Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
By Melanie Kerr
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I don’t know how many patients there are. Some of them shuffle in pink cardigans and fluffy slippers, feeling along the wall with their open palms. Most of them sag in chairs, their bodies like deflated balloons. There is a television in the corner of the room. Scenes flash on and off and with the sound turned down low, no one is following the storyline.
You know what else I hate about this place? It’s the uncertainty. Just last week there was the court case of that nurse, in a home similar to this one, being found guilty of abusing one of the patients. Somewhere along the line, the patients she had been treating became something less than human. An old woman couldn’t participate in a conversation, but sat limply in a chair, gazing at a television screen, taking in nothing around her. The nurse just feeds and wipes, and there is no cheerful banter. Could someone be?…I worry about Bridget, in a place like this.
She, like all the other patients, is so helpless. She doesn’t chose what clothes to wear, or what food to eat, or where to sit in the room. Someone else dresses her, matching trousers and tops with cardigans and jewellery. Bridget never used to wear trousers.
And there is something else I hate too. The photo album on the bedside table. I have flicked through it once. A collection of pictures. The black and white ones show stern faces and arranged poses of Bridget as a child, and later a bride. The later pictures, bold and coloured, with grinning children fingers stuck up behind heads, are more recent. Bridget was so strong and vibrant, nothing like fragile woman curled up in the bed covered by a light duvet. I doubt that Bridget has ever flicked her way through the pages. She used to keep all of her photos in a drawer of the cabinet. Who is the album for? Not Bridget who doesn’t remember any of the people in them. The nurses point to pictures in a sing-song voice ask about her sons and daughters, carrying on a one sided conversation.
Over the years, Bridget has stepped further and further into the web of nursing home care, needing more care and stronger medication since being diagnosed with some form of Altzimers.
I guess that what I really hate is myself. That I don’t want to see Bridget like this. That guilt plagues me and sneers at me that I really don’t love her any more. But this isn’t my Bridget. This is not the woman I married forty years ago.
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