Sunday, March 28, 2010


In the past I have professed my love for the oldies. People that is, geriatrics. I like to call them blue hairs, or "Geri's." They bring their own set of challenges for the medical world. Illness, thin skin, fraile bones, crazy vital signs, and with that comes a history. Not a medical history, but rather a history of amazing lives, service, and hard work. I love nothing more, than to take care of these patients in the back of my ambulance. Boy do they pack a punch... not physically, but verbally.  I'll never forget, a lot of the sayings, comments, complaints and swear words I gather from them.  Some would be astonished at the way they behaved in my care. Trust me, I do not judge them. They bring with them a legacy. I try to never forget that. Without them, where would our country, our communities be? My heart aches when I see them truly suffer. It is bitter sweet, when they pass on. I know they are relieved of any pain, and suffering, but what stories and that of their legacy is lost... Some of my favorite patients, were the meanest ones to me, and I giggled constantly under my breath at them! In fact, I'll share with you, a couple of my favorite "geri" quips...

we travel in six, four on an engine, two on an ambulance, this way we are always prepeared. This gentleman thout it was too many...."How many of you does it take to screw in the lightbulb??" to which my partner Brian answered, "Depends on the lighbulb..."

different call...Me, "How's your pain now sir?" his response... "It'd be fine if it weren't for these GOD-DAMMNED BUMPS!!" I apologized for the roads...

sweetest, little old lady looks at me, and says "will you wipe my crack?"

the common favorite, "I need my TEETH!" so I find the teeth...

"get my wallet!"  ma'am, I have it.. "no you don't, you don't know where it is!" ma'am, I have it, "No you don't! its in the kitchen," ma'am I have it, "no you don't!" ma'am, I've got it! "well I need to show you my medications!" ma'am, I saw them, "No you didn't!" ma'am, I did. "NO! you didn't!" ma'am, I did, and I noticed you took them this evening, by your empty day-of the-week case..."Oh."

another common favorite, "Leave me ALONE!" well, you called us to come help you, "well don't touch me!" ok, do you need to go to the hospital? "NO!" ok, why did you call 911 then? "because I needed help!" ok, well let us help you then, "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

I have to giggle in the most professional of ways, but I can't help myself, bless them. I can't remember how many homes I've been to, that the walls are covered in photos of children and grandchildren.  Or the veteran, whom has scores of military photos and medals across the wall. I love to hold their fraile and bony hands, some of them not knowing where or who they are, to just give them a sense of comfort. More often than not, their hands are freezing, from poor circulation. As upset as they are, and as rude as they can be, I always think of their loved ones, and the history they carry with them. I try to always remember I'll be in their place someday, and hope someone will treat me kindly and with dignity. In a lot of cases, it's hard for them to feel of importance anymore. I try to make sure the 15 minutes they spend with me, I learn from them. Too many times I've visited homes where it seems they are forgotton. They just need assisitance getting back into bed, and want to talk to you all day long. I'll never forget, a sweet older gentleman I was called to transport back to his care facility. As I got him settled into his room, he began to point out pictures of his horses, and the various things he had hung on his wall. I sat down and let him show me. He showed me picture after picture, and my partner had to come find me. I told the man I had to leave, thanked him for showing me everything and hoped he take care. As I left, I noticed a picture. Then, the name on his room door. It hit me, that I knew who he was. His son had worked with my father on the ambulance, and was a firefighter for another city. While he'll never know that I had spent time with his father, it struck a chord that I need to respect my elders, for he had taught his children well.  I had heard of stories where his son had been a great friend and partner, to my dad, I'm thankful for that.


  1. So, I was reading this last night and was so touched. I was thinking about my cute grandpa in an assisted living center and how I wonder if the girls that take care of him would ever know about the amazing things he has done in his life. My Grandpa passed away early this morning. I went to bed just after reading this and thinking about him and woke to the phone call that he had passed.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. My Mom worked in a nursing home and used to drag my brother and I there to visit the residents. As much as I hated going, (because of my shyness back then), I loved those people, too, and remember them fondly.

    For awhile in my 20's I worked in a facility for the mentally ill, kind of like a nursing home for those with long-term-difficult-to-manage mental illnesses. I directed security there, and one night got a phone call from a restaurant in a neighboring city. They had one of our residents there, he didn't know where he was, so they sat him down, got him some coffee and he either gave them a card with our number or maybe he remembered it. He loved to take long walks and that day/evening had gone way too far. The very kind server put him on the line and he kinda laughed as he told me, "Well...I've gotten lost again..*chuckle*" I assured him we'd send a cab and couldn't wait for him to come back, he put the server on the phone so I could tell her what was going on. No problem with billing...the coffee for him was on the house.

    He came back in some time later, smiling sheepishly.

    This gentleman was a decorated hero; he served our country, he rose in the ranks and if I remember correctly, had worn the title "General" with great honor.

    He was one of my favorite patients ever; even as Alzheimer's claimed him, he never lost his dignity, and never forgot that he was a gentleman. God bless him.

    Yes...I love the geri's too.

  3. Nicole ~ I'm so sorry, just realized you commented today and just lost your Grandfather. I'm very sorry for your loss! Prayers for him and for you, and all your family. :-(