Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marjorie, Part 2

Most of the residents here have apartments that look like a home. Large or small, they're filled with personal items and homely furniture. Marjorie's doesn't. It is one of the few that seems truly like a hostel room. She has a reasonably nice wrap-around bookshelf in one corner; however only two of the six shelves are used. The others just stare back empty. She has a handful of pictureframes of the two children who never visit. She has never mentioned them - another staff member claims they're simply not close to their mother. There's no phone. Everything else in the room is arranged perfectly. The shoes are all on a rack, even though she only wears one pair. There's a huge decorative foil-covered chocolate she was given at Christmas, in the shape of Santa. It's untouched: it has simply become another belonging that sits perpetually on her counter. It's where it "belongs", and I'm sure if she were invited to eat it, she'd tell you it belongs there.

It may sound a little depressing to hear of the barren and impersonal state of her tiny single room in Miller House. If Marjorie actually truly understood her life I'd be sad for her. But she smiles almost every day, off in her own world. I can't feel sorry for someone who's not lacking anything in their own happiness. She's also completely unusual here. She strictly-speaking can't really care for herself and belongs in a higher-care institution. But I think the management couldn't face putting her into a nursing home full of indifferent and impersonal companions. She's happy here, so while we can cope, she can stay.

As I've noted, Marjorie has electric shock therapy every three weeks. Today one of the carers was getting ready to take her to the hospital for her therapy, and after lunch Marjorie appeared back at the door, and said she was ready to go. The carer asked her to use the toilet first. Marjorie then asked to use the staff one. The carer said no, she had to use her own. Marjorie wouldn't go into her room. This went back and forth with Marjorie looking more and more distressed. She kept saying she couldn't go in there. Finally... "The Americans are working in my bathroom!!!"

I've still no idea how the carer solved that one.

Some days I'm glad I'm just a kitchenhand.

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