Rings in the water
Clancy, Anne; Balteskard, Bjørg; Perander, Bente; Mahler, Marianne.
Older persons' narrations on falls and falling - stories of courage and endurance. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 2015 ;Volum 10
" I just wanted to send you something I have done with the article that you wrote on an older person’s narration on falls and falling, and I must compliment you on the sensitivity and numbers of research perspectives you have taken to support this paper. (...)
Please accept the poem as a thank you for this research and I hope many will read it and understand its implications.
Ruth Chalkley "
"Thinking with stories does not mean that we work on the narratives, but allow the narratives to work on us (Frank, 1995).
The observations illustrated passivity in the nursing home sitting rooms. The staff were there and catered to individual needs. The patients mostly sat there, television on. Nobody seemed to be watching it. The sitting room has the character of a waiting room, the staff are present: they wander back and forth, other than the noise from the TV and the odd call for help there is silence. (Field notes)
We live in the north of Norway.
North of the Arctic Circle. Tromso.
Our winters here are long with plenty of snow,
winters often below freezing point,
and snow covers icy paths and roads.
The winter and lack of sunlight is a challenge for us elderly;
we spend more time indoors.
We were all born between 1914 and 1927.
We are aged between seventy-five and ninety-eight,
living no longer at home.
We could answer their questions.
Our strength was taken into account.
Over a period of 2 years, six of us talked.
Our men farmed, worked in fishing, or built boats.
We women catered for our families.
It was hard to endure their long times out at sea.
We were not wealthy,
but we could live off the land and sea and never went hungry.
We have lived there most of our lives, in close contact with the elements.
We women adapted to our circumstances,
Being optimistic and dealing with our ailments,
Finding meaningful activities in the little things.
We men we could speak about our past,
telling stories about our former lives gave us
a chance to show our strength and endurance.
Nils says that he had never fallen.
I fell and broke my hip, confessed Hans.
I remember once I fell at the table,
I couldn't get up and had to crawl over to the bed.
The whole floor was covered in blood.
I was out for the count- banged my head on the wall and then on the floor
Falling: we don't think too much about it, say Eva and Vera.
Eva, at eighty-seven, often walks even in the wintertime.
When the roads are icy I use studded boots, but they are a bit too heavy.
I would like to try other models. I prefer my crampons.
I use walking poles as well to help me feel more stable.
I fell at home, not much to tell about it really, says Anna.
I believe that I will get better day by day,
you have to be optimistic, can't be negative.
I am an old lady, so as long as I'm up and about and can manage I am satisfied.
I have my ailments, heart and back, but I manage.
I try to be independent but I don't find the roller walker easy to use.
I have cushioned that handle and I try to practice.
The nurse dropped me. It was because of the roller walker that I fell.
I have banged my head so many times, I’m surprised it's still stuck on, said Martin.
I am finished, completely finished, I am stuck here at the nursing home.
I used to work; I remember I cut 5 acres of grass with a scythe one summer.
Forty to fifty women came to the island during the summer;
they dried and salted the cod, laid them out on the rocks to dry.
It was a good time to be a man.
As far as I know they get old people here to knit,
I could do that if I could get my fingers around it.
I can't walk about but could do something with my arms.
They asked me- what about mending fishing nets?
No, but I could play the accordion,
I used to do that before; I wonder where that is now?
I remember when I was working on an arctic seal hunting ship, says Hans.
We started to cut with the welding torch: there was smoke everywhere.
Normally we cut from the outside, but this time we had no choice
and had to work from the inside.
There was no ventilation. I was in there in the thick of cutting.
My nephew was with me, he asked me if I’d gone mad.
The room was black with smoke; there were no floorboards so I had to jump from beam to beam.
F***ing hell, when I think of what I have been through and endured.
I was a welder, a mechanic, a plumber.
I was everything. I had to keep going.
We agreed that we could not survive without nursing care.
They noticed how we liked our walkers.
I can't walk without my roller walker; I have to have it, says Vera.
Martin says if it's slippery outside I just don't go out.
That's the problem;
look at that, says Nils, pointing to his foot.
I used to go fishing with my brothers,
we survived storms at sea.
Storms this big, in a tiny boat.
Those were the days.
When I am about to get out of bed
I know if I am man enough to walk on my own,
I don't feel I am taking a chance.
I decide on the spur of the moment
and I see that my roller walker friend is over there and say
“You stay, I go.”
It's when I feel well enough.
If I fall, I fall; I am not afraid of falling or dying.
Its good to remember and talk.
That’s what they did in the old days.
I hope what we tell them will teach them things."
We can all learn things from each other
and make the days here seem less long.