The previous day I noticed the two plastic hospital bags packed full of Lamin's clothes smelled as though they had not been washed in a while. I left home in plenty of time to stop at Wal-Mart and pick up socks, t-shirts, underwear, and lounge pants before visiting Lamin on my way to work.
I found him in good spirits as he waited for his breakfast. His aide and I chatted briefly as I put the new clothes into the closet with his other belongings. I wrote my name and number on his whiteboard and told the pair I'd be back after work. On my way out, I stopped by the second floor nurse station. I'd been irritated the previous day with the unconcerned attitude I received when I asked for a dry erase marker to communicate with Lamin. "There seemed to be a shortage of Expo markers yesterday, and I thought you could use these." I set a new jumbo pack on the desk and walked away from the speechless staff. I've learned over the years there's no better way to get over your irritation with someone than to kill 'em with kindness.
Later in the morning Lamin's aide called me and said he had been discharged and was waiting to be transported back to the rehab facility. I rushed over after work where I met an administrator leaving work for the day. I explained the situation, telling her that I understand that she was bound by law regarding patient privacy. "I only want to know if patients here are allowed visitation because I promised my friend I would visit him this afternoon."
"You would have to have a patient number given to you by the patient in order to visit."
"But how would he give me that number if he is deaf and cannot call me?"
"Wait...who is the patient?"
"I can't tell you if he is a patient here, but visitation will be tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. if you want to come at that time and see if he has given someone the code to give to you." Her smile reassured me that someone would get the message to him.
The next afternoon I arrived, hopeful that I would see Lamin. After hearing my spiel, the receptionist asked me to take a seat and left her station. In a few minutes she returned, and as she told me to follow her I saw the paper in her hand--"Miss Holly is here" in large pink highlighter letters. "He said you may visit him."
I saw Lamin through the glass window. He looked dejected and anxious as he stared at the man who was talking to him. The expression did not lift when I entered, but he acknowledged me as the man introduced himself as John, Lamin's insurance case manager. The noise in the room made conversation nearly impossible, and for once I was glad Lamin could not hear. The yellow walls could not cheer the room that was large enough to hold the number of people in it but not sufficient for the conversation of families excited to see their loved ones.
I left that day with little more than the name and number of a group home John recommended and the satisfaction of having broken through the red tape and seen my friend. Now that I had his patient number, I'd be able to come during the next visitation on Friday afternoon.
I used the next two days to contact the group home. When I finally got someone on the phone, she kindly told me the information the rehab facility would need to fax. I message Lamin's social worker, but she was off that day. "Just txt me tomorrow and remind me. I took off today. Thanks for the help." More waiting.
On Friday, she faxed the info but could not reach anyone at the group home office. I knew it was out of my hands, so I focused on my visit with Lamin. When I arrived he excitedly pulled a paper out of his pocket. "Holly, read this! I want you to read this!"
Wherever there is true fellowship and love between people, God's spirit is always there as the Divine Third. In all human relationships, the Divine Spirit is what brings them together. When a life is changed through the channel of another person, it is God, the Divine Third, who always makes the change, using the person as a means. The moving power behind all spiritual things, all personal relationships between people is God, the Divine Third, who is always there. No personal relationships can be entirely right without the presence of God's spirit.
"God the Father has brought you to me, Holly. I know this. He has saved my life, and I do not want to drink again."
Lamin and I talked about the group home we were working to get him into, and I asked if there was anything he needed. I left that day with a list--reading glasses, slippers, and a newspaper--and promised Lamin I'd be back Monday.
I had no idea that Monday would introduce a new twist. About mid-morning I received a call from the social worker. "Lamin is being discharged today, and I have not heard back from the group home. Do you know who you spoke to there last week?" She had not gotten a response after faxing his information Friday.
"I'll take an early lunch and go over there. He has nowhere to go if they don't take him."
The conditions at the home were even drearier than the rehab facility. I followed a kitchen worker to the back of the property where a couple of trailers served as the administrative offices where I was told yet again that Lamin's "condition" would make it difficult for them to help him. They had not received the fax from his social worker but would look at his information when they received it. I contacted the social worker and asked her to fax the info again, but I knew in my heart this would not be his home. These were more people who didn't want the extra work of a resident with a hearing impairment.
I drove to the Salvation Army and talked to Dan about what had transpired over the last couple of weeks since I had placed Lamin in his care. He agreed to let Lamin stay there for 2-3 nights while we sorted out the group home situation.
A couple of hours later I met Lamin at the rehab hospital for discharge. While he had some of his clothes, no one could located his overnight bag, a couple pair of his shoes, or his plastic bag that was filled with what few documents he had. "Perhaps they were lost at the other hospital when he went there for chest pains."
Frustrated, but determined, we left with his discharge papers, prescriptions for his heart medication, and orders to get him to his PCP on Wednesday for a noon appointment. "What pharmacy do you use?" I wrote in my notebook. "CVS," Lamin said.
I prayed they would fill the prescriptions without his insurance card. They did. We added some toiletries to the $4 total as well as some nail clippers, comb, and a pill case (there were so many meds I was afraid he'd take the wrong ones!). I explained that he would stay at the Salvation Army while we continued to work on a home for him.
"It is good," he said. "I like that man there. It will be a good place for me."
I knew my friend would be okay now, even if just for a couple more days. They would watch out for him at the Salvation Army. We prayed, and I told Lamin to be ready at 11:30 on Wednesday for his doctor's appointment. I left him with his new reading glasses, slippers, and newspaper.
And still we waited.