Holding Hands

IMG_5360 Recently changed healthcare providers. When I visit one of their facilities it’s all new to me so I enjoy learning about the mechanics by watching other, more seasoned patients.

Last week I had a follow-up visit with my physician to discuss recent labs.

Walking from the parking lot to the building I watched a couple coming from the opposite direction. The elderly man used a cane, moved cautiously, guided by a 30 something young woman. They paused a second so he could adjust his balance, then carefully continued the journey.

I noted we’d reach the front door at the same time, but they took a different set of doors. We met at the elevator. I stepped aside so they’d enter the ‘vator before me. Others inside held the mechanical door for us so we’d all have time to get in.

“Thank you,” she apologized, “we’re late for our appointment.” Everyone smiled understanding how that goes. We’ve all been late to a doctor’s appointment from time to time. Not the most pleasurable of meetings when you might be prodded, poked, punctured or given bad news.

We exited on the same floor. I followed them to the check-in line. Slowly she guided him to a seat while she announced his arrival. Directed to the appropriate waiting room, she sat him close to his doctor’s door.

A few minutes later I joined them, and a couple of other patients, in the same room. Several doctors share a common waiting area.

“I’m going downstairs to drop off your refill.” She held up the bottle to show him the medication she was requesting. “Be right back, Dad.” He barely acknowledged her comment.

I pulled out my cellphone to send a text to my daughter.

A door opened.

“Mr. Pride,” the nurse called.

Out of the corner of my eye, I detected swift movement of the elderly man standing up and hurrying to the nurse’s call.

“Good morning, Mr. Pride,” she greeted him. “Nice to see you.” The door closed behind them.

The difference in his demeanor totally tickled me. Without his daughter’s hovering he seemed well able to navigate on his own, at least for a few minutes. Go, Dad!

Minutes later the daughter returned, talking with someone on the cellphone.

“I just dropped off his refill at the pharmacy. Came back and he’s gone.” She knocked on the his doctor’s door. Someone opened the door and she, too, disappeared into the cavernous office. “My dad’s here . . . ” Her voice trailed off as the door closed behind her.

I doubt Mr. Pride could have driven himself to the doctor’s appointment or made his way to the office comfortably. We all need help from time to time. Having his daughter’s assistance must have been comforting, and knowing he was late for his appointment must have encouraged him to move faster once called.

Care-taking is a delicate balance of mutual support whether you’re the caregiver or the recipient.

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