At a case conference regarding Dolores’ care, the nurses bemoaned the fact that Pamela seems disinterested, because whenever a clinician enters their home, Dolores’ daughter enters her bedroom and closes the door behind. Meanwhile, I wondered aloud if (perhaps) Pamela might be tired from providing care for her terminally-ill mother 24 hours per day. Maybe those 30 minutes are a brief moment of respite for her. Alternately, maybe she is trying to give her mother privacy, something that she has lacked since moving into Pamela’s home.
. . . .
Three weeks later, when I arrived in the home to provide physical therapy, Pamela left almost immediately (she said that she needed to step out and would return 15 or 20 minutes). I am sure that the nurses would have had something inappropriate to say under the circumstances, however, I just said, “Okay.”
Thirty-five minutes later, Pamela returned to find (for the first time since moving in with her) that her mother had successfully walked down a flight of stairs and an additional one hundred feet outdoors to sit on a park bench on a warm, sunny fall afternoon. She was enjoying the fresh air and had a paperback novel at her side.
When Pamela came out to join us, she wept uncontrollably, happy that her mother had an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful day. Dolores on the other hand, remained almost stoic, but a small grin peaked through.
After a few short minutes discussing the foliage and unseasonably warm temperature, Pamela looked at Dolores, kissed her on the cheek and said, “Alright Mom, I’m going to give you your space. Enjoy this beautiful day and call me when you want to come back in.”
Maybe if a nurse had been there that day, they may have learned not to be so quick to judge.