Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sad Words of Tongue and Pen

       You may have noticed by the dates mentioned in the previous post this mess stretched across the week of Christmas. I received the word I should write a letter to Brock on Tuesday the 23rd. I did not want to write anything like this over Christmas, but since the days are more subdued during the holidays in a nursing home, I took the time to research the United States Code and the South Carolina Code relating to nursing facilities. The last thing Brock said to make was an assertion she never broke the law. I put her claim to the test and found it wanting. It was obvious my position at Oakhaven was eroding even without know yet Brock had tried to have me placed in a mental institution. Ellen advised me to pick my battles, it it increasingly felt like this one was being thrust upon me.
       A couple things solidified my choice to not only write the letter, but write it as a legal pleading. The first was the urging by numerous members of the nursing staff, all of whom hall remain nameless for the protection of those still working there, to speak up. Management had routinely abused the rights of residents who lacked the knowledge or ability to call them on it. As a uniquely skilled and capable resident, I had the best chance of anyone to call attention to how Oakhaven was run. I had already successfully done it once before. Oakhaven was no longer allowed to move abusive roommates because I reported the Caligula incident to DHEC. Maybe rattling my cage again would be a good idea. Besides, I had already confirmed the federal right for me to have visitors unchaperoned. 
       The second pint was this:

       I took the photo Christmas morning It was chilly, though not so cold I could not sit outside and snap a few photos. I am not sure wat compelled me. It had been raining for days. It would continue to be wet and gloomy fr the rest of the day. I guess everyone wants Christmas photos regardless. Christmas t Oakhaven. Gloomy and depressing. no. it was not supposed to be this way. Someone needed to shine a light. It never takes much light to cut through the dark. I decided I was going to write the letter. I had no ide.a what the result would be, but I new not writing it would gnaw at me.
       I went into Paulette's office Friday morning. I knew where I could find the relevant statutes, but I needed the employee handbook rule so as to know how to apply the law t the specific rule. I was expecting Paulette to be an impediment to this protect of mine. But to my surprise, she readily gave me a copy of the employee handbook. Keep this in mind. It will come up later.
       The rule about fired employees visiting the facility was illuminating. They could officially visit if they notified management of their arrival and departure, but they had to accept a chaperon. There were no exceptions, not even if the resident being visited was immediate family. Well well. Now I had two moral imperatives. Management should not be able to spy on a former employee, fired or not, while visiting a loved one. There was a personal jab here, too. You may recall brock intially told me Courtney could not come to visit period. I would have to leave the facility. When I objected based on federal law, a "compromise" was offered. I now knew the "compromise" was actually the rule all along. So Brock had lied to me in hopes I would accept what she wanted. Her dishonesty could not be allowed to stand. Also keep Brock's lie and the "compromise” in mind. They, too, become important in short order.
       I banged out the letter over the weekend. It clocked in at eighteen pages of well-cited, legal analysis of not only the issue of visitation, but of my treatment during the previous twelve months. It was a calculated move to include as much as I dd. My rationale was to establish Pakhaven's history of abusing my rights so as to lnd credibility to my current claim. Corporate appeared to take it as overly aggressive because of the scope. But I would not change anything if I had to write the letter all over again, so it is a moot point. Everything that happened next was destined to happen.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Forces Pulling From the Center of the Earth

      The ironic part is I had been convinced to drop the issue.
      Oh, I was still incensed. Brock had lied to my face and then copped her usual arrogant, patronizing attitude. I knew federal law was on my side, too. I wooed win this battle if I fought it, but it would likely have been a Pyrrhic victory. I was convinced of this after I ran into Ellen on my way to retrieve the ombudsman's phone number from the list of Phone Numbers Every Resident Should Know posted n the wall just around the corner from the East Wing nurses'' desk.
       I liked to bounce thoughts off Ellen. She was in the unique position of being an insider to management while not being directly employed by Oakhaven. (As head of the therapy department, she was employed by a staffing company that provided physical and occupational therapists to facilities.) She was also a blunt yankee from Michigan who was quick to speak the truth even if you did not want to hear it. Her sort of straightforward honesty was a nearly nonexistent element in the conducting of Oakhaven affairs. I explained everything to her, right down to Brock storming out. For what it is worth, Ellen offered an explanation for Brock's behavior.
       “Brock is rarely challenged. She usually isn't prepared for it. You're probably right, you caught her off guard, and she didn't know how to deal with it.”
       “I will bet she hates seeing me coming, huh?” I said.
       “She does. She never knows what you're going to throw at her.”
     “She doesn't like it, I assume,” I said as more a statement than question. I already knew the answer was yes.
“You scare her. She thinks you will hold her accountable for anything and everything.”
        “She knows I don't like her, too, doesn't she?” I asked, knowing full well the answer was an even more definite yes than my previous question.
        "Yeah, she knows,' Ellen assured me.
       Ellen suggested I call the ombudsman on my own to run the question of visitation by her. It was late Friday afternoon by this point, so I could not call until Monday regardless. I would have the weekend to mull the matter over. I did not need all weekend, however. After saying goodbye to Ellen, I went back to my room for the evening. It did not take too long before I reached the conclusion this battle was not worth fighting even if I was likely to win it. I sent Ellen a Facebook pm informing of my decision to drop the issue and just vent about it to Dr. Hiatt on Tuesday. I thanked he for listening. She messaged me back late I had made a mature decision, and said I could talk about any issues on my mind with her anytime I needed.
       If only dropping the issue had been that easy. A slow weekend means much time to think. What else was there to think about besides Friday's festivities? Considering my rate rate and blood pressure soared during said festivities and thinking about them constantly never gave me a chance to calm down, the physiological toll was obvious to the weekend staff. By the time Monday rolled around, everyone knew Courtney had been tossed out, somehow I was part of the aftermath, and mt involvement had a seriously detrimental effect on me.
      Ellen looked me up Monday. She told me she had dropped by corporate to get their view on the incident. Corporate was blind sidted by the news Courtney was visiting me when she had been told to leave. As far as they knew, I was only inquiring as to possible future visits. The confusion has lead to a couple questions. One, did Brock know Courtney was my visitor at the time? I assume she did, and just did not tell corporate. Considering her willingness to lie about the official policy in order to force me to leave the facility in order to have Courtney visit, Brock already showed her inclination to lie to produce an outcome convenient for her. Two, was corporate now afraid I might hold them accountable for kicking Courtney out? Forcing out a resident's invited guest would be a serious matter. Perhaps one they could be fined over. As I had reported them to DHEC over Caligula, corporate my suspect I would report them gain. I was not even thinking about punishing them. I just wanted future visits uninhibited. But there was simply no way to reliably answer those two questions at the time. Or now, for that matter.
       It should come as no surprise none of the players from Friday approached me on Monday. Not even Paulette. One would think the social worker would want to follow up after such a serious incident between the executive director and a resident, but it did not happen. The rest of management had gone into full cover for Brock mode at this point. My first encounter with Paulette was by happenstance Tuesday morning. I was literally on my way out the door for an appointment with Dr. Hiatt when Ticia, my first shift CNA, caught up with me. She needed to take my vital signs. She took them near the East Wing nurses' desk. Paulette happened to be walking by on the way to her office when she noticed the results. I do not recall my blood pressure—it was high—but I remember my pulse was 110 bpm.
      "Has it been that high all weekend?” Paulette asked.
       I nodded. “And higher.”
       She called me into her office. I protested. I was far more interested in and in far more need of talking to Dr. Hiatt, but she insisted it would only take a minute. She asked if I was still upset about Friday. I told he I was, adding the bad personal treatment I was receiving apart from the healthcare was damaging my general health. Not for the first time, either. While my ulcer had stopped bleeding, it still required medication to prevent flare ups. She agreed things were going badly, and told me she would see what she could do.
     What she could do was help Brock try to screw me over.
     Brock instructed Paulette to contact Dr. Hiatt and request a meeting to discuss alleged renewed suicidal idealizations for possible involuntary commitment to a mental institution. For those keeping sore at home, this is the second time she tried to have me committed. Paulette allegedly protested, assuring Brock this was not the help I needed. But she still made the call to Dr. Hiatt. Dr. Hiatt was well aware of management's role in making life in Oakhaven miserable, as well as their dishonesty in claiming I had been his idea to try committing me to a mental institution a the first time Brock got the notion. He refused to violate my confidentiality discussing our sessions, but assured her I had no inclinations towards suicide. So Brock came up empty.
       There is some dispute as to which day Paulette’s conversation with Dr. Hiatt occurred. It was either Monday, December 22nd 2014 or Tuesday the 23rd. The evidence pointing to Monday is Paulette's crying in her office after my altercation with Brock while telling me to :take care of myself.” I got the impression brack had expressed desire to get rid of me after I left her office so she could call corporate, bet Paulette would not say anything. If the call was made on Monday, it was pure reprisal on Brock’s part. However, Dr. hiatt did not reveal this phone call took place until our January 6th session. The timing of the revelation makes it more likely the call took place on Tuesday after my counseling session. Not that the Tuesday timing precludes the likelihood of reprisal. Brock was attempting to violate doctor/patient privilege to manufacture suicidal idealizations in or to get me out of Oakhaven. I will never know for certain. Once state regulatory agencies go involve in my case, everyone clammed up over their actions. They could not, however, control Dr. Hiatt, and for that, I am grateful.
       Regardless of which day the phone call occurred, Paulette came to my room Tuesday afternoon. I would like to describe her manner much better than I am about to do, especially because I had seen it a number of times in the past under similar circumstance, but she was overly friendly. When she has been this way in the past, it is because she was in a combination of guilt and relief. Every time I had sen her like this in the past, it was because Brock made her do something potentially damaging to me, but failed. Yes, this had happened before. I would not know about the call to Dr. Hiatt for two weeks. I had no clue how seriously Brock had it out for me, so I never pushed Paulette to explain why she was acting strangely. It was just as well. History say she would have lied to hide her involvement and cover for Brock.
       What Paulette did reveal is Brock asked her to contact the ombudsman, Michelle, for mediation, as I had originally requested. Do note Brock's first inclination was to toss me in a mental institution instead. Michelle suggested I write a letter to Brock explaining what I would like to have her do regarding Courtney's visitation. My brow knit over the idea.
        “Write a letter? Is she serious?' I asked.
      “That's what she said.” Paulette laughed awkwardly. She knew writing a letter was a strange suggestion, too.
       “It's just an odd thing to suggest for a nursing home resident. Most of them couldn't write a grocery list if their lives depended on it.”
       It may sound mean I said that, but I suspected Michelle was not giving me much credit for brains. Maybe she thought I would either struggle with composing a letter and give up, or I would write some semi-literate crap, complete with backward R's and I's dotted with smiley faces, in crayon on a napkin. Everyone would have a good laugh as the matter disappeared int oblivion.
       “I agree,” Paulette said, laughing awkwardly. “But that's what she said.”
      “I have to write a letter because...why? Brock won't speak to me personally? She isn't going to pay a letter any attention. She probably wouldn't even read it. You know full well what she thinks of she treated me at that meeting last summer.” I said. Paulette knew exactly what I was talking about.
      “Do you want to see if Sonya will meet with you and me to talk about it?” she asked.
     It was a tempting prospect. At the time, I had friendly relationship with Sonya. We spoke to each other every time she visited Oakhaven. We exchanged movie recommendations. There was still a standing lunch offer between us. She would help resolve the matter in accordance with federal law. But I declined. The thought of writing a letter suddenly warmed up to me. I thought it would b therapeutic, actually, and told Paulette I would write it for myself with little desire to do anything other than purge some bad feelings by banging away on a keyboard. But plans have a way of evolving during execution.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Final Curtain

       Courtney came to Oakhaven t visit me on December 19th, 2014. It was eight days after my 38th birthday. She had not come to visit on my birthday, but had chipped in with Ellen and Lesley to buy a large pizza for my lunch. It was a Papa John's limited time offered Philly Cheese Steak pizza which ought to be a regular menu item, if you ask me. Our visit was fun, but brief. I had been a night owl even though I had to get up and stay up that morning. By one o'clock or so when Courtney visited, I was one the verge of a nap. We said our goodbyes, and I nodded off probably before she rounded the hallway corner.
       I was awakened by my CNA, Tara, about an hour into snoozing. She asked me if I knew Courtney had been forced to leave the facility by Nicole T's replacement as Director of Nursing, Victoria. I obviously did not know that, Tara told me Courtney was forbidden from returning to the facility because she had been fired. I immediately declared Courtney was my guest, and federal law allowed me to have any guest I wanted without interference from the facility. I opted to complain about the matter. My first instinct was to immediately approach Paulette. Was this a good idea? I do not know. Maybe I should have learned from past experience to skip over her in important matters. But what is done is done.
       Paulette was not busy at the moment, so I had the chance to go right in. I asked if she could explain Courtney's status. She asked what I meant. I told her Courtney had come to visit me, but was asked to leave the facility. I did not believe my visitors should be treated in such a manner regardless of an employee policy. Paulette barely paused for only the briefest of moments before suggesting we go ask Brock. I agreed. Impulsively, perhaps.
       Brock was available at that moment, too. Paulette and I came into her office and sat. Paulette told Brock I would like to discuss an issue with her. Paulette word not utter another word for the remainder of the meeting. I was quickly reminded she was terrified of Brock's ability to fire her at will. The fear was stronger than her desire to advocate for my best interests. You know...her job.
       “So you have a complain about the facility or something specific?' Brock asked as she walked back to her desk from a filing cabinet and settled in.
       In hindsight, I should have been more specific about the matter. I should have said Courtney was here to visit me earlier in the day and was kicked. Brock knew Courtney had been given the boot, but did not know she was here as my guest. It might have softened our exchange. Probably not, but I have a compulsive habit of second guessing scenarios. Sometimes third, fourth, and eighteenth guessing, as well. But I kept it simple.
       “I would like to know Courtney's status,” I said.
       “Ah.” Brock sounded relieved my concern was easy to address. She did not know me very well, did she? “Courtney has been fired, so she is not allowed on facility grounds. If you want to visit her, you are going to have to do it off facility grounds.”
       Even on the surface, I could tell her answer was complete nonsense. A nursing home cannot tell a resident he has to leave the facility or order to see someone. It was a classless thing to demand from any resident, but I considered her response a particular insult to my intelligence. It was necessary to put out I was savvier on the issue than she was giving credit.
       “Well, federal law states I can have any visitor I want without interference from the facility. I can show you the specific statutes on my laptop, if you wish to see them,” I said.
       Brock shifted in her chair. She was clearly angry I had come back at her. “no, I don't need to see them. I have full access to them right here. Let me talk to corporate and see what I can do.”
       Brock picked up the phone, but just held it here. It was the third time she had pulled this trick on me. She would say she was contact someone regarding an issue immediately, then demonstrate unwillingness to do so while I am still in her office. It was her way of saving face by avoiding even the appearance she may be wrong about something. I went along with the gag, shaking my head in exasperation as I cleared the doorway.
       I went back to my room. About forty-five minutes passed with no word from Brock or Paulette. Since it was Friday, I began to suspect they were going to use the frequent tactic of leaving me with bad news at the end of the workday and hope I will forget about it by the time management returns Monday morning. /it had never worked in the past. I have the memory of an elephant, folks. But they are slow learners at Wilson Senior Care/Oakhaven. To my surprise, it did not go down in exactly that manner. Things did not go down much better, though.
       Paulette did come to my room after a reasonable time. She asked me to come to he office. I asked if she had good news. She smiled and assured me she did. When we got back to her office and settled in, she laid it out for me. I could have Courtney visit, but she had to notify management when she was to arrive and depart. We would be required to have a chaperone the entire time she was here. I was bewildered what Paulette saw good in the arrangement. I had spent five weeks with a staff member shadowing me 24/7. I knew the invasion of privacy a chaperone would be. The plan was unacceptable, and I told Paulette so. I explained the chaperone would be an invasion of my privacy. An invasion I did not believe federal law would permit. I requested a mediation by the ombudsman or DHEC to clarify the dispute.
       Before Paulette could do little more than make a disappointed expression, Victoria came into the office. She was there for another reason, but asks if I had heard the “compromise.” I told her yes, but objected to the invasion of privacy a chaperone would be. I told her we obviously have a dispute over the same set of facts, and told her I wanted either the ombudsman or DHEC to settle the matter. Before, Victoria could say anything, fate took a nasty turn and Brock came in the office. She was there for other reasons than to discuss the issue with me, and only relayed the “compromise” at the end while the same demeanor one scoops dog poop off one's shoe.
       Paulette and Victoria at least offered a chance for me to express my viewpoint. While it is difficult for me to describe here, Brock's irritated, condescending tone made clear the 'compromise' was the end of the matter. Even so, I should have told her I wanted mediation. It was a definite I was going to pursue it. There was no rational reason to not ask for clarification of the rules versus residents' rights. There would not be any penalties faced. We would all just know how to proceed from here. But Brock did not like to follow anyone's rules but hers. She found even consulting corporate on the matter galling. With there be no point in requesting mediation, I said the only thing I could think to say.
       “Are you going to cooperate with that?”
      I had been one the receiving end of Brock's condescending attitude and vitriol before, but she reached a new low this time. She slowly, angrily drew out her words. “Contrary to what you believe, I don't break the law.”
       She turned on her heals and stormed out in silence.
      “Just as arrogant and patronizing as ever,” I said as she exited the door frame. It was not a wise thing to do, but I was entitled after all the incredibly awful things she had said and done to me since my arrival. Interestingly enough, while I would remain at Oakhaven for another three months, Brock and I never spoke to each other again. I did not feel deprived, mind you. I only mention it to demonstrate how she dealt with nursing home residents for whom she was supposed to be caring.
       Paulette and Victoria stood in stunned silence. After a long moment, Victoria eased out the door herself. I did not say anything, either but looked at Paulette with a crooked, bemused smile. She grabbed a tissue and began crying. I was puzzled as to why. She only had one thing to say.
       “Take care of yourself.”
       I knit my brow. It was an odd thing to say. Given Paulette’s love of drama, it was difficult to ascertain what it might mean. “'Take of myself?' why? I Brock planning to do something to me? If she is, you need to tell me.”
       “No,” Paulette shook her head. “She isn't planning anything. Just take care of yourself.”
       “Did she say something to you? What did she say to you?” I asked.
       Brock frequently dressed down staff. Paulette had been on the receiving end many times. Several members of the nursing staff had heard her sobbing in her office after talking to Brock. I was confident she had been crying when she sought me out late in the day of my DHEC interview to inform me Caligula was no longer a resident. Had Brock chewed her out for bringing me to see her? Maybe. If so, it was difficult to sympathize since she had merely sat in silence the entire meeting. It was not the first time she refused to engage Brock on my behalf, either.

       More than likely, however, she knew Brock was fiercely angry. Angry enough to place me in her cross hairs. I assured Paulette I had not up until this point allowed Brock to abuse me and was not going to stat now. I told her if I had been known to contact DHEC immediately when they moved me in with Caligula, I would have come back at their plan immediately before anything bad happened. Brock had gotten away with too much already against staff, residents, and me with no one possessing either the ability or the will to hold her accountable. I did, and if she wanted to cross the line with me, then she must answer to the proper authorities.      

Thursday, May 7, 2015

It All Begins Where It Ends

       We are quickly approaching the final arc in the sordid tale of my stay at Oakhaven Nursing Center. If you have been surprised b what I have written thus far, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. My final months there were full of some of the most shocking and unpleasant experiences f my life. There are three things which need to be addressed before breaking open the box of poison candy.
       One, you will notice the posts up to and beyond this pint have been backdated quite a ways. These posts will discuss events from late December 2014 to early March 2015. I am writing this in the middle of September 2015. The reason for the delay is twofold. The first is the most important. As you will soon see, Wilson Senior Care and Oakhaven were spying on my internet activity in order to use posts against me. I had to stop blogging for a number o months while there.
       You will notice there is a long gap between posting beginning in late summer 2014 and spring 2014. The spying was the reason why. The second reason for the delay in posting since March 2015 is I strongly considered taking legal action against Wilson Senior Care, Oakhaven, and at least one individual whom corporate named in order to avoid liability for defamation. Full disclosure was not possible if the possibly of pending legal action existed. Ultimately, I decided I had no desire to deal with these people any longer. The The financial gains would have been more problematic than rewarding. Besides, preserving the truth for posterity on the internet is a much better idea.
       Second, I am posting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I have been from the beginning. There have been no punches pulled even when writing about my own thoughts and actions. This brutal honesty will continue because I want anyone who reads these Oakhaven blog entries to make up his own mind. After reading the entire story, you should place fault exactly where you believe it lies. The only thing I have done is used code names for residents involved at various times. It was not proper to identify them. Otherwise, credit and blame are placed on the actual people, myself included.
       Finally, the catalyst for this whole mess. Courtney, a favorite CNA, was unjustly terminated by Oakhaven in early December for making a Facebook status expressing a desire to improve holiday decorations for residents enjoyment. She took them to court, and I will have the results of that down the road. Just keep the pint in mind as you read—Courtney was fired for no good reason at all, much less anything like abusing or stealing from a resident. In fact, she was one of the best CNA and a favorite of many other residents besides me.
       Now, on with the show….      

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Different Path

       I now had a bleeding ulcer diagnosis and treatment in hand. The treatment wound up being as simple as a twice daily pill to soothe my turbulent stomach. Slowly but surely, the pills worked. My hemoglobin rise steadily each time it was checked. But medication could not solve the problem alone. The ulcer was caused by turmoil in my environment. I was still stuck with a feeding tube because of my less than ideal weight. So the turmoil had to be reduced where I was planted. Do not let anyone tell you the poppycock notion you should be able to overcome any environment. Even the strongest among us get beaten down eventually by forces beyond our control.
       Oakhaven made a surprising effort. I do not know if management was motivated by the medical necessity of preventing my ulcer from worsening, gilt over my recent treatment, or a desire to cover their rear ends should I ever wind up being interviewed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control at some future point, but changes were made. I was finally moved to a new room along a well-traveled hallway. The new living arrangement ended the last vestiges of the Caligula incident. The Wi Fi was also moved closer to the living area in an attempt for it to reach my room. It still did not, but I now had the opportunity to sit near a large window in a far off corner with my laptop. The move was an improvement. Ellen, Lesley, and Courtney took me out to eat one night Mercy, Paulette and I even managed to go months without any personal tussling.
       The biggest surprise was Brock. I have already described in detail what I will generously call our personality clash. She did not speak to me for nearly two months after my DHEC interview. She had just gotten to the point at which she would at least greet me shortly before the tribunal incident ay which her faced fell, revealing what she truly thought of me. I learned at some point she had asked Ellen for advice on how to get along with me. Ellen suggested she sit down with me in a civil conversation and apologize for Caligula. According to Ellen, Brock appeared to consider taking the advice, but she never did. Brock was insecure with her position in life. To apologize is to show weakness. I was unaware this conversation took place when I wished Brock a happy belated birthday. In hindsight, she probably took my gesture as letting her off the hook. Which is fair. She tried being as friendly to me as her weird, condescending attitude would allow. I cannot fault someone for trying, so I went with it.
       Ellen and Nicole T were friends. I am not certain what—if any—things might have been said between them regarding me, but my relationship with her become much friendlier. While I am not certain how much I can assume, it appears Nicole T took the advice Brock rejected from Ellen. I do not want to sound like I am excluding the idea Nicole t was just a really nice person/ once I got to know her, she was.
       A resident who lived in a room within the Wi Fi range went to court to have himself sprung from Oakhaven. Nicole t arranged for me to move into his room. She warned me the fellow there already was grouchy at times. Paulette warned me there were issues with him bathing, as well, but if there was a problem, I should ask for help. I accepted the room, and thanks to Nicole T, I finally had Wi Fi in my room. I had often been puzzled why the Wi Fi had not been arranged in such a way in the first place, particularly since it was (dishonestly) hammered into me I was the only resident who used the internet. (There were three residents with laptops, and at least two with smart phones at one point. Those numbers do not count the crowds of visitors in and out every day.) Many problems could have been avoided. Either way, I was happy to have it.
       It bears noting even though I grew to like Nicole T, she and Brock together were considered a gruesome twosome running Oakhaven as their personal fiefdom. They were difficult to work for and no walk in the park to live under. Retaining staff was extremely difficult, and the DHEC fine racked up earlier in the year chafed corporate. I am not certain what the specific catalyst was, but in October 2014, corporate transferred Nicole T from director of nursing at Oakhaven to Director of Nursing at Medford, a sister facility just a couple blocks over. The move was not a promotion for Nicole T. it was a move sideways with the intention of splitting up her and Brock. Brock requested to go, too, but the CEO's son was the Executive Director at Medford. He obviously was not going anywhere. CEO Dennis Lofe use the euphemism these sideways transfers within the corporate entity as 'rearranging ornaments of a Christmas tree.” No word on how he plays down his nepotism.
       Victoria became the new Director of Nursing. I feel the need to mention Victoria replacing Nicole T because it is the only event one can point towards in order to explain Oakhven's subsequent plummet. It was clear from the get go Brock and Victoria did not like each other. From the grumbling to which I was exposed by staff, no one who worked under Victoria liked her, either. She was certainly less popular than Nicole T. The issues is mostly a tangent to the final chapter of my time at Oakhaven. What happened to me next was a symptom of the sickness plaguing Oakhaven, not the cause of the disease itself.
       I am going to tack on an eye-opening incident here. It is not necessarily a good fit, but it needs to be laid out there before anything else. This place is the last chance to do so. Recall I mentioned above I moved to a new room with Wi Fi. I moved in late august. The fellow already living there, had issues with bathing. He claimed—falsely—he was a Vietnam veteran infected with Agent Orange which kept him from bathing. I am going to refer to him as Rambo because of his claim. The reality was he rarely got out of bed. His laziness caused him to develop five pressure sores. They probably were painful to wash, but the discomfort was no excuse for him to forgo bathing, particularly when all five constantly drained. A pitch verbal battle ensued prior to any bath. Few CNA had the stamina to push for the daily bath Rambo was supposed to receive. Three or four days could sometimes pass between baths. The stench could be nauseating.
       Paulette had warned me about Rambo's lack of hygiene. She also told me to point out the problem anytime it got to be too much, and she would intervene. Paulette was true to her word, although a permanent solution was never reached. Paulette was not the only person to talk to me about Rambo's problem, however. Jonathan, the wound care LPN, did, too. I met Jonathan the day I arrived at Oakhaven. He had tended to my feeding tube and colostomy scores of times. He had even been at the dinner with Ellen, Lesley, Karen, and me back in October 2013. I thought I knew him well, so when h offered friendly advice, I assumed it would be just that. He sat down on the bed beside me.
       “I'm going to tell you something. You're not to tell anybody else, and I better not find out you have told anybody else--”
       If Jonathan noticed my brow knit, he did not acknowledge. I assumed he was pulling some bravado here, but it sounded like a threat. I do not respond well to threats. He had no business talking to a resident in such a manner regardless. But I was having a good day moving into a room with Wi Fi, so I did not respond with the '”Is that a threat?” I normally would have. 
        Jonathan's subsequent behavior showed him to be a jerk, so I have no problem calling him out now. He basically said everything Paulette had, but decided to be a complete jackass in order to keep himself covered for revealing information about another resident. Whatever, Jonathan. He and I had issues again in the near future.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Flesh Was Weak

      We interrupt the personal angst in order to wrap up the running issue of the bleeding ulcer which was complicating matters even further. We shall resume the personal angst shortly thereafter. Thanks for your patience. Drinks and popcorn are available in the lobby.
     I have experienced bouts of anemia periodically since my most recent colon surgery in October 2012.  The anemia has required transfusions on three separate occasions.  The latest of those was in May 2013.  At no point, after careful examination each time by often unpleasantly intrusive means, was any source of internal bleeding found.  After the final transfusion, I was prescribed iron pills.  No further problems occurred until a few weeks ago when my hemoglobin began to plummet.  This means a shortage of red blood cells.  I was bleeding internally.   I will leave it to you to figure out how we figured out the blood was from my digestive system.  It should not be too difficult to determine.  
  I braced myself for two highly intrusive tests--a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.  The latter is frequently dubbed an EDG.  For the sake of simplicity, I am going to refer to it as such.  It is probably safe to assume you know what happens during a colonoscopy.  An EDG involves going in the mouth and down the throat.  So both the entrance an exits are covered.  We are getting shaky on this staying classy thing, I know.  Bear with me as long as long as your dainty sensibilities will permit.  I have endured both procedures before.  One is usually not knocked out for a colonoscopy, but always for an EDG.  One tends to panic and/or barf  otherwise.  Since one was going to be performed right after the other, I was to be mercifully asleep for both.  One of the few fortunate happenstances to befall me in quite a while.   It was about the only good fortune I enjoyed this week.
      Monday morning was the start of a clear liquid diet that was supposed to last until after the procedures, which would mean a late lunch for me Tuesday afternoon.  Not only did I have to suffer through three meals and Jell-O, but the evening featured hours of preparation cleaning myself out for the next morning.  There is a huge jug of industrial strength laxative to drink which leaves one’s colon spic and span.  I did not have to drink it because of my feeding tube, but that counted for only half the battle.  Industrial strength laxatives and colostomies are a volatile combination.  Picture the flooding scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a visual aid.  Monday night was a long, busy night indeed.  
      My clear liquid diet turned into a nuthin’, no way, no how diet at midnight.   I was a little on the lightheaded side Tuesday morning, but I could handle deprivation a few more hours.  I was chauffeured in the oak haven van to the hospital.  I had expected to go to the main McLeod in Florence, but wound up, much to my surprise, at McLeod-Darlington.  If you recall, that was my old stomping ground for five or so weeks last summer.  I had not been there in over a year.  It would have been great to run into people I knew.  As it turned out, Chappel was in charge of my paperwork.  You may recall Chappel used to take my walking so I did not have to use a wheelchair like McLeod-Darlington required.  She earned high marks in my book for this and many other sweet gestures.  
     I became enormously depressed when one of the questions she needed to ask was if I had thoughts of harming myself in the last six months.  I sheepishly admitted I was on suicide watch for over a month at the beginning of the year.  She asked if I had actually tried to kill myself.  I told her someone stopped me., but living in a nursing home did not agree with me.  She was much quieter throughout the rest of the forms.  It did not dawn on me right away her asking if I actually tried to kill myself was her own question, not the form’s.  Sometimes my distrustful, solitary attitude blinds me  to reciprocated personal bonds.  It is definitely not the best thoughts to have just before going under for a medical procedure. 
     Neither of them took too long.  I was awake in about an hour.  My head was slamming, though.  The doctor had used my forehead for leverage when dropping the scope down my throat.  Or an elephant sat on it.  I remain unclear which, and can only speculate based on the amount of pain.  I was given something for the pain.  Whether it was the anesthetic or the painkiller that prompted me to barf up whatever I could still miraculously have in me, barf it up I did.  The anesthesiologist just did get out the way.  There were no hard feelings between, though.  She was a sweet lady who stayed by the gurney with a wet cloth for my forehead while I waited for a room to be cleaned.  Colonoscopies/EDG are only outpatient procedures if you do not barf afterwards. 
     In the meantime, the doctor, after determining my lucidity, revealed there was a spot on my stomach in which the interior lining is flaking off.  I had an ulcer.  This spot was almost certainly the source for the bleeding, but he could not get as good a look inside my colon as he wanted.  He planned to take another look later in the week.  I still was not quite lucid enough for that to sink in, nor was I particularly cooperative for a quick CT scan after he departed.  Three radiologists sort of tossed me around and positioned me like a rag doll.  I hope they had fun.   
     Those plans for that light lunch offered after one awakens from the procedures were quickly dashed, but I passed out the moment I was settled in my room, anyway.  It was the next morning before I stirred again For whatever reason, they were not going to send a breakfast tray, so the first shift CNA microwaved a cup of instant grits.  Normally, I would refuse grits out of general principle, but I had not had any real food since Sunday night, so I went for it.  Picked at it, anyway.  At a certain point, you can get so hungry, eating does not even matter anymore.  A self-defense mechanism, maybe?  
     I was transported back to Oakhaven while using a wheelchair.  I did not put up the slightest fuss over the issue.  If you know me well, you will understand how weary I must have felt in order to cooperate with such a “chariot."  At some point before leaving McLeod-Darlington, I vaguely heard and acknowledged a CT scan newly scheduled for Friday.   Yeah, yeah.  Okay…zzzzzz.
     I managed to get down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich Wednesday eveningt before being informed the test for Friday was not a mere CT scan, but a virtual colonoscopy.  Well, that did not sound good.  Neither did the clear liquid diet and industrial strength laxatives planned for Thursday.  Have mercy upon my scrawny self as I wither away.
  The last line of the previous paragraph was no joke.  The plan to drive me to the hospital for the virtual colonoscopy via Oakhaven’s van was quickly changed to a call for an ambulance transport.  I could not put one foot in front of the other Friday morning.  The trip to the hospital for the procedure and back took a shade under four hours.  My feet touched the floor once during that time, and I nearly toppled a radiologist went that happened.  I might wind up with two ulcers after all this.  
     True to my luck, a virtual colonoscopy is much like an actual colonoscopy.  The only difference I could discern is the drugs were not as good.   Insult to injury, I got bruised up rolling around on the unpadded, metal table.  The bruises added a nice finishing touch to the week’s festivities. 
     It took a few days after the second colonocopy for me to be up and about again. Truth be told, I was depleted enough to merit an IV. But I dug myself out of the hole without any further issues. The first day I was able to take a stroll without feeling the urg to crawl instead was the day after Brock's birthday. I passed by her in the hallway during the late morning.
     “Happy belated birthday, Brock,” I said.
     She appeared genuinely surprised and/or moved I would do so. “Thank you, Jamie.”

     See? You probably thought I was a jerk all the time. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Breaking Point

      I definitely needed an Ativan. My blood pressure and pulse were checked when I got back to my room. The exact blood pressure has been lost to time, but I still recall my rate rate was 135. it was high enough for Janice to give me an Ativan. Even with the medication, I was too wired to stay in my room and rest. I decided to go sit outside under the carport to chill out. I was not out there five minutes before Paulette came calling. This was turning out to be an awful week—and it was only Tuesday.
     Paulette sat in the deck chair beside me and asked, “Do you want to talk to me?”
     “Are you asking if I have something I want to say to you or if I am willing to talk to you?' I asked without ever taking my eyes off the sparse traffic I was far more interesting in at the time.
     “Are you willing to talk to me?”
     '”The Ativan has had enough time to kick in, so I guess it's okay.”
Paulette was well aware of my anxiety issues. She knew about the as yet undiagnosed, but obvious bleeding ulcer. I wanted to make sure she knew I was teetering here over events. I suppose she went about things as gingerly as possible.
     “Can you tell me what that was all about?” she asked.
     “That was about me telling you all I am not feeling well and do not want to do this and Brock smarting off and forcing me to anyway. So I thought, fine. You want to know what I think that badly, here it is.' I looked at Paulette for the first time.  Surprise, surprise...none of you want to know what I think.”
     “Why did you include me in it?” she asked. An additional non-surprise. She was going to make this about her.
     “You seem to be at the center of everything. But really, it is Patricia. That was something I gave you a lot of credit for. I thought she had been fired for offering me more efficient suicide tips. As it turns out, you did not do that, either.”
     “I honestly don't remember you reporting her.”
     Something was not right about the whole deal. But I could not sort the mess out when no one who was still around wanted to confess to anything that might make them look bad, nor did I fell like it. I was far more angry at Brock's attitude.
     “Whatever. The big deal is being told what a waste of resources I am.”
     “Brock. Did you miss the 'we're spending a lot of money on you' bit? It was the last thing she said to me. You could not have missed it.” I paused a moment for her to respond, if she so desired. She did not. “I guess she is whining about the therapy sessions with Dr. Hiatt. I am sure she would love to know how much of her money has been spent on haggling over Scripture interpretation instead of psychology.”
     “You can tell her, if you think she needs to know that,” Paulette said.
     No, I really did not. Brock had already cut down my sessions with Dr. Hiatt from twice a month to once. She would eagerly be looking for any excuse to eliminate the monthly session, too. One session a month was not adequate to help me cope with nursing home living in the first place, much less when I had Brock working to make life miserable. My ulcer did not show up simply because it thought my stomach was prime real estate. I backed off.
     "Nah. I'll spend a little more of her money,' I said. “did you also miss it when she admitted it was her decision to have me involuntarily committed, not Dr. Hiatt's? You said it was not her, and practically threw me out your office when I said otherwise.”
     She did not say anything directly in response. She just offered up the bemused grin she always gave when caught in a lie. She managed to be saved by the bell. Or, in this case, a wasp. One started hovering around near me. She expressed concern it would sting me, and suggested we go inside to her office. Oh, man. Go to her office or be stung by a wasp. Can you appreciate what a tough choice it actually was?
     I chose Paulette over the wasp. Sorry if you lost your shirt wagering. Gambling is nasty vice. Shame on you. Anyway, I settled into my usual chair across from her desk. She came in after a couple minutes with a cola for me. Ativan and caffeine. Maybe a balance would be struck.
     “Why was this such a big deal? Nicole said it was just a general, quality control survey she was asking everyone. You are not planning on hauling in everyone who took it.” I said.
     “I don't know. All I know is I couldn't even put my bags down this morning before Brock was in my office telling me we had a big problem.”
     “There were no big problems, and I told Nicole so. Patricia had been fired. Or so I thought. The knife was not essential, and I am apprehensive about moving in with another unpredictable roommate.”
     “Speaking of...what are you looking for in a roommate? Someone who is with it mentally, I assume.”
     I rubbed my face with the palms of both hands. Aided by Ativan, I was coming down off the morning's excitement hard. 'I do not, and I do not want to deal with it right now. The reason I have an ulcer is because this keeps going on and on and on,” I said.
    “Okay,'” Paulette said. She dropped her pen on the desk to punctuate the meeting.
      I started to get up, but plopped back down for a second. The desire to have the last word may be immature, but I had a burning desire for it. Still do, honestly.
     "Brock speaks for both Oakhaven and Wilson Senior Care,' I said. Paulette nodded affirmatively. “if she is unapologetic for Caligula and considers me a waste of resources, than that is the official position of Oakhaven and Wilson Senior Care. Saying those things to a resident is a sorry thing to do.”
      Paulette did not did not indicate any sort of reaction as I left her office.
     You might think the rest of the week would have gone easier for me. Surely there was no way thing could get worse than management placing me in the cross-hairs. If you thought that, you would be wrong. Brock liked to run hings in an iron fisted, top down manner, but it did not mean the lower rungs could not take their shots when they felt so inclined. Case in point—Petual.
     Let me remind you of a couple things. One, yes, Petual was her real name. I have no idea why parents would name their child Petual. Maybe the psychological damage of going through life named Petual explained her attitude problem. Two, we had a history. Petual was the custodian who gathered up my laptop and removed it from the computer room once, scolding me while doing so, because the lady who had been trying to edge me out the room every possible moment asked her to do so. She had no business removed my belongings from a room open to community use, and she thought I was an inconsiderate jerk. We were not fond of each other would be the take away.
     Here is how our friction caused a full blown blaze. On Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, my tube feeding came loose and created a small puddle on the floor before it could be snapped back in. no worries. Housekeeping cleans every room, every day. Except when they do not. Remember, I am still stuck in the last room in the building on an isolated, dead end hallway. My room is skipped on occasion. It was skipped Wednesday. By lunchtime Thursday, housekeeping had still not shown up. When Melissa, a CNA, came in to feed my roommate, I asked her how I could get housekeeping in to finally clean this now day and a half old stain. She said I should go find Amos, the head of housekeeping. I wandered around the building for about fifteen minutes. No one knew where Amos was or if he was even there at the time. So I gave up and went back to my room.
     When I got there, one of those yellow, wet floor signs was standing in the doorway. I figured Melissa must have gotten housekeeping while I was looking for Amos. But the floor was not wet. Worse yet, the stain was still there. My room had no been cleaned at all. I went to the West wing nurses' desk, explained everything, and asked for housekeeping to come back and clean this time. I went back to my room and waited. A few minutes after shift change, Petual showed up at my door.
     “What are you going on about?” she shouted.
     She was so loud and aggressive, I thought for a brief moment she was playing with me. It turns out she was not. Petual was genuinely angry.
     “My room has not been mopped,' I told her.
     “There's a sign up!' she snapped.
     “Well, it has not been cleaned. Come look at this stain.”
she did. She was not happy to have this problem with which to deal. “How long has that been there?”
     “Since yesterday morning.”
     “You didn't call any one to clean it up?”
     “Housekeeping is supposed to come every day,” I told her.
     “You didn't get hem in here on first shift?” Petual asked. Her fury escalating with every exchange.
     “I'm not the one who called them in the first place.”
     “So you were saving this for me to clean up?” she angrily asked.
     I am going to cut Petual as much slack as possible. It is the duty of first shift custodians to clean residents' rooms. Second shift emphasizes the rest of the facility. So it is not normally part of their routine to clean a resident's room. However, if work is left undone or an emergency arises, housekeeping is supposed to clean whatever mess is there. So cleaning my room was an unplanned inconvenience for her. Whatever responsibility I may have had for the stain remaining for her to clean up, Petual's response was far beyond any I deserved.
     She began grumbling I should have reported this stain earlier. Cleaning it up was not her job. I should not have saved the clean up for her to do. She was clearly taking it personally, as though I had planned this to ruin her day. When she stopped griping long enough to say she was going to report first shift's failure to clean to Amos, I offered to go instead. I knew he was not there, but I wanted to get away from her. She told me she would go instead. After she left, I scurried to put my shoes on and leave before she got back. No such luck. She returned with a scraper to clean up the stain because it had dried into a chalky substance. She continued to angrily chastise me in the same manner as before. I was stuck there, so I had to listen to her. I was simmering over her attitude.
     Petual left again to get the dust pan. While she was gone, my roommate, who was a near catatonic fellow, got a visit from his brother. Petual returned a few minutes into their visit with a whole new demeanor. She was warm and chatty with the brother. She never acknowleged me again. My simmering nearly reached boiling point. Petual was willing to chew me at in the most vile manner---as long as no one could hear her doing it. I was infuriated.
     I wanted to walk around and blow off steam, but I was met halfway to the door by Kerry, my second shift CNA. She needed to take my blood pressure and pulse. I was sure they were soaring. As luck would have it, the cuff pumped up, but could not take the pressure twice. I asked Kerry to switch arms because the pain of a third pump would make my pressure rise. She did not hear me, so I raised my voice and said it again. Maybe I raised it a little too loudly. She switched arm without a word, and got the pressure. If it was high, we never got the chance to discuss it.
     “What's gotten into you/' she asked. “sometimes you're sweet and funny, and other times you're completely bitter.”
     I snapped. I had a complete, utter, total, profanity-laden meltdown. I individually listed everything I had discussed with Brock, Nicole t., Paulette, and Petual, each time with the point of (unfairly) asking Kerry why, in each administrator or staff members' failure, it was actually my fault their job was not done? Poor Kerry looked horrified. She had not asked for this, and mustered up the only thing she could think to say.
     “The only thing I can tell you is to go talk to Brock tomorrow.”
     Kerry's response was akin to throwing a gunpowder keg into a raging forest fire. The only result would be a huge kaboom, and that is exactly what she got.  
    "Oh, yes. So Brock can tell me to kiss her a-- again? No, thanks.”
     Kerry eased out, presumably hoping to avoid any more. I st on the edge of my bed a brief moment, trying to calm down. I horrible realization my roommate's brother was still there suddenly dawned on me. Even Petual had contained herself in front of him. I did not. Embarrassed, I profusely apologized. He said he understand, but I could tell he was wondering what kind of unhinged nut was rooming with his near helpless brother. I excused myself so they could have the remainder of their visit private.
     I sat under the carport for nearly two hours. I stayed out there until I saw the meal carts roll out of the dining hall for the bedridden residents. When I walked in the building, Betty, a CNA who worked the East Wing nurses' desk, spoke to me. In a very strange moment, I looked at her briefly, and then hugged her. She gave me an awww as I told her I was having a terrible time. She said anytime I needed a hug, find her. She often needed one, too.
     I ate in my room, like I normally did, and got ready to go to the other side to use the internet for the evening. I didn't turn the corner from my hallway to the next before I was stopped by the LPN on duty. She told me it was time for my fully body inspection. This was a lovely event in which a resident's nude body was examined for cuts, bruises, pressure sores, and such. I could not believe now of all times was the time. But it was. So I went back into my room with her. As she pulled the curtain between my roommate's bed and mine, I took off my tee shirt. As I was about to take down the jogging pants I was wearing, she grabbed the waistband on the left side—without asking—and started pulling. I jerked out of her grip on them.
     “What are you doing?” I sharply asked her.
     “I thought you might need help,” she said meekly.
     “I do not not, thanks.”
     She took my blunt response to heart, and took two steps back from me. I took all my clothes off and stood there, colostomy bag and feeding tube dangling proudly, in silence while she inspected me. She was also in silence until she said done, looks good, and thanks. I believe she broke Kerry's speed record for leaving my room, but I was too shaken to appreciate her achievement. I hurriedly put my clothes back on. Then I sat on the bed with my face buried in my hands. I was literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There was just one thing right after another piling up on me. Each was more absurd than the previous.
     I could have asked for an Ativan. In hindsight, I definitely should have. But I wanted to avoid the nursing staff. I grabbed my laptop and went to the other side. About thirty minutes later, Cynthia L came to the computer room to see if I was okay. She did not ask any specifics, but she was most certainly aware of the meltdown I had suffered. I assured her I was okay. I spent a longer time down there than usual even though it meant foregoing some of the nightly tube feeding. No one hassled me about it.
      I went to Paulette's office the next day in order to tell her everything. I described my feeling of suffering a near breakdown, and told her I needed more than one session a month with Dr. Hiatt in order to handle life at Oakhaven. Brock was just going to have to deal with the cost. Counseling was crucial to my overall well-being. Paulette agreed. Credit where credit is due, so did Brock. I got my two sessions a month for the remainder of my time as a resident. Amos fired Petual for how she acted towards me and coping an attitude with him while discussing the matter. He apologized to me personally, and told me if I saw anyone who works for him mistreat me or another resident, tell him. He had zero tolerance policy. There was never a need to report anyone else, by the way. I also received regular hugs from Betty from then on. While my ulcer was still a serious problem, efforts were being made to soothe many other rough edges.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


        It all started innocently enough.
     I was sitting on the dining hall with my laptop shortly after the custodial crew had hosed the place down from the lunch crowd. Nicole T came in with a clipboard. She told me she had a survey she was asking residents to fill out. Would I answer some questions. My mind was half listening to her and half dwelling on a blog post I was posting, but I said yes. Answer a quality control survey? Sure. What trouble could that possibly cause?
     The initial questions were general inquiries about the food, activities, access to resources and the like. The survey did not appear to require much thought. But towards the end, the questions more pointed. My answers had to address personal incidents probably best left in the past. But I was sloppy enough to address them anyway.
     “Are you happy with your room? Your roommate?” Nicole T asked.
     “Well, you remember the circumstances in which I wound up there?” I asked.
     Of course, she did. Nicole T had been directly responsible for the decision to move me in with Caligula according to both Paulette and Ellen. I opted not to be directly accusatory. My probable bleeding ulcer and accompanying weakness meant I was not eager for conflict. Nicole T must have agreed. She simply nodded affirmatively.
     “Obviously, I didn't want to be there in the first place. I asked to move as far back as January,” I continued.
She seemed genuinely surprised. “You've been asking to move since January? Who have you asked”
     “Paulette three times. I even asked Sonya to intervene. I was told 'It's going to be a while.' A while has turned out to be nearly six months and counting. I even asked DHEC for help with some of the run down issues.”
     “Are there still any problems?"
    “The industrial fan runs 24/7 on the other side of the wall by the head of my bed. It's aggravating.”
     Nicole T scribbled furiously on her clipboard. As she did, I was thinking about how—yet again—Paulette had simply dropped an issue with which she did not want to deal. As the social worker, she was in charge of room change requests. I long assumed she played a larger role in the Caligula mess, but such is long since irrelevant.
     “Have you had any problems with staff? Has anyone yelled at you or was aggressive towards you?” Nicole t asked without looking up from her clipboard.
     “Just for full disclosure, there was Patricia. Back when she was my sitter, she told me it was a waste of time. If I was going to commit suicide, I would have already smothered myself with a pillow or hung myself with the nurse call button. But I reported her to Paulette. I never saw her around after that, so I assume she was fired for it,' I told her.
     “Do you have any other issues?”
     “Like what/”
     “Like are you happy with your routine? Any problems with another resident? Is anything of yours missing?”
     The last question caused the missing orthopedic knife to pop into my head. It had been confiscated the day the kitchen did not give me silverware and there was an assumption I had stolen them. I was given plastic silverware from then until the sitting ended. But the orthopedic knife had never been returned. While it made cutting meat easier, it was not essential. I had other, more important issues with which to deal. So I never mentioned it until.
     “It is not essential, since I use regular silverware, but I had an orthopedic knife. It was confiscated during the sitters. It was never given back. It was mine, though. I got it at McLeod, so there's a general principle involved.”
     “Okay,' Nicole t said as she wrote this down. “Now, if you had to rate Oakhaven a number between one and ten, what would you give it?”
      I rolled this question around. I obviously did not think highly of this place, but I could not simply give it a one or two without the appearance of ax grinding. I liked the nursing staff and despised management, so I spit it down the middle.
     “Five,” I said after a thoughtful pause.
     “Would you recommend Oakhaven to someone else?”
     “No,” I said. But it occurred to me a more thoughtful answer was needed. 'Not unless a family member will be constantly checking in on their loved one. There is a marked difference how residents are treated when a family member is around versus when the are not. If someone was looking in on me, I think you all would have lacked the nerve to treat m the way you often have.”
     My answer sounded more provocative than it should have, but I could not take it back once it was out there. Nicole t wrote for another minute, then thanked me and left. I assumed, since she had declared at the very beginning this was a general survey being given to all residents, this was the end of it. Boy, was I wrong.
     The next morning, I laid back down after breakfast. As I was lounging, Ticia came in and told me Paulette wanted to see me in Brock's office. I groaned at the prospect of not only having to get out of bed, but to do so in order to speak to Paulette. It took me a split second to register all Ticia had said.
     “Wait...Paulette wants to see me in Brock's office? That means Brock is going to be there,” I said.
     “That don't mean it's bad,” Ticia assured me
     With the survey I answered yesterday fresh in my mind, I was confident it did, indeed, mean some thing bad. “Crap,” I said to myself as I got up to sit on the side of the bed and grab my shoes.
     Once out the door, I walked passed Lucy, the CNA in charge of physical therapy for resident not in full fledged physical therapy. At the time, I was an illustrious member in good standing o those folk. She stopped me by calling my name. I turned around.
     “I'm gong to come bother you later,” she said. 'bothering me' was a playful way of telling me today was one of my three therapy days with her.
     “Okay. I guess I won't be gone too long,” I said.
     "Where are you going?” Lucy asked.
     “Mordor,” I quipped.
   “What now?” Lucy laughed.
    “I have been summoned to Brock’s office.'
    “Oh, Lord,” she said, again laughing.
    “hopefully, I will make it back to the shire in one piece.''
    When I got to Brock’s office, I stood in the doorway. I wanted to survey the place to see into what kind of ambush I was walking. Unfortunately, most of the office could not be seen until you walked in. I could, however, see Brock at her desk. She got up, greeted me, and pulled a chair into the middle of the room. She beckoned me to sit. I came in and sat. When she took a moment to close the door, I utilized the time to notice Nicole T sitting on a chair along the wall parallel to Brock’s desk. Paulette sat in a chair between her and the desk. This was definitely about the survey. I wanted to nip it in the bud, but I waited for Brock to settle in before speaking.
     “I assume this is about that survey. I am feeling very weak. My hemoglobin is dropping, and it's probably from a bleeding ulcer. I am really not in shape for any drama.'
     “You answered questions. They revealed you had problems,' Nicole said.
     “You said everyone was given this survey as a quality control. I was under the impression there would be no follow up,” I said while trying to sound as uninterested as humanly possible.
     “Well, you could have refused!” Brock snapped.
     I will be the first one to admit to having no clue what makes Brock tick. But I and most anyone else who has had the misfortune of dealing with her can tell you an arrogant contempt lies just below a paper thin surface. I do not think I can adequately convey the contempt in her voice when she said this. I was not cooperating with what she wanted, and she was furious.
     “Well, next time, I will,” I said. Truth be told, I had the option of leaving right then. But Brock's attitude angered me. Fine, I thought to myself. If she ants to know what I think, I will tell her.
   “All right..about Patricia,” Brock began. “I had never heard of this happening…."
     “I reported the incident to Paulette the first opportunity I got.”
     "I don't remember that,” Paulette said.
    “I came in first thing the Monday morning after it happened. You took it all down on Post It notes and carried them right into Brock's office. It was the same meeting in which I switched doctors from Hokanson to Lilly. Shameeka was my sitter. She was waiting right outside your door.”
     “I don't remember it,” Paulette repeated.
     “She was never around again. I assumed she had been fired. She was on the initial probationary period, anyway.”
     “She had a heart attack, and was on sick leave for a while,'” Brock interjected. “i guess she's on disability now. She came in when that Marion nursing home closed down. She came with Deborah. Neither one of them stayed long.”
     If I was already angry at being forced to discuss these issues, I was simmering at this point. There was at least one lie here somewhere. Paulette definitely reported the Patricia incident to Brock. I watched her go into Brock's office with the Post It notes. Either they did not do anything for whatever reason, or Brock plain forgot about the incident by the morning of this meeting, and Paulette decided to plead ignorance rather than question Brock's faulty memory. Whichever the case, I had been sold out by the two of them. Not for the first time, I might add.
     “About the knife...the kitchen cannot find it, so we will replace it,” Brock said. “You were threatening to harm yourself. You understand we had your personal safety in mind.'
     "Considering you took it away the day after you moved me in with Caligula, I would say no. my personal safety was not on your mind,' I said.
Brock immediately responded with her signature move. I am not sure if I can adequately describe it so you can form an image in your mind. She jerks her head to the left and blows out air in a manner almost like blowing a raspberry. Even if you cannot visualize the move, understand it is Brock's way of demonstrated utmost contempt for the perceived insult. This was not the first time it had been hurled in response to me. It certainly would not be the last. Fortunately, Paulette and Nicole T. with the move and its implications. Nicole T opted to conduit the questioning herself before the situation escalated.
     “You said you would would to move from your current room,” she said.
     "Maybe, maybe not,” I said.
Brock could not help herself. “You said you don't like the industrial fan's noise.”
     “I like dementia induced screaming fits, being cussed at and thrown out in the middle of the night, and being strangled by a schizophrenic even less.”
     “What are you saying?” Brock asked.
     “I'm saying I don't trust your judgment. Every time a new roommate has been chosen for me, he's been progressively more abusive.”
     “Well, who's judgment do you trust?” Nicole t asked.
     “Mine,” I answered point blank.
     “Fine,” Brock said. She looked towards Nicole T. “let him look at any rooms that open up. He can decide.
     Nicole T nodded, but clearly had more on her mind. “You said you don't trust us. You need to trust us. We're your caregivers.”
     “Then start caring. You decided to put me in a mental institution without saying a word to me before, during or after. You won't even say whose decision it was.'
“It was my choice,” Brock finally admitted.
     I knew that, but Paulette had maintained it was Dr. Hiatt's idea. I opted not to pursue the line. There was no sense in opening up another front when I did not ask for the battle in which I was currently embroiled as it was.
      "That's not the only time.  none of you said a word after Caligula attacked me.  no explanations.  no apologies.  No of you even asked if i was okay.  you just plain did not care."
         I noticed Nicole T shoot a horrified glance at both Brock and Paulette.   She had not been expecting this, and had no answers.  I figured it was a good idea to shift to a line of questioning to which they could respond.  
     “How about tell me what medical necessity means.” I said. “Even my allies won't tell me that means.”
      “What?' Brock asked.
     “Medical necessity. I was told it was medical necessity to move me in with Caligula. What does it mean?”
     Brock leaned into Paulette and said, loud enough for me to hear, 'In his mind, this all goes back to that.” She then looked towards me. “you both needed sitters, and we didn't have enough people to look after you.”
     I rolled my eyes. I was entitled. Her patronizing aside to Paulette was incredibly insulting in the first place. Her rationale for trapping me with a schizophrenic who needed a sitter because he tried to suffocate his roommate was ridiculous, yet she acted as though it was beyond criticism. I was supposed to see her obvious wisdom. I did not.
     “Oh, good Lord! You took that big a risk because you didn't want to hire someone else or pay overtime! It's all about money.”
      “We're spending a lot of money on you!” she shouted at me.
     There was a long silence. During the silence, Brock began fiddling with papers on her desk. She clearly was not doing anything with them. It was just her way of letting me know she was done with me. Nicole T and Paulette glanced at each other while trying to decide what to do next. I contemplated throwing my hands in the air and walking out, but Paulette spoke up before I could do so.
     “Why are you acting this way?”
     “I told you I was not feeling well, and did not want to do this. You forced me to. When I am being attacked, I fight back. It's the lawyer in me.”
     “Do you want to transfer to another facility?” Nicole T asked.
    “It would just be the same hell, different devils. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.” I was antsy to end this meeting. I could feel my heart rate and blood pressure soaring. “Look, we have the knife issue settled and a room change in the works. Are we not done?”
     “Yes. It's all done,” Nicole T said.
   “Good.” I got up and walked out. I needed An Vatican before I suffered a stroke.