Sunday, August 05, 2007

Something You Probably Only Do Once in Your Life

She said that she couldn't use a baby carriage because then everybody would want to see "the baby." So the plan was to sneak it in by the end stairwell in a backpack.

All the staff was in on this little scheme; even Luanne the unit manager gave it a wink and a nod. Janine stopped in and let me know that Mary was outside the back stair entrance from the visitors parking lot with her secret package. The doors were locked from the outside, but we could open them from within for emergencies and all that.

Janine held the door open to our unit while I went down the steps and let Mary in and up we went to the ward.

"He's so quiet," I said, and Mary replied that she'd given him a box of crackers to keep him busy. "Animal crackers," she said, "His favorite."

Mary was an LPN who had worked with us for a couple years. Her father was an itinerent fair worker and she didn't see him very much, though she said that they were really very close. She was always "daddy's little girl" even though his life lately had pretty much revolved around his "little boy."

He was working the local county fair when he became weak and fell. At first dehydration was suspected but it turned out to be a massive stroke which left him paralysed and unable to speak. It would be impossible for him to resume his work and it was expected that he would round out his years in a long-term-care facility.

He'd worked the fair circuits for years, going from state to state, town to town, year after year, but that was all over for him now.

He was an organ-grinder. He did a comedic patter while his monkey collected money from onlookers and he played corny tunes on his music-box. And he earned about twice as much money that nurses did in any given year of full-time work. We nurses had agreed that he deserved higher pay than us because he was "a specialist."

We were smuggling his monkey into the hospital so they could be together for maybe the last time.


may said...

seriously, this one makes me want to cry. i hope they have a good time, for possibly the last time...

N=1 said...

Hi Shrimplate:

I've smuggled more than my share of "special packages" and I'm glad that these two were re-united. The monkey will no doubt need to grieve, too, and he(?) may be more aware of his friend's death after the visit. But one caveat: Make sure that monkey has been tested and vaccinated for rabies, TB and all zoonotic transmissable diseases (I never worked with simians, so don't know specifically - oh wait - I did work one LONG night in a baboon lab - no - really). A monkey bite could really be a no-win situation if it occurred during an unauthorized visit - so just being extra cautious here.

Thanks for facilitating this - it is so very valuable and humane!

Dirk Gently said...

now i feel bad that i've been calling bush and cheney "the chimp and his organ grinder."

well, never mind that. thanks for sharing this story. sometimes the seemingly silly things are the most important.

Me said...

Bless you for your thoughtful kindness...

GingerJar said...

I've helped smuggle in a "baby" daushound to a dying patient (wrapped in an appropriate baby-blanket). Call me a softie. I too have my "babies" at home...and they are all daushound mixes.