Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Come In Peace

A year or so ago, I treated a man with dementia. He is well traveled, intelligent, witty, and a general joy to be around.  However, the encroaching memory deficits have caused paranoia, confusion, and obsessive behaviors.  Towards the time he was to be discharged from therapy, he had established a method to remember people's names and jobs  or responsibilities.
In his mind, he was the General in a war-The brain of it all- He had imaginary troops in each direction (North, South, East, and West)- He categorized everyone he met- and was very efficient about it.  His method was remarkable, he remembered the names and jobs of most of the employees.  In short, If I needed information of this sort, I consulted with him.
 If you worked rehab- you were from the nothern troops, social services came from the east, etc.  However, if he ever identified you as part of the western troops...God help you, you had done something that made him very unhappy and you were the enemy- and he was NOT going to willingly accompany, speak with, or tolerated any member of the western troop.  He took his war seriously and we spent hours discussing strategies for troop movement and manipulation.  Basically, he just wanted to know how the troops (nurses, CNAs, doctors, other staff) could best assist him in his current situation.  So, together, we would rally the troops and get tasks accomplished.
I saw him yesterday, in a secured unit of our building.  There was a flicker of recognition in his eyes and a tentative smile.  He greeted me with, "I know you, but I don't recall your name..." to which I responded, "Hi Mr. "Jones," I am "Joyce" and I hail from the North, I come in peace."
He smiled and saluted- and said "Hi Joyce, I haven't seen you in a very long time.  Do you have the latest plans?"

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