The Poetry of Caregiving
only by inserting his hands into heavy gloves built into the curtain. Even conversation was difficult because of noise from the fans that kept unsterile air from entering Kenyon's room.
Hall and her caregivers were worried that this isolation would be difficult for Kenyon, who had suffered from manic depression for many years. "The nurses in Seattle were also worried about me," Hall admits. "They tried to make me go away for a few days. There was a magical thought I had that if I did everything right, I could keep her."
But it was not to be. Nevertheless, in the process of trying, Hall— who admits to being a total technophobe ("I can't even handle a cell phone," he says)—learned how to run the medical machinery she would need at home and to administer her medications (which at one point amounted to 55 pills a day). "I actually infused her," Hall says proudly, "and I learned how to hydrate her and handle the pumps. After she died, I had lots of dreams that she had died because I had forgotten her medication."
Hall was truly grateful then and is still amazed now by the quality of care they received at both hospitals, particularly from the oncology nurses at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In the journal Kenyon kept during her 15-month illness, she wrote: "The nurses remind me of Special Collection librarians the way they guard me." In The Best Day, The Worst Day, Hall wrote: "No one medical ever minced words with us; no one condescended or minimized danger."
"They were an extraordinary bunch," Hall says, "the best I've ever known. They were extremely close to the patients and