Today’s most-emailed story at the New York Times tells the story of a medical student, Kristen Murphy, who voluntarily spent two weeks as a wheelchair-using “patient” in a nursing home in preparation for specializing in geriatrics. It’s an otherwise engrossing read, but I had to read the following passage a half dozen times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating:
No one said a word the first time Ms. Murphy showed up at the daily bingo game. She started to talk to anyone who would listen. And she was surprised what happened.
First she bonded with Camille Stanley, the “queen bee” of the social scene. Then she found Dr. Thomas N. Silverberg, 89, a former internist and arthritis specialist with advanced rheumatoid arthritis. “My specialty is slowly killing me,” Dr. Silverberg said.
The two talked for hours about life and medicine. Unlike the friendships she makes as an adult, slowly nurtured over dinners and drinks, bonds in a nursing home, where there is nothing to do but talk, are forged quickly and deeply.
(The whole thing is here. My emphasis.)
Whoa! How, exactly, does the clock run backward? Is it becoming an octogenarian that cancels out being an adult? Or does entering a nursing home do the trick? I’d like to know, since my parents are well into their seventies, and I don’t think they’re quite ready to stop being “grow-mutts,” as my younger son says, just yet.
Or maybe these nursing-home residents have discovered the fountain of youth?
All snark aside, it’s plenty unfortunate that the author, Katie Zezima, used that phrasing. It’s inexcusable that her editors didn’t catch it.