All the World's a Stage




All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts.


Nurse Jackie was right.

Like a family gathered around the kitchen table, the patients who made Unit 58 their home, bonded over meals. Except we were more like a company picnic: separate family units clustered together, sharing stories, laughs, joined by common afflications.

Patients quickly established squatting rights and damned if someone choose to sit in their chair at their spot,. I had chosen my spot because it was the most convenient for me. Located just inside the East door of the dining room, my table was wheel chair accessible. Even after I had graduated from a wheelchair to using a walker, I still sat in the same place. Just like I do now. When I visit my parents I am relegated to the same chair I sat in when I was young.

Some patients seemed to gather together merely out of habit and some because they genuinely wanted to be together. Patients quickly formed friendships. For example, a stroke patient, Carl, transferred from Toronto, was extroverted and anything but shy. Carl was in a room just across the hall from mine, Wherever he went on the unit you knew it. He loudly proclaimed his presence. We would deliberately run into walls, laughingly saying it was because he couldn’t properly steer his wheelchair. He became the unit mascot.

He staked a claim at the central table and within two meals one other stroke patient gathered at Jim’s table. And, by the time two days had passed the same group of four men were gathering at every meal, answering Jim’s siren song. The little foursome displaced the patients who had been sitting there.

The foursome were the loudest by far. Like golfing buddies they swapped stories, eating up Carl’s jokes,bragging about their accomplishment in therapy.

Male patients outnumbered female patients three to one: so much for women being the weaker sex. MS, strokes, and other brain injuries dominated the list of complaints that the men experienced. Why men? I bumped into a neighbour recently and he mentioned that he had a stroke that affected his vision. Instead of seeking help when he had the initial symptoms he went to sleep. By the morning it was too late, the damage had been done. Ask any woman and she will tell you “men don’t cry. And, men don’t ask for help,” YEP. I could write a book just about this topic. But there are already plenty of good ones already.

Copyright 2012, Lyle T. Lachmuth All Rights Reserved