This is a series of posts that profile each of the main characters from my first novel Here Today. Astrid Reinhart is a young therapist taking on a short-term locum position in palliative care, the last place she expected to find herself. Usually, Astrid works in rehab, so how does she approach people with no hope of rehabilitating? Astrid is rootless and restless, never holding jobs down for long, never finding her place.
But things are changing. She has recently reconnected and moved in as flatmate with her old childhood friend, Leith, who fills her head with bravado and fuck-off philosophy. When she is approached by Martin Finn to help him write a new story, her immediate instinct is to say no, but she reconsiders and in the process opens a world of stories.
But Astrid has her own story and to share it means breaking down the professional facade she has spent years building around herself. Astrid has to make herself vulnerable before she can really help the people around her.
From the novel
Everything is so hot in here. My chest struggles to rise against oppressive humidity. Something has gripped my belly and is slowly, relentlessly squeezing.
Why is there even an occupational therapist on this ward? It’s all very well to forget everything you think you know, but if that’s the extent of the orientation, then it must rest on the expectation that a few dead patients will fill in the blanks.
The written material offers little more than the location of the fire exits. There’s nothing in there about cynical eye-rolling masquerading as a communication strategy. Nothing about relaxation sessions becoming anyone’s exit point.
Maybe that stodgy old script should include the last rites.
And the question remains: why does this ward need an occupational therapist?
(okay stop, think)
In therapy we broaden the definition of occupation to become inclusive of any daily activity. Brushing teeth is occupation. Making meals is occupation. Catching a bus is occupation.
Is dying occupation?