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.

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