The Comfort Pizza: Katie’s TMI Project Story

Randy was truly difficult from the first day that I met him in the hospital.

“I’m your case manager”

“So”

I showed him the proof, he was considered legally incapacitated, and now he had a court appointed guardian. He didn’t care.

I established his Social Security Benefits, I applied for his medicaid. I moved him from behind a 7-11 to an Assisted Living Facility. He started smoking in the bathroom and was kicked out. So I moved him to a shitty assisted living facility. He kept calling 9-1-1 and was kicked out. I moved him into a sober living rooming house but I was now pissed. Because he couldn’t follow rules, I was now responsible for feeding him and getting him to his medical appointments. Thankfully he hated doctors and refused his appointments including the dialysis that he needed. “You’re going to die, do you want to die?”

“I aint died yet”

How could I argue.

The day Randy bled out his housemate found him. I got the call at 7:30. Fuck.  The attending doctor wanted to change his level of care to hospice but randy refused He’s not dying according to him..

Randy had cheated and stolen over so many years of drug abuse that he had alienated his family and  was left with only me: the Court Ordered Compassionate Stranger.

This is not my first hospice rodeo with a client. He is in bed, watching Wheel of Fortune. His skin is the color of a 1974 motor home. “Hey, did the doctor talk with you?”

“Yep” he is trying not to cry.

Dying people don’t eat so I’m not surprised that his dinner tray is untouched. “You don’t want your pears?” I joke.

“I wanted pizza…. “ The nurse interrupted “ you are currently on restorative care and get the restorative diet..”

“Randy on hospice care, you can eat anything you want…” and I sit with him a long while “do you want your pizza?”

And it was for a piece of pizza that Randy goes into hospice care.

I get him a slice from the cafeteria but he can manage only one bite. I hold his hand. He tells me that he loves me. I never have a problem telling the dying that I love them, too.  I give the doctor permission to change his level of care and go home. Such finality good work, Katie.. I am tired, I have been working all day and now it is late, dark, cold. I go home and sleep deeply and sound.

TMI Project is a 501c3 non-profit organization offering transformative memoir workshops and performances that invite storytellers and audience members to explore new perspectives. By sharing bravely and candidly, storytellers become agents of change, fostering compassion, understanding and public awareness.

We offer memoir and monologue writing workshops that culminate in storytelling performances, or published material. Through the ancient art of storytelling, participants divulge the parts of their stories that they usually leave out — the parts they are usually too ashamed or embarrassed to share — and the parts others most want to hear, fostering greater understanding and compassion among people. Participants turn their pasts into testimonials of survival, dispelling old shame and inspiring others. Both story-teller and listener can then rewrite their future.

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