Monday, April 27, 2015

Cracks in the Ice

       It should be clear by now Paulette and I had a tumultuous relationship. Our difficulties would not have been such a big deal if she had not been the social worker for Oakhven. To give as much benefit as possible, Brock made Paulette’s job more difficult with the constant fear of termination for not bending to her will. While Paulette was the sole social worker during my nineteen months at Oakhaven, the turnover rate prior to my arrival was impressive due to the inability of previous social workers to dance the tune Brock played. Paulette got around the problem by never advocating for a resident against Brock's wishes, and I have the emotional scars to prove it.
     The first incident which sticks out in m mind seemed innocuous at the time. Paulette had been unable to arrange counseling at a help clinic after I learned Denise had abandoned me, so she arranged for Oakhaven to pay for five visits with a private therapist. This therapist turned out to be Dr. hiatt, a friend of Paulette's for thirty years. The day after I had my first session with Dr. Hiatt, Paulette presented me with a form to sign allowing doctor/patient confidentiality to be broken between Dr. Hiatt and me so Oakhaven could be informed of the content of our sessions. I had been given no forewarning of this, so I spoke freely during our session with the assurance of confidentiality. So naturally, I had already revealed the most sensitive issues on my mind. I refused to sign the form.
       Paulette immediately backed off. She assured me our casual conversations regarding the sessions would be enough, since I could simply decide only what I wanted to say to her. If you guessed I no longer told her anything, go to the head of the class. I only had on more session with Dr. Hiatt after that anyway until I was placed on suicide. Even then, I said if she was going to present me with another of those forms at this point, Dr. Hiatt and I would sit in a lot of silence. Surprisingly, she backed off.
      I have already gone over the incident with Caligula, as well as linked to the Department of Health and Environmental Control's Those detail Paulette's failures both in my view and the state of South Carolina's, You should go back over those if you want to refresh yourself on the major events souring me on Paulette, and ways the state believed she failed both other residents and me. Any further mentions are going to be in the form of relaying conversations in which the subject was brought up. Case in point:
       The relationship between Paulette and I began tumbling downhill two days after I reported the incident in which two residents had hit and chased off a mentally challenged woman so they could have the lobby to themselves. This was in the middle of April. We had a cool, but not icy relationship. I had even begun playing Words with Friends with her. I could keep this safe distance because I largely stopped going to her with any issues for which I might normally approach the social worker. Marlie the Healthcare Planner, Ashley the Unit Supervisor, and Ellen the occupational therapist, all of whom were sympathetic to the poor relationship I suffered with management, were eager helpers. Favorite nursing staff and even family members of other residents were more solid help. I have relayed a number of stories of how nice many people had been to me. But there were times I simply could not avoid Paulette.
       In this particular incident, she utilized the usual trick of waiting until a few minutes before five PM on a Friday to approach me with negative issues. She had three of them. One, I had not reported the resident altercation fast enough. There was a procedure they had to follow, and I had made it difficult. Two, there was a knife missing. Had I stolen it? Finally, one of the women I had reported for the beat down complained about my use of the telephone room. I needed to start using the dining more. I want to take these in detail. Everything I am about to write about them was my counterargument.
       About the incident. It occurred at 6:30 PM on Wednesday. It was at least on hour and a half after Paulette, who would be in charge f investigating the incident, had gone home. She could not do anything until the next morning, which is when I approached her to report it. She asked me to come back after lunch. I did, and reported the entire incident then. What I could have done, if anything, to expedite the procedure is beyond me. Of course, I also had to wonder what procedure Oakhaven had for such incidents/ A CNA pulled Caligula off before he cold strangle me. She did not even mention the incident the next morning when she called me into her office. It would appear I was exempt from said procedure, but still obligated to rush it for another resident's sake. I should have known this from the third class treatment I had been receiving for months by that point.
       About the knife. I will sort of concede this point. I had taken and hidden materials to use for my suicide plan, so if something alarming is missing, I would be a prime suspect. But there are two pints in my favor. One, the materials I had taken were ones that would not be missed—a plastic bag and a Styrofoam cup. I never could get a roll of tape, and the therapy band I was going to use instead I had brought with me from the hospital. I would not have taken anything that would have attracted attention like a knife. Two, Paulette defended her inquiry by assuring me she had asked several other residents as well as me. When I asked them, they denied Paulette had ever approached them about the knife.
       Finally, the telephone room. I used my laptop in there quite a bit, usually because the dining hall was busy as the social hub or eating place or being hosed down after a social gathering or meal. I actually used the dining hall as much as possible. There was more room, it was brighter, and my laptop screen could face a wall behind me rather than the open doorway to a busy hallway as it did in the telephone. I was not keen on the privacy violation the telephone room forced on me. Now I was being told I was using it too much anyway. New rule: leave any and all times another resident wants to use the phone, even if I have no where else to go.
         Let us look at this. There were 88 residents at Oakhaven—87 plus me. All 87 could demand I leave the telephone room anytime they wanted, as many times as they wanted, and I had to stay out as long as they wanted. I did not have the right to insist anyone else leave the room for my benefit. At least in theory, it was possible for me to never have access to the room as long as any other resident wanted it. Keep in mind the telephone room and the busy dining hall were the only two spots in the building with Wi Fi. Let me reiterate my complete lack of privacy with my laptop screen only able to face the door. As with the abuse reporting procedure, I was not only denied a right granted to every other resident, but was reprimanded to respect those rights for other residents.
I will concede another point to Paulette, although she was a bit too slow on the uptake. She kept the one who complained about my telephone room use anonymous, but I knew it was one of the ladies from the incident two nights prior because she had already been rude to me on a couple of occasions about my laptop use in the telephone room. When I strongly implied her complaint about me was a reprisal for getting her in trouble, the probability dawned on Paulette. She became less forceful. I had no choice but to agree to terms, but I was still miffed.
       I mulled our conversation over for about thirty minutes in my room before deciding to take a walk to clear my mind. It was one of those times when I came up with a half dozen other things I wish I had said. Blowing off stem by making laps around the building should clear my head. As luck would have it, Paulette was working late instead of leaving at five. With ever lap, I passed her office, and every time I did, the urge to go in for a second round became stronger. Betty, a CNA who worked the East wing nurses' desk adjacent to Paulette’s office, even commented I seemed to be making laps more forcefully each time. She was right. I wore myself out pretty quickly. I plopped down on a conch in the lobby to rest.
After a few minutes, Paulette walked by and smiled at me. She was oblivious to how upset I was. Her clueless attitude was the trigger pint.
         “Paulette, I want to ask you something,” I said/
     She turned around from what I guessed was leaving for the night and approached the coach. “Okay. What is it?' she asked.
       “Where does my privacy fit into all this?” I asked.
       “You don't think you have any privacy?”
      “Of course not. I have my laptop screen exposed to God and everybody in that room. I have no privacy there.”
     “We don't see it that way.”
     “Maybe you should, especially if you're going to scold me to respect everyone ease’s.”
       “I didn't scold you.” Paulette was getting testy.
     “You told me I had to leave anytime anyone else wanted to use the room regardless of what I am doing. While I am in there, anyone and everyone looks at what I am doing.”
       “They're not supposed to.”
     "Well, they do. Remember this is a problem you all caused by putting the internet connection on the other side of the building.”
      “You don't think I care about your privacy?”
      “You just said you didn't.”
     “I'm sorry you feel that way," she snapped. She turned away away briskly and walked towards the employee exit without another word.
      I could not resist getting the final word. “i know. Everyone here is always sorry, but no one does anything about it.”
       I figured everyone in the vicinity heard me tell her that. It rattled her pretty good, too. She almost knocked over Carolyn, one of the night shift nurses. As Carolyn walked by, she commented Paulette had nearly steam rolled. She was not talking to me, but I could not help but let out a small laugh. Not a classy move on my part, but there you go.
       Speaking of not being classy, Paulette resigned from our Words with Friends game when she got home.
       I obviously had no desire to encounter her on the following Monday, but sh found me in the afternoon. I was in the dining hall with my laptop. I play by the rules. I would just like the rules to make sense. She sat across the table from me, and asked if I had anything else to say. I told her tersely I did not.
       “Good. I said all I have to say about it,” she told me.
       I thought this was a terrible thing to say, particularly for a social worker. But I was mostly thinking if she had nothing more to say, she should have stayed away from me. What was the point of tracking me down in order to reiterate she does not give a crap about my problem?
       “If you have any other problems will you tell me?' she asked.
       “If you're the appropriate person, yes,” I told her.
       “What does that mean?”
      “It means you are not my first choice to go to when I have a problem,” I bluntly told her.
     “May I ask why?”
     “No, you may not. I am having a good day, and I am not going to let you ruin it with a confrontation.”
     “All right,” Paulette said. She got up and left. This was not going to be the end of it, of course.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Breathing Down My Neck

       Tensions simmered almost immediately. The most obvious was Brock's quiet animosity towards me. Brock never admitted a mistake and never apologized for anything, so most people just tolerated rather than challenge her for any of her actions. I, a peon nursing home resident, dared take her on for endangering me and other helpless residents. There was not much she could do about it other than stew over it, and stew over it she did.. My interview with the Department of Health and Environmental Control took place in the middle of March. Brock would not do so much as greet me until June. The cold shoulder was fine with me. I did not need the stress of engaging the drama that would surely come from interaction with Brock.
       The largest source of tension was my laptop use. Specifically, privacy issues. When Oakhaven initially installed Wi Fi, it was only available in two spots—the telephone room and dining hall. The rationale for putting Wi Fi as far away as possiblefrom my room was to break my reclusive habits. It is a common mistake to assume depression in an introvert can be cured by forcing them to be around people. The strategy is doomed to failure, but people still do it. Introverts like me, who can better deal with problems alone or one-on-one at most, suffer for it. But I digress. The point is, when using the internet, I was either sitting at a desk in the telephone room with the screen visible to the high traffic hallway or in the Oakhaven social hub that was the dining hall. As you might expect, there was a small army of curiosity seekers. Staff, residents, and visitors alike. I tolerated the matter as best I could so as not to rock the boat so soon after punching a whole in the side.
       Later inquiries as to why I could not have a hot spot in my room change from curing my reclusive behavior to being a matter of cost. This baffled me. From the day Wi fi was installed until the day I was booted out the door, I was beaten over the head with how the wi fi was exclusively for me, no one else used it, and I was practically bankrupting Oakhaven with it already. You think I am kidding, but I will post documents in an upcoming posts which prove they made these accusations. If this were all true, it would have only enhanced the argument to wire my room exclusively, but such did not happen yet.
       Did the Wi Fi location cause problems beyond privacy? Of course. Particularly with one resident who liked to use the community phone for hours on end. Whenever someone wanted to use the phone, I would ask if they would like for me to leave. Some said yes, and I would do so. Some said they did not mind me staying. Quite a ew of those asked for my help using the phone. I dialed numbers more often than I can count. I even held the phone for one lady while she talked to her daughter. Yes, I felt odd at the privacy invasion, particularly when residents who probably were not in their right minds were giving me permission to be there. So when the lady who used the phone for hours on end complained to paulette I need to “share the room” better, I decided I would just leave anytime anyone wanted to use the phone.
       Early on in our little dance of swapping in and out of the room, I witnessed this lady and her friend repeatedly hit another resident one night in order to drive her out the lobby so they could have the place to themselves. The ldy they hit was severely mentally challenged, nearly blind, and nearly deaf. She could not defend herself physically or verbally. I told the two ladies off, then reported them the next day. You are supposed to remain anonymous when reporting such incidents, but I obviously could not have been in this case. From then on, the lady did everything should could to make my use of the telephone room impossible. I would have to leave multiple times in one sitting. She had the custodian move all of my stuff out the room once. The custodian then proceeded to scold me for leaving my laptop on the desk no where near the phone where the lady would be. She scoued around for other residents for whom I had caused trouble, but could not find any. Finally, paulette finally asked what all her demands were. Essentially, it was for me to leave every time, as many times as she wanted, and leave no trace of myself. I agreed, if for no other reason than I could now direct her to paulette for any future complaints rather than listen to her complaints myself.
       I will have more about Paulette and this matter in my next post.
     But my use of the internet was not just a matter of physicality. Brock was watching my Facebook. She had two accounts herself One had two friends. The other was completely blank. She used them to spy on staff's personal pages. Using a blank page to spy on others is an express violation of Facebook's terms of service, as is the mere act of having two personal pages. But I digress. She has called staff members into her office before over items posted on their pages, often assuming said post is about her. It never is. One day in may, a CNA was questioned over a photo I posted after she asked me to 'post something funny on her wall.” It was this:
       Brock wanted to know if we were mocking something that actually happened to a resident. At the time, I thought Brock's suspicion was funny. It did not register on me that she was looking at my page, too. Privacy settings on Facebook are a joke, you know. I guess I was being blissfully naive in thinking my privacy was being respected on any level. Or I was being respected at all. Case in point, the next post.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sword of Damocles

       There is an unwritten rule any incidents between a penalized nursing home and the resident involved in the penalized incident occurring within six months after reporting it will be considered a reprisal. So I had a grace period of sorts coming to me during which I could catch my breath without to help me being on edge. I desperately needed a breather by this point. The feeding tube apparently was not going anywhere. I suppse I could have insisted it be remove, but I was not keen on being uprooted yet again. Going where angels fear to tread is on my business card, so I was staying put for the foreseeable future.
       It did not seem like too bad an idea at first. Management had to formulate a plan, with my approval, to remedy the neglect in helping me adjust to nursing home life. Sonya was the first person to approach me. It was after supper on the same day the inspection ended. Brock had stormed passed me for home only an hur or so before. I guess Sonya was there after hours formulating a damage control plan. She seemed like the type who would not let that sort of thing wait until Monday morning. She had done damage control with me specifically before. She was the first to speak with me after the failed attempt to have me placed in a mental institution, and she arranged for several of my requests to be granted. A peace offering, as far as I was concerned. I was not too surprised when she walked up to me as I was drinking a post-supper cola on a couch in the lobby, but I was wary. I was not sure what kind of trouble management had gotten into, but I knew I knew it was significant.
       She was friendly. I apologized for reporting the incidents to the inspectors, but explained it was necessary considering how reckless management had been. Sonya had called my experience “unfortunate” a few weeks prior, so I figured she would not argue with my rationale. She did not. She asked if I had any other problems. I said no. even though I wanted to be moved out of the room, the sped at which the door light, and nurse call buttons were fixed convinced me to drop the issue for the moment. She told me she had heard I was a writer. She had always wanted to be one herself, but found the discipline of keeping a journal hard to maintain. We had a friendly conversation, but I often wondered how much was genuine and how much was diplomatic.
       To be fair, Sonya and I developed a friendly relationship over the next few months. We would chat for a few moments whenever she spent the day at Oakhaven, which was at least once a week. It turns out we had similar taste in movies, so we would often swap recommendations. I had a knack for finding films from off th beaten path. I, in turn, was occasionally rattled when watching something she enjoyed. It was nothing terribly weird by my standards, but peculiar coming from an ultra-yuppie type like her. She seemed like the type to cry at The Notebook while sitting her her pajamas and eating ice cream from the carton. She hid her true nature well until January 2015. We shall get to that soon enough.
       Ashley was next. You may recall she was the unit supervisor. She had also been the one to most overtly show concern for how I was being mistreated during my emotional breakdown. I trusted her more than anyone else in management. I like her personally. She came to my room well after six in the evening. Apparently, a whole bunch of folks were staying late on this unfortunate Friday. She was going to interview me about my responses from earlier today. She also told me paulette would normally do this sort of ting, but not this time. Considering how many times paulette's name had come up in the inspector's interview, management did not want her to take part. The best part was the beginning. Ashley said I was obviously still mad about Caligula. What were my objections?
       “You forcibly moved me to a new room, put a violent, mentally ill man who physically attacked his previous roommate in with me, and ignored every objection I had about his dangerous, delusional behavior,” I told her, with a less than subtle attitude attitude it ought to be obvious why I was upset about the whole affair.
       She scribbled furiously on her clipboard for a long time. There was no other sounds in the room but her pen scratching across the single sheet of paper clipped. My roommate, the victim of a devastating stroke, was always silent. The atmosphere felt awkward, Thoughts of ashley's moments with caligula ran through my mind. I assume she did not want to discuss the gory details. I did not, either. Once a day was more than enough for me. But I just had to say something
         “You knew what he was,"  I said.
    “Yeah, I did,” she replied. Her voice was full of regret. She was not responsible for anything that happened. In fact, she gone to great lengths to make sure I knew that back then. I had no desire to make her feel uncomfortable, so I changed the subject.
       “What did 'medical necessity' mean?” I asked. Okay, so I did not change the subject too drastically. But this was most likely my best chance to get an answer.
       “It could mean a lot of things. A resident is contagious…” she trailed off.
       “What did it mean in this case?”
       “It didn't mean anything, huh?” I said in order to let her off the hook. “Just a generalization to justify doing whatever Brock wants. You wouldn't have done it, if it had been up to you?”
       ”No, I wouldn't.”
       The interview was short. I figured the isues were pretty obvious. The whole interview was probably just a formality. Oakhaven was being admonished for neglecting both me and the resident who had developed a new pressure sore. Extra attention about every little thing that could be wrng was to be expected. With that in mind, the next bit alarmed me. Monday morning brought paulette and Marlie, the health care planner, to my room in order to discuss a four point plan to improve my emotional well being.
        Oh, dear.
       They planned to build up my sense of self-worth and purpose by having me watch motivational speakers. I refused to cooperate. They also planned to encourage my interest in politics and philosophy, but that would be difficult, as Paulette declared she was the only one who knew anything about politics. I remained silent. Sessions with dr. Hiatt would continue as long as needed. I definitely agreed. I needed an outside lifeline. Plus, they figured wax philosophically with him, those sparing them. Finally, the laptop and internet were to be maintained for my use I efinitely went for that. I needed to be intellectually stimulated for the sake of my mental and emotional health. So the latter two ideas were the ones met with my enthusiasm. Naturally, oakhaven would eventually use them against me.        

Friday, April 24, 2015

Zero Sum II

     The inspectors from the Department of Health and Environmental Control did return the next day. They were going to make the incident inspection over a resident's newly formed pressure sore due to possible neglect into the full blown annual survey. As such, residents with sound minds were going to be interviewed on the final day. As one with anxity issues, there was a lingering worry I might get skipped over regardless. One point in favor of that not happening was brock and Kendra speaking to me on friendly terms for the first time in over a month, which I took to indicate a fear over what I might say. I joked with various nursing staff Brock was likely to have me thrown into the truck of someone's car, driven out to the country, and dumped sometime before the inspection's end.
     Friday came. While it was not firmly established as the final day of the inspection, logical said it was. I began the serious debate while I was laying in bed after breakfast whether I should patiently wait for DHEC to come to me or assume Oakhaven management had interfered som how, so I should just pull an inspector aside. While I was in the middle of this debate, an inspector knocked on my door. She introduced herself, and asked if we could talk. I readily agreed. She wanted us to meet in ashley's borrowed office. I hurriedly put my shoes on so we could go. While patiently on me, she commented on my laptop set up. I told her I was a writer and computer nerd. It was my stimiulation. I wanted to come across as intelligent for the sake of my credibility. Because, really...after having read my story so far, would you believe it all happened?
     We settled down adjacent to one another in Ashley's office. The inspector was familiar with my file. I got the impression she knew t least the general details of what I was going to talk about. She controlled the conversation through with numerous, pointed questions. I was impressed. She took on the role of an attorney seeking only the facts. I also appreciated her professionalism, and readily assumed the role of a seasoned witness who answered only the specific questions asked. No more, no less. I did feel as though my credibility was being sound out. She wanted to know why I had been relocated to so many rooms. In other words, was it my fault I had roommate issues? Of course, she knew everything surrounding my emotional breakdown, so I made sure to be as raw as possible when answering her questions about the matter. There are no secrets when giving official testimony, no matter how embarrassing.
     I have already written out the story of the things that happened to me during my time at Oakhaven, so I will not rehash them here. But I will address the three major points which received particular scrutiny during the interview. I am going to link the official DHEC inspection report at the end of the post so you can verify everything, if you so desire.
     First and foremost, Caligula had been a clear and present danger to residents. He clearly had mental illness with which Oakhaven was not prepared to deal. I was unaware at the time of the interview, but caligula was no longer a resident. About three weeks prior to DHEC's inspection, Caligula barricaded himself into his room with his roommate. He then took off all his clothes and was standing over his roommate's bed with the intention of sodomizing him. A couple staff management to ram the door open before Caligula had the chace to assult his roommate. Caligula was then—finally—institutionalized. Backwards from there, Caligula believed I was brandishing a knife and threatening to “stab him where it hurts” in the brief moments I was his roommate. H had punched his fost roommate and tried to stuff a bed sheet down his throat. It took all these incidents before Oakhaven took action to protect residents from Caligula.
     Second, pretty much all the blame was put on Paulette for not adequately doing her job. The failure to address Caligula's mental issues and the dangers they posed were of course a problem, but so was her failure to both properly address my difficulties in adjusting to m abandonment and to properly treat my subsequent emotional breakdown. Placing me under house arrest with a sitter while planning to institutionalize me was not the way to handle a person who has aborted a suicide plan and fully cooperated with everything afterward. This, by the way, is the point I think actually kept istitutions from accepting me as a patient rather than the colostomy and feeding tube, but no one will admit it. Take my belief for what it is worth. The bottom line is my negative experiences with Paulette were evidence of her failures as a social worker.
     Finally, I got the chance to address the condition of the room. No one had ever taken steps to alleviate any of the problems. It honestly blew my mind no one had even tried to fix anything in the couple days between announcing I wanted to talk to DHEC and the interview. I truly was a victim of neglect. When I described the problems-the broken light, the jamming bathroom door, and no nurse call button—the inspector requested to go back with me to look at the rom. The bell I was supposed to use to summon a nurse was of particular concern. While it was a given I was going to be given a nurse call button, she wanted to see how staff reacted to the bell. She asked me to ring it. It only took about fifteen seconds for Jonathan, an LPN, to zip in. My remaining eye may be bad, but even I could tell by his demeanor how embarrassed Jonathan was at the awkwardness of me having to use a bell for this. Next, the inspector asked me to wait a moment before ringing again as she went to the nurses' station to see if she could hear it when I did. She could, but noted the ringing could easily be drowned out by the cacophony inherent in a busy nursing home. The inspector wished me well after assuring me she would see to it the problems ith the room were fixed. I would have liked to move to another room, but there was no sense in pushing the issue. Sure enough, all three problems were remedied within a couple hours.
     I took up my usual spot in the afternoon in the telephone room. I was surfing my usual internet destinations when Paulette knocked on the open door frame. She sat down in the same chair with the same deflated demeanor as a couple days before. She appeared to have just composed herself after an emotional episode. I asked if she was all right. She told me her day had been stressful. Considering how much of my interview with the inspector had revolved around Paulette, I did not press the issue. She only wanted to tell me Caligula was no longer a resident. She got up and left without saying anything else. A moment later, I heard brock standing around the corner talking to Nicole T, the Director of Nursing.
       “Jamie raked us over the coals over [Caligula].” she told Nicole T.
      I guess Brock did not realize I was in earshot. It would not have mattered, I suspect. I got up and leaned against the door frame in the faint hope she might spot me. Brock did not, but Nicole t. and I locked eyes. I gave her a knowing smirk. She knew I hd heard. Moments later, Brock stomped passed me heading for the employee exit. We were no more than six inches apart, but she did not acknowledge my existence. I think I ruined her weekend before it even began.

Sources for your edification:

Oakhaven Nursing Center's Inspection Report. Caligula is referred to as Resident #5.  I am Resident #11.

 Pro Publica confirms Oakhaven Nursing Center's $148, 525 fine. Note as well its sister nursing home, Medford Nursing Center,  paid an even larger amount in penalty fines--$283, 498.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Zero Sum

       I intended for the previous post to reassure all the suicidal tendencies which had plagued me throughout the latter half of 2013 had dissipated by early spring 2014. I was still lost, of curse. A 37 year old man trapped in a nursing home for lord knows how long without any idea of what kind of future, if any, he could eke out beyond those walls was bound to feel lost. But at least by this point I was entertaining the idea of possibilities. As the great poet, Robert Frost once said, 'I can sum up everything I have learned about life in three words: it goes on.”
       Go on, it did. I lived day by day, which was strongly against my nature as a goal oriented person. I have always wanted a long term goal to work towards. They were mostly educational and career goals, and they were all gone now. I never much differentiated those from personal goals. I had suffered a rude awakening in recent times upon discovering personal goals were a different animal altogether from educational and professional. It is definitely not a comfortable feeling you are a work in progress neglected far too long. Day by day is the only way to cope with such a daunting task as redefining oneself.
       Old habits die hard, though. Thirty-seven may not be rickety ancient, but it is old enough to be set in certain ways, particularly if they offer the comfort of familiarity. Long term goal setting was too ingrained in me to forsake. The future was more a blank slate than at ant pint in my life, but I needed to look forward regardless. Dr. hiatt once suggested I set a long term goal of living day by day. I argued that goal is not long term because it is satisfied at the end of every day, only to begin again the next. Such goal was, at best, a Sisyphean torture. Dr. Hiatt and I sparred quite often philosophically, as you have probably surmsed by now. No, I needed something else. That something else became thrust on me. Careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
       It cannot be stressed enough the night and day relationships I had with the nursing staff/therapy crew verses management. The former were virtually all warm, caring, and fun people who made Oakhaven bearable. Management, however, made little secret they would like to give me the boot rather than spend ny resources helping me adjust to a new life. I was under a lot of scrutiny which made me uneasy. The occasional heads up from a CNA or nurse she had been asked by Brock about some conversation we had did not help matters. But the big deal occurred the day I was strolling down the hall in mid-February when Lucy, a CNA who handled physical therapy for residents who were not getting the works, walked by me escorting one such resident.
        It was Caligula.
      After Nicole B dragged him out the room to keep him from attacking me again those weeks ago, Ashley, the unit supervisor, came to my room to tell me he was not going to be back. I figured she meant he would not be back at Oakhaven. She actually meant he was not going to be back in my room. Caligula was dangerous. Clearly mentally ill, with no resources at oakhaven to treat him for his mental illness even if the desire to do so existed, which it did not. He did not acknowledge me as he passed, but I immediately feared he would remember his dark fantasy I once “threatened' to stab him with knife. He had remembered other violent delusions. He might come after me, and there might be no one arund to stop him this time. So I had a mission. Somebody needed to put the brakes on how management ran things. The safety of residents could not be so blatantly ignored. The only thing to do was involve the Department of Health and Health and Environmental control, the state agency regulating nursing homes.
       There was one catch. Maybe two, if you count my treading carefully to avoid any further attempts to have me committed to a mental institution. I wanted to avoid the appearance of revenge. Contacting DHEC myself would have appeared aggressive. I needed the matter to come out naturally, and I knew it would sometime soon. There was an annual inspection by DHEc every year. The 2014 inspection was due that spring. On the final day of the inspection, DHEC interviewed residents who were mentally sound. I would be of them most certainly. Under those circumstances, I would simply be telling the truth. Let the chips fall where they may.
       The opportunity presented it self in the middle of March it was six weeks since Caligula attacked me; five since the sitters were removed after Oakhaven failed to have me committed to a mental institution. Interestingly enough, I discovered DHEC was there when I returned from a session with Dr. Hiatt. Sonya, with whom I had not seen in five weeks, ditched a woman she was walking with I did not recognize and scurried over as I rounded one of the hallways on the path to my room.
    "Hello, how are you?” she said, bending down in an awfully patronizing manner considering she was only a couple inches taller than me. “You look great! I'm going to come by and talk to you later.”  
     "Okay,” was all I could get out before she rejoined her anonymous companion.   The lady had been out of earshot during the encounter. It felt weird, but I assumed Sonya might just be an odd duck when it came to being personable. It still bugged me enough to remark about it to Lucy, whom I walked by after turning the last corner to my last room on the dead end hallway.
     “DHEC is here,” Lucy told me.
     Ah, that explained it. The mysterious lady with Sonya was a DHEC inspector. Sonya's behavior was due to her being on edge. Everyone was on edge, actually. This was not simply the annual inspection. The family member of a resident had called DHEC to report a new pressure sore which had developed on her loved one because of neglect. Those inspectors saw other problems, and decided to do the annual inspection now . I figured this was going to be my chance, but I also wondered if management would keep me out of sight as much as possible in the hopes I would not speak to DHEC. I could not let that happen.
      Somya never came back to see me later, by the way.
     The opportunity to prevent any possible silencing from happening presented itself near the end of management's workday. I was on my laptop in the telephone room shortly before five in the afternoon. The telephone room was on the hallway to the employee exit where they had to clock out. Paulette was leaving, but stopped to ask me how I was.
     “I'm all right,” I told her. “Is the Gestapo coming back tomorrow?”
     “What?” she asked, genuinely caught off guard by my dark humor. She often was.
      "DHEC. Are they coming back tomorrow?”
     Paulette came into the telephone room and pull out the only other chair. She literally collapsed into it as though exhausted. No one felt good when DHEC was around. I was about to make things worse.
     “I don't know,” she said.
     “Isn't this the annual inspection?”
     "I guess it is.”
     “They usually interview residents during these inspections, do they not/”
      “I don't know if they will.”
    “Well, I want to talk to them.” I declared this in as firm a tone as I could without sounding too ominous. I was trying to make it clear if I was not given an interview, I was likely to pull an inspector aside and talk to them that way. It wad probably wise to inform DHEC I wanted to talk and take whatever lumps might be due. Paulette got the message.
      “All right," she said. Without another word, she got up and left for the day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Singing for the Sake of the Song

       The gears are about to shift in this sordid tale I am telling, so it is probably a good time for a breather. It may feel like I am ignoring the internal struggle with suicidal urges to which I was engaged throughout this mess. It is not really a fair assumption, however. I was being pummeled by oakhaven to the point I did not have any peaceful moments to work through my frail emotions during this time. It is fair to assume my survival instinct reemerged as I was beset from all sides, but I would hate to credit such negative actions for my my eventual recovery. So I have to offer something positive to roll around in your mind before continuing the narrative.
       There will be plenty of time and space to waste on philosophical rantings about the meaning of life. I will simplify it here, however. I was extremely depressed over the prospect of spending the rest of my life in a nursing home. Blogs are full of comparisons to depression as feeling lost in an abyss or drowning or some such. Do not buy into those sort of descriptions. They are melodramatic crap. In reality, depression offers a special sense of clarity. Depression presents you with two choices. You can either keep going with the circumstances of your life, making the best of it, or you can end it. But continuing to stagnate while wallowing in sadness cannot be done. I initially made the latter choice. But I could not go through with it. So I wound up pursuing the former. I had to take an awful detour due to Oakhaven's gross incompetence, but I made it eventually.
       Here is a list of four points, ranked from least to most impact, which helped me overcome suicidal urges. This is not to dismiss the first points as insignificant as much as emphasize the importance of factors as the list goes on. They all had a significant impact.
       First, the antidepressants. I absolutely hate taking medication. I have to be on the verge of curling into a fetal position in pain before I will take a Tylenol. The fact I was willing to take medication specifically intended to alter my brain chemistry was a significant concession to oakhaven which should have been seen as a strong sign of good faith, especially since I had adamantly refused to take them six or so weeks prior to confessing my aborted suicide attempt. I guess it did not, since Oakhaven threatened to increase the dosage to stupor inducing levels. But I put the kibosh on that in order to keep a safe dosage level.
       I do, in all honesty, take the next to lowest dosage of Lexipro prescribed. The dosage is not a placebo by any means, but it is not much more than a boost. I am well aware since this boost has been effective, my depression must have been too bad. With that in mind, you may feel free to disregard my above description of depression as unsympathetic to “real” sufferers. I can only relay my experience. As yet, I have seen no need to increase my dosage. But I have not quit taking them, either.
       Second, therapy. There is no miracle cure to be had with therapy. It is a continued relationship in which one can vent without fear of the repercussions one might suffer in being completely honest with loved ones. There were difficulties in the early going with Dr. Hiatt. He believed I had a spiritual problem and so controlled the narrative for weeks worth of sessions. I felt like I needed to vent more, but was not allowed. So we sparred over spiritual and philosophical matters. It was not particularly constructive at te time. But when Oakhaven failed to have me involuntarily committed, everyone loosened their grip on me. Things would have gone much more constructively and at a better pace if they had done so from the beginning, but it is what it is.
       Third, social interaction. I am an INTJ personality type. Socializing ranks right down there with flossing on my list of priorities. After hving spent nine years in near solitary confinement while living with Denise, crawling out of my shell was a pleasant experience made better by a wonderful nursing staff and therapy crew who were happy to have a young resident with a personality with whom to care. I built friendships for the first time in years. Those friendships stood in stark contrast to the animosity I endured from management. But even that conflict afforded me something to feel righteous indignation over. Do not underestimate the healing power of a good white hats versus black hats scenario to chisel away at one's cynicism.
       Finally, the laptop. I alredy talked about this. The blessing was not the laptop itself, but what I did with it. Using it helped me regain my sense of self. I could be an internet junkie again. I could be a writer again. I began keeping a personal journal on top of my other writing projects. I still keep it up on a regular basis. My sense of individuality reemerged as I was able to reconnect with my old interests. These interests included movies, TV, and music. The lst one I extremely important. Music has always been an uplifting force for me. One of the first things I spent a significant amount of time doing online was searching for MP3. Jimmy Buffett's songs were first, of coure, but the Eagls came next. Early on, I downloaded eagles songs in bulk. Listening to them one night in succession with ear buds Jackie had given me, I heard “After the Thrill is Gone” for the first time in years. The following lyrics grabbed me:
       Time passes and you must move on
       Half the distance takes you twice as long.
       But you keep on singing for the sake of the song
       After the thrill is gone.
       Well, there it is. The reality laying beyond the moment your life is destroyed. You have to keep on singing for the sake of the song. I felt silly considering this an epiphany, but Dr. Hiatt assured me patients told him things like that all the time. Nothing which provokes an emotional response in a person can be considered insignificant. Things have different meanings for different people, and those lyrics were what I needed to hear at a pivotal moment. So there it is. The little things are the ones that help use through the major obstacles.      

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


       I now had to figure out what to do with myself. A new resident had been admitted. He was my roommate. He was what is known as a total care resident. The classification was extremely apt. he had obviously suffered a devastating stroke. He could barely move and virtually never communicated. It may be cruel to say, but the living arrangement was much like still not having a roommate. He got a call button, though. I did not.
       In spite of what was still a quiet room, I did not want to stay in it. I roamed free, often taking the laptop down to either the telephone room or the East Wing dining hall. Those were the only two spots which the Wi Fi reached. I noted I was under much more scrutiny. Someone would inevitably approach me every few minutes. Granted, most were staff with whom I enjoyed strong bonds, but I had to wonder who was merely sounding me out. It was no surprise Brock and Kendra were not among those inquiring as to my well-being. Was I being paranoid? Probably. But I noted in order to go anyway from my dead end room, I had to pass by the nurses' desk. As I subsequently saw men come and go from rooms to which I could have been relocated as requested, I remained where I was so the nurse always knew when I left my room. Thanks to the limited Wi Fi hot spots, my laptop screen could be viewed publicly with little effort. Subsequent requests for a hot spot were met with a “no” and then an “absolutely not,” so I figured they wanted to watch my online activities. You would think monitoring the network would be good enough, but no. They needed naked eye ball access as events unfolded.
       I was not keen on the surveillance, but I had to be careful not to rock the boat so soon after dodging involuntary commitment to an institution. They might have given in to most of my requests, but I could not rock the boat too much. Brock and company were willing to do some incredibly nasty things to residents without a hint of conscience. I was not sure how they would react now their plans for me blew up in their faces.
       My first instinct was to get the heck out of there. To that end, I had arranged for an appointment with the surgeon who put in my feeding tube almost a year ago to the day to see if he would remove. I might have been tempting fate here. The feeding tube was keeping me out of assisted living, but it may have kept me out of a mental institution. I was gambling the simply wanted to get ri of me. Asisted living would do nicely, as long as I was gone. Unfortunately, the surgeon took an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' attitude, suggested I needed to gain another twenty pounds, and sent me on my way, feeding tube and all. I moped in front of a window for a while when I got back to oakhaven, but thought better than to linger in such a state. I did not want to attract any unhelpful attention.
       They were largely content to spy on me from a distance. I had little interaction with management or Paulette. They left me alone to work with Dr. Hiatt without interference, although I know now Brock was anxious for Dr. Hiatt to violate our confidentiality clause on multiple occasions. Our session became less tense as he allowed me to vent more rather than controlling a suicide is bad conversation. Before you ask, yes. Perhaps more assurances I had decided suicide was not an option might have been offered to Brock. But since we did not communicate, we did not communicate.
       Much credit goes to my se of the laptop and internet connection. No one ever let me forget it the apparently huge financial burden it was in the 21st century to provide a laptop and internet connection. Get used to hearing the complaint. I will bring it up many times in future incidents. But that is the future. I will grant the laptop allowed m to feel more like myself. I am a computer nerd, internet junkie, and fan of the kind of esoteric knowledge one can acquire with both. As a nursing home resident with nothing to do for months on end but eat, sleep, and contemplate suicide, the new found stimulation was a Godsend. I could now be more my old self.
       The return of my old self brought one major difficulty. There had been a long of nine months in which I had posted nothing online. Previously, I enjoyed a huge internet presence; blog, Twitter, Facebook, and forum posts. All of these stopped abruptly in late May 2014. It was now early February 2014. all anyone knew when my communications ended is I was extremely sick, relying on a feeding tube to keep the wheels turning. As I cruised my old stomping grounds without revealing myself, I read months worth of comments and messages speculating whether I was dead. Physically, it was a close call. Metaphysically...well, everything was different. I was not certain how to reemerge even though I desperately wanted to begin again.
       The key problem was my lack of desire to admit I was stuck—condemned might not have been too strong a word—to a nursing home. What 37 year old man wanted to admit such a thing, especially when it meant admitting he had been betrayed by his only family to wind up in such a predicament? I wrestled with the question of what to do far less than I thought I would. I posted a cryptic entry on my blog stating I was alive, but many bad things had happened which made continuing the blog impossible. I offered the chance for anyone who wanted details to email me, and I would explain things. The reality was I cherry picked what to tell whom to maintain some control over the story for the nine or ten people who took me up on the offer. The concern seems odd now when you consider I started this blog up in a matter of weeks and spilled everyting. Well, except for the long gap between last summer on this March when I was notified my online activities were being watched.
       I cautiously cranked up Facebook again. I had not intended any Oakhaven staff on my friends' list. In hindsight, I should have kept it that way. It never occurred to me corporate and management would be interested in a residents' facebook page. Or that it was anyof their business, for that matter. But what's done is done. It started out innocently enough. The activities director and her assistant first sent friend requests. They were Alisha and Robyn, the two would had taken the laptop away the day brock announced my involuntary commitment to a mental institution. They were in charge of encouraging residents continued pursuit of personal interests and I figured the requests I was awfully wary of her for obvious reasons, but again, I assumed she was doing this in her capacity as social worker. Besides, I am in possession of a wicked vocabulary. Venting my frustration with Paulette on the battlefield of a word game sounded more socially acceptable than the cold shoulder I was more inclined to offer. Then the flood gates opened. The nurses and therapy crew sent requests. They had become my social group, so it seemed reasonable to say yes to all. It was probably an unwise decision, but I did it.
       All this to state I made progress improving my mental and emotional state almost immediately after Oakhaven backed off me. It was clear to me they had been far more concerned with avoiding liability than offering me any of the help I needed. When all else failed—no involuntary commitment—they had no choice but to ease off. It was necessary for my distaste over their actions be made known. The opportunity came a week after the sitters were gone. Paulette came to my room for a welfare check or courtesy call or whatever social workers call it. She was skittish about approaching me, but ready to cast blame on anyone but hrself in spite of once telling me she would take the heat for everything.
       “You look a whole lot better now,” she told me.
     “That's what happens when you stop treating me like crap,” I fired back at her.
       She blanched. She had not been expecting a negative response. “I'm sorry we treated you like crap.'
       “I'm sure it's just a coincidence it started the day you decided to throw me in a mental institution, and ended the day you realized you couldn't.”
       “I can see why you would thin that,” she responded cautiously.
       “Would you care to explain why I shouldn't think that?” I asked. Paulette did not even begin to respond. I honestly was not eager to engage in this conversation, either, so I shifted gears. “So how exactly did I look before?”
       “Pained..despondent…” Paulette offered.  
       “Different now, though, huh?” I asked.
She nodded affirmatively.
      “Well, that is a good sign, right?” I said. Yes, it was. But the road ahread was good to be extremely bumpy.       

Monday, April 20, 2015


       I eased back to my room after the altercation in Paulette's office. I was still without a roommate, so I got the chance for some solitary thinking. Ticia, who always seem especially intuitive of my feelings, left me to myself rather insist I sit in the hallway with her so as not to dwell on negative thoughts. She understood I needed to work things through myself now. The main thought running through my mind was how the judgment of the people running the show here could not be trusted. My best interests were not even on their radar, and they were willing to lie in order to cover it up. The question is what was I supposed to do about it?
       I dwelt on the question until after supper when my second shift sitter, Cynthia, suffered a serious case of ants in the pants. She was the busy body type who constantly needed to be moving to burn off nervous energy. She wanted to take a few laps around the facility. A break from the room would be nice, so I agreed. The distraction was a good idea. As it turned out, I had a lot of nervous energy to work off myself. Oakhaven was a perfect square, so it was easy to get into a rhythm. I walked those halls hours on end during my time at Oakhaven, and while I do not know the number of trips around the facility I made that night, it was by far my personal best. I wore myself out, and slept soundly when I returned to my room.
       I was feeling better after a night's sleep. Ticia was my first shift sitter again. The day was uneventful until Betty, the lady who handled laundry, noticed I did not have a call button. She was the first person to acknowledge this was an actual problem. She brought the matter to the attention of Joe, who hadled all the maintenance issues. It was not too long before he came in with a hand bell for me to ring when I needed anything. It ws a nice gesture, though it did feel more blue blood than I care to be, but I thanked them profusely. Interestingly enough, no one at corporate or management knows from whom I got the bell. When the issue was investigated by state regulators, they claimed it was a deliberate decision by management, but were unable to name who gave me the bell when pressed to do so. If anyone from Wilson Senior Care or Oakhaven s reading this blog, now you. It was one of many offers of assistance of the staff to make up for corporate and management's neglect.
       I slept soundly again that night. Or so I thought While my cold or bug or just illness brought on by anxiety had faded away, maybe by sheer force of adrenaline, I slept right through breakfast. When I finally did wake up, ticia remarked how surprised she was I could sleep at all thrashing about the way I did. I guess being in dire need of sleep does not mean it is going to be restful when sleep finally overtakes. I still had no solutions. But some were about to offer themselves.
       Sonya came to my room during the mid-morning. I had only met her once before. She had often testified a a expert witness regarding healthcare issues. She wanted to me meet because I had a law degree. We swapped a few stories, and that was the end of it. It had been another six months before I even heard her name again. Nikki, the brutally honest social worker from the previous week had been sent by her. Sonya was Vice President and chief Clinical Officer. Not the kind of person a peon resident sees too often. I took note as she entered and sat by my bed. I sat up on the side.
       Before I delve into our conversation, I need to explain a couple things. I am generally explaining my story in chronological order. When writing about my encounters with people, I am writing them from how I perceived them at the time. As such, my opinion of certain people will change, sometimes dramatically, over the course of these blog entries. Sonya is one such person. She and I are gong to suffer the most devastating relationship collapse suffered during my nursing home stint. The collapse will become clear later. In spite of the collapse, I am still going to keep confidential some aspects of our conversation to protect her privacy. Suffice to say, she shared a personal story demonstrating empathy for my current situation, the pain I felt over it, and why I thought my 'solution'” had been a good idea. Take from that what you will.
       After confiding in me, she began to talk about me personally. They really did not know what to do with me. I was an odd case in which a feeding tube made a skilled nursing facility my only option for residence, but I was so highly functioning, there was nothing else for staff to do. I noted, perhaps because of my fondness for precise language, she actually said they did not know what to do “with” me, not “for” me. “For” me sounded like they cannot figure out how to help me. '”With” me sounded like they were eager to get rid of me. I filed the distinction away mentally. There was always a possibility I was flirting with over analysis paralysis. But the direction of the conversation was slowly but surely hinting at long term plans to deal with me, although she assured me they were still looking into mental institutions.
       She asked if there was anything she could do for me. I decided to put her to the test. I asked for three things. One, the laptop had been taken away from me, and I wanted it back. Two, I wanted the sitters back in the room so I did not feel as though I was under house arrest. Three, I wanted out of this room. I was angry over the forced move and the subsequent attack by Caligula. I noted the awful condition of the room, including the no call button. Sonya described the incident as "unfortunate,” which remains the strongest term anyone from corporate or management used to descrie the altercation. Sonya agreed to all three terms. She invited me to lunch with her whenever she is around. At the end, she held her arms open wide to hug. I thought it was weird as all get out, but I hugged her. The embrace was every bit as awkward as you are probably imagining right now.
       Sonya was not gone for more than a few minutes before Paulette came in wheeling the laptop on a rolling stand. Things were beginning to make a little more sense. Paulette must have revealed our altercation in her office two days prior. Sonya must have come in to provide a non-Oakhaven voice to smooth things over. I am confident, after our last encounter, Paulette was thrilled to be pushing the laptop as a peace offering. Then she sat down to explain the dilemma they were really in.
       They could not find an institution willing to take me as a patient. Paulette told me no facility was willing to deal with my feeding tube and colostomy. This may very well be true, but I am aware of mental institutions acceptin residents with either of those multiple times during my time at Oakhaven. I subsequently learned Caligula had one. He did keep removing it himself over fears staff was attempting to either choke or poison him, so maybe he did not have it at the time he was committed, in all fairness. There is also the key point I never actually attempted suicide. I only formed a plan. My life was not in imminent danger.        Whichever the case, the bottom line was Oakhaven was stuck with me. Paulette's outburst two days prior must have been caused by frustration over her inability to get the job done. It certainly irked Brock to no end.
       I considered avoiding involuntary commitment a victory. There was no one beyond Brock—not Dr. Hiatt, not staff, and not even Paulette—who thought it was a good idea. There was a palpable sense, considering how badly I was being treated personally, they were going to refuse to allow me to retuurn under the rationale I was a danger to myself. It would have made for a flimsy argument, but they went on to make for dumber ones. I had the laptop back. The itterrs were allowed back in the room. The only fumble was moving out of the room. Paulette told me I would have to wait a while. All right. I saw no reason to get greedy now I was on a roll. The next day, the sitters were removed entirely. For all intents and purposes, I was a free man.                                   

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Casting Out Evil Spirits

     I was pumped to come on strong to Paulette. She was not used to residents putting her on the spot with inconsistencies in her actions. It was probably fortunate she had left work early that day. It gave me a chance to simmer down. In fact, once I settled in, alone in my dead end room, my excitement were off. It was replaced by the run down feeling of illness I had been suffering all weekend. I slept off and on—mostly on—all afternoon and night. I vaguely remember eating and the night supervisor scolding my third shift sitter. Apparently, she had slid her chair from the hallway into my room at some point. Such was unacceptable at this point.
     I awoke the next morning to a sore throat. It hurt hurt so badly, I opted to drink some cough syrup. My suffering has to be major before I will take medication of any kind. Of course, now I was on antidepressants, so that bridge was a smoldering pile of ashes. The cough syrup tasted awful, but it was the good, high alcohol content type. I had only been up for a half hour or so, but I already enjoyed a wonderfully sleepy buzz. As with any good feelings I enjoyed at the time, it was fleeting. My sitter, Ticia again, had to attend a CNA meeting after breakfast, so I had to sit at the West wing nurses' desk for a while instead of sleep. I had not been sitting there long before Paulette showed up. I stood up so she could see me over the high desk well.
     “Paulette!” I said. She turned and smiled at me, apparently happy I was willing t initiate contact. “I need to task you about something Dr. Hiatt said.”
     “Okay. Come to my office,” she said.
     “Yeah. Now's all right.”
     I did not worry about my sitter. Someone would tell her I had gone totting off behind Paulette. I followed behind her at a fairly large distance down two hallways towards her office. I kept my distance on purpose to avoid talking to her until we got behind closed doors. When we did, I plopped down in the chair in front of her desk. She barely settled in before asking me how I was.
     “I have cold. I have taken some cough syrup. I have a little buzz going. Now George Harrison songs make sense.'”
     “What?' she asked with a nervous laugh.
     It was time to suppress my sense of humor. 'Never mind. I need to ask you about something Dr. Hiatt told me.”
     “Okay.” She was growing noticeably apprehensive. She had probably figured out I was going to throw something at her she did not want to hear. Sometimes she could be astute. Not often, but sometimes.
     “He said he did not want me committed. He said it was Oakhaven's idea. Why would he say that?”
     “I...I don't know, Jamie.” Yes, she was nervous.
     “He said he wanted to increase the frequency of my therapy sessions instead. So who recommended I be committed?”
     “It was a holistic decision. A group effort.”
     “Okay. Who was in this group?”
     “Dr. Hiatt said he was not included. Why would he say that?”
     “I don't know.”
    “Everybody?” I returned to her previous answer. “The dietician had input? Give me some names.”
     “If you want to know who is engaged in the process of finding placement, I am. I filled out the paperwork.”
     “Who. Made. The. Decision?”
    I drew out slowly. I wanted her to admit it was Brock, but she was too intimidated by Brock to do so. She knew I would confront Brock, and such an encounter would land her in hot water for pointing fingers.
     “it was a holistic decision,' she began, circling her hand in the air to signify all encompassing. Suddenly, she cut her thought off complete and yelled at me even more forcefully than she has the last time we were in her office. “why are we wasting time on this? You're suicidal!”
     I sat in silence for a beat. There would have been no pointin arguing my cooperation with everything thus far was evidence I was not an imminent suicide threat. I opted to just keep cool. Paulette had just lost her temper, motivated by the urge to protect herself. When someone's actions are governed by high emotion, it is best to back off. Nothing productive of any further talking.
     “Shall I leave, then/' I asked calmly.
     "You might as well,” she told me.
     I promptly got up, opened the door, and left. She did not follow me this time like she did the last. She did not want to risk I might say anything else, I imagine. Tcia was out of her meeting and across the hall waiting for me. Someone had told her where I was. Good. I did not want any awkward moments of no sitter shadowing me. Who knows what issues that circumstance might raise.
     “You all right?' Ticia asked.
     “Did something happen?”
     “Nothing important.”
    Something important actually had happen. There was a spark revived inside me. I had been feeling despondent ever since October 2012 when the diverticula burst. My despair turned to suicidal thought when I was abandoned to rot away at Oakhaven. I had felt as though I was being treated like crap even though my treatment was being adamantly justified by all parties. But now, I had made someone blink. It was over a simple matter. Just a pointless lie to avoid tension with the boss. But it was enough to confirm I was on the side of angels. I have a battle to fight. My old personality, one that had lain dormant since before my retina detached a decade prior, was best suited to fight. The old Jamie began stirring within.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Sharp Pain Between the Shoulder Blades III

      I was still not feeling well come Monday. More sleep would have been nice, if for no other reason than being unconscious would have made it tougher for the administration to make contact with me. I assumed someone would test the waters eventually. At some point, one of them was bound to happily jigger bug into my room t inform me a mental institution had a bed with my name on it. But I had to emerge because I had an appointment with Dr. Hiatt that morning. So I get up, got ready, and sat out in the hallway just passed the administrative offices with my sitter, Melissa, while we waited for the van driver to come around. Talk about putting myself out there.
     We sat there for fifteen or so minutes. I had been holed up in my room on the dead end hallway for days, so hardly anyone had seen me, even in passing. Pretty much everyone on the therapy crew scurried by on their way to pick up residents. Each greeted me. By chance, this older gentleman who liked to bring his tiny dog, Greeley, to visit residents came. I had not seen him since before Thanksgiving. His dog did little more than tolerate strangers putting him, but his owner believed he was doing a service and Greeley did not bite—he just looked like he would rather be anywhere else—so I pet him. It was a soothing experience, even for a cat person like me.
     Brock came out of her office and said hello as she passed by, but did not slow down to hear a response if I gave her one, which I did not. I did not know what to make of her by this point. How could she have made the sloppy decisions putting me in harm's way over the last week with not only no hint of remorse, but expect me to be friendly? Her strange behavior was becoming more obvious and scary.
     I lucked out by a quick encounter with Brock. I was not as fortunate with Paulette. Instead of speaking to me tersely while streaking by, she stopped to say hello. I did not want to look at her. If I did not make eye contact, perhaps she would take the hint and go away. The hint was too subtle. She asked how I was. I finally turned to look her in the eyes.
     “I'm fine,” I said as coldly as I could muster. I was depleted physically and emotionally, so it was not hard at all to effectively pull off frigid.
     Paulette briefly cupped her hand on my shoulder, smiled genuinely, and walked off. I began to wonder how someone who had worked as a social worker for nearly three decades could be so oblivious to a person's true feelings. I was certainly being careful not to at out, as I did not want to supply an reasons to justify a stint in a mental institution, but I was not hiding anything, either. Our last encounter was in her office when I told her what a horrible social worker she was. The declaration had to still echo in her mind.
     Melissa, bless her heart, stood beside me the entire time in an uncomfortable silence. I assumed she was still having more fun than I was.
     The session with Dr. Hiatt later that morning remains touchy. Depending upon who you ask, it is also much in dispute. Subsequent efforts to reconcile maters were--and still are--difficult because of professional butt covering by Lord only knows how many people. So for this and subsequent posts down the line, I am simply going to tell you what was said by whom at whichever point it was said. If I have been able to make heads or tails out of any of it, I will be certain to point it out. But do not get your hopes up for everything being wrapped up in a neat, little package with a bow on top.
     Keep in mind two things here. One, I am frustrated with my therapy sessions with Dr. Hiatt at this point. He believes my problem is spiritual in that I am not properly accepting grace. There is probably much to be said for that, but at a time when I think venting my concerns about my lack of a future would help me dig out from my suicidal depression than debating scriptural interpretation, but I found it impossible to drive him in that direction. Dr. Hiatt is a true believer. Nothing wrong with that, but I believed it was far more important to deal with pertinent issues on my mind. Now imagine how I felt knowing I was not only being involuntarily committed for presumably lack of progress, but I was told the involuntary commitment was Dr. Hiatt's idea. Add to the mix this is the first session afte I was attacked by Caligula, and you can imagine how upset I was when I say down on Dr. Hiatt's couch.
     Keep in mind no one in any position of authority at Oakhven had acting as though the Caligula incident was a big deal. Just because they blew the attack off as another day at the office did not mean I was not traumatized. There was a reasonable assumption Dr. Hiatt would be interested in helping me through said trauma. You know what they say about assuming. When he asked how I had been, I told him the whole story. He asked if I thought I had been moved in with Caligula on purpose. I told him about Caligula's strange behavior, dark fantasies, and his inability to keep his hands to himself. Dr. Hiatt did not say anything substantive in response, so I continued to describe the dead end room and its dilapidated condition. He finally said it sounded like I was a unruly teenager rebelling against tough love.
    I am going to give Dr. Hiatt as much credit as possible. The guy is the proverbial kid who wades through a pile of manure expecting to find a pony. He is that much of an optimist. Maybe one needs such an attitude to survive a long career in family counseling. Si I now think he believed oakhaven management had my best interests at heart. He had not endured my experiences with them, so he could not hold their actions in suspicion the way I did. So I do not believe he meant to be dismissive of my plight. But that was still the result. I was not going to get the attention I needed in the right areas, so I pretty much just grunted and nodded as we continued to discuss the meaning of "abundant life.” at this point, I began to think a mental institution might be a fantastic idea just to get away from all these bozos.
     The thought leads us into to something fascinating. At the end of the end of our session, Dr. Hiatt asked if I would like to increase our sessions to twice a week.
      “What about my involuntary commitment?” I asked dryly.
     “What involuntary commitment?' he asked.
     “The one you recommended.”
     “I didn't recommend you be committed. I wanted to increase the frequency of our sessions. It's Oakhaven that wants you committed You're scaring them, Jamie. You want to die!”
     I did not respond with anything relevant. He began checking his appointment book in order to schedule two appointments rather than one for next week. I did not pay much attention. The wheels were turning in my head. Paulette had originally told me Brock was the one to decide I should be committed, then changed her story to blame Dr. Hiatt later in the day after I had requested several times for an audience with Brock. Paulette denied ever telling me it was brock's decision. But of course she had. It had only been a matter of hours between the two stories she told. I felt an urgent need for Paulette to admit the truth.