To them he’s just a man, a little old man, in a bed. He’s no different than any of the other men in beds on their floor. He’s wearing the same gown, has the same tubes, has the same machines beeping behind him. To them he’s just another patient.
To us he’s our dad. He’s a sailor, a writer, a lover of fine wines and great food. He’s a critic, of everything. He’s a passionate learner and explainer. He’s one of the smartest people we know.
To them he’s “agitated,” challenging, resisting instruction and care. To them, he’s a bit of a nuisance, it’s written all over their faces, someone who should be silenced with a push of a narcotic pump and a quick pat on the arm before they walk away to tend to something less irritating.
To us he’s a man who’s always been in control, in charge, who knows exactly what he wants and when, who has done years of research before submitting himself to their care, who knows how things should be going and hates how they’re progressing. He has been temporarily stripped of the ability to advocate for himself, to speak easily, to
argue discuss options with the doctors, to get up and walk away when he’s had enough. He is frustrated, angry, and just plain scared.
To them he’s a man badly in need of a haircut, whose hands shake a bit too much to hold a pencil, who gets confused at times, who can’t get out of bed without help.
We see the man they can’t see, the one who has sailed all over the world, who speaks multiple languages, who has a full library in his tiny apartment, who can’t wait to get better so he can finally travel again.
To them he’s just another lung transplant patient who has spent the last 7 weeks bouncing back and forth between different levels of ICU, getting endless tests, perplexing the transplant team with his various complications, befuddling the nurses with his commentary.
To us he’s our dad, finally breathing without assistance for the first time in years, finally ready to resume living his life, just as soon as he can get out of that bed and back into the world where he’s more than just a statistic, more than just another patient.