They really started with it on day one:
…and we will get you all the equipment you will need: A walker or wheel chair, a shower chair, hospital bed….
“Sounds great, but we won’t need the bed,” I said. “She’d prefer to sleep in our bed.”
A hospital bed would make things much easier on you, and more comfortable for her.
“And would be a nice thing to add to the bill going to insurance,” I cynically thought to myself, as though hospice professionals are paid on commission. “Actually, our bed is pretty great,” I said cheerily, “and she’s up all the time, so I think it’ll be fine.”
Of course, Mr. Wilder. Just know that it’s available whenever you decide.
Isn’t that funny? From the get-go they assumed we’d come around to realizing Karyn would be better off sleeping somewhere other than in our bed.
The next week we met with Karyn’s nurse. “I know you’ve resisted getting a bed brought in,” she started gently. “May I ask why?”
Resisted? Well, that seems loaded. “This is her bed. This is our bed. She’s comfortable. Besides, taking it away sends a message to the kids, to Karyn,” I rationalized. “I’m not saying we can’t get a hospital bed brought in. I just don’t think it’s necessary right now.”
And then it was necessary.
Not too far from 20 years ago, Karyn and I were newly married. We moved from our tiny apartment in a cut-up Victorian near SJSU to a small house in a lovely part of East San Jose. Our bed was our first “major” purchase. We saw it in the store and immediately fell in love with its minimal platform design, natural wood and utilitarian good looks. It cost many hundreds of dollars.
“Man, that’s a lot to spend on a bed,” I said.
“Yeah, but it will last a lifetime,” Karyn assured.
The bed came to that rented house and then to our first home: a smaller house in a less-lovely part of East San Jose. It then moved to the larger house we’ve had the good fortune of calling home for almost 10 years. In three different houses, surrounded by incrementally improving dressers and marginally better art choices, it has been the constant. Perfect: No upgrades needed. So sure, I suppose there was some resistance to taking it apart and pulling it out of our bedroom.
And yet, that’s how I spent an evening last week.
Our son wanted to help take the bed apart (he loves a project), and his enthusiasm kept me from coming apart. Together we carried the different pieces up the stairs to store them away. Our daughter helped navigate the mattress around corners and away from pictures on the walls. Dear neighbors brought over a twin mattress set and helped set it up on a metal frame so it could be right alongside Karyn’s new electric fancy-schmancy bed. There was talk of getting matching sheets so that together they still looked like one bed.
But when we were done, one look into our room made it obvious that it wasn’t one bed. It was her bed and my bed, and the side rails of hers meant we could only push the mattresses so close. The resulting gap felt like the Grand Canyon.
The electric bed is, without a doubt, the best thing for Karyn and all of us caring for her. There is truly no question about that, and it probably should have happened sooner. But I keep going back to what Karyn said. She said our bed would last a lifetime.
I don’t want her to be right.