It’s training day at the hospital. We’ve each been paired with a partner to reenact crisis behaviors, by order of severity. Grabbing. Hair-pulling. Choking. Biting.
In the first scenario, I am a feeble old woman. I stoop my back and pretend to bite softly into my partner’s arm.
“Please stop biting me,” my partner says.
“Okay,” I say softly, my dentures falling to the ground.
In the second scenario, I am a small but angry adolescent. I bite down hard on her arm and growl.
My partner holds me by the head and disentangles her arm from my mouth.
In the third scenario, I am patient of indeterminate age with great jaw strength.
I pretend to bite down on her arm even harder, and she pushes her hand towards my mouth, so my teeth widen and lose their grip.
“It’s called ‘feeding the bite’,” the instructor says. “So you don’t lose flesh,”
I make a mental note to remember the words. They seem to contain a fundamental truth; we have to give in in order to get through the pain. I try it out. “Sometimes, you just need to feed the bite.”
“Do you think it’ll catch on?” I ask my partner.
“Unlikely,” she says.