What Would You Do To Help The Lester Family?
Scene: Soft music plays as Sunee stands up and turns towards Dee. The two stare at each other. Dee moves toward Sunee, but Sunee walks around her, opens the door, and steps into the darkness. Dee turns around and reaches out, but it’s too late; Sunee is gone. Dee walks over to the open door and looks longingly into the black emptiness. She slowly lowers her head and closes the door. She turns toward the couch walks over and sits down. Dee buries her head in her hands, and her shoulders begin to shake as if she is overcome with great grief. The lights go down and the music fades out. The audience can only hear Vern’s moans from the bed. Gwenn walks out of the darkness, steps up to the Lester’s front door, and knocks three times.
Dee: (Dee does not look up when Gwenn knocks. Gwenn knocks three more times. On the second knock, Dee lifts her head. Vern gives an extra loud moan. He is still in obvious pain. Dee gets up and walks towards the door, grabs the nob and opens it. She avoids eye contact when she speaks to Gwenn. She is self -conscious and does not want Gwenn to see that she’s been crying)…Hi Gwenn…Thank ya’ for comin’ out tonight…You just missed our daughter, Sunee. That’s Sunee with two e’s (Dee says this last phrase in a flat disinterested tone as if she expects Gwenn to wonder about the spelling, but she is just too distracted and sad to give any energy to a phrase she usually loves to say. Gwenn can sense that something is wrong, and Dee’s lowered eyes and defeated tone tells her that Dee is emotionally spent.)…Come on in… (Dee steps aside to let Gwenn in.)
Gwenn: (stepping through the door) Sunee, that’s a pretty name… (turning to Dee)…Hi Dee, how are you? (Gwenn can see Dee is sad, so she uses a tone that is bright and hopeful.)
Dee: (crushed and defeated) Ohh…fair to midland I guess.
Gwenn: (While Gwenn is eager to begin talking about Vern, she recognizes Dee’s emotional pain. Gwenn also knows that Dee should be in a balanced state of mind and body if Vern is going to get the care and attention he needs from Dee. So, Gwenn spends some time with Dee as she makes her way to Vern’s bed.) Now Dee, I am sorry to hear that, but I sure can understand why. You’ve done an amazing job taking care of Vern, but it is a lot for any one person to handle. That’s why I am here. Now, let me take a look at Vern and then we can talk some more.
Vern lets out a loud and painful wail. Gwenn bends down to Vern and verbally comforts him. Gwenn has her comprehensive assessment with her, and she is filling out information as she talks. She tells Dee about the comprehensive assessment, what she’s filling out, and why. Far from being just a part of routine paperwork, Gwenn knows that the comprehensive assessment is a valuable tool to help her map positive healthcare outcomes and open lines of communication with the patient and family. During this part of the assessment, Gwenn focuses on Vern’s physical condition. She is able to figure out why Vern is still in physical pain and adjusts his medication so that he is comfortable. Once he is out of pain, Vern is a bit more communicative. He is able to express some of his needs and his concern over the rift between Dee and Sunee. Gwenn sees a picture of the Lester family near Vern’s bed and uses it as a way to talk about Sunee. Vern looks toward Dee. Her physical posture stiffens; she crosses her arms over her chest, and does not make eye contact with anyone when Gwenn brings up Sunee.
Dee feels that Sunee loves her father but does not respect her as the mother. She thinks that Sunee should have as much compassion for her and what she is going through, as Sunee has for her father. Finally, Dee feels that Sunee blames her for Vern’s condition. In truth, she is confused about Vern’s medication and his symptoms. She is still unclear on his course of treatment and concerned that he is not really eating. Dee wonders if his lack of appetite is related to his medication. All of these unanswered questions and unresolved issues only heighten her anxiety and make her fear that she is going to do something that will hurt Vern. This fear begins to whisper doubt in her ear every time she touches him, so she second guesses everything related to Vern’s care.