“Theresa, you gonna sit, you gonna eat.” My orientation for hospice nursing didn’t cover this — an Italian grandmother who was clearly not going to talk to me about her dying husband unless I sat at the dinner table with her family and ate. Well, when in Rome, I decided, and obediently pulled up a chair.
It’s an odd thing, to take care of someone who is chained to a bed, guarded 24/7 by bored corrections officers idling away time with TV and card games, who cannot receive visitors or even phone calls. But it happens when prison inmates are sick enough that they need care that only a hospital can provide.
Several weeks ago on the hospital floor where I’m a nurse, we had a V.I.P. patient whose spouse expected, and got, the red-carpet treatment. The patient’s spouse made many demands, but what struck most of us as particularly galling was the meal service both received. Day after day, meal after meal, a hospital employee wheeled a china-laden cart into that patient’s room. It looked like room service at a fancy hotel.