The next morning, I sat in the lobby during the early morning in order to watch the world pass. Paulette came over to ask if I was all right. I had declined her offer to find counseling for me the previous evening. The thought of counseling possessed a stigma my sense of inner strength would not allow. But when I realized that was only pride talking, I changed my mind. I had coped with life by myself for too long. I was not good at it anymore. She agreed to arrange something, then left.
Shamika sat down after a while. She had noticed my odd reaction to last night’s special delivery, so I filled her in on everything but the death wish I had confessed to Paulette. Shamika put her arm around me and told me my sister’s loss was oak haven’s gain. She was sincere, although I am certain she thought I would consider that the proper thing to say at the time. She added there are some people who are just impossible to not love. I was one of them. Shamika was, without a doubt, sincere with that one. Even my finely tuned skepticism could not put a dent in her words.
I hit the trifecta that afternoon. The activities director took me walking outside to talk. She not to worry. I would be treated like family at oak haven. Oh, dear. I was afraid of that might be the case.
The trifecta is all I could manage that day before my luck did its usual swan dive into a pool with no water. My roommate, John, had not said ten words to me since I moved into the room. He laid quietly in his bed all day, only getting up to eat in the dining hall. This was the way he liked his routine. It was fine with me, until I discovered absolute silence after dark was another thing he demanded--or else.
I had not been a problem before now. We each had our own television sets. He never watched his. I did not watch television much at all, and never at night. But this happened to be the first night of the baseball playoffs. The Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers were playing the American League’s new single game wild card. I was not even paying the game much attention. I was laying on the bed moping. Around nine o’clock, John let me and everyone else in oak haven know how he felt about my television viewing.
“Turn that G-d d-mn thing off!” he screamed.
I did not even realize it was John at first. He had been nothing but silent for three weeks. I assumed another resident had wandered in. there were a number of dementia sufferers who are frequent offenders of mistakenly going into other residents’ rooms believing it to be theirs, then throwing a fit when a stranger is laying in their bed. But when I peered around the curtain, I saw no one. So I had to ask John.
“Are you talking to me?”
“H-ll yes, I’m talking to you!” He was enraged, and becoming moreso as the nurses’ desk cleared and filled up our room. “I told him to turn that G-d d-mn thing off! I can’t rest!”
The nurses tried to calm him down as I first turned the volume down, then just turned the thing off altogether. I already had more trouble than I could handle. Digging my heels in to watch baseball was not worth it. One of the nurses assured me I could still watch television, then told John I had the right to do so. That turned out to be a bad move.
“Then get his -ss out of here! I never liked him no G-d d-mn way! He makes too much noise! We ought not even have a TV in here, anyway!”
I had to sit there on my bed while he ranted about how miserable I had made him since the time I walked through the door. He eventually calmed down, so the nurses left. A few minutes later, the floor supervisor quietly slipped in to ask if I was okay. I said yes just to avoid any soothing of ruffled feathers. She left, then came back a few minutes later with another nurse. They had decided to move me to another room that night. So I walked to the opposite wing in my socks and pajamas while dragging the IV pole to which my feeding tube was connected. I did not classify this as a good night.
I later learned through the grapevine John suffered an aneurism nine years before . The lingering damage caused him to fly off the handle periodically for the flimsiest of reasons. He had a string of roommates he had run off. As of June 2014, he has chased off three more. No one thought to warn me John would not be a good roommate choice. The lack of warning is particularly irritating since I moved out of my previous room specifically because my roommate there screamed at people all the time. I would soon learn making dumb decisions while never taking responsibility when they blow up in everyone’s faces was standard operating procedure at Oakhaven.
One good thing did come out of the whole room switch debacle. My new roommate was Mr. Cagle, a nice gentlemen who was staying at Oaakhaven while undergoing cancer treatment. He had all his marbles along with a good sense of humor. He was good company. The bad part--depending on your perspective--was my suicide plan had been turned upside down. I was now in a different wing with a different staff and routine, not to mention a roommate in his right mind. My new room had a bathroom that locked, but being caught in the act of taking my own life was again a strong possibility until I could figure out the general routine of everyone around me. Itf it was not one thing, it was another.