Following surgery I became a ‘She’.
An incoherent blob floating out and into consciousness, just in time to hear someone discuss me like an old houseplant.
‘Does she need some water?’
‘Think she’ll come back to life?’
It was understandable in the hospital. Some days I’d try to blend in with the bedding so the doctors wouldn’t send me home. And I’d hear, ‘Is she eating’, ‘Is she awake’, ‘Should we up her pain pills?'
Decisions were being made for me, regardless of the fact that I was within hearing and speaking distance of everyone in the room. ‘Is she on solid foods?’ ‘Should she have a protein shake,' and ‘There is no way that she is going to eat that pineapple chicken. Ever.’
Now I’m at home, and until very recently my nurse/mother Violet was here taking care of me. With the absolute best intentions, she and Jim have looked after me. But even though I was walking and talking and showering – they still treated me like I wasn’t in the room.
‘Would she like some asparagus with her dinner?’
‘Good idea. They’re easy to eat, so she can eat them with her fingers.’
‘I can cut up food you know,’ I’d say .
Mom would turn to Jim, ‘No she can’t. She can barely cut up food at the best of times. I don’t think we should encourage her.'
So I’d shuffle out of the kitchen, and into the living room to my adopted headquarters on the couch where I’d perch in front of a stack of pillows. Sometimes I’d dine on the sofa, sometimes at the table, and often on the back deck. ‘She could use some fresh air.'
Then one night it was just mom and I. We were having a senior’s night – boiled vegetables and back-to-back episodes of the ‘Murdoch Mysteries’. Without Jim she had no choice but to talk to me directly. I must admit, she’s got the nurse /mother role down pat. She knows exactly what soothes me, and when it’s time to leave me alone. I was enjoying her company, as well as being involved in the conversation.
Then I sort of feel asleep, and mom got on the phone. I could hear her talking to our dear friends out in Cape Breton. ‘She’s dong great,’ She purred lovingly. As well as ‘ ‘She’s been such a trooper’, and ‘She’s finally got some colour. She was pretty pale there for a while.'
Then I could here some laughing. ‘Well you should see her walk!’ Giggling. ‘She shuffles along in her robe with her feet spread like a little duck.' More giggles. ‘Remember old Angus? Well, from the side she looks just like him.’ Pause for appreciative chuckles coming down the wire, ‘From the side she looks like a turtle - all skinny and hunched over. And she clasps her hands behind her back, just like he used to do.'
There was a bit more giggling while the Cape Bretonners got in their two cents. In my drowsy state I was only making out a few words.
‘She’. And, ‘skinny’.
All is forgiven. Please continue. Pretend I’m not even here.