Page 11: Joe Learns to Eat Food

After Alice finished explaining what cars were, she regained her stern disposition.  She called the nurses’ station.  “Can you see if Mr. Aden’s dinner will be coming soon?  If not, see if you can put a rush on it.” 

Within a matter of minutes, one of the other nurses came into the room with Joe’s food tray.  “Dinner time!”   

Alice got up from Joe’s bed, grabbed the tray, placed it on the dining cart, and rolled it in front of Joe.  Joe looked at the food.  He didn’t know what to do.

“You just gonna look at the food?  Eat!  How’d you get to be so big and strong if you never eat?” Alice chided.  

Joe just sat there.

Realizing that Joe needed help, the nurse cursed, “Jesus Christ, I don’t know why I get all the tough ones.”

She unrolled his napkin and removed the eating utensils, all nicely wrapped inside, and placed the fork and the knife on Joe’s plate.  Then she laid the napkin on his chest. 

Joe looked at the two silver objects sitting on his plate.  He wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead, eat!” the nurse said as she moved her clenched hand to her mouth in an eating fashion.

Joe looked at her carefully.  He cautiously reached for the knife, put it in the mashed potatoes on his plate, and then moved it up to his mouth, just like the nurse did with her hand.

“No, no!  Not your knife!  You need to use your fork.” 
Joe stared at her.
“Here, let me show you.”  Alice softened a bit and took the knife out of Joe’s hand and replaced it with his fork.  Then she took his hand and helped him scoop some mashed potatoes onto his fork and brought the fork up to his mouth.  “Open wide,” she said.

Joe liked the feel of the mashed potatoes in his mouth.  There was something in his brain that told him he liked the taste of them.  He scooped up another bite with his fork, just as Alice had shown him the first time.  Within three bites, the mashed potatoes were gone.  He wanted more, but he didn’t know how to communicate that, so he just sat there.

“Something to drink?” Alice asked.

Again, Joe remained motionless.

“OK, how about your milk here?” she asked as she handed the milk glass to Joe.  Joe took the glass and put it up to his mouth.  He tried to drink some, but it just dribbled out the sides of his mouth.

“Oh yeah, your mom says you need a straw.”  Alice took the straw laying on the tray, removed the paper and placed it inside of the glass of milk. 
Joe just looked at it.
“OK, watch me,” Alice said.  She put the straw close to her lips, pursed her lips together, opened them just a bit, and drew breath in.  “That’s how you suck it up into your mouth.”

Joe watched her closely and did exactly what Alice had done.  This time, he successfully managed to get the milk into his mouth to quench his thirst.
Facts: Joe didn’t know what eating utensils were, and he did use a knife to scoop his mashed potatoes the first time he saw eating utensils after his shock treatments. Joe did always drink from a straw.

One Response to Page 11: Joe Learns to Eat Food

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thinking it might be hard to find metal eating utensils in the psychiatric unit of any hospital

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