WhiteCoat

Smiles

Every once in a while you run across a patient that just makes you smile for no particular reason. For me, usually it’s a little kid. This time, it was someone at the other end of the age spectrum.

A 98-year-old grandmother was brought by ambulance because she was found in a nursing home laying on the floor beside her bed. She didn’t complain of any pain. She was just laying next to her bed … singing. Because she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, the nursing home sent her to the emergency department for evaluation because they couldn’t determine whether or not grandma had hurt herself.

When grandma arrived in the hospital, she was smiling and calm. She was a little hard of hearing, so we had to raise our voices to talk to her. As she was being transferred from the ambulance cart to the bed, I introduced myself and told her that I was going to check things out to make sure that she was okay.
“Oh, how nice … thank you.”
Right away that made me smile.
As we were examining her, we discovered that poetry must have been a pastime of hers.
The nurse asked her “Did you fall out of bed?”
She replied “No, I am not dead” as if she were reciting a Dr. Seuss poem.
Everyone in the room giggled.
As I was listening to her heart, she said
“Your hands are too cold … And I am too old.”
Everyone giggled again.

Then she started singing and stopped making sense

Hey, hey, this is the room
In the lagoon
Hey, hey, what you cooking
How about something good to eat?
Through the river and down the stream
Everything moving to make everything clean
Tomorrow we got a grain
Tomorrow the mountain will strain
Keep your head up and keep your things down
Then all will be up off of the ground
Hey good lookin’ [obviously she was completely lucid and talking to me at this point]
What cha got cookin’?
Everything is beautiful
Everything is fine

This little old grandma serenaded the staff, the x-ray technician, and the lab technician with her soft little voice.
We all stood around mesmerized for a few minutes – smiling and listening to her.
The more that we looked at each other, the more that we all smiled.
I went and grabbed a sheet of scrap paper to write down some of the stanzas in the songs that she was singing – just so I wouldn’t forget them.

We did an x-ray of her hip and pelvis and everything was fine.

“Everything looks just fine. You’re going to be able to go home so you can have some dinner now.”
“Oh, thank you so much!”
“I am so hap-py … as you can see me.”

We’re happy now too, grandma.
Thanks for the smiles.

11 Responses to “Smiles”

  1. April says:

    What a nice change that must have been (and who doesn’t love Seuss).

  2. Doctor D says:

    If I go out demented (which is a likelyhood given my family history) I hope to be one of those irrepressibly happy Alzheimer’s patients who thinks it is still 1997 and makes jokes during diaper changes. It is a return to child-like innocence.

  3. purplesque says:

    This is delightful. I remember seeing a similarly happy, demented, though not quite so musically talented, lady and thinking I’d rather be like her if I had to go out demented.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

  5. paul says:

    temporal lobe seizure?

    just kidding..

  6. Jabulani says:

    My grandmother died of Alzheimer’s earlier this year. She was not a happy sufferer; in fact watching her degenerate was one of the saddest things to do. I’m so pleased this lady brightened your day. She certainly brightened mine ;)

  7. Nurse K says:

    I once did a duet with an ex-professional singer Alzheimer’s patient who busted into La Marseillaise . Sure, dood, I’ll sing the French national anthem with ya, why not?

  8. SeaSpray says:

    What a fabulous post! I needed it. Thanks for getting me to slow down and smile! :)

  9. Very heartwarming WC. Reminds me of a neighbor I’d had several years ago. She was always pleasant, even though her mind was in the wrong year. She’d cut her grass at 9pm in the summer and then come over our place wanting to know when the party was starting…

  10. [...] Then she started singing and stopped making sense [...]

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