Inspiring Compassionate Communication
In Healthcare
July 2020
Recliners are Only for Napping
A few months ago, I read a post that described aging:

In my teens and 20s: “I’ll just sleep on the floor!”

In my 30s: “I’ll just sleep on the futon.”

In my 40s: “Are these 500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets? No? I’ll just go home.”

Last year, I spent well over 100 nights in a hotel. Covid has now shown me just how much I love my own bed, in my own house. Maybe it’s age, maybe I’m just getting particular these days, but sleep is never as good as it is at home.

Covid has disrupted so, so much; right down to our inter-personal relationships, our friendships, our marriages. There’s no where this is more evident than in long term care facilities. Those at nursing homes and the people who love them have their hands tied by this disease. 

This story is personal and hits a little closer to home. 
 
I have a relative back home in High Hill, Missouri, Barb. Same name as my favorite nurse, but a totally different person. Barb and her husband, Ron, have been married for over 30 years and lived about a mile and a half away from my childhood home. They’re not only my relatives, but they belong to the same church and the same community… everything blends together in small town America.

Several years ago, Ron began having walking and balance issues and he was diagnosed with PSP; progressive supranuclear palsy. Ever heard of PSP? If not, it’s probably because only about 20,000 Americans are known to have it. It is similar to Parkinson’s.

About a year ago, Barb and Ron made the difficult decision to seek long term care. Ron then moved to the local nursing home. PSP has made swallowing difficult and the home is, of course, designed for patients with mobility difficulties. Ron was thriving in his new surroundings… and then Covid hit.   
 
In the spring, Ron had a fall that required a trip to the emergency room and 15 stitches. Barb was called and she went to the hospital with him, even though he was not admitted, when he got back to the nursing home, he was required to go under a 14 day quarantine. The thing is, Barb also had to quarantine. This is where things get interesting.

Instead of going back to their home, instead of quarantining where she could sleep in her own bed, Barb chose to move into the nursing home with Ron for two weeks. She slept in a recliner by his bedside, they had their meals in his room and they were isolated from all other residents and staff. 

Remember how much I said I love my own bed? Yeah, and to me, recliners are only for napping. Sleeping in one for days on end, isolated in an unoccupied wing of a nursing home doesn’t sound really great. But, ya know what is? Love. And compassion. And the bond of two people who have been together for decades.

These days, the nursing home is still on lock down, but, twice a day, Barb can be seen standing at Ron’s window. They speak by phone, sometimes by Facetime, too, and both pray for a time when they can feel the other’s embrace again. We all pray for that time. 

When you love someone, you do everything you can to help them feel comfort, companionship and love. I may say I’m picky about where I sleep, but the truth is, I’d sleep on gravel if it kept the Hotness from loneliness. And she would do the same for me. Just like Ron and Barb. Just like so many couples that have been physically separated by this wretched disease. Corona virus isn’t going away any time soon, so we’re going to have to work through it. And that hard work looks a lot like love. 


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