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Friday, September 30, 2016


“I don’t know where I am,” she said.

I turn and see an iron-haired warrior of 70+ years speaking to a white coat.
White coat pauses, begins to open his mouth.
Before he speaks, I hear the hum in his head like a call bell in the brain: Disorientation!
In my mind I see thought bubbles like cartoons above his head:
Dementia … Delirium,
And, opening like clapboards under these:
Polypharmacy, infection, Na+ imbalance …

A young mom, bewildered toddler in tow and one in her arms, enters the hallway,
Blinks behind the hair in her eyes, nods and points with her chin—“That way
That way is reception. It’s a maze, isn’t it?” and continues on her way.
“Thank you,” says the warrior. “What a lovely family you have.”
White coat closes his mouth and points toward reception,
Word bubbles popping around him.

I have been there—both the white coat clinician and the older adult in the double gown.
From two sides of a precipice they stand.
Worlds apart? Words apart?
For now I see that the ravine is much smaller than it seemed to be.

The hospital without and within (the mind) is a maze—
Full of twists and turns, sharp corners and sudden ends.
There are no stars, no Sun, no Northern range of mountains to orient the traveler.
And labels are oh-so-useful in their place,
But signposts and compadres on the journey?

They bring you home.

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