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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Looking for My Lady

YOUR CHALLENGE is to write max 500 word piece or a poem about any character who loses an item that when found by another results in their mutual happiness/relief/salvation.
...And here is my entry:

“Where’s my lady?” 

“What do you mean, Elaine? What lady?” 

“My lady! You know.” 

Elaine showed her frustration as the nurse tried to help her. 

Elaine was one of the new residents in the nursing home.  She had suffered a stroke.  Communicating with her was very difficult at times. Typical of a person with expressive aphasia, she couldn’t come up with the right words, even though she knew what she wanted to say in her mind. 

“We need your help,”  the nurse said as she came into my office.  “We can’t figure out what Elaine wants, and we are afraid she is going to get agitated.” 

We rushed to her room.  
“Where’s my lady?” she insisted.  

Elaine had no family.  A friend was her caregiver. 

“Are you looking for your friend, Pam?” 

“No. No. ‘My lady’.” 

I wondered if she was referring to a loved one’s picture. I searched through her dresser drawers, finding a picture of Pam. 

“Is this ‘your lady’”? 

“No. No.”  Elaine seemed even more frustrated.  

Is she looking for a doll, a stuffed animal perhaps? I pondered. 
“No. No,” she repeated, as I showed her a teddy bear I found on top of her cabinet.

I was growing frustrated myself. This was becoming my most challenging communication task. With an Alzheimer’s resident, I could have easily changed the subject, and he/she would have forgotten all about ”my lady,” or whatever he/she was looking for.  But this case was different. Elaine wouldn’t easily forget what she was looking for.  

Our unsuccessful search for “my lady” went for almost an hour.  Fortunately it was time for lunch.  

“Elaine, it’s time for lunch. I will help you to continue looking for “your lady” after you finish lunch. Is that alright?” 

Eventually, she agreed. I decided to continue my ‘Sherlock Holmes’ search for clues, although deduction doesn’t help much when trying to decode what a person with dementia is really trying to ask for or say.  

I called Elaine’s friend, Pam. I told her what was going on. After a long discussion over the phone, Pam wasn’t much help either. 

I returned to Elaine’s room.  I was positive that Elaine was not looking for a person. She wasn’t asking about a pet either.  Pam had said she didn’t have one. 
I looked throughout her room again.  

The closet!  I had forgotten to look into her closet. What if she was referring to a piece of clothing, or a pair of shoes? I wondered.  

When Elaine was back to her room, I started showing her item after item of things I found in her closet.  It was becoming exhausting as Elaine’s wardrobe was quite large. On the very top shelf of her closet, I spied a black and white handbag. I grabbed it and showed it to Elaine. 

“Yes, ‘my lady’!”  she exclaimed, with a gleeful expression and a big smile.  

I smiled too.  And sighed. 

I left Elaine’s room, hoping that my lunch was still warm.


Jane said...

Nice story. Love the ending. I've worked with many aphasia patients and as you indicate here, the words often extend well beyond the literal meaning.


Arlee Bird said...

I like how you took a real event in your life and made it not only relevant to the blogfest, but also relevant to the real difficulties with working with those in your charge. How frustrating it must be for all parties involved, and what a relief when you solved the mystery.

A story well told.


Tossing It Out

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I agree with Lee - cool that you used something from real life. And glad this story had a happy ending.

Ann Best said...

A delightful story, Doris. I enjoy ALL of the "stories" about the wonderful and special people in your life!! And I hope you've had a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

Stopping by from the Cinderella's Shoe list. I'm such a psych student lol, I love these sorts of stories =)

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Doris,

That was a great story with a very happy ending for a 'found' lost and cherished item!
You told it so well and quite appropriate for this Cinderella's Shoe Blogfest.

Have a great week and I'm sending you (still) sunshine your way from Georgia,


Karin said...

So glad that you 'found' what the resident had 'lost', yet it was there all the time. Losing one's speech has to be terribly frustrating. Very well told! Enjoyed it very much.

Amrita said...

This touces my hear Doris.

I admire your patience and kindness in helping Elaine and trying so hard to understand her.

This is love in action.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

"MY LADY" - a purse. It actually makes sense when you think about it.

Now, the day some male patient suffering from dementia asks for "my man", you'll know to immediately look for his wallet.

Good story, Doris!

~ D-FensDogg

MTJ said...

Hi Doris,

I have much admiration for your spiritual gift. The kindness, patience, gentleness and love you demonstrate to those who need it, is like a spiritual prescription. God uses you in an incredibly, remarkable way.

Blessings and peace.


Anonymous said...

I also love the way that you relate to the patients that you work with with such tenderness, patience and compassion. It is evident that it is so much more than just a job to you. Your gentle spirit shines through all of your writing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

Bless, that was really lovely. Beautifully heartwarming and I enjoyed the pace and the writing. Thanks for joining in my blogfest :O)

Unknown said...

Yes, that is a wonderful story, hope you post it to a magazine, maybe say how you found out why she referred to the handbag in this way as a short addition? Carole.

Joanna St. James said...

If just your blog makes me smile this much, I wonder how happy your patients are to see you even if they cannot express it everytime.

Heather M. Gardner said...

What a nice story with a sweet ending. Thanks for posting it.

Claus said...

Why did she call her "my lady", I wonder. We all come to name our things often, and it is only us- or a few close to us - that understand what we are talking about. Bless your heart for not giving up and helping Elaine.

Thank you for stopping by at my blog!! I actually know Susan at writingstraightfromtheheart!! What a nice coincidence, don't you think?

que tengas un lindo día!!

MTeacress said...

I don't really do blogfests, but it's fun to see everyone else get into them. Way to go!

Diane said...

Beautiful story. So glad she found it! :O)

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I just adored your lovely story sweetie. I just wanted to thank your for poppin' over with your sweet comment the other day. Please, drop by often. The door of the Ponderosa is always open.

God bless ya'll from the beautiful hills and hollers of the Missouri Ozarks!!!

Anonymous said...

LOL! This was so cute! :D

Teresa said...

Your writing is exquisite and intriguing! Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your encouraging words. You are lovely!
~ Teresa

Michele said...

really nice. :)

Maria said...

Hi! Thank you for stopping by my blog and saying HI!
What a creative space this is. I enjoyed your story very much; it has a great ending. You kept me guessing throughout as to who / what "My Lady" was!
Thanks again for stopping by! I'll have to stop again and see what you're writing next!

Libby said...

nice story with a happy ending!

David Edward said...

a sweet sister in India sent me over today. I am so glad she did

Just Be Real said...

Nice story Doris. I want to thank you so much for your support and prayers and hugs dear one.

Ann said...

Lovely story Doris. Her handbag but of course. Delighted you finally solved the mystery.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love your stories. You have created such a nice ministry here sharing with others about the kind way our elderly are treated by people like you:))

Nicole said...

Very cute story. You had me going for a while there.

NENSA MOON said...

Hahaha... what a lovely story, Doris!
I even laughing when read the end of this story...
So... 'my lady' is her black and white hand bag...

I bet you could get lunch happily after this, even though your lunch was not warm anymore...hehe..

all the best,

Talei said...

Lovely story, am glad she was reunited with her lady at the end. ;)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

It's a very lovely story with a great ending. I felt better inside for having read it.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Nicely written. It takes great patience to work with disabled people. I admire your mc and the way to told your story.


Unknown said...

What a challenge it must be to try and decipher what aphasia patients are trying to say... But well done for figuring it out!

Crown of Beauty said...

Who would have thought that a small bag would ever be someone else's "lady."

Thank you for another heartwarming post, Doris.

Your kindness, your patience, your understanding of your patients...these encourage me to always be a channel of blessing in the life of another!

I'm so glad I dropped by your blog today.


Unknown said...

Lately I've been thinking about aphasia. Words gets lost, sometimes, and we end up grabbing another--often something at least a little bit associated with the word we seek. Only ladies carry a purse. I did not that the bag in the illustration had a toile pattern with lots of little people worked in...

Padraic Murray said...

Lovely story Doris. Heartwarming! no doubt warmer than your lunch!
I will carry this little tale with me. Regards. P.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Hey sweetie, I just popped in to see how ya were doin' and say howdy!

God bless your day sweeite!!!

guímel said...