Tuesday, August 6, 2019
It's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
Don't Go in the Bathroom
The staff at the dialysis center where I receive treatments three days a week is exceptionally efficient, and is always there within seconds in the event of the slightest problem. For example, even a leg cramp is immediately tended to, as patients usually do not leave their recliner seats until the treatment is complete. Not only is the staff extremely pleasant to talk to, but they're also excellent listeners. As patients, our vitals are taken several times, and we are continually monitored throughout the day. Recently, I was surprised to find a police car in the parking lot.
As I walked in, a nurse stopped me from going to the treatment area restroom, and guided me to the ladies room in the lobby. I thought nothing of it, as this restroom is often occupied. On the way to my designated chair, I noticed a policeman stationed between the doorway leading to the dialysis unit and the treatment area restroom.
I quietly asked one of the staff what was going on and she offered to explain later. In all the commotion, my treatment was delayed a few minutes, so I texted my friend across the room for the 411. She explained that a 91-year-old patient from the morning shift suffered a heart attack in the restroom. The staff responded immediately followed by the paramedics, but they were unable to revive him. Hours later the funeral home still hadn't arrived to pick up his body.
Now the pieces were starting to come together. The people that I hadn't recognized in the lobby, were the deceased man's son, daughter-in-law and grandson. They arrived after his treatment expecting to take him home, as they did every Saturday. I could see the son tearing up, while he spoke to the police officer. Though I never met the elderly patient or his family, I found myself tearing up too.
I turned to my friend, Mrs. C. in the seat next to me. Without saying a word, I could tell that she knew exactly what was going on. At 88. Mrs. C. is very sharp and perceptive. She is a trooper who never complains. Many of the older patients have a very difficult time adjusting to dialysis, but Mrs. C. seems to take everything in stride.
Unfortunately, Mrs. C's eyesight must not be the best, as she only sees the good in me. She actually thinks I move like a gazelle. Yes, I'm kind of a big-shot with geriatrics in walkers, though some cocky nonagenarians with canes have passed me up on occasion.
As Mrs. C. and I had front row seats across from the treatment area restroom, we both silently wondered when the funeral home was going to arrive to pick up the deceased patient. Suddenly, trying to watch anything on TV seemed pointless.
A few minutes after the funeral home arrived, one of my dear friends came to visit me. I quickly motioned for her to put on her protective gown and sit next to me. I didn't want her to get caught in the patient's final exit from dialysis.
Next, the staff smoothly put up privacy curtains between the restroom and the door leading to the lobby. Remarkably, a small woman from the funeral home single-handedly managed to wheel the body bag on a gurney out of the building.
After I filled my visiting friend in, she said, "I feel kind of sick, since I've used that bathroom before."
I told her that I felt for her, and was very sorry for what she was going through.
Then I tried to imagine how Mrs. C. and most of the other patients in the same age group were feeling. I turned to Mrs. C. and asked how she was doing, and as I expected, she looked very sad.
Fortunately, I cheered her up a little when I told her my brother was coming to visit. Mrs. C. and my brother also have a special relationship. She laughs at all of his jokes, and they could talk forever about their love of the Chicago Cubs. They also have a little flirtation going on, but that's another story.
The staff at the dialysis center remained professional throughout the entire experience. They are always appreciative when Mrs. C. and I don't complain when there's an occasional problem. But I tell them there's no reason to complain, as they always respond quickly, and bend over backwards to make sure that we're comfortable.
The following week everything was back to normal, but it took me a few days until I summoned the courage to use the restroom again.