It has been so nice getting Vernon out in the courtyard again after his last run in isolation. Today Maila came to give him a haircut, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Something about haircuts make him so relaxed.
It was a beautiful spring day and the courtyard was buzzing. Of course this area is the only place to go other than the hallways and dining hall. And it certainly beats staying in one’s room all day. So the residents who go outside are quick to make friendships and people to hang out with.
Supposedly today was the last day that smoking will be allowed anywhere on the grounds…although there are rumors that these new rules aren’t actually legitimate. We all know this isn’t a healthy past-time, especially for so many who have serious health issues already, but its a break from the bedroom for many of them and certainly gives them something to look forward to as most days pass more or less the same. So there was a lot of frantic energy over in the “smoking corner” today—and a lot more chain smoking.
When the notices went up a month ago that the smoking privileges would soon be over, one man immediately came to mind: Joe. I call him “the Mayor of Mesa Verde” because he is so friendly and seems to be well-liked by everyone there. He’s told me before that he would come and hang out with Vernon when he was parked alone in his reclining chair (Geri Chair.) I still haven’t got the story of what brought him to the care home six months ago, but I notice him smoking (and chatting) out in the courtyard more than anyone else. I asked him about it recently and he said he had already been starting to quit by asking his doctor for a nicotine patch and going out less often as before. His attitude was really proactive.
This is a photo that I took of Joe today as he rolled by our little group. All his smoking buddies were in a panic, he said, but that he had spent the past month planning for this and he was ready. In his booming, raspy voice, Joe told us he had been smoking for 40 years and was never able to quit before. But tomorrow, he will be starting a job in the laundry room, folding clothes. And he had started to go to bed earlier. He also mentioned that it was possible that this rule would be lifted for certain patients who had been smokers when they were admitted, but that even though he knew that, he couldn’t go back on his word now. He had promised his daughter.
Another thing Joe told us is that he was in really bad shape when he first arrived, and it was physical therapy that helped him the most. One particular Physical Therapist, in fact. Apparently he hadn’t been participating, and without realizing he could hear her, the PT said: “Don’t worry about him. He’s not going to get better with that attitude.” After that, Joe realized it was up to him to take part in his own health and stopped feeling sorry for himself. Now, he wheels around the place faster than anyone else on his motorized chair and I still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with him except that his legs may not work well.
Some people respond well to being told “they can’t.” Bravo to Joe for being such a person. I’m rooting for him as he tries to live a smoke-free life. It will be a challenge after such a long-term habit, but he has already overcome so much, I know he has the mental strength to do this…and he will be an inspiration to the others there who have come to know him well.
Lord knows the residents need all the inspiration they can get!
Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.