I had a heavy week. I thought I would get ahead of it by doing a spiritual assessment on a new admission Sunday afternoon and while I was at the facility, I would check in with another couple of patients. I have a flexible schedule like that. However I also had a bunch visits that needed to be done, a week of lousy, rainy and otherwise dank weather, a memorial service and an online class. Come Friday I was a bit fried.
Balance is the key and so knowing that, I got a kitten and named it Mouse.
I figured having something very alive was a good balance to being with those who are dying.
But after a long week, I figured I needed something else. Teary eyed and exhausted. I finished up work and even Mouse could not help lift the weight, so I headed down to the village, and I decided to go and get that bike that I have been wanting for a good long while. I had been down to the Dedham Bike Shop at least a couple of times over the last few years and even bought a bike for my buddy Bea’s birthday. But didn’t get around to getting one for me.
I stopped riding a bicycle about 18 years ago when I was diagnosed with IC and was told that I had to change a whole lot of things in my life to reduce the pain and disabling effects of the illness. Riding a bike was one of those things. Plus I was either a student or an unemployed CPE intern or simply unemployed, so a fun thing like a bike was out.
Yesterday I threw caution to the wind and decided to go look at bikes and found one that seemed like a good fit. I put a deposit down on it with the plan to go ahead and pick it up this morning. I felt like I was 5 again. My first bike was red Schwinn Pixie but with a white seat and it came from the Dedham Bike Shop. I picked a purple one and got a purple helmet to match. I felt like the kid at Christmas who peaked and saw a bike with their name on it.
It was a good thing too. When I returned home after a meeting last night I was called in to work to help the family of that new patient I had been with last Sunday. The patient had put themselves on hospice and the family was not ready. The Patient was ready for death and had said so to me, but the family wasn’t on the same page. And despite the protests against the illness, the patient passed away. I got the call and within 15 minutes was on site, but the family had left and so I did what I was called to do.
Went down the hall, entered the room and then spent then next little while with the deceased. I had found the TV on, the bathroom door open with light streaming out, full light in the room and the sheets of the deceased all askew. I turned things off, pull the covers up over her feet, shut the door and began to pray. They had said to me last Sunday that they had forgotten their prayers, so I pulled out a Rosary and said it for them, as I laid the pink plastic cross down. Returning home I took some time to decompress and thought about that bike. I went to bed singing “Bicycle race ”
This morning I went down to the village and rode it home, singing. These same streets that I rode my first little red bike on and all of those feelings of being free came back. Just like when I first learned to ride and go faster than on foot. And getting the bike gave me some energy to do the chores and put the cat window in for Mouse. She learned to use it and has some freedom now herself.
In her new freedom she disappeared for a while and gave us a scare. Turns out she went into the neighbor’s garage and before they went out for the night, the door was closed with her locked inside. They are still out and she is still locked in, but at least I know where she is and eventually they will come home, see my note pinned to their door and I can go fetch her.
And here is where the balance pays off. Mum was tired at the end of the day and when Mouse didn’t show up, Mum was upset. Afraid of all the things that could go wrong. On the other hand, I had an awesome day riding my bike and singing Queen songs. I figured Mouse would either show up or she wouldn’t. Either she lives a free life going out and coming, sometimes getting stuck and needing to be found, or she doesn’t. I choose the former too. And like Mouse I choose to play when I can.