladies were seated. When I pushed Mabel up to a group, the apparent spokesperson turned to me and said “She can’t sit here with us.” Very much surprised I asked why not and was immediately informed “She wets her pants; she can’t sit with us because she wets her pants, she has to sit over there.” The spokesperson gestured to the far end of the day room.
These many years later I still feel Mabel’s pain, as it was announced to the room that day, that she wet her pants. Would it have made a difference to inform those ladies that Mabel couldn’t walk to the bathroom? That in fact if they had had such a stroke they too would be wetting their pants.
Instead I seated Mabel on the other side of the room with another group of ladies who didn’t protest. And while I was in my rotation at that facility I tried to spend extra time with Mabel.
Why was I so shocked? Was it because I thought every little old lady was a sweet little old lady? Why was I so surprised to find a bully in the nursing home? I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a bully in a Kindergarten or on the playground.
Come to think about it, that is probably right where this bully started out.
Virginia Garberding R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance