Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lies, Lies, Lies

Often when I'm wondering why the hell I'm still working in an overstretched NHS I get a timely reminder. Yesterday I was genuinely  moved when a carer told me in  a heartfelt manner that I was like a ray of sunshine in her life. Now a ten percent payrise would be rather wonderful but  confirmation that I'm still making a  difference is worth its weight in gold too.   It brings a smile everytime I think of her words.

I was talking to this woman about life with her husband who has dementia.  His behaviour is getting more and more bizarre and difficult to cope with.   She says that, sometimes to manage, she will tell 'golden lies', fibs that defuse difficult situations and don't hurt anyone. When the dear man gets an idea into his head it can persist for hours if it's not nipped in the bud at the outset. It's at times like this she uses this little resource in her virtual toolbox  to minimse her husband's distress. She was also honest enough to say it's sometimes brought out of the bag just to make her own life a bit easier. After all this is someone who already has more drama in her life than most of us would cope with.

The last time I remember using a golden lie was  when I was single.   There's a sweet man that I often bump into.  I can't work out if he has sustained a head injury, has a learning difficulty or is overmedicated.   He seems to lead a lonely life and  I often pass the time of day.  Once he asked hopefully whether I had a boyfriend.   When I said yes I was a liar, liar, clearly with pants on fire. I still can't quite reconcile being untruthful but maybe a knock to my conscience is a reasonable price for it avoided a vulnerable person feeling hurt and embarrassed.

I often lie by omission too with similar motives to avoid inflicting  undue suffering..  What trouble could I cause by  letting a person know that I'm taking them from their home and they'll never return there?  A demonstration for sure that things are rarely black and white and that we often have to resort to the grey zone.  I like to think that a judge might understand why I do not always tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Let's lighten up shall we?  Here's Baron Munchausen whose fantastical stories delighted many and stretched the knicker elastic of honesty beyond its limits to good effect. Ping!

4 comments:

  1. There are a lot of gray zones on truth. Sparing immediate pain is understandable but if the truth comes out later, knowing I was originally lied to hurts even more.I think your lie, to a passerby is justifiably kind.

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    1. I agree with what you said about the hurt being magnified if the truth comes out later.

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  2. I believe that telling lies is always wrong but we need to be tactful and we don't have to answer someone who doesn't have the right to know the truth. Being kind and loving is not always compatible with unvarnished truth. When my Mum was first in a care home, I heard whacking great lies told by staff to dementia patients, e.g. "I rang your Daddy up at work and he said he'll be home late." I promised myself to be more truthful when Mum's dementia got worse. One day, she forgot my Dad had died 15 or so years before. I gently reminded her of the truth and was appalled by her stricken expression. I learned to gently ask questions such as "Is he working late tonight?" or "No, I haven't seen him today, but wouldn't he be at work now?" which usually settled her down. Sometimes going along with someone in their fantasy is the best for them. If a chld was playing princesses, I would go along with their game. On the day my Mum died, while we were waiting for her to be washed and dressed ready for the undertakers, an old lady with dementia was crying because nobody believed she was a princess, but she was because her Daddy said so! I knelt down next to her chair and said something like, "Never mind, we know you are, don't we?" The manager gave me such a lovely smile. I am so glad I did that, wishing for her to be happy in the lovely home where my Mum spent her last years.

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    1. A really interesting response. Thanks for taking the time. I've heard some really inept lies told to people with dementia that I felt definitely fell out of the class of 'golden'. Then again I've seen some very skilled responses where someone has worked with a person's sense of reality. xx

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