Crossing Paths

The  crunch of autumn leaves, the blue sky above me and the fresh breeze on my face, are so familiar. For the last month I have walked this path, from Yale Road Centre, where my brother is now living, to Central City Mall (old Surrey Place Mall.) It’s not far, about a block. A part of my walk there is for my fix at Tim Horton’s, a French Vanilla coffee.

I think about life and the circle of similarity between birth and death.  Yale Road is supposed to be a place for people who are on their way to a more permanent, residential care facility. The second floor is for people recovering from brain injuries and addictions. The fourth floor where my brother is, houses seniors who are in different stages, mentally and physically. They are waiting to go, somewhere.

Someone called it a holding tank! For some, this is the end of the long road called Life. Beginning as babies, in diapers, they now wear diapers again. They’re not called diapers, they are pull-ups or depends or something fancy. One woman messed hers and did the baby trick, wiping it through her hair and other places. When they bring her to the dining room for lunch, they move the plant out of her reach. She still reaches for other things. She’s in the baby stage.

Sleep is the other part, at the end of the circle. Part of it is boredom and part is a general tiredness. Not much matters here, every day is the same. People, patients, are now called clients on the elevator sign. Clients are not allowed to go on the elevator without a nurse or family member with them. Clients? Clients of Funnybrook Farm, Yale Road Centre, fourth floor, spend their time waiting. They hang around the elevators in their wheelchairs and to get through you sometimes have to move them.

The fourth floor clients wait for old elevators, to carry them, a few at a time, to and from the dining room, three times a day. In the dining room they wait again, for the food to come. The sixth floor people are served, then the trays are made up that go upstairs, and last of all, the fourth floor people are served. Always last, that’s part of the organization. The nurse says, “Somebody has to be last!” Every meal, every day!!”

I said, “This is wrong.” Diabetics should not wait until 9:30 AM for breakfast, almost 1 PM lunch and often 6 PM supper. Why are the trays for upstairs being done, while people that are here wait? One man, Arnold, was the last of the last, one night. He happened to be at our table, so I finally went to the servers and asked about his meal. The really bright answer from the nurse was, “We’re waiting for his dessert.”  Give him the main course while you wait. No common sense!!

Coincidence? The lady in charge of food services was in the dining room the other day. I didn’t know who she was and I was voicing my opinion about the feeding of the fourth floor people. She actually listened to me, wanted me to put it on paper and hand it in to the kitchen. She gave me her card so I e-mailed her. Since then she has contacted me and told me they are working on it. I really hope they are and I hope to see an improvement soon, not the new year, now!!

People crossing our path, sit at our table. One lady sits with us now, for most of the meals. Linda was born and raised in Castlegar, her dad had a business there for many years. We couldn’t believe it! How uncanny is that? Tom, born in Prince George, watched trains come & go as we did when we were kids. David, whose dad had a nursery, grafted roses when he was seventeen. when he told us he seemed to remember with some emotion.

Orv’s first room mate was Bob. With only 2% of his lung capacty left, he was waiting for palliative care. Last week, he passed away in the wee hours of the morning. His waiting is over. People have problems. One lady had a melt down when they put her in a wheelchair with an alarm. she had bruised her face in the last fall she had. I saw kindness in action when the nurse was crouching in front of her speaking softly. Most of the nurses are friendly. One in particular, Sandra, always comes and talks to us.

I was not too helpful for Luba when I wouldn’t let her get on the elevator. I was trying to get off the elevator, on the fourth floor and she tried to push past me, in her wheelchair. I blocked her and said, “You ae not sllowed to go on the elevator by yourself.” She started flailing her arms, hitting at me, and saying, “My invisible husband is with me.” I said, “You can’t take your invisible husband on the elevator.” The nurse came and got her and I went and got Orv to go down for supper.

When we got downstairs, I saw the front, glass door was open to let a couple in, and Luba was going out the door in her wheelchair. I quickly ran and grabbed her before she got out the second door. The first door is coded but not the second one. Again she said her invisible husband was there. I told the nurses there and alerted the security guard. On her second try the security guard got the nurse to take her back to the floor.

The autumn leaves are not so crunchy today, because the rain has made them wet! Tomorrow I will walk again and I’ll go to Horton’s before going back to the Yale Road Centre, fourth floor. Orv’s second room mate was here for a few days and is already going to another place. We wish it was Orv going to a more permanent place but our time will come. In the meantime, we are there for a purpose. I hope we can make a difference, espcially for the people on the fourth floor. Who knows what people will cross our path in the days ahead. Could be interesting!




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