~ Physician, Heal Thyself ~

It was funny how sometimes giving advice was so much easier than taking it oneself. What was it she'd told Alexis Davis only hours earlier? Oh, yes... 'It isn't a crime to ask for help. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to realize that you can't do it all. Not alone.'

Those words were coming back to haunt her.

Psychiatrist Lainey Winters sighed deeply and rolled the soiled bed sheets into a ball. "I am just going to put these in the hamper outside," Lainey announced. "I'll be right back with fresh clean linen for you. Alright?"

Lainey did not await a response. Today was not one of his better days. She'd been at the facility an hour now and he hadn't said a word to her. He hadn't really acknowledged her presence.

Days like today were hardest on her. She realized a few months earlier that she would rather encounter confusion and lack of recognition from her father than have him be the unresponsive human shell that he was today.

"So," Lainey asked, forcing cheerfulness as she walked back into the room with an armful of fresh linen, "what was your day like today?" She wondered if her words sounded as patently false to his ears as they did to hers. Still, she kept a bright smile plastered to her face.

"My day," Lainey launched into a recount, "was interesting. I had one case of Panic Disorder, a Borderline Personality right before lunch, two Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders... and you aren't going to believe my last patient. I had a session with what I really believe will be a diagnosis of Folie a deux! What?" Lainey pretended her father had spoken. "You've never seen such a case in all the years you've practiced? Details?" Lainey shook her head. "You know I can't give you any details. Doctor-patient confidentiality."

The young psychiatrist's eyes filled with tears. "Probably the biggest case I'll ever have and you aren't really here to share it with." Her voice caught. "I miss our conversations, Daddy. I miss you." Lainey dropped the bundle of sheets onto the bed. She knelt beside her father's chair and grasped his large, warm hand in hers. "Daddy? It's me, Lainey."

Eight years of medical training mocked the unrealistic hope she clung to that one day her father would just blink and snap out of his mind's private hell. It was that same hope that had kept Lainey from putting her father into Rose Lawn Nursing Home until just over a year ago. Roger Winters' care had gotten to be too much for his only child. After much tears and doubt, Lainey placed her Alzheimer's-stricken father into the best facility her salary could afford. She'd let her apartment go and moved into a place with several other roommates. They all thought she wanted the companionship. The truth was that Lainey was desperate to save money in any way she could. Her father was well cared for at Rose Lawn. The young psychiatrist would do whatever it took to make sure he could remain there as long as possible.