Friday, 20 July 2018

Mr Vasey

He was a horrible man, Mr Vasey
He occupied the corner bed in a bay of six, and polluted the air with his complaints.
" That man kept me awake all night with his moaning" he would spit out in public
"Nurse! NURSE!! He smells of shit, get him away from me!"
" Nurse where are my tablets.......NURSE.....NURSE,,,,!!" 
He was a railway man in his fifties with a wife and daughter.
The daughter never visited, the wife did dutifully.
Mr Vasey spoke to his wife as he did his nurses.
We disliked Mr Vasey.

His locker had to be organised just so, and nursing routines watched and commented upon especially when we were in anyway late or completed some task in a different way. He preferred nurses he knew to care for him but once at his bedside you ran the risk of a cruel personal comment being unleashed .
I remember a colleague from the station visiting with flowers who was told " why bring them in for me?" In such a curt way that she burst into tears.

Mr Vasey recieved adequate care.
But nothing more. The nurses grew tired of his temper tantrums and his brittle ways and sought out other things to do and other patients to linger over.
The ward was busy,and  it was easier to be busy elsewhere.

I remembered Mr Vasey yesterday.
Back then in 1989 we didn't understand autism
Today, I'd like to think that he would have recieved more understanding and slightly better care.

60 comments:

  1. Good twist at the end.

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  2. Not sure he would to be honest. A colleagues husband is in a cardiac ward in hospital just now but he also has dementia and they are not dealing well with the dementia side of things. Not a lot of joined up thinking in hospitals sometimes unfortunately.

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  3. agree with Marksgran. The nhs deals with one problem at a time

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    1. I agree things are variable but that wasn't the point of the story.

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  4. I was just saying to a friend the other night that we used to think that the "normal" folk were all over here and the nutters were all over there. But it isn't like that at all. There are spectrums and all of us exist between those two poles. Poor Mr Vasey - he didn't choose to be the way he was.

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    1. Indeed...I know a person who is definitely on the spectrum

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  5. How do you know that Mr Vasey was autistic and not just a rude person?

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    1. For example, the obsessive neatness - regarding his bedside cupboard.

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    2. YP, my father is obsessively neat. One of the most gregarious men you sometimes wish you could avoid (particularly if they are your father). Autistic? Definitely not.

      I think the point you made earlier, ie that all of us are on some spectrum or another, black and white being extremes, an excellent one. I lobby for this whenever I get a chance because I am sick of people pigeon holing others with little insight and a considerable pinch of malice.

      U

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    3. Why do you think he is so obsessively neat Ursula? There must be a reason.

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    4. Some people are [obsessively tidy], YP. Joke alert: You don't even have to be born under the star sign of Virgo (he is a Leo) to be neat and tidy at all times.

      His desk freaks me out. You wouldn't believe it's used by one of the most creative people I have ever known personally. Even his beloved File No 13 (waste paper basket) is empty - always, despite him loving little better than chucking stuff out. The other day I begged him to leave something for me to find after my parents' funeral. I don't think he got it.

      It's futile to speculate: In his teens he took up sailing (ships need to be kept tidy considering how little space there is, sails potentially knocking you out if you don't watch it, knots to be tied and unleashed in a second); later he did his military service with the Navy. They don't come more neat than that, YP. It was my father who taught me the most efficient way how to use a broom (my mother did it her way).

      My own theory and that goes for any of my family and friends most of whom, oh dear, are vaguely obsessive on the orderly front that it's not so much about order as such but CONTROL. Control, not necessarily over people, but control of their lives. Which is fair enough. Whenever I have a fit of wishing for having MY life under control I impose order on my study (the rest of the house being comfy and looked after in a relaxed way). But then, no sooner are all books on their shelves, everything filed, my desk clear I don't feel so much as in control as being controlled and a little bereft. Now you know why my father and I do have the odd (enjoyable) run-in when we discuss god and the world.

      Anyway thanks for asking, and hope both you and John will forgive me for my disorderly, as usual expansive, answer to a not so simple question.

      U

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    5. Thank you for this thoughtful response Ursula. Most interesting and indeed insightful.

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    6. I choose to be disorganized as I find tidy is too controlling for me to live my life freely. I am a Leo like your Father Ursula x

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  6. John... what made you think of Mr Vasey? Was it something someone said or a memory resurfacing from nursing?
    And I wonder also if we are too generous to account for being 'horrible' as having an illness... some people just develop into horrible people selfish and self centered.
    Is it warm in your part of the world still?? I am sitting here with beenie, two jumpers,vest, thermal undies & normal undies ... tracky daks (track suit bottoms) on my person ..its flipping freezn'

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    1. Mmmm...that's a sexy outfit hun.

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    2. He he...I can't find me inside this lot.. :D

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    3. I listened to a podcast by the partners of Autustic people. Insightful and moving

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  7. One of our neighbours suffered from severe mental illness and depression which resulted in him being absolutely hateful, the older he got the more hateful he became. He caused him wife to have a nervous breakdown twice before she left him, his children couldn't be around him and he was kicked out of every seniors home for miles around. He was also a decent man, a hard working man and I couldn't help feeling sorry for him, even he often said he wished he was different.

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    1. We need to differentiate autism from mental illness. Autism is just a way of seeing the world

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  8. Hmmm. My 93 year old MIL behaves like that - reduces the carers to tears, is rude to her sons. I wonder...?

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  9. Someone I've known for years (former partner when in my 20's) is most likely Aspergers. He's a record collector with a convoluted filing system, that you dare question or misfile anything. He has other hobbies, which too become obsessions, and expects everyone to join in. He's always been a fussy eater, and can freak out in public if someone eats something he "disapproves" of (such cakes with vegetables in them).

    He can be a good friend, outgoing and talkative, but conversely can drop you like a stone for a minor disloyalty, such as being in contact with someone he doesn't like. Other formerly mutual friends I've met up with over the past couple of years have come to the same conclusion.

    Because I know how he is, and how nasty he can be about those he's fallen out with, I stay polite but keep my distance.

    I used to put it down to him being the youngest child by a large gap, and indulged by his mother, so barely able to fend for himself. But Howard is the youngest, by a decade from his nearest sibling, and he's practical and pretty self-reliant.

    Even now, there's not enough awareness, despite quicker diagnosis (not helped by the anti-vaccination lobby scaremongering and causing far more damage), but I feel for those who have lived without diagnosis into their later years.

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    1. So if I meet him I will not offer a slice my delicious carrot cake or zucchini bread, right?

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    2. We now are becoming more informed thank god

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  10. A thoughtful and touching piece, John. Do you remember the days when the term "spastic" was used as an insult? Terrible. Though just had it from the horse's mouth that still happens. And, as we all know, similar if not worse.

    But awareness and therefore understanding, as you hint, has increased in recent years. And, as some of your other readers point out, sometimes illness, be it physical or mental, can change a person almost out of recognition. For us to then hold on to the original and memory of their personality is one of the Lord's many tests (no, I am not religious - it's a paraphrased quote by Mahalia Jackson).

    U

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    1. I remember discussing the recently outmoded terms such as imbicile , moron and cretin in nursing

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    2. I was called a mong. by a particularly frustrated young person whom I cared for. He was devastated and so apologetic (he had massive issues,with anger generally hence not living at home)he couldn't believe that I had giggled at his retreating back. I think I was about 10 when that word was used (out of hearing of adults, as we knew it was wrong)by me and my peers. Reminds me of calling my husband a "prick" which was such an unfashionable insult word, we both burst out laughing but I had been so cross I couldn't find a bad enough word in my repertoire.

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  11. When we "know" better, we "do" better.
    I try to keep this in mind when I'm beating myself up about something.

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    1. A simple a wonderful statement Christine. I will use it again

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  12. When my mother was teaching in a school for children with special educational needs she loved a boy who most could not work with, mum saw beyond the tantrums and biting to a boy born with terrible brain damage who needed as much support as the more gregarious children everybody loved.

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  13. Even if he was understood better, he wouldn't be likeable and it's likeability that get some different treatment to others.

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  14. Joan (Devon)1:36 pm

    I always take as I find and know of a few people who I got along with okay, but others seemed to have a problem with. It mystifies me! Is it a case of personalities clashing or just something about the other that they don't like. Who knows? But Mr Vasey sounds like a nightmare, his own worst enemy perhaps. No-one, not even nurses, goes out of their way for someone who doesn't appreciate it or at least have a kind word to say. There's nowt so queer as folk!

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  15. Not that things are good, butt we have made progress in understanding and helping persons with disabilities or dementia. There is a lot of work to be done In how to communicate and understand. Some people can’t control being who they are.

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  16. If we only knew then...
    I wonder if we would be more perfect, or if human nature would remain unchanged.

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  17. This triggered a memory of mine. We own a piece of property in a nearby town on a bay and the man who lived in the house across the street was absolutely one of the most uncaring, selfish, unpleasant men I've ever met. He had the trees on our lot cut down without our permission so he could have a better view! This did go to court but he'd done the same in other situations. So eventually, he had a stroke and was rendered an invalid and a neighbor there told me that after his stroke, his wife asked her, "How long do you think he'll live?" And not in a hope-for-recovery sort of way, either.

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  18. I'm related to someone who I think is mildly autistic. He's worse when he has to do something new, go somewhere different, or do something to someone else's timetable. And when he's tired or unwell. It sounds like these all applied to Mr V. He just wanted to be at home, in his normal environment, where he could cope.

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    1. On reflection that's what I thought

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  19. Autistic or not, there's no excuse for dishing out cruel personal comments and abuse.

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    1. Agreed but bluntness can be mistaken for rudeness too and some people with autism can be incredibly blunt and honest

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  20. I'd never heard of Autism until I had an Autistic Granddaughter.
    Yes, it is yours, but I won't mail it your way until after Comic Con is over. :)

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  21. There will - sadly - always be a section of society who just do not 'get' autism, who think that people can help how they behave all the time. I don't think there is a lot we can do about this.

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    1. The spectrum seems so vast pat...at least The is a conversation about it...back then that never happened

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  22. Some questions: Did you know he was autistic at the time? Are you just assuming he was autistic upon reflection? Did you find out he was autistic after the fact?

    That he had a wife suggests to me his autism wasn't all that apparent.

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    1. I don't think I knew what autism was then Kirk.
      Only recently has it been explained generally and my knowledge has been inhanced by a relative with asbergers

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  23. I do wonder if even today's better understanding would make a difference.

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    1. Perhaps not, but at least the nurses could have made more allowances

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  24. Was this a mental illness ward? He was hospitalized --for autism? It seems more like a personality disorder than autism, he was married, had a family. Some people are just cranky by nature, and some people are cranky because they are hospitalized. The enforced helplessness can bring out the worst in many people.

    lizzy

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    1. No it was a general medical ward. Now we would keep his nurse contact to a chosen few. Pre warned him of any activities well before they happened. Used written information . Perhaps utilised a single room

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    2. Thoughtful plan.

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  25. Anonymous6:51 pm

    So I have been a reader forever - i feel that you have a connection and friends in Trelawnyd - and your cottage is devine.

    Why are you leaving

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    1. Some one tell them

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    2. John and his husband are ending their marriage, therefore, they have intended to sell their shared home in Trelawnyd.

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  26. It's hard to deal with mental illness or any behavior that might seem aggressive or rude. That's just human nature.

    Education and awareness helps. When we discuss and share our experiences, we can come up with better ways of handling these challenging situations. So yes, thank goodness we are talking about it.

    I remember neighbors who had special needs children or relatives. What stuck out the most were the careless comments made by ignorant people, especially adults and elders who believed these conditions were punishments from God.

    It made me wonder, why would I want to worship such a terrible god? And I avoided these people, because I couldn't stand their rudeness and stupidity. And as a young kid who often spoke up freely and passionately about the things I believed in, I didn't want to risk an altercation with the old people.

    I was raised to respect my elders. But I was also taught to do the right thing. And sometimes, that meant speaking up against ignorance and discrimination, even if it meant getting in trouble with authority figures, like teachers and administrators.

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  27. Interesting thoughts, John. I can remember kids from school who were labelled troublemakers because they couldn't follow directions or stay in their seats -- I've wondered about them over the years as autism became more understood. And I can remember "odd" kids who were kept from going to school at all because they couldn't cope. I wish the brain was better understood but I think it will take decades more of scientific research, if not more, to get to the place we now are with physical ailments (which is not complete understanding, either, by any means).

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  28. He could have OCD. We have a relatively new patient to our practice who has put the hackles up of the GP's and managers. I was dreading seeing him. Made an effort not to judge, spent time chatting and found we were both cat owners which gave us common ground. I was lucky I had time. I think hes lonely so I book him at the end of my clinic and can spend time chatting. so far so good. I do know where you are coming from some pts you will never break the barrier they put up.

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  29. All sorts of glitches (as I sometimes call them) that don’t show up in testing that result in out of the so-called norm behaviors, I think. Throw in some environmental factors and hard to know what causes what to effectively deal with it sometimes, or have the time to devote to unraveling the unknown. I think that can be both an attraction and frustration to working in health care.

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