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LJI: The Blue Hour

Sundowning.  That's the technical term.  It's also known as "late day confusion."

Or, if you work in the trenches, it is known as "Why the FUCK do they have to lose it right before shift change?"

Not a fair assessment, but when the light starts shifting through the blinds on the windows that will open no more than four inches, you can feel it all shifting.  With the light, comes movement.

People normally still, watching television or working puzzle books or just staring, staring begin to walk.  Ranging up and down the halls.  Halting.  Lurching.  Or sped by walkers or wheelchairs or a hamster wheel in the brain that makes the loops faster and faster.

"Where's the door?  I know there's a door to get out here.  Can you tell me where it went?"

"You can't keep me here!  Don't you know who I am, bitch!?!?"

"My momma's coming to get me.  I gotta go to the bus stop."

"I never did nothin' wrong.  Why did you put me in jail?"

"My son is waiting for me.  He's in school and if it gets dark he'll be so scared."

You deflect.  You try to distract.  You thank your personal gods when the snack cart arrives, because at least there is something else to focus on.

Except there is the focus.  Not yours, but...

"She has three more cherries in her fruit cocktail!  Who is that cunt fucking?"

"I remember oranges.  I must have been a good girl today."

You run to clean up the dish flung against the wall before someone tries to eat the shards.

You look at the clock.  And again.  Is it walking slowly backward?

No.  The light continues to change, to shift.  The darkening of the light brings on the despair, the feral, the creatures of the night and the ones terrified what lives under their beds.

For a medical facility, there is a dearth of tissues.  Napkins hoarded from the kitchen suffice for teary eyes, runny noses.

You learn that despair turns on a dime, and dentures will actually break skin.

You learn to lie. "No.  I'm sure they're coming to see you soon."

"It's all going to be okay."

You lie and you lie and you try to breathe and you look at the light.  It gets darker.  It gets noisier.

It gets darker.  It gets in your brain until you are ready to put on the gown and let it swallow you whole.

Late, shambling and hungover, excuses dripping from lips comes your relief.

And you run for that door.  Hoping that the code is still the same, and today is not the day the numbers have been changed.

Today is not the day you can't get out.

Today is not the day you spend the rest of your minutes looking through slatted windows, eyes fixed on that inevitable shade of blue.

Today is not that day.  But even outdoors, the sky is the same.

Waiting.  Taunting.

It's just a matter of time.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2017 11:59 pm (UTC)
Man! You do some of the toughest work that exists. I know this from what I've seen my MIL and his aunt go through. Their care was / is exceptional, considering what little some of the staff has to work with in the way of support and supplies.
G-D / Universe / Spirit / The Force, etc. bless you for all you do!
Mar. 9th, 2017 06:15 pm (UTC)
My grandma had Alzheimer's. I don't know how you manage day after day.

Mar. 10th, 2017 03:12 pm (UTC)
This was so very well written! It must take an incredible amount of patience and compassion to do your job, to be faced with the situation that is such a fear as people age and can no longer take care of themselves.
Mar. 11th, 2017 03:37 pm (UTC)
This is so powerful and you brought an individuality to the ending that works perfectly with the universality of the piece. You've got a great way of taking existential horror and fear and breaking it down into human-shaped pieces.
Mar. 13th, 2017 06:42 pm (UTC)
That really sounds like a nightmare, having so much of the ward transition through that every night. It would be hard enough with just a single person going through it, where you know the restlessness, anger, despair, and fear will cycle through almost every day. But person after person, creating havoc and falling into misery... it would be exhausting and heartbreaking, especially because you know how hard it is on them, and there's nothing you can do to make it stop. :(
Mar. 14th, 2017 02:43 am (UTC)
I love your use of description in describing the conditions at the facility in which you work. This is beautifully written.
Mar. 14th, 2017 02:14 pm (UTC)
The dialogues are neat. Well done! And Kudos for going through this each day. *Hugs*
Mar. 14th, 2017 08:56 pm (UTC)
This really brings it home, the elements of aging and mental health that sometimes accompany it. Well done.
Mar. 14th, 2017 09:59 pm (UTC)
My mom had dementia may she RIP. When she was still speaking, he wasn't as bad as some of the people in the nursing home - I'll never forget the woman who sat like a frog, or the woman who was breast feeding a baby doll but my heart broke for them. People tell me I have patience for being a special ed teacher but I could never work in a dementia ward - that takes such patience, compassion, and love and it's so heartbreaking. I have a lot of respect for you and what you do - thank you for doing what you do so that people like my mother have love and compassion in their time of need.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )