Why is it a standard practice for the gauntest of nursing home residents to wheel themselves into the hallway, cover up with a blanket, tilt back their heads, and fall asleep right there in the middle of the hallway with their mouths wide open?  And why do nursing homes smell like pee?  I realize that incontinence is a devastating problem for the elderly.  But do they not wear diapers?  They don’t pee on the rug, do they?  The smell of urine penetrates the place.

Call me insensitive, but I hate nursing homes.

Yesterday four of us in short white coats and one man in a suit were walking through the Alzheimer’s unit.  We passed one wheelchair-sleeper on the left and were about to cruise by another on the right when I heard something.  “Stop! Stop!” I looked up and saw that this wheelchair-sleeper was awake.  Not only was he awake but he was inching toward us waving his hands wildly back and forth,  “I have to tell you something!!!” Uh oh.

“Stop right there! I’ve got to tell you something.  See this face? Remember this face! Look at it real good and remember it.  Do you remember it? Well you better, because I donated my body to your medical school.  So one day down the road when you are in that lab studying the bodies, you might see someone that looks familiar.  Well that’ll be me!”

I was speechless.

First of all, this was not at all what I was expecting.  Earlier in the day an elderly old woman with dementia was heart-breakingly and frantically searching for her deceased mother.  Another one was speaking lucidly of our president, Al Gore.

And second, this man has made an incredibly generous donation. I have never in my life been confronted with such a situation and had no idea how to respond.  I mean, we all awkwardly said thank-you, but communicating your appreciation ahead of time to a live human being who one day will be lying on a cold metal table with his chest sawed open with his heart in the hand of a young medical student… I am not sure a simple thank you is sufficient.

Anyway, the conversation concluded and we turned to walk away and he stopped us again, “Wait! There’s one more thing I have to tell you that I probably shouldn’t… I’M A LAWYER!!! HahahahaHAH haha!”

We all walked away and I was thoroughly confused.

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Filed under med school, medical school, medical student

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