Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Existence

       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.       

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