I went to visit one of my elderly ladies this afternoon. These visits are meant to cheer them up and provide a little relief in an otherwise rather lonely day.
I usually take the dog along with me, he is well-behaved and provides a small focus to get them away from talking about their failing health.
Conversation is limited, I try to introduce some local gossip, ask for news of friends and family, and find out who, if anybody, has visited them.
Marjorie is in her mid to late eighties, not very well and mobile only with assistance, but otherwise bright and as cheerful as somebody in her situation can be.
Asking after their health is a must, and I always prepare myself for a long tale of woe.
But today Marjorie had a very unexpected tale to tell. She recently had a spell in hospital, one of several in the last eighteen months. She has been complaining throughout that time that nobody will tell her what’s wrong with her and she’s been getting quite cross with the medical and nursing professions.
A few days ago a doctor, a locum filling in while her regular Practitioner was away, made a house call.
“I see that you have been asking for information on what’s wrong with you”, he said to Marjorie.
“Yes”, said Marjorie, “I don’t know why nobody will tell me anything. It’s as if nobody has been able to make a diagnosis”.
The doctor looked at Marjorie, considered for a moment, and then pulled several sheets of paper from his bag.
“My dear, I have here a list of things we think are wrong with you, let me read it out to you”.
Which is what he did, starting with minor ailments and progressing to more important ones. He finished with the first sheet and was about to turn over and continue, when he looked up and asked,
“Do you want me to go on? Or shall I just tell you what is wrong with you?
The fact of the matter is, that old age has caught up with you, your body is wearing out. AND THERE IS NOT A DAMN THING I CAN DO ABOUT IT !
So you might as well accept it and make the most of what you have left.”
When Marjorie told me this story she was beaming with pride, and oddly gratified. “You see”, she said to me, “He sized me up, he decided that I could take it, he just went ahead. Now I will stop worrying, I will do as much as I can and stop fretting about what’s beyond me. I’ll rest when I need rest and sleep when I want to. I’ll eat what I can, when I can and enjoy it while I can.”
“And I’ll tell you something else”, she added, “I am really quite relieved”.
It actually showed, she looked a lot better than she has done for weeks.