Friday, February 1, 2008

The Bucket List or Grumpy Old Men?

I haven't seen "The Bucket List," the Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman movie about two terminally ill cancer patients pursuing their must-do lists before they "kick the bucket."

But I feel like I was living the movie while I was at the VA Hospital in SF.

Bob, an elegant African-American man, was a natural in Morgan Freeman's role. Like Freeman's character, Bob would often dispense nuggets of wisdom in his trademark honey-coated voice.

And, just like in the movie, the rooms at the VA are "semi-private." Now there's the ultimate oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence. When two people share a hospital room, privacy doesn't exist.

Bob's roommate was an over-the-top Jack Nicholson character, at best a curmudgeon, at worst abusive. When doctors came in to perform a procedure several times a day, we could hear every curse and scream that spewed out of his mouth. And we heard him turn nasty with staff when his needs weren't met immediately.

Of couse, he could hear everything happening on our side of the curtain as well. When Bob and I met with his doctor, the roomie couldn't help blurting out his opinions. "You don't have to leave if you're not ready. They can't make you." When I asked the doctor if Bob would have a private room at the convalescent home, she admitted that she didn't think so, but didn't know for sure. He shouted out, "That means NO. Don't accept that as an answer."

Unlike the movie, the relationship between the two men didn't develop beyond repressed giggles and eye rolling on our side of the curtain. When we left, Bob and I wished the roomie well. I couldn't resist adding, "Don't let anyone get away with anything." I don't think I have anything to worry about.


One Mother with Cancer said...

I know a lot of older men like that!!! Sometimes they are a hoot though.

Susan Carrier said...

They are a hoot. I think they are the ones who live forever.

Nathan Allen said...

I had a great room mate when I was in the VA Hospital here in Clarksburg, WV last year. The nurse's and Doctors were great to me, what a great staff. This Ole Vietnam Veteran really appreciated there kindness..

Susan Carrier said...

I'm glad to hear they treated you well at the Clarksburg VA, Nathan. Our vets deserve the best.

I was impressed with the doctors (the brightest and best from UC-SF, one of the nation's top med schools) and the rest of the staff at the SF VA.

The building, on the other hand, has seen better days. I think the last remodel must have been after WWII. But, then again, I'm spoiled after "Hotel Hope."

ntbrad said...

Tami and I went to see this movie. I'm not sure if it the same for you, but since I was diagnosed last year, it seems every movie out there is about cancer. Anyway, this is the first movie that I had trouble watching. I loved the movie but it hit a little too close to home for me. Wonder if I'll meet that rich cancer guy that will pay for my round the world trip? LOL Keep kicking cancer's butt for all of us out there!

Brad Williams