Fitting In

Sam in uniformSam and I were finally able to go to the hospital after this week’s Snowmageddon to visit with patients and staff. It seems so odd to visit during the week. For the past couple years, we’ve been going in on the weekends and the energy is decidedly different. Since retiring in January, I’m still trying to figure out where my own energy resides. Luckily, people like the some of the ones I met Thursday are helping me figure it out.

We were assigned to visit the Senior Behavioral Health floor. We’ve visited before, but I’m never sure just what to expect. These folks can have significant issues. Some seem lost within themselves, others are warm, caring and loving examples of humanity interacting with an unparalleled charm. Willie was that patient. The charge nurse said Sam and I should visit with Ruth and Willie. Once the staff got their Sam fix, we moved toward Ruth who immediately told me she was a ‘cat person,’ having grown up with cats her whole life. Right away, I wasn’t sure how to connect with her and Sam seemed confused as well. I’m guessing her mental issues make interactions somewhat difficult. I was trying to coax out some other common ground we could share when Willie walked up and started petting Sam who was more than willing to garner his attention and began leaning against him…a sure sign he was enjoying this gnome-like man with twinkly eyes and a radiant smile. As quickly as he appeared, he vanished. Ruth’s disinterest in Sam was our signal to move onward. I touched her on the arm and wished her well, Sam nearly ripped my shoulder out of the socket to move into the activity room and see Willie who had relocated there. I’m always entertained at his ‘yea or nay’ assessment of people. He doesn’t judge people mind you, but is able to easily move on when necessary. I need to take notes about that dog so as avoid moments when my fumbling attempts to steer around them seem uncomfortably awkward. Being an introvert isn’t the easiest road to take when trying to connect with total strangers.

When we arrived at the hospital it seemed like everyone was racing around, updating charts, dealing with patients and seem more hectic than our weekend visits. Oh, sure the staff is always eager to meet Sam, but they don’t linger long…work calls. Their responses were short and to the point. There was little in the way of back and forth. Just statements like “stay out of rooms with iso-carts and the patient in #209 likes dogs.” On weekend visits, I’d often hear stories about former pets, the neighbor’s dog who was like Sam, the dogs their kids had, and similar stuff like that. This new paradigm has me feeling ‘outside’ of my previous existence.

Since retiring, I don’t feel like I fit in like I did before. Oh sure, my working friends and I still keep in touch but it’s different. Their lives are more work centered and our common interactions are diminished because we relate from a totally different perspective.

It’s odd for me to have Sam groomed in the middle of the week. Our MO in the past was to do grooming sessions on Saturday’s since we would only visit patients on weekends when I worked full-time. This is the second month where I had the luxury of scheduling a grooming in the middle of the week and easily be able to choose any date and time slot to coincide with our scheduled visits. Weekends were always booked well in advance so  future appointments had to be booked at the current one. That all changed with retirement.

I’m sure there’s an adjustment period getting used to not running in the hamster wheel, and no doubt I’ll get there eventually but for now, it feels out of step and off-balance rather than just squeaky and spinning fast. Like the new kid in school who is viewed as an oddity initially, we will eventually catch our stride and find balance. Till then I want to sit and chat with the Willie’s of the world who make us feel like a fluffy, dimwitted dog is the only thing that matters.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in to a change in life circumstances?

Live, love, bark! <3