Other than going for physical and occupational therapy for about an hour and a half a day, I never left my room. I did not want to be reminded of where I was period, much less think I might be condemned to remain here forever. It did not help much that I was required to select a funeral home to use “just in case” during my admissions interview. From the interview, which was conducted by the social worker, Paulette, until confirmation in early October, everyone knew there was something peculiar about the relationship with my sister. Why did she never contact me, even when I was moved from McLeod-Darlington to Oakhaven? Why did all our calls to her go to voicemail? Why did she leave him with so few items with which to stay here? No one had the nerve to actually ask, thankfully. I was still quiet as a mouse.
Oakhaven, however, was not. My room was close enough to the East Wing nurses’ desk the angry shouts and frightened screams of the extremely far gone dementia patients across from the desk could be heard in stereo well into the night. My roommate suffered from dementia as well. He would often bellow and threaten anyone who interrupted his sleep by screaming. I was in the bed closer to the door, so he had to shout at them over me. It made sleeping consistently through the night impossible. He always had the heat on because of his blood pressure medication. Add to this misery my feeding tube now being connected to an IV drip and you can guess why I was teetering closer to the edge by the day.
My thoughts began again to turn towards suicide. I had not seriously considered the hands on approach in a very long time. I had been content to allow my poor health to finish me off. The burst diverticula the previous October seemed like a decent prospect that kept on cruelly teasing me as I languished for months withering away from weight loss. I even thought the fissure might do it, but three months on, it was only causing a few bumps in the road. While I would still have preferred to go home--I even tried to be sent back to McLeod-Darlington--reality was quickly sinking in. As usual, I can only depend on myself when something needs to be done right. For a long time, it was my mother and me against a harsh, uncaring world. Not it was me alone.
My first obstacle was finding a place to do the deed. I could not do anything with a private place to work. My room was out of the question. My bed was closest to the door, so I definitely could not lay there and do anything without someone seeing. While my roommate slep sixteen hours a day, he was up at unpredictable times. His mind was still good enough he could probably recognize I was doing and call for help. Nursing staff came in to tend to him every two hours all day and night regardless. The bathroom was out, too. It was little more than a cubicle with door that would not lock. I was desperate, but undaunted. I would simply look around for a usable option.
So I started venturing out the room beyond the path to the therapy room. Ironically, the staff was happy to see me finally getting out. I guess they thought I was finally acclimating to nursing home life. I confess to a certain thrill at sneaking around while quietly planning my exit. Oakhaven was boring enough that a resident much manufacture his own fun. Well, the 90% who did nothing but eat and sleep never worried about such frivolity, but I did. I started sitting in the lobby a while to see how staff scurries about. I had always eaten in my room, so the dining hall was completely unknown to me. Finally, I began taking laps around the residents’ halls so I could check out the whole building. It was tough going.
The staff covered the place pretty well at all times. There were four showers, one on each hall, but if a nurse did not see me enter, a surveillance camera would. I was not clear whether someone constantly watched those or viewed them after an incident, so I was not going to risk it. Asking for clarification on the matter might have aroused suspicions. I was aware residents had pulled shenanigans in the past, so staff was on guard for anyone who might be up to something. I did not think anyone suspected anything about me yet.
The same went for the public restrooms along the hallway to the therapy room and some administrative offices. The doors were too narrow for wheelchairs to fit in order to ensure only staff and visitors used them. One day during physical therapy, I asked my therapist, Taryn, if I could use that men’s room during a break. Yes, that was fine. The walker Oakhaven made me use would not fit through the door, so I had to leave it outside. Once inside, I noted the restroom was very large. It also had a door that locked. It looked like my only option.
Weekdays were not an option, however. Too many staff walked by the restroom. They would have seen the walker and knocked on the door to see if I needed help. A locked door for a resident is highly discouraged. Weekends were better. The therapt room and offices were closed. Hardly anyone walked by the door. I even used that bathroom several times a day over a couple weekends so anyone who happened by would not think seeing my walker there was unusual.
The first step was out of the way. I had the place. Now I needed the means.