Write what you fear


A few years ago I got this advice in a workshop and I immediately thought of my friend who’d just been admitted to a long term care home after a stroke. In minutes, his life was no longer his own; unable to function, he was completely dependent on an institution to provide everything for him.

It’s a terrifying thought, especially for an independent gal like myself who lives with a progressive incurable disabling disease. Ever since my diagnosis, this spectre has haunted my thoughts. On those days where I have trouble with my legs and have issues getting into the shower, it trots right in to my mind and makes itself at home, picking its teeth and farting loudly.

Of course it immediately occurs to me that both of those things are not acceptable in long term care homes. I mean, you are under constant supervision. How does one pass wind? I immediately envision me scootering around to abandoned areas of the home to let go, only to be discovered by disapproving residents.

A friend of mine has just had to arrange this sort of transfer for her mother and the amount of work she has to do gives me pause as well. I restrain myself from immediately calling 1-800 got junk and having them take away everything, just in case. I have a horror of the kids going through my precious items and judging me, laughing at what I chose to keep, those indecent bras that I like because they are comfortable but which really should never be seen, love letters from men they never met, odd books from friends, half knit socks…

It doesn’t help that I’ve just heard that the retirement home bleating of on-site health care is just this, bleating. If you are lucky, you might have an on-site nurse, but generally it can be anything from a PSW to a retired surgeon resident who maybe can see you at coffee.

This seems unpromising.

So off I go to the gym, hoping to forestall the eventual. Truth is, we’re all, after a certain point, just one fall from being incarcerated. But I persist in trying to postpone it as long as possible.

I admit the thought of daily meals prepared for me can seem tempting. And someone to do laundry. Maybe someone to chat with over meals.

But, (she thinks), that would mean retiring those bras…

Instead, I’ll write stories about captives in nursing homes, subjected to attacks and robberies, under the grip of malevolent administrators. Maybe I’ll make them win most of the time.

It’ll make me feel better, anyway…

2 thoughts on “Write what you fear

  1. Dolly Hei

    Oh, DA, we retain control of as much as we can through thought, and you’re doing that superbly. You speak for so many of us out here, whether in your exact shoes, living in kinder or tougher circumstances. It all comes down to this at some point – the unknown inevitable wind down. Brushes with loss of independence give hints as we taper off our active lives, and then sometimes there are welcome amnesties, until the next test. This is the slow taper as opposed to a sudden end. Pretty much no choice here. Scary stuff, however it goes.

    You bring your irrepressible humor to the most serious of challenges, proving your unique strength, and you express the fears for the rest of us. Thanks for sharing your gift. Loe you. The Other DA

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