“He doesn’t feel pain; he’s a vegetable,” the doctor said. However, those who worked with this resident could argue the facts… if they wanted to.
The resident, I will call Harry, had his whole life ahead of him – until a motorcycle accident rendered him crippled; he was now totally dependent on others for his daily needs. He still had his whole life ahead of him, except now he was confined to a geri-chair and hospital bed.
Harry came to our nursing home from another facility. Upon examining him, the nurses quickly noted that his legs and hips had bedsores so big that a person could place their hand inside and touch a bone. His arms and elbows had smaller sores but just as deep. He had Merca, along with other complications; due to lack of proper care; and his daily supplement supply came from a feeding tube in his stomach. His head was tilted at an angle that made his only view of the world – the ceiling. Nevertheless, it seemed unimportant, where he looked — due to the fact that his eyes showed no signs of intelligence or acknowledgment.
All the Certified Nursing Assistances, and Nurses had to wear protective gowns, gloves and masks while attending to his needs. We all felt sorry for Harry; no visitors came, or called to check on him. It was as if his family and friends had forgotten that Harry was still very much alive.
Those who took care of him knew that he could feel pain; for he would flinch while his bedsores were cleaned and redressed. We would try to comfort him with soft voices, explaining what we had to do, and apologized if it caused him discomfort.
With a lot of patience’s and consistency, Harry’s sores were healing and his physical health improved. After his daily bath, He was placed in front of the nurses desk for a change of scenery, even if it was only the ceiling.
Harry lived at the nursing home for many years.
I remember the day he passed away, as if it was only yesterday. All nurses and available certified nursing assistants were called to his room. Everyone was busy taking his vitals and propping him up higher. I jumped in to help, and was told, “He is dying.”
I looked into Harry’s eyes and saw something I had never seen before. The vacancy was gone, and in its place; bright, alert, blue eyes filled with terrifying fear. I couldn’t take my attention away from his eyes. If just for a moment Harry knew what was happening, and it scared him, it scared him a lot, then he was gone.