Nude Man Walking
"It's a full moon," says Kim. "That's why."
It's 11:30 pm, but the Reminiscence Neighborhood is restless.
Julie has been yelling: "Help me! Will anybody come to help me? Anyone at all?"
Kim has gone to her room to calm her down and get her back in bed. She leaves the door wide open to hear when Julie calls again.
I have come to talk with the night shift caregivers, Rose and Kim, because I heard today that my mother was agitated on Tuesday night. I want to hear the full story and assure Rose and Kim that I appreciate their work with her and the other 27 residents on the third floor.
It's Thursday night, nearly Friday. The calendar shows Saturday as the full moon.
Marnie, the lead caregiver of the previous shift, is still here waiting for her husband to pick her up. She is finishing her entries of notable events and health issues on the 2-10 pm shift.
Rose is entertaining me with her story of my mother on Tuesday night at 2 am, when Mom was demanding that she be allowed to get up and be wheeled into the kitchen-dining area.
"People are waiting for me out there," she had insisted. "They are hungry. I need to go feed them." For persons with Lewy Body Dementia, dreams are real. Waking up means carrying on with the activity of the dream.
"They are already fed," Rose had argued. "Would you like a sip of orange juice?"
But Mom was persistent. At last Rose and Ade had helped her out of bed into her wheelchair and taken her to the kitchen.
"Nobody here," Rose had announced on arriving.
"It's dark," Mom had commented with surprise.
"Everybody's asleep," Rose confirmed. But instead of wheeling Mom back to her bedroom, Rose had parked her in front of the television until finally she grew tired of sitting there.
"I want to go back to bed," she had announced.
"Are you sure? You don't want to stay with us?" Rose had asked, cleverly.
But Mom had given up and was ready to go back to bed, if not to sleep. Eventually she went to sleep.
Meanwhile, in the present, Julie yells again. Kim and Rose don't respond at first; after all, they have a guest who is appreciative of their stories.
But all of a sudden Kim takes off down the hall toward Julie's room like a firefighter after an alarm. Apparently she has glanced down the hall and seen a problem.
I turn and look in that direction.
Dr. Lewis, buck naked, is pushing his wheelchair back out of Julie's room, escorted by Kim. [Note: He is a retired physician and member of the Reminiscence Neighborhood, usually addressed as "Dr. Lewis" by the caregivers. I have never seen a practicing doctor visit Ocean View, except for a psychiatrist.]
"Get out of my room!" Julie is yelling. "Get the hell out of here!"
"I just double-diapered him and got his pajamas on him again, fifteen minutes ago," Kim reports. "But here he is."
She disappears to reapply the diapers and pajamas.
"Full moon," comments Rose. She continues to tell me what my mother had told her two nights ago.
"This is Civil War--between whites and blacks," Mom had said. She is white; Rose and Kim are African-American.
"Do you have any issue with blacks?" Rose had asked.
"No, you've been kind," Mom had said. "I love everybody."
Kim returns. All is quiet.
Then within ten minutes Dr. Lewis returns, pushing his wheelchair toward us in the dining area, clad only in his pajama top.
Kim gets up again, wearily, once again to take him back to his room, double-diaper him, and dress him.
I decide to go home and go to bed myself, thanking Rose and Kim.
They have their hands full, and I am a distraction.
I have learned, however, that Mom is not their greatest problem.