Dette har jeg jobba med i sommer. Har så mye inspirasjon etter å ha jobba på sykehjem og jeg følte det var riktig for sjela mi at det fikk utløp noe sted. Blir kjempeglad hvis dere liker denne teksten eller bare leser den i det hele tatt.
One dreary, decidedly normal April morning they found her covered head to toe in urine and excrement. Writing could be found on the walls. None of it was legible, but the social workers who later inspected the place debated whether or not she had been trying to communicate.
"She used to be a writer," they told me on my first day. "Writing was the only thing left to her that she knew how."
So the patient who now inhabited room 126 had to be put in a home because her husband couldn't take care of her anymore. No one had known she had been sick. He had kept it all a secret, had settled with the imminent prospect of them not growing old together like he wanted them to, trying to make the most of the time he had left of her remembering who he was. But over the years the secret grew to weigh heavily on his soul and he decided to end his life. Wanted to end both of their lives. He put them in the car in the garage, turned on the engine and let the carbon dioxide to its trick. He had been the first to pass out, letting himself drift away amongst the smog and the fumes. But instead of passing out with him, not really understanding what they were doing in the car in the first place, something kick started in 126. Surival instict, they said. Maybe not even that. Probably just boredom. Watching her husband fall asleep in the seat next to her, 126 made her way towards the house, coughing and crawling, led on by a sudden urge to drink something, maybe to write something or maybe just to not be stuck in that car with that man who she felt she should know but who she couldn't quite name. She stayed in the house for a week before anyone decided to pop by.
A nurse bound by client confidentiality visited once a week, looked for changes, exchanged mindless smalltalk about her two siamese cats who both hated each other and her as well she suspected, and to distribute the colourful drugs 126 was very reluctant about taking. So when she came over that April morning, ready to tell 126, because it was mostly 126 who would listen, about how her cats had started making progress, yes, they even slept in her bed the other night, she was in for quite the shock. Not that she hadn't seen worse before. She had seen a lot worse, but it was the unexpectedness of it. She hadn't even noticed anything was up with 126's husband. Hadn't noticed he was planning to end it all. But of course, she was too preoccupied telling 126 about her cats to notice her husband's vacant stare into space and his occasional gruntal replies.
"But she's so young," all the other caretakers at the nursing home kept saying. I was never able to figure out what they wanted to achieve by this statement. Weren't they simply stating, time and time again, how random life could be? How things didn't always have to make sense. I didn't understand them, not at all. These were people more concerned with the latest paranormal reality show on telly than the nine o'clock news. Didn't they already know that people died young, bad people prospered and good people suffered? How did that make any less sense than a ghost haunting a nursery?
"Apparantly she was 34 when she got it," one of the nurses said over a cup of coffee in the breakroom, followed by a hushed "So young!" by a few people in the room. I tried very hard not to roll my eyes. Over the two weeks I had been there, 126 was definitely the hot topic for discussion. They almost fought over her and everyone seemed to possess a detail to piece together her history, to complete her illness. It was uncanny how much they knew about 126 that wasn't to be found in her patient's journal.
"And no one knew about it? How is that even possible?" This question was debated every day, somtimes even twice. I was trying not to listen by staring hard at a picture of Heidi Klum's model body in one of the many "women's magazines" laid around absolutely everwhere.
"The husband wanted to take care of her. Wanted as much time with her as possible before... well, you know. And neither of them had any family to speak of. She obviously got a diagnosis, but seeing as he wanted to keep her at home, the docter didn't have an obligation to notify any kind of nursing home. I believe the association was told, but only for statistical purposes. She wasn't the youngest, so I doubt they took any special interest in her. Seeing as they all keep getting younger." The monotone speech was delivered by one of the senior nurses, Margaret. I'd never heard her voice an opinion or even information regarding 126, and was surprised to find her, "World's Best Nana" cup in hand, standing by the computer adressing the rest of the people in the break room. No one said anything for a while and then the topic moved on to what someone's third grandson had done the other weekend. I wanted to give Margaret a smile, as a thank you for shutting up this gossip news room up once and for all, but when I looked at her, she had sat down in an office chair and looked more troubled than ever.
I didn't fight over 126. Wanted to spend as little time with her as possible. Because I was so new to the game of elder care I was yet to learn the trick of switching off. Of not caring so much when I got home. Of not caring so much when I was there. Of letting things slide. Of preventing my heart from breaking during every shift. The other caretakers had seen so much, been through so much that they had hardened. They didn't tear up at the sight of a picture of a patient and a now deceased spouse, they didn't take personal offense at being called stupid and ugly by a hallucinating patient. The image of their ever aging nan didn't pop into their heads as they had tea and chatted with some of the female patients in the afternoon. But 126 wasn't that much older than me. Well, she was, close to the age of my older sister and not very younger than my own mother. And always being reminded of that fact by her mere presence, not even presence, her simple existence everytime I went to work, became too bizarre. Or at least I thought it would. I was solely convinced that if I were to function at the nursing home, I needed to spend as little time with 126 as possible.