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LJI: The Trolley Problem

They are hurtling towards certain death.

They know it.

You can see it in the blank eyes, or the ones full of fear.  Or the ones, rheumy and unfocused, looking to some point just past the present, or just in the past.

They see the Big Sleep.  They see the feather soft wings of an imaginary savior warm around them.  They see nothing. Some see the worst, and those are the ones who wake screaming at invisible demons in the dark.

They hurtle onward.

Onward through the screech of metal on metal.  On broken wheelchairs and faulty walkers.  On the blood and shit and piss on the tracks.  On the screams of the demented and lost; on the soft, monotonous whistling that is the only thing that will soothe.

They know.

They hear it in the voices pitched just a little too high, ringing a little too cheerful...yet hollow at the same time.  They hear it in discussions of DNRs and "no heroic measures" and "just call the priest" right in front of them, like they ARE the geri-chair they're trapped in 8 hours a day.

They taste it in the cloying sweetness of goopy milkshakes meant to hide the taste of ground up pills.  In the monotonous day after day of the same meal, mixed together by uncaring hands and shoveled in, because "they're on mechanical soft and can't taste it anyway."

They hurtle onward, picking up speed, but no one can scream.  Except the ones who can, and that does no good.

They see it in the endless parade of loved ones.  The ones who look at their watches and wonder "have I been here long enough?"  The ones who bring new wives, new husbands, new lovers along on visits, trying to pass them off as unknown relatives.  The ones who cry, then curse them for not getting better.

(The ones who just want Mommy back.  The ones who wish Daddy would just die already)

"It's okay.  She won't remember.  She's not there anymore."

"He can't hear you.  Don't bother."

They hurtle onward, all on separate journeys with the same endpoint.

I have no doubt that if one, just one, could reach the lever, it would be a different story.  The end would come just the same, but there would be a moment of triumph.  One final moment of control.

Some days I just want to step out on the tracks and save them the trouble.

(Dedicated to my residents.  i can't save you, but I would if I could)

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
wolfden
Feb. 21st, 2017 09:44 pm (UTC)
I'll be honest. I hate going to see my mom. In the ways that life is ironic, she only recognizes me if I go with Chris. We don't go as much as I feel like we should. It never seems like enough. They put her on hospice in November. But I suspect they are going to bounce her after her 6 months are up. Because she is doing well. She had a fall and a hip fracture in October and I think that led to the sudden decline.

I love how much you care for your residents. I wish everyone did the same. We chose the facility we did because of the staff.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 22nd, 2017 12:18 am (UTC)
When I went to visit my grandparents that last time, I left them a good 20 minutes before my ride was supposed to come. But I couldn't take it and ran. That will haunt me the rest of my life. I think a lot of us carry that or similar guilt.

I am sorry you are going through this. If you need someone to talk to, I'm here.
roina_arwen
Feb. 21st, 2017 10:48 pm (UTC)
Wow. This is potent stuff. *hugs*
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 22nd, 2017 12:18 am (UTC)
Thank you.
millysdaughter
Feb. 21st, 2017 11:04 pm (UTC)
I want MY mommy back
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 22nd, 2017 12:19 am (UTC)
I understand. Oh, do I understand. *hugs*
theenginesshot
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:08 am (UTC)

My god. You know how much my grandma meant to me. She stopped eating the night before she died. I tried to spent the night with my mom no matter how much she insisted I go home.

That next day my phone was on silent Bc Liam was napping. I noticed a missed call, didn't think anything of it and took a nap with Liam.

My phone rang,it was my mom. I'll never forget when she asked for Rob and he handed the phone back to me she told me she'd passed and I lost it.

Everyone was with her. Except me. I should have been holding her hand telling her I loved her and it was ok to go now.

But I wasn't.

It haunts me every single day.

mac_arthur_park
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:32 pm (UTC)
When I went to visit my grandparents for what would be the last time (they were in Ohio. I live in NC), that last day of my trip I left ten minutes before my ride/host was supposed to pick me up. I couldn't take it.

I sat on the porch of the nursing home and cried and wrote in my journal.

She would have waited for me, no matter how long I took. But I didn't. That haunts me. So I get what you're saying. *hugs*
opakele
Feb. 22nd, 2017 02:02 am (UTC)
Ain't this the truth?

I see my mom every other day. I know all the residents...and those we have lost.

Thank you for caring. It is hard to care, but thank you.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 22nd, 2017 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for going to see your mom. It breaks my heart the number of residents who have no one come to see them. Some of the residents' loved ones make a point of talking to everyone, which I love...but it is not the same.
promiseoftin
Feb. 22nd, 2017 08:52 pm (UTC)
This was so sweet! You are in the business of angels.
rayaso
Feb. 23rd, 2017 07:15 pm (UTC)
This was great, with a wonderful trope! It was brutally honest, and paints a horrid picture of "existence" in a care facility, hoping to die. No wonder people are so terrified of these places. I am glad there are people like you who care, but I'm sure it comes at a price.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:09 pm (UTC)
It does. But in some weird way, I am glad I get to do it.
lachan
Feb. 23rd, 2017 08:29 pm (UTC)
great writing, and describing the hopelessness of the situation just too well.
You forgot those who come to visit their loved ones every day, trying to make it easier for them to bear the situation, in vain, of course, and who are despairing over having no hope of any recovery of their loved ones or just even get better.... putting their own life on hold for as long as it takes for their Mom or Dad to find final peace..... even if it takes years.
I had been one of those.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 23rd, 2017 11:58 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely right. Thank you for being one of those.
mamas_minion
Feb. 23rd, 2017 10:04 pm (UTC)
I used to work in a home for the elderly and it was very difficult seeing some of the suffering.
my_name_is_jenn
Feb. 24th, 2017 12:00 am (UTC)
This was so beautifully written. It's horrible how so many of the staff at so many of these places are only there for a paycheck and don't actually care about their patients. I'm glad you're not one of them.
eternal_ot
Feb. 24th, 2017 08:01 am (UTC)
This is very evocative.*Hugs*I seriously have no words to describe how I am feeling.
ryl
Feb. 24th, 2017 01:48 pm (UTC)
This is wonderfully written and entirely too true. It's something I've seen this all too often with my relatives near the end. Life is just too cruel sometimes.
bleodswean
Feb. 24th, 2017 08:37 pm (UTC)
This is something we need to begin to address more honestly than we have been or than most are willing to. I applaud this entry. You captured so many different emotions and all of them so real.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I grew up with death. I remember being 3 or 4 when my great-grandma K received Last Rites in our home. My Granma and great-grandma Ethridge were home care nurses, and I used to tag along when they would let me.

For some stupid reason, it didn't occur to me until recently that this is what I am supposed to do. Not just perform the service, but to talk about it. To write it. To make people see the reality behind that Hallmark bullshit we want to believe about death and dying.
bleodswean
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:35 pm (UTC)
I absolutely agree and have begun dedicating my life to the same.

I wish you the best on this deep journey and responsibility.
halfshellvenus
Feb. 25th, 2017 08:44 pm (UTC)
I didn't know you worked in this field. You made great use of it here, for all of those people who are lost, wordless, or no longer being listened to and can't do a darned thing about it.

Thank you for loving them against the reality of their day-to-day and against the clock with the unknown countdown. Many people would not be compassionate or brave enough to do so.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:19 pm (UTC)
It's a very recent change. I lost my job at McAlister's right before Thanksgiving (they told us the store was closing for good on a Wednesday and it shut its doors on Sunday. Nice, huh?). In a scramble for work, I found a PCA job where Kent works and...my life has completely changed.
dee_aar2
Feb. 26th, 2017 06:57 am (UTC)
You have written this so well. Particularly touching for me at this moment as my father in law has been in this exact state for the last two months. He does not respond to our calls, we do not know if he is there, we would like to believe he is. So we put music , talk to him , explain his condition, tell him its ok when he winces with pain at the hands of the physiotherapist , support him when we change his bed position so he does not develop sores.

At the end of every day no matter how optimistic we appear to be .... we break down at the end. And then tomorrow is another day. Qe Question why ... and receive no answers.

For that I loved your entry and for so much more.
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
I think there is always a small part that is always there. You have to hold on to that. I did with my Granma, which is why I think this field found me.

Sending strength to you and yours. I know how hard this is.
murielle
Feb. 26th, 2017 03:47 pm (UTC)
Very painful for me right now. Two of my best friends are...one, G, went into care five days ago. Last night he told me he wanted to die. The other, M, had a stroke a little over a week ago, she will be going into care because of night delirium. The Wednesday before the eleventh, G and I went to my aunt and uncle's for lunch. He drove. He did all his own shopping and cooking. Wheeling and dealing refurbishing stereo systems and selling them. He fell, didn't break anything, but he wasn't able to get up, and his daughter swooped in, took his car, is putting his house up for sale, and put him in an assisted living facility. This man was as sharp as a tack. She doesn't even live in this country. Sorry. I'm just gutted. My friend M had me over for lunch two days before her stroke. I think I'm still in shock. These are friends I was in touch with almost every day.

Sorry. Sorry.

Great take on the prompt! You really touched me.

Edited at 2017-02-26 03:50 pm (UTC)
mac_arthur_park
Feb. 28th, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, please don't apologize. Thank you for telling me your story. I hope there is some meaure of peace coming for you all.
murielle
Mar. 1st, 2017 01:12 am (UTC)
Thank you. (Smile)
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )