Rita flat on her back, eyes wide open, being wheeled in a hospital bed along a hospital corridor. Visible to her only a white ceiling panel, a light panel, ceiling panel, light panel, repeat and repeat.
My gut clenched. I’d been there. Walking alongside a hospital bed along a long white hospital hallway. The elderly woman on the bed lying flat on her back, staring up at that same pattern of ceiling panel and light panel. Mewling with fear, trying to turn to see where she was – seeing only long walls of unbroken white. Screaming and struggling to get off the bed, to get away.
Me trying to figure out what was wrong, what was causing her such profound fear. Aside from the anxiety that illness and hospitals engender, aside from dementia and hospital-administered sedatives. I looked up and kept my eyes up as I walked along. White ceiling panel, light panel, ceiling panel, light panel. Repeat and repeat, as far as you could see. It was terrifying. And I was walking, not ill, with all my wits about me.
Whoever created that small moment in Thursday’s episode has also been there, I think. Thank you. Hard job, to make something so quiet come so alive on screen. (Especially in the midst of the craziness of such a wonderful hen party as Eva’s!)
But that sigh – that stark hospital corridor ceiling, seemingly never ending – conveys everything about the disorientation and fear felt by anyone in pain and anxious about what’s going to happen in a hospital.
Hospital beds crank up to a sitting position. If the few seconds needed are available, doing so may ease the person in the bed. Seeing the context of the hallway – walls, floor, doorways – not just an unending ceiling going who knows where. Allowing the mind to paint unimaginable horrors on a blank white canvas that is really only ceiling and light panels. But you can’t see the whole when you’re flat on your back.
See my Seeing the World the Alzheimer’s Way for more on the long and winding roads of memory loss.