Two bare bottoms…

I went along for a ride-along with a police officer friend of mine today, in the fair city of Anaheim. Eventually, he arrested a guy, who proceeded to have an anxiety attack just before he was booked into the jail. Accordingly, we had to divert to the local hospital so that he could be medically cleared before going to jail. Nothing like having a prisoner die on you to get you sued.

Anyway, the hospital had a special wing with four beds for “non-mainstream” patients. Our arrestee occupied Bed 4, and continued his quick breathing and anxiety attack. Bed 3 was occupied by a sweet, older man who just seemed a bit confused, and wanted to be sure that the nurse was aware that he needed to have a bowel movement. Bed 1 was a felon from the jail with appendicitis who was waiting to go in for his operation.

In Bed 2 was a homeless man. This non-mainstream ward was not that hot on privacy, and the curtains were pulled back most of the time. I saw an old guy, maybe around 60 but looking older, hooked up to tubes and monitors. When they got him up to weigh him (presumably to make sure they got the medication right), he had wet the bed. Shortly afterwards, he was insisting that he wanted to leave. The nurse called in the doctor who told him that if he left he would almost certainly die since he had a serious medical condition. The man’s response: “Good.” He just didn’t care. And I believe that he probably did want to die. The sores on his arms, the fluid gathering in his heart, lungs and bladder probably made him extremely uncomfortable. He was belligerent and rude to the nurse.

As he turned around to grab his meager belongings prior to leaving, his hospital gown flapped open to reveal his old, saggy, wrinkled bottom. That’s when it struck me, that this was the second wrinkled bottom I had seen today. I changed Landon this morning, and cleaned his pink wrinkled bottom and then bathed him.

What I thought in this moment was this: at one time, this old man’s bottom probably looked like Landon’s, when he was a baby, and hopefully with someone cherishing him and loving him, and cuddling him, just like I do my son. What had happened in between? What had life done to this man that now he didn’t care if he lived or died? How far removed from feeling loved must you be to get to that point?

I don’t know the answers of course, and I don’t know what happened to that man. All I know is that no one should feel this way – and that someone, somewhere had failed. We can blame society, the man himself – but let us make sure that as far as it is in our power to communicate love, where we can, that we do it. End of sermon.

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