There's a Spider on the Wall!

At age ninety, Cora Jones suffered moments when her memory failed—her nephew’s name, the gist of Sunday’s sermon, what she ate for lunch, and what her daughter told her she wanted for Christmas. Thus, when she was admitted to the hospital for an emergency gall bladder surgery, no one was surprised when she couldn’t remember the name of her blood pressure medication. The nurse quickly concluded Cora must have Alzheimer’s and passed along her suspicion to the nurse scheduled for the night shift. When Cora pushed the nurse button to report a huge spider crawling on the wall above her bed, the nurse didn’t take her seriously. The woman was obviously “sun-downing.” The nurse cranked down the morphine drip, confident that would take care of the “spider.”

But thirty minutes later, Cora rattled her bed rails and mashed on the nurse button again. “I can’t sleep with that spider glaring at me. It could be a brown recluse waiting to bite me.” (She seemed to have no problem coming up with the name “brown recluse!”)  The nurse documented in the medical record that not only was Cora seeing things, now she’d become paranoid. She re-assured Cora through the intercom, “Now, now, dearie. There’s no spider, it’s just your morphine making you see things.”

The nurse turned the morphine drip completely off and called the surgeon requesting an anti-psychotic for Cora. But Cora refused to take it: “I don’t need drugs! I need you to kill that spider on my wall.”

The nurse smiled and shook her head in a patronizing manner. She exited the room, refusing to validate Cora’s fear by actually inspecting the wall.

Of course, when I entered Cora’s room the next morning to check on her, the first words out of her mouth were, “I couldn’t sleep a wink with that huge spider on the wall. That nurse didn’t believe me and kept turning down my pain medicine—now I hurt so bad I can barely roll over. She just wanted to drug me up with some looney-tune drug so I wouldn’t notice when that spider bit me.”

I inspected the walls, just to prove to Cora there was no spider. I nearly dropped my morning coffee when there on the wall, directly above Cora’s head, WAS in fact, a large spider sitting in the middle of his web! Cora pointed accusingly at the arachnid. “I told that nurse there was a spider. She wouldn’t even look! She should be fired!”

Moral of the story? Listen to memory-challenged people. Not every word they say is delusional.