Respect the crabby old lady
When I’m an old lady and end up in a care facility, I sincerely hope my personality and attitudes don’t relegate me to the category of “that crabby old lady in Room 210.” Have you visited someone in a nursing home or hospital and had the distinct feeling that the patients were treated like numbers or medical cases? You know what I mean: “the urinary tract infection in 4A” or “the decubitis in South 6.” Wow, that’s a horrible thing to consider for myself: the history of all my years on this earth being characterized as a medical condition or an intolerable behavior resulting from that condition.
What about my history of being a pretty darn good mother/wife/business person/neighbor/community volunteer/friend? Doesn’t that person still exist within the body occupying that bed?
Let’s all take the time to read this poem that depicts such a scene. Gender-wise, this could be about a crabby old man as well.
What do you see nurses? What do you see? What are you thinking when you’re looking at me? A crabby old lady, not very wise, uncertain of habit with faraway eyes? Who dribbles her food and makes no reply, when you say in a loud voice “I do wish you’d try!” Who seems not to notice the things that you do and forever is losing a sock or two.
Who, resisting or not lets you do as you will, with bathing and feeding a long day to fill? Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see? Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me. I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still, as I do at your bidding as I eat at your will.
I’m a small girl of ten with a father and mother; brothers and sisters who love one another. A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet. Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap, remembering the vows that I promised to keep. At twenty-five now, I have young of my own, who need me to guide a secure happy home. A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast, bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone, but my man is beside me to see I don’t mourn. At fifty, once more, babies play ’round my knee. Again, we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband’s now dead. I look at the future and shudder with dread. For my young are all rearing young of their own, and I think of the years and the love that I’ve known. I’m now an old woman and nature is cruel, ’tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles; grace and vigor depart. There is now a stone where I once had a heart. But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells, and now and again my battered heart swells. I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I’m loving and living my life over again.
I think of the years, all too few gone too fast, and accept the stark fact, that nothing can last. So open your eyes, people; open and see, not a crabby old woman, look closer, see ME!
– Author unknown
11 thoughts on “Respect the crabby old lady”
March 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Reblogged this on Elder Advocates and commented:
I can only imagine how “crabby” I will be when I need skilled care. Irene is an amazing writer by the way!
March 19, 2015 at 3:46 pm
You’re very kind. Thank you. And yes, you and I both know very well the ins and outs of the LTC system so any staff member entrusted with our care better watch out!
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March 19, 2015 at 5:21 pm
Im right there with Ya!
February 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm
[…] recently wrote about the crabby old lady one might encounter in a nursing home or medical setting. I encouraged my readers to respect […]
February 21, 2015 at 11:13 am
Very true, Irene, and a good reminder.
I count our family fortunate because my mother was in a place that treated her well. Her caretakers were good to her.
I think in part it was because my father — who visited my mother daily — was interested in the caretakers as people. Patients are treated better when the staff feels treated well, by their employer and by the patients and their families.
February 21, 2015 at 11:20 am
You make an excellent point. One thing I know for sure, staff members who know that their patients/residents get consistent visitors, e.g., spouse, adult child, have more reason to treat their residents well. In a way, the staff are held more accountable simply by virtue of the fact that they know family members could be expected at any time. It shouldn’t be that way – residents should be treated with respect and care regardless – but it’s a sad truth.
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February 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm
I love this, Irene. Thank you for sharing.
February 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm
We will ALL cross that health/age threshold. I hope we don’t receive a rude awakening.
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February 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm
I hope not too, Irene.
February 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm
What a nice poem. I think I must have been a dog in previous life because anytime I hear a noise, I have to check it out. So the nurses will have their hands full controlling this over-active crabby guy : )
February 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm
I’m absolutely positive the staff will have their hands full with me. As a retired certified LTC Ombudsman (advocate for adults living in LTC facilities) I know what’s what when it comes to resident rights.