i see things here which can be both sad and funny. They are perhaps more poignant because as I get older I realise I could so easily join these lost souls in the years to come.
I reckon the average age of patients must be nearer 80 than 70. Many are deaf, so one cannot avoid hearing their conversations with nurses or friends on the telephone. Then there is one old man who is not deaf but apparently can no longer speak.
I come across many of these patients at our long physio sessions every day. The moment for the ‘gouter’ – the mid morning snack, I observe that the staff discreetly cover the man who cannot speak (or use one hand) with serviettes before placing a coffee and snack before him. Then there is another old man who arrives at speed on his zimmer and plonks himself onto the first available chair. He too is served with – two cups – of coffee. And then he goes. One of the aides explained to me that he had been here for rééducation, has now passed across to the maison de retraite, but continues to come across here for his morning coffee. And then there is Régis, a young man with I suspect several problems and may be a bit simple. He falls asleep all the time he should be standing up and practising walking.
The corridors are also full of people on zimmers or in wheelchairs going I’m not sure if they know where. A couple of days ago a woman wheeled past my room, stopped and asked ‘Madame, je cherche la chambre 105’. I told her it was further along the corridor. Ten minutes later she passed again ‘Madame, je cherche la chambre de….’ Didn’t catch the name. Sorry, I said, I don’t know that lady. ‘Mais c’est moi,’ she replied ‘Je cherche ma chambre’. We now refer to her as the lady from room 114.
Yesterday I came across a little crisis. I overtook Régis, pushing his zimmer at snail’s pace, turned the corner and there was Didier the physio, trying to stop Madame 114 from taking off alone in the lift while he had time to rescue Régis, who was whimpering he could go no further. I was stuck in the middle, unable to help. I heard Didier telling a nurse we now had a security problem if Mme 114 uses the lift again.
One of my younger neighbours remarked lugubriously it was time she was moved to the second floor. This is apparently a sad, sad place for lost souls and those who are not going to recover, with a security code on the door.