The Language of Dementia

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This is a poem inspired by a Filipino elderly who is suffering from dementia. It was my first shift in this nursing home and the previous nurse told me about how hard it was to give medication to this particular old lady. Her piece of advice for me to have a smooth, stressed-free shift was to ask help from the care-aids if I wanted to give medications to this patient. Me, being the stubborn person that I am who is unwilling to give up on anything, went in her room and coaxed her to take her pills using all my knowledge of how to deal with people suffering from dementia which I have learned in nursing school. Yes, she did swallow her pills, albeit it took me a long time of bartering this and that, blabbering, grinning and pleading before she finally opened her mouth. While waiting for my bus last night, I took out my phone and started randomly typing on my notes. This is what I came up with so far.

A frail frame, a drooping face
A pink pajama and a dreary blanket
Few picture frames mounted on the wall
Mummified tulips on your bed-side table
A doleful light emitted by a small, flickering bulb
Cluttered magazines and books everywhere, they were pulp
These I discerned, my own sobbing I had to gulp

Like an empty shell you were
Devoid of emotions and a glacial facade
A detach, blank stare you gave
When your name was said
Blink! Blink! Then suddenly disappeared
Corporeal Body indeed was present
Whereas soul and mind were soaring elsewhere

Lola! (Grandma!) Lola! (Grandma!) I pleaded
But you remained mum and unresponsive
Made me wonder if the real you was there
A dignified mother and a kind friend once you were
Now vanished into an eerie silence of impassive visage
Wishing it would transform into this cheerful, smiling face
Hence, a boisterous laughter at least you would exhibit

Your epic stories and battles sculpted the real you
All of these I desperately wanted to know
So I kept begging you to spare me a single, prized glance
For your fears and sufferings, I craved to understand
Kindness and sincerity, I could only offer
In hopes of one day you would remember
The girl who tried her best to understand your struggles

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