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.