A Kiss Is Worth a Thousand Germs, But Two Kisses...

So...I am on my way to the nursing home yesterday when my cell rings. "You have a crisis at Nursing Home #1. A suicidal/homocidal patient." Then they add their normal spiel..."He will be a regular referral and is in room blah,blah,blah. Have a nice day!"

This means I can see him more than once a month, which if you're doing therapy is totally the only way to go...if you want to see someone get better that is. I mean, what can you do for a suicidal guy you see only once a month? I'm thinking magic wand for those type cases because talking about the problem in 20-30 mins. just doesn't cut it!

But when I reach my first stop, the social worker greets me with, "You don't want to stay here too long. We're infested with the Norovirus." Great. I'm one of those people you say, "One time, when I was three, I got carsick," and I'm already heading for the commode. It must be a narrow form of hypocondriasis limited only to stomach viruses!

"But," she says, cocking her head to one side and frowning, "I don't think it's hit that hallway yet, so if you move fast and don't breathe on your way, you might be okay...and he is suicidal...or else he's just attention seeking because both his kids are out of town..."

So, off I go.

I do not consider it a good sign when I walk through the swinging double doors onto the hall and half the staff are wearing surgical masks.

My little fella comes tottering out of his rest room, gasping for air, his hospital gown open in the back to reveal a flat butt in saggy tidy yellows (no way were these ever tidy whities.) His gray hair is standing up in tufts, his skin is as gray as his hair and the aide quickly hooks him back up to his oxygen. She is wearing latex gloves.

He sees me, smiles or grimaces, I prefer to see it as a smile, and beckons me in. The aide walks past on her way out and says, "Oh, he's got diarrea now."

Uh-oh. But it's too late. He's looking up at me expectantly and it's time to get underway.

Turns out he doesn't think he's suicidal or homocidal. It's more like he's having "bad thoughts" he can't control. Furthermore, he's fairly certain God is punishing him for something because why else would his kids be gone? And why else would something real bad be wrong with him, something so bad people have to wear masks and gloves around him and won't tell him what's wrong?!

So I tell him his kids just went on vacation and he has a virus and that the staff is wearing gloves and masks to keep from getting or spreading the virus.

"Eh?" he says. "What was that?"

This is when I learn how hard of hearing he is.

So, I wind up broadcasting the virus news to the bottom half of the hallway.

And when I finish he says, "I just wish they'd tell me what's wrong with me. Why did God take my kids?"

This is when I realize he has no short term memory.

So I say, "How about them Yankees?" Because there is Yankee stuff everywhere. He can remember the Yankees, so I try tying the virus information and the kid whereabouts to the Yankees. After 20 minutes he remembers the kid stuff but still wants to know what's wrong with him and who the Yankees got in their trade for some pitching staff.

But when I leave he stretches out his hand, clasps mine and brings it to his lips, kissing me goodbye.


Halfway down the hallway, on my way out, I run into Lazarus. He doesn't look so wild today. In fact, he is dressed and sitting in his wheelchair and looks for all the world like a 7 year old boy waiting for school pictures.

The smile he gives me is like spring returning after a long winter's cold snap. Then he takes my hand and he kisses it!

That's when I notice the kidney-shaped throw-up pan on his lap. But it's too late to stop the kiss. Lazarus has a grip like iron and eyes that beg for love. I stoke his hair, smile and say a few words before making a beeline for the antibacterial hand sanitizer.

I practically shower in the stuff. I clean everything I have with me. Then I turn to the social worker who's waiting expectantly for my report.

"Well," I say. "There's good news and there's bad news. First of all, Norbert isn't suicidal or homicidal- just anxious and lonely."

"So what's the bad news?" she asks.

"The Mudwing Hall has Norovirus."

She sighs. "I was afraid of that," she says.

You were?! Really?! What was I, your science experiment?!

Stay tuned for a further report on the incubation period for Norovirus...


Heather said...

Oh Nancy, you definitely have my sympathies if you come down with that nasty virus. I managed to pick it up from my little nephew in November after he spent five hours in the hospital waiting room trying to get a cut stitched up. And I know you might not want to hear that but I don't think I've EVER been that sick before.

On the positive side, you know pretty quickly if you have it and it disappears as quickly as it arrives. I'll be sending you some good, clean, non-sickness vibes!

Da Nator said...

Great, I'm just getting over a stomach bug, and now I'm sorry I read this post. I'm going to slather my monitor with antibacterial ointment!

Hope you stay well...

Anonymous said...

This is probably not the best post to mention this on, but I've been intrigued by your Snow Stew recipe since I read it and I finally got all the ingredients together and made it tonight. Delicious!!! I used Morningstar Farms Crumbles in place of ground beef and it was scrumptious. I won't be waiting for snow to make it again.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple problems with the statements made in this blog:

"I'm going to slather my monitor with antibacterial ointment"


"making a beeline for the antibacterial hand sanitizer"

Norovirus is a VIRUS and your antibacterial ointment / hand sanitizers are for BACTERIA so it will do nothing to stop the spread of Norovirus.

That was the bad news now for the good. IF you used the antibacterial products as directed in the tiny print on the back you should be free of the few bacteria these products kill.

Amy Kotula