Purple Bear for Don

Walking into ICU Tuesday I patiently waited for the 2 o’clock visitation. I love watching people and so with my 10 minutes to spare I listened to conversations of other visitors and tried to piece their tragedies together from their words as to “why”… they were in the same waiting area as myself.

I assume they were at best family. Some looked worn as they ate out of boxes. Others seemed refreshed like they managed to slip away and grab some sleep along with a change of clothes.

I couldn’t help but think that all these people that surround me “know” what is wrong with whoever it is they are there to see. Me, Missy…they tell us nothing. We aren’t family. Frustrating.

Tuesday I was there to see Don alone. He had been in ICU about a week. The nursing home told Missy that he “crashed.” “Crashed?” I asked her. What is “Crashed?” Again just being allowed to be told simple basics, he was found unresponsive. Again I thought to myself “how could you tell?” He had been basically unresponsive for months…must be bad.

At 2:05 I went to the big double doors and picked up the phone hanging on the wall, when the doors swung open. Hanging up quickly I darted inside just as the doors swung shut.

I turned to my right, walking quickly so not to look into anyones room. I hate ICU. Tubes, machines, beeps… All rooms are behind glass with big sliding glass doors that stay always open. Nobody ever is awake and if they are their eyes try to connect to yours if you happen to glance their way. I always feel bad knowing if our eyes meet I see disappointment cast over them because (I guess) I’m not someone they know. I walk fast.

I turned left and passed 2 rooms and as I neared Dons room I could see he wasn’t the person in the bed. I kept walking and ended back at the big doors. Without a break in my step I hit the button on the wall that opens the doors and I flew out towards the elevator thinking…”did he die?”

In a second to second panic I stopped in the lobby downstairs and asked the man at the desk if the hospital had a Donald Brassell? Holding my breath as he typed his name onto the computer he looked up at me… He’s in 813.

Feeling foolish and still a bit shaken I went back down the long hall to the elevator and pushed the button again for the 8th floor.

His oxygen is no longer on but tubes…tubes are everywhere. He’s asleep… I stayed maybe 5 minutes and went home.

The only thing I managed to get out of a nurse when he was in ICU were his kidneys aren’t functioning properly. The reason for the swelling in his arms and legs.

Again today when we went to visit Don in 813 Missy and I walked to his door and could tell he wasn’t any longer in the room. I was much more calmer this time with Missy by my side and we stopped at the nurses desk. Again holding my breath and waiting for an answer we asked where he was? 827 she says.

I shake my head as we walk away wishing we had the respect that “the family” would get. If they change rooms or if someones condition changes, family is notified. We receive no calls. We are not family.

I have known Don for 7 years. He has had no contact with his family for several years. They knew he lived under a transmission shop. That was about it!

We fed Don. We cried/laughed with Don. I washed his clothes and took him bags of cat food for his many stray cats. We are all very close to the man. We know what he likes, what he doesn’t like. I have sat for hours listening to his stories. I miss him not being under the transmission shop. But… we are not family.

Missy and I stood and looked at Don as he slept in 327. It’s a private room. I looked at Missy and asked her if she would mind if we sat for a while with him. She pulled out a chair, we sat down.

After maybe 10 minutes, I saw his eyes open and I jumped up and raced to the side of his bed. I picked up the purple bear Missy and I brought him. I explained that we wanted him to have it. He closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Tears began to fill my eyes. I know my buddy Don may not be there tomorrow. I took that soft bear and I rubbed it on his arm, face and neck. He lays in so much stillness that by all appearances the look seems cold and hard.

Don isn’t hard. He’s so soft, so gentle. I wanted him not to feel a needle poking into his skin. Or someone having to shift and turn him. I wanted him to feel something soft and nice…Did he feel the sweep across his skin of something clean? I hope so, I sure hope so…


One Response to “Purple Bear for Don”

  1. Jaye, isn’t there another Don who lived under the transmission shop, or is this the guy who had the cats (including the one I nearly brought home with me) and ended up living somewhere-with a woman friend maybe? Maybe I have the names mixed up in my head. My prayers are with him, as he goes through these trials, and for you and Missy (and everyone else who cares) as you watch him suffer. Blessings on you all.

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