Shamika, one of my favorite nursing assistants, helped unpack the box of toiletry items. It was incredibly large, holding enough supplies for months on end. As of June 2014, I still have some items left to use. Denise had definitely planned for the long haul. I did not let on to Shamika the significance of receiving the package, but I did want Paulette to know. I took the invoice and headed for her office. Her door was open, so I knocked on the door frame.
“I have got to show you this, because you would not believe it if I just told you.”
I handed her the invoice. She already suspected what it was before even looking at it. She had seen the Federal Express truck, too, and feared the same as I did. She looked at the invoice anyway with bemusement.
“Well, if you wondered whether yesterday was a kiss off, here is undeniable proof.” she laid the invoice on her desk and studied it for a long minute. I assume she was buying time to figure out what to gently say to me. She tapped the invoice with a pen she had been holding. “This is dysfunction at its worst.”
“She lied to me. She said Tony was going to bring this stuff. She never intended for that. She got off the phone, went online, and ordered it instead.”
“She paid for overnight shipping for what would have ben a fifteen minute car trip,” Paulette said.
“Maybe he refused to come. More likely she did not say anything to him at all. She probably does not want him to know she talked to me.”
“You think that’s true?”
He refused to allow the social worker at McLeod-Darlington to speak to her. He told her she could deal with him. I figured I was done for at that point. He finally got his wish. He had suggested assisted living for me as early as 2005 until he realized that had to be paid for out of pocket. What is the next best thing/”
“This," Paulette said. I nodded affirmatively.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“Judging by my experience with this sort of thing in the past, I would think Denise is driven by guilt. Tony seems very controlling. What motivates control is usually fear. My best guess would be tony resents the time Denise spent on you.”
We resented each other period. Personality clash is a kind way of describing our often passive-aggressive dealings with one another. Although I tolerated him a heck of a lot better than he tolerated me. I did not feel like discussing this issue further with Paulette, so I asked the question foremost on my mind.
“If I came in here and said I wanted to leave, can I pack my bags and go?”
“Yes, you signed yourself in,” Paulette said cautiously. “But where would you go?”
“I am not planning to leave yet. I just do not chase rainbows. If denise can do anything to stop me, there is no point in me even thinking about it.”
“She has no control over you. You’d have to sign a document saying you are leaving against medical advice, but that is not a big deal.”
I sat quietly for a moment to let it all sink in. I immediate started to brainstorm where I could go. I could not come up with much. It all seemed like too much of a struggle to bother doing. But the thought of spending the rest of my life in a nursing home was not any more pleasant. There were no good options except one that I could see, so I blurted it out for the first time to anyone other than Denise.
“I would really just like to die.”
I do not think I could have been more blunt about the matter. I had been thinking about it for nine years at that point. I could not muster much emotion about it. It was a moment of weakness that immediately caused me to go into damage control mode. I did not want anyone interfering with any suicide plans. Paulette used that therapist trick of handing a tissue to keep a person from crying. I knew how that worked, and waved her off. I was not going to cry, anyway.
“You don’t have anything to look forward to?” she asked.
She did not answer. I explained to her how I had experimented with suicide methods back in 2004. Denise had even caught me once. I backed off because I thought my health issues would finish me off before long. They still might. But my patience is wearing thin.”
“Are you thinking about harming yourself?”
“I have religious convictions against killing myself.”
That was not really a lie, I rationalized. I did have religious convictions against suicide. Killing yourself is never an option for a Christian. I just did not mention I was willing to ignore my conviction and off myself regardless. The conversation was taking an uncomfortable turn. I did not want to risk any elaboration that might lead to discovery of my intentions, so I cut things short with the declaration I needed to go somewhere and be alone for a while.
Which was not actually true. I left paulette’s office and headed for the therapy room. I had been released from physical and occupational therapy for three weeks at that point. I was too physically ‘advanced” to continue. I loved my girls Ellen, Lesley, and Taryn. I expressed hope they would still be sociable even though they were busy all day. Ellen had invited me to visit the therapy room anytime I wanted. I am always apprehensive about whether people who make offers like that are being earnest in their desire or simply polite and hope I never take them up on it. It was time to test the waters on this one.
It was late afternoon when I walked in, so things were slow. The three of them happily greeted me. I told them I needed to see a friendly face. Lesley struck a ‘at da” pose with a huge grin. I had to laugh. For the first time in a while, I might add. I went over to Ellen sitting at the desk in the corner doing paperwork. She had been a reliable confidant in the past. Young, but mature. I told her the details of the last few days.
“Denise is not coming back for me,” I punctuated the story.
“We are glad to have you,” Ellen said. She was sincere, but I was not ready to embrace Oakhaven.