Monday, July 17, 2017

The itch

It wasn't always easy to navigate the challenges of life. All institutions had their flaws, nursing homes among them. Divine guidance was helpful. He was just itchy. Daytime wasn't bad, but night came and it started. Slowly at first, a little itch here, a pin prick there. By the time he crawled into bed and said “Night night” to his cats the itch would begin to consume him till he was a bundle of nerves, scratching here and there, waiting for the next electric prickle to strike. No use. He'd get up and make a pot of coffee.

He used Nix, thought it was scabies. The conscientious care givers at the home said no, they'd done tests, she didn't have scabies, it was psoriasis. She had a scaly white scalp and fingers thick and cracked with thick dry white skin. Red blotches on her back and legs. It had started a month before Christmas, after her room mate had scabies. They washed the clothes, washed the walls, stuck the stuffed animals in garbage bags and hid them, and gave them the treatment. It never went away. She didn't know, her dementia mind couldn't fathom it. She pulled her hair out, said it didn't itch though. She didn't know.

A few days after he used the Nix the itch was gone. He slept the sleep of abandonment, dreams of cupcakes floating over fairy landscapes, awoke refreshed the whole world to explore. Then came the time for the daily visit. His feet would not go through that door. Anxiety overtook him, the remembrance of that horrid itch filled his being numbing his mind black. He couldn't think. He sat on the bench outside.

Oh what to do? What would a sane person do? He phoned the nursing supervisor. Of course he got the answering machine. Left his message, “I got itchy, had pimple bumps, used Nix, it went away. Could my dear wife possibly have scabies? Please phone me.”

His phone rang. The nursing supervisor said no it wasn't scabies, the doctor had said so. He said maybe I should go see a dermatologist. I hummed and hawed and said my wife was not improving. He said she was refusing her medicated cream. I asked if maybe she could see a dermatologist for a different solution. Was a brilliant manoeuvre on my part, if I can so say. He said yes if I would accompany her, as she was prone to refusing these escapades into the unknown. In my glory I said “Yes, for sure” and thanked him profusely.

With this unforeseen outcome at my disposal I got up from that bench and marched happily through that door. Found her in the rec hall and gave her a big kiss. She grinned from ear to ear. I know I'll pay the price, but it isn't scabies. Maybe.
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