Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Friends in High Places

       The plan was for me to draft the agreement to remove my feeding tube and email it to Victoria. She placed enough pressure on me to hurry as to be annoying. I was not planning to draft anything terribly complicated, but I did want time to get it right. Two events happened in the middle of this. The first was clearly beneficial. The second is still fuzzy as to whether it was my bad luck or deliberate sabotage. All things considered, one possibility is as likely as the other.
       Michelle came to visit the day after the events of the previous post. She was not here to specifically see me. She was unaware of what had just transpired with me. She was there with Dale Warren, the state ombudsman. Dale was head of the whole regulatory system. She came to inspect Oakhaven personally because of the recent increase in resident rights abuse cases. You may recall in addition to my case, a CNA had hit a resident, the police had been called on another abuse matter, and a couple other issues of which I have no specific details. Corporate/Oakhaven were putting on rave faces, but there were more fires to put out than they could manage. Michelle wanted dale to speak with me for insight.
       Michelle's instruction of me was a bit eye-opening. She explained the basics of my case to dale. Most was not a surprise. I was interested to learn she told Brock they could not place a chaperone on my visits with Courtney a week before I ever spoke to Sonya. Brock said I was gong to be presented with a discharge notice, so it did not matter. Michelle advised against that. Apparently this advise prompted Brock to contact Dr. Hiatt to manufacture suicidal idealizations, with which he refused to cooperate, and build a case to have me thrown out by spying on my conversations and internet activities. At some pint, some from Oakhaven claimed I threatened to hang myself from a curtain rod. This was news to me, and I adamantly denied. Michelle's mannerisms intimated we would clear the matter up later. She and I had already debunked the weird claim I tried to beat myself in the head with a hair brush, so this sort of assertion.
       Dale told me her office received more complaints about Oakhaven than other facilities in the region. Why did I think that was the case? I had a ready answer—Brock. She was abusive towards staff causing an unpleasant work environment in which residents suffer because of low staff morale. She made reckless decisions in which she would ignore any contrary advice. She verbally abusive to both staff and residents. I told dale about some of my worst experiences with Brock and offered up some ex staff members who would back up my other claims. If there was any way I could help protect others from the unethical practices of Wilson Senior Care and Oakhaven, I was going to do it.
       I also explained to Michele the events of the previous day. Her reaction was another hint we will talk about it later. I asked if she wanted to read the letter of consent before I sent it to Victoria. She said n. she trusted me to know what to properly write. Her answer sent up a red flag. One thinks she should be a little more interested in the matter. Oh, well. I marched ahead in spite of a major roadblock put up either by fate or corporate/Oakhaven. I will write about it in the next post and you can make up your own mind.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Feeding Tube Frenzy

       The next Tuesday morning, I was literally called out of the shower by Keisha, the west wing unit super visor. She told me management had been in contact with Dr. cooler, the surgeon who had put my feeding tube in two years prior, in order to find out what kind of “stopper” anchored the tube inside my stomach. There were two possibilities. One was a balloon that could be deflated and slid out easily. The other was a flexible flap that looks much like a pacifier. It has to b given a good yank. Obviously, the method of removal depended on which it was. Dr. cooler could not remember, so had wanted to examine it. What is worse, I needed to go to his office right now, and he was going on vacation, so he was going to go ahead and remove while I was there.
       I threw all those points in rapid succession to give you some idea how I, throwing clothes n while still dripping wet, received it. I object, of course. My weight was still dropping. It was not clear the tube should even be removed because of it. Dr. Lilly had not consulted with me over the issue in weeks. Dr. Cooler's involvement was a surprise that threw me off. I was not having this thing pulled. I told Keisha I was at most going to have the tube stopper identified. Keisha insisted Dr. Cooler would be on vacation the next day. The tube must be removed now.
       Hindsight on both that morning and its direct aftermath puts Sonya’s fingerprints on the rush to remove my feeding tube. I should have figured she would push for revenge after the conversation we enjoyed in my previous post. I popped her over blown ego in the same way I had when I pointed out she lied about placing a chaperone on my visits with Courtney as a compromise rather than the employee handbook rule. That ego bruising prompted the attempted improper discharge. It is not a stretch to assume Sonya would insist on my feeding tube's removal to ensure my exit to satisfy her hurt feelings over being confronted by a lowly nursing home resident? Do I have proof beyond circumstantial evidence? No, but these folks often allowed their emotion to overtake logic and reason, so it sounds likely.
       As yet another indicator of how desperate corporate/Oakhaven was to rush me into the endeavor, they did not wait for the regular driver, Jackie, as they normally would. Patients' doctor appointments are scheduled around Jackie's availability. It was her job. Her sole job. But this time, I was stuck with Robyn, who was the activities director. Of course, she brought a CNA with us. No one ever goes along with Jackie and the resident, so this was another case of staff needing a witness when dealing with me. Considering the return trip, a witness might have been a wise choice.
       My meeting with Dr. Cooler went exactly as you expect. First, his nurse asked if it was correct I was here to have my feeding tube removed. No, I was not. I only wanted the stopper identified. The real—and mutual—eye opening experience was when I got to see Dr. Cooler. I explained everything that was going on. He, of course, thought the story was the wildest thing he had ever heard. I obviously was not going to allow him to pull the tube out then and there. I needed to cover all my bases. At this point in time, I was solidly behind filing a lawsuit against Wilson Senior Care and Oakhaven. Dr. cooler wanted absolutely nothing to do with the dispute. Who could blame him? I asked if he could sign an order to have the tube removed at a later date. H did not want to do this since the tube was the type needing a solid yank to remove. Allowing an Oakhaven nurse to do so was no something he wanted to do. I told him I was informed he was going on vacation tomorrow and removing the tube was today or never. He told me, no. He would not be out of the office for another five weeks. Funny, that.
Dr. Cooler called Oakhaven while I was in his examining room. He talked to Victoria. She told him he could work out details for the tube's removal with me.        As it turned out, pulling a feeding tube was not a big deal. Dr. Cooler told me, if given a day's notice, he could pull it out the same day I moved into the assisted living facility. But he was not going to touch it as long as there was a dispute whether I wanted it removed at all. I told him that was fine. I merely wanted the rationale for the tube's forced removal clarified in writing. Then we could go forward.
       Keep in mind Robyn and the CNA were in the examining room throughout and heard everything. They have heard everything. They know I want it established the tube's removal is against my healthcare wishes o as to preserve grounds for a lawsuit. It got their attention. I was out for red meat myself. I already suspected I had been pushed into removing the tube immediately, but now I knew Keisha lied about Dr. Cooler going on vacation the next day in order to force me to do so. I was fired up. Fortunately, Robyn was a captive audience while she drove us back to Oakhaven. Recall she is the one who took the laptop out of my room a year prior with my knowledge or approval. I figure she did not know I was aware of the lie she had told Sonya during the investigation. When she made a comment about my conversation, she let herself open.
       “Out of curiosity, did you really tell Sonya I said 'Y'all take that thing and go' about the laptop?” I asked with as much of a mocking redneck voice as I could muster on the “y'all.”.
        Robyn flinched. 'We're not going to talk about that.”
      “I don't blame you,” I told her. “If I told a lie that big, I would not want to admit it, either. At least I got the laptop back.
       “So you got back, huh?' she said tersely.
    “Yes, indeed. It took corporate intervention, but I got it back. Sonya, ironically,” I said. It was the last thing either of us said to one another for nearly a month.
       I requested to see see Keisha upon my return to Oakhaven. Victoria showed up with Keisha in tow. Victoria went through the formality of asking why I wanted to see them. It was a strange practice corporate/Oakhaven employed of insisting I always bring up the subject at hand no matter have obvious it was.
       “I refused to have the tube removed right now,” I said.
        Keisha piped up. “I just needed the tube to be identified.”
       “Actually, you told me Dr. Cooler was going on vacation and it needed to be pulled now. He is not going to be out of town for at least five weeks.”
       “The receptionist told me he was going on vacation tomorrow--'
      “Whatever,” I cut her off. “the fact is I had to beat them off it to keep the tube from being pulled. I explained to him everything that is going on. He thinks it is the weirdest thing he has ever heard, by the way. Join the club. He will pull the tube out, but he refuses to touch it with some clarification on my permission. I am sure you can appreciate this...what management is calling it.”
     “I don't know what they are calling it. Usually, the roles are reversed on pulling feeding tubes," Victoria said.
       “Yes, the resident wants the tube removed and the skilled nursing facility is concerned with the damage that may cause to his health. I am familiar with that normal set of circumstances. But, anyway...I cannot have this tube removed without establishing in writing I am being forced to ignore health concerns and get rid of it because of non-medical reasons. I cannot have you coming up later and saying the tube removal was my idea. It is not.
        “All right. So you want a consent statement saying you agree to remove the tube even though you would rather not,” Victoria said.
      Her statement was a little too simplistic for my tastes. If I had learned anything from dealing with corporate/Oakhaven, it was never to allow them to handle any important matter themselves. I said I would write the statement myself and allow the legal team to approve or disapprove it. In all honey, I was surprised it was agreed I could do that. Naturally, it did not go smoothly.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Crossing Swords

       The audible sigh of relief from corporate/Oakhaven faded into a silence from the Tuesday I talked to Michelle to the following Friday when an opportunity fell into my lap—Sonya showed up to Oakhaven. She was on a routine stop in her capacity as Chief Clinical Officer of Wilson Senior Care. It was not the first time I had seen her working at Oakhaven since this whole mess began. But in all those previous times—three or four, I imagine—she steered clear of me in opportunities when she would previously have greeted me. Keep in mind we chatted friendly in the past about writing, movies we enjoyed, etc. so I am talking about a genuine odd snubbing. Considering what I was about to do, giving me a wide berth might have been a wise thing to do. Hindsight is 20/20, folks.
       On this Friday, Sonya was using the Wet Wing nurses' desk for paperwork. As our custom for a month now, we avoided one another as I walked by the desk. I requested to speak with her via Chrystal on two occasions with no results. I was not expecting Sonya to honor my request, either. Chrystal had been the sacrificial lamb corporate sent as emissary since placing me with sitting and plotting my exit. It was clear to me Sonya was not interested in entertaining any questions I had about this whole mess. As I was labeled aggressive and badgering, wisdom said for me to not to take the initiative.
       Jennifer, one of my favorite nurses, was sitting at the opposite end of the desk. She greeted me and we chatted for a few minutes. Inevitable, the subject of the assisted living facility popped up. Unexpectedly, Sonya interjected into the conversation, “It's a nice place.”
       These were the first words she had spoken to me since December 29th. We were now in early February. Between then, I had only received two faux smiles from here. One was the fake sympathetic look as she shoved me out the door after presenting the official visitation rule I was objecting two in the first place as a special compromise. The second was as she held the door for me to leave the conference meeting at which corporate/Oakhaven was advised they would be fined for improper discharge if they pursued their current action, and the whole threats on Facebook accusation was unfounded. So...surprise.
       Jennifer an I chatted a few more minutes, but my mind was squarely on Sonya. I walked away from the desk, turned around, walked towards the desk, and turned around again before committing to approaching her. Jennifer later told me she watched me go through the whole Marx brothers routine and wondered if she should ask if anything was wrong. I was internally debating the wisdom of talking to Sonya. It was made clear to me no one wanted to discuss anything other than my quiet departure and any attempts to do otherwise would contribute to the fiction I was a sociopath or psychopath or whatever they wanted to label me this week. But Sonya had opened the door. Opportunist that I am, jammed my foot in before she could close it.
       “Sonya, do you mind if we talk for a minute?' I asked.
       “Uh...sure.” Judging by her tone and expression, she regretted speaking to me in the first place.
       “Oh, good. I've asked to speak with you a couple times, but it has never happened.”
       “Really/ no one told me you wanted to see me,” she said.
       “An innocent oversight, I'm sure,” I said as I followed her into a more private office off to the side of the nurses' desk. I use the term private loosely. For whatever reason, she opted not to go to the unit supervisor's office directly across the hall which had a door on it that could be closed unlike the one we were in. Or maybe it was not a poor choice from her perspective. Who knows what was running through her mind.
       Before I relay our conversation, keep several things in mind. One, I was not expecting anything to come out of the meeting. I wanted to voice my objections to the way I had been treated. Two, Sonya is a terrible liar. When she is not telling the truth, she cannot look you in the eye and she shakes her head in an exaggerated manner as if to overcompensate for the absurdity of what she is attempting to pass off as valid. Finally, Sonya was part of the legal team. She had been an expert witness many times in the past, which baffled me considering the second thing I requested you keep in mind. Frankly, I just wanted to cross examine her myself out of personal curiosity. Which one of us was better?
       “I was curious why, if I already agreed to be discharged, was I personally attacked?” I asked after we sat across from each other. I made certain to look her directly in eyes knowing they were the key to gauging her honesty.
       “I don't know why they attacked you,” she said.
     “'They?'” I asked, noting she was attempting to separate herself from what were certainly unknown, but nefarious forces with whom she had no association.        “The allegations are the corporate position?”
        She nodded yes.
       “You are the Chief Clinical Officer?” I asked.
         She nodded ye again.
      “To my knowledge, you have not disavowed any of the accusations from corporate. As a representative of corporate, they are your positions as well.”
       Sonya did not respond. This was the pattern for most of the conversation. She rarely gave anything more than yes or no answers. Often, she only nodded yes or no with those. She was clearly nervous, and grew angrier as time went on, although she tried not to show it.
       “Well, here is the problem,” I began. “i even asked Chrystal point blank why no one was interested in just asking me what I meant by these Facebook posts, and her response was she would bring it up to you. I marveled the idea of actually talking to a resident is such a novel idea, it has to be brought to corporate's attention as a possibility. But you were not interested in clearing anything up. You did not even want me at the conference. Why not?”
        “It was your right to be there,” she answered in one of the few sentences she offered.
       "I know, but Lofe complained to Michelle you were not planning for me to be there. Was there something you did not want me to hear or respond to?' I asked.
       Silence on her part. I continued.
      “These accusations are pretty wild. You have accused me of making coded death threats. I mean...who decided Humpty Dumpty was Brock?” I asked.
       “I don't know who came up with that.”
       This was definitely a lie. Sonya herself claimed to Marlie the legal team had interpreted Humpty Dumpty to mean Brock. She had also gone to Dr. Lillyl's office with a lawyer to present the claim to him. I still have not determined to this day whether she genuinely believed the claim and was avoiding responsibility or realized just how stupid the assertion was in the first place.
       “It was a joke from a Farside comic strip, by the way. I gave a copy to Michelle as proof. These are very serious accusations, and they were used for an improper—that is to say, illegal—discharge. I have to end my healthcare and move out because of them. They have caused me actual damages. I have been both slandered and defamed unless you can prove these claims are valid.”
     Again, she did not say anything. But judging my her pained facial expressions, she was becoming angry. It is no surprise she shows no concern for anything until I mention the possibility of suing for damages. Money was the only language the '”caregivers” at Wilson Senior care/Oakhaven spoke.
       “What go me the most is the accusation I hate my sister and am projecting the hatred onto Brock. In spite of it all, Denise is family, and I love her as family.”
        “I think Brock is the only on who is saying that,” Sonya offered.
       I struggled mightily to remain stoic. I had just hinted at suing over these false accusations, and Sonya immediately offered up Brock as the target for a potential suit. Brock's mother had married both a retired vaudeville singing cowboy and a wealthy lawyer/politician. Brock was the beneficiary of their respective estates. It sounded to me as though Sonya was saying, 'here...Brock has money! Make her sing “Happy Trails” to her bank account, not ours!”
        But I held it together. “Brock needs to knock it off.”
       “I'll tell her to stop,” Sonya offered. By throwing me a bone, she hoped she could get off the hot seat. “I think you are confusing things said at the conference with things I’ve said.”
       “I disagree. I do not think I am confused about anything, but we can shift gears if you wish. Why were my emails considered aggressive and badgering?”
       “It was your right to email.”
      “I know. Furthermore, I was emailing copies of my side of events so you could prepare a defense. You are a member of the legal team. You understand discovery. Every side has to have the same information. I was doing you a favor. I did not have to do that, and you kicked me in the ribs for it. Well, I have stopped now. You will just have to guess what I am telling Michelle and DHEC.”
       “Again, I think you are blaming me for things others have said,' Sonya retorted.
       “The emails presented at the conference were all from your account. They were cherry picked, as well. For instance, you did not include the one in which I said you had lied and presented the handbook rule as a compromise. It is kind of surprising if you are trying to prove I am aggressive and badgering, you would surely include the one email in which I was arguable aggressive and badgering. I assumed it was an oversight on your part, so I took the liberty of sending all our correspondence from my inbox.”
       Sonya decried she was going to wrap this conversation up now that focus was inarguable on her. She backed her chair away from me and said,' “we respect you and want you to be happy.” As you might guess, she was not looking at me and her head was shaking adamantly side to side.
       “No, you do not on either count, and I do not believe a word you have said here,” I said. The conversation was definitely over. I waited a few seconds politely expecting her to leave first, but she stayed seated. I figured she was a modern woman, and got up to leave. Oddly enough, she remained seated. She must have been furious. She was not even going to walk me to the doorway. “Remember to tell Brock to stop lying about my sister and me.”
       “I'll tell her,” Sonya said.
       I left without another word.
       Was engaging this conversation a wise thing to do? No, but it was my right, and I had nothing to lose with it. Al eyes from regulatory agencies were on Oakhaven at this point for not only me, but several other incidents of abuse. It was a way of cleaning out some emotional baggage to one of the people most responsible for the baggage in the first place. If Sonya truly respected me and wanted me to be happy, she should have been open to doing me the favor.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Casting Light II

    Everyone was wondering by this point what come next. Corporate/Oakhaven did not want to be stuck with me. I did not want to be stuck with them, either. Pulling my feeding tube out was not a favorite option. I had dropped to 68 lbs by the time it was inserted, so I was wary of the consequences of getting rid of it. I did not want to start all over again in another nursing home, either. Lord only knew how circumstances might even be worse there. The simple solution was for corporate/Oakhaven to act professionally about matters, but that was not going to happen. They could not even manage to set up a tour for an assisted living center that would not cause a rat turn up its nose. So we are all in a holding pattern here.
       Or so I thought. Corporate/Oakhaven were panicking. Chrystal notified the ombudsman, Michelle, how badly the tour had gone. Chrystal was afraid my cooperation was slipping away. I suspected our heated conversation during the trip home was at least redacted, if not omitted altogether. Whatever the behind the scenes events occurred, the goal was clear—Michelle, who was obligated to act according to my wishes even if she did not agree with them, had to convince me to depart for assisted living that, for all I knew at the time, were all as deplorable as the one I visited. Tough sell, no?
       Michelle showed up to my room late Tuesday morning. She certainly was a skilled negotiator. She began my telling me Chrystal was as appalled by the first assisted living center I was, and they were not going to consider it a destination for residents in the future. Neither she nor I believed it was true, and it has subsequently turned out not to be. But in terms of corporate/Oakhaven's frequent dishonesty, the false promise qualified as “quaint.” The big deal was Oakhaven was offering to pay for a year at the second, nicer facility out of my price range if they would accept my price range after the year. As a resident with minimal need for assistance, I might be a resident desirable enough for the center to accept the deal. But it was not set in stone.
       I was not too adverse to this, but I still had concerns about the feeding tube. My weight had been steadily dropping since the feedings stopped. Michelle commented that was okay, because she feared my weight would plummet instead. Her comment raised my eyebrow. This concern should have been expressed a month prior when I was bringing it up to all the medical professionals supposedly interested in my continued good health It appeared giving me the boot took precedent over my health from all folks involved except me. Go figure.
       Before I could dwell much on this point, Michelle opted to appeal to my ego. She could not miss. It is huge. She told me I was intimidatingly intelligent. Corporate/Oakhaven were afraid of what concerns I could throw at them. She said I was an individual who needed more privacy. I could make my new living space my own. I could be more stimulated with residents closer to my age with dementia or stroke damage affecting their minds. I could get involved in resident council issues to fuel my legal/political advocacy instincts. All of this was likely true, but Michelle knew appealing to my ego would only take her so far before she ran into a stone cold wall of cynicism. She must level with me to seal the deal.
       “There is a personality clash between you and Brock,” she said. “If they took the internet connection away or did not like the height of the mirror, I could do something about that. But I can't fix a personality clash.'
       I laughed. “Personality clash. Meaning I have one and Brock doesn't. Actually, Sonya has more to do with this mess than Brock. Which one do you think hats me the most at this point?”
       “It's hard to say,'” Michelle said.
       She was serious. I was surprised as much by how quickly she answered as by the answer itself. I used the word hate deliberately with the anticipation Michelle would dial it down to a more appropriate term. But she did not miss a beat. I hit the nail on the head from the get go. The conversation's new direction sparked my sense of justice, and Michelle knew.
       “They are not going to get away with this. They think they are going to be happy getting rid of you, but it is going to cost them a huge fine. They will never do this to anyone again," she said.
       I was skeptical. Corporate/Oakhaven had moved immediately to cover their wrong doing with an ease which only comes from practice. They had effectively hidden situations over the years, it explained both their completely flippant attitude about the Caligula incident and their bitter animosity towards me for calling them out on it. The animosity was not going to go away. But whether they were fined a bundle or not, I was planning to file a lawsuit. Money was the only thing corporate/Oakhaven cared about. Their checkbook is where one must aim.
     So here we were back on track. I was going to leave Oakhaven The possibility the facility would pay my living expenses a full year after I departed was a nifty prospect. After the negative emotions cleared over the first assisted living center, I could embrace the second for its far better quality. It appeared thing might go smoothly from this point forward.


        You know it did not pan out that way, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Casting Light

  I mentioned in the previous post I made a nasty comment to Chrystal regarding people working under her not liking her.  The comment was out of line even though it was said to make a point.  Nevertheless, this comment was and still is a source of guilt.  Even though I apologized a short while after saying it, the matter bugged me enough later that night to contact the real Victoria that night.  This act lead to Victoria, Chrystal, and I all realizing my poor eyesight had caused a bad case of mistaken identity.   
The mistaken identity served as a blessing on two levels.  One, I backed off a heated situation that Saturday because I believed I was with Victoria.  Had I known it was Chrystal, the argument might have become more heated if she became defensive about her role in this whole mess.  Two, Chrystal became more sympathetic to my health issues.  I cannot see well enough to differentiate between two distinct people.  The disability is a dose of reality in the midst of corporate/Oakhaven's argument I did not need further healthcare, so I should be given the boot due to fabricated issues unrelated to healthcare.  The realization did not amount to much, but it was more understanding than Chrystal had prior to Saturday.
But the obvious problem still remained—I now had to deal with Chrystal and Victoria under our new circumstances.  They came to my room late Monday morning.  They were chipper.  Probably enjoyed a good laughing fir over my error.  It would not be the last time they smiled to each other knowingly while talking to me about problems with corporate/Oakhaven.
“Hey, Jamie!  It's Chrystal.”
“Are you sure?” I asked sardonically.
“Victoria is the one always in scrubs,”  Chrystal said.
Yeah, I know.  That is why I had never made the mistake on a working day.  But Saturday was a day off for both.  Scrubs were not a factor.  But I only entertained this thought internally.  There was no reason to make the situation tense before I heard what they needed to say to me.  It was still irksome.
The two took each one of the visitor chairs.  Chrystal spoke first.
“I got your email.  I did not consider it aggressive and badgering.  I actually though we got along well,' she said, then paused for a beat.  “But I guess that is because you thought I was Victoria.”
“Well, things might have been a bit different,” I said.  Hopefully, my response did not come across as inflammatory. 
“I'm also sorry that you think I have been rude.  Victoria doesn't think I was rude.”
Definitely a chap shot there.  Because I liked Victoria, I was supposed to accept hr opinion without question.  I opted to leave Victoria out of my response.  It was as close to taking the high road as was feasible under the circumstance.  
“When I asked to talk to someone from corporate, I was expecting someone would actually be interested in clearing up matters.  Instead, I got you lecturing me over my ingratitude for the Wi Fi  and claiming credit for my friendships—mostly with people like Ellen and Lesley who don't even work for Wilson.”
“I certainly did not mean to imply you owed us something for your friendships.  I was just trying to get you to see the bright side of being here.”
“For what purpose?  You all were already planning to discharge me.”
“I don't think so.” Chrystal said.
“Then what was the endgame?  Lofe did not want to take me off one on one even after I agree to leave.  The ombudsman's legal team forced you to do so.”
“I don't know what the endgame was.”
“You were at the meeting where I was personally attacked.”
“I really didn't know what was going to be said at that meeting,”  Crystal said.  She squirmed in her chair.  I was not certain if she was motivated by guilt over her participation in attacking me or embarrassment in being associated with an attack she knew nothing about beforehand.  Since she was the one to chose the wording for the threatening behavior/suicidal idealizations” put into my healthcare plan just before I was placed one on one, I am going to guess guilt as the culprit.  
“Do you have any idea why I was attacked personally?”  I asked.
“No, I don't know why you were attacked personally, Chrystal said.
I was becoming more and exasperated by the evasions of my questions.  I knew they were avoiding answering me to protect themselves from liability, which is in itself an admission of wrongdoing.  If corporate/Oakhaven had acted in a legitimate, ethical manner, they would not be so adamant about covering up their actions.   Nevertheless, I was not going to get anywhere by continuing.   I felt compelled for one more, though.
“How did we go from clarifying my right to visitation, which you eventually admitted you were wrong to curtail, to wrongfully discharging me?”
“I don't know.  Things just got out of hand.”  
Chrystal's answer remained the most substantive answer I received on the matter.  It would have to do.  As I no longer wished to go around in circles with questions without available answers, I clammed up.  There turned out to be little point to the meeting other than Chrystal and Victoria assuring me they became nurses because they were warm and caring and had not abandoned those characteristic in the slightest as they worked their way up the ladder to becoming the corporate shills sitting before.  Again, this is what I was thinking, but not what I said.  I let the whole issue slide until the two departed on what appeared to be reasonable satisfied terms.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Grand Tour

       This installment needs to be prefaced with a reminder of my bad eyesight. I am completely blind in my right eye and legally in my left. My left eye is about 20/1000. The biggest problem relevant to the following events is visual acuity. I have a tough time recognizing facial features. I can do it, but I often mix up people who resemble each other. I look for hints to help me along—voice, hairstyle, clothing, and mannerisms. But even with all these things considered, I blow it from time to time. I messed up here by confusing Chrystal with Victoria.
       Yes, you read that right. I spent the following pivotal events with Chrystal believing her to be Victoria. They had similar heights and similar builds as near as I could tell. Both were brunettes who wore their hair in a ponytail. Both wore glasses. The easiest way to tell them apart for me was Chrystal wore regular clothes to work while Victoria wore scrubs. Perhaps it is because of this big difference, I never paid attention to any other differentiating factor. Maybe it is because I did not see Chrystal that often. Or it could have been because I liked Victoria in spite of it all and disliked Chrystal because of it all. For whatever the reason, I was cruising two assisted living centers with Chrystal and Nicole b. while I was confident it was Victoria. It was a weird mistake, but I made it. I will drop a reminder or three along the way for emphasis, but keep the mistaken identity generally in mind throughout.
       This tour started early Saturday morning. Neither Chrystal, nor Nicole B. wanted to give up their Saturday for this. I do not blame them. I did not want to give up my Saturday, either. But I was going to get lunch out of it, so okay. Wisdom said I needed to keep as quiet as possible on this trip. These folks had a habit of interpreting anything I said in the most twisted, logic defying manner an accepting it as gospel truth in their agenda of getting rid of me while not appearing malicious. They were horrible at it, but sometimes the amateurs or more dangerous than the professionals. So I remained stoic and aloof during the trip to the first facility. Chrystal and Nicole B. talked about work and family. I received no hints the former was not Victoria.
       I also unburdened with any hints of what an assisted living center looked like. I half-heatedly watched the promotional video from the second place we were to visit, but those things are always bovine manure sales pitches. You have to ignore the presentation and see things for yourself. As it turned, the first impression was an all around disaster. The lady giving us the tour had a plastered on, toothy smile about anything and everything to the point a gun battle could erupt in the hallway and she would have chalked it up to the facility's vigorous activities program.
       Everything in this place looked like it was from the '70's at the latest. Maybe it was that old, or maybe the filth gave it that appearance. At one point as we were passing by a corner, a developmentally disabled men leaped out of nowhere, got right in my three-quarters blind face, and shouted, “Hi!”
       “This is Fred. He's very friendly,” said Plastered Toothy Smile lady.
      “Indeed,” I said under my breath. No easy task, actually. Fred reeked of body odor. I could barely catch me breath during this extended invasion of my personal space.
       Chrystal was already getting the vibe I was souring on the idea of assisted living. I was not hiding the feeling too well. I became even worse when shown a room. These things were the size of a broom closet. Residents got a single size bed and a dresser. The only natural light came from a tiny window. With the walls painted a dingy white or yellow—I could not really tell—the place was drearier than a nursing home. It brought back memories of Vietnam POW describing solitary confinement at he Hanoi Hilton. I was definitely not sold on the idea of living here. If this was what assisted living was all about, I wanted no part of it. Chrystal moved into damage control mode at that point. Plastered Toothy Smile Lady offered a tour of the dining room, but Chrystal said we should be on our way instead. It was a smart move. Inspecting the food service would most certainly give me more ammunition in the argument that was definitely coming in a few minutes once the car doors were safely closed.
       In my defense, said facility was penalized by the Department of Health and Environmental Control for roach infestation and unsatisfactory food preparation, so I was not being unreasonable in my distaste for the facility. But the damage was done as far as my first impression of assisted living. Leading that particular horse back into the barn would be no small task. I was not going to initiate the conversation. They were not going to be able to claim there was a manic outburst on my part. 
        Chrystal took the bait. “What did you think, Jamie?”
       “I think you all are crazy if you believe I am going to live in a rat hole like that. I am just going through the motions to get you all off my back. I want the feeding tube started back up before I lose anymore weight. You can turn this care around and pretend you all are a healthcare facility interested in doing your job.”
       “You'll have to talk to your nurse about starting the feeding tube back up,” Chrystal said. In hindsight, it was a strange response considering victori was my nurse and i assumed she was Victoria.  my first clue something odd was up emerged.
       “I can't do that until Monday, so let's go,” I said.
     “Can we at least go to Conway since we have an appointment?” Chrystal asked.
       “Fine,” I tersely said.
      The three of us rode in silence for about thirty minute. I considered it a blessed silence, but I assume Chrystal and Nicole B. thought it was awkward. Nicole B broke it at about the thirty-one minute mark by asking Chrystal something about work. The two of them began chattering away yet again. I screamed internally.
       The Conway facility turned out to be nice. Too nice, in fact. The only available spaces were apartments I could not afford. For whatever reason, we toured them, anyway. This trip was becoming an even worse disaster as not only did it appear assisted living for me meant something like the Hanoi Hilton from the morning, but I also got to see the far superior living arrangement I was going to be missing out on. Chrystal realized this was slipping away from her fast. No one from corporate or Qakhven was going to be happy if they could not get rid of me.
       Again, I was not going to initiate any discussion of the issue once we were back in the car. Chrystal did not approach the subject, either until after lunch. I guess she thought it best to keep the peace until after a sit down at Apple bee’s. I spent my time concentrating on a quesadilla platter while Chrystal and Nicole B continued bonding. But once we were back in the car..all bets were off.
“What do you want me to tell them, Jamie?” Chrystal finally asked about fifteen minutes into the ride back to Oakhaven.
       “Tell them they can forget me pulling this feeding tube. “
       “You said you wanted it pulled so you could leave.”
       “Then I said no. I wanted to consult with Dr. Lilly first. Then you all went crazy,” I said. “if you all believe I wanted it pulled, why have a conference meeting over it? Why attack me personally? Why try forcing an improper discharge? You all are just going to have to start acting like professionals.” I told her.
       “We are professionals,” she said.
       “Then act like it.”
       “We have.”
       “Bull. Spying on my Facebook? Making up fanciful accusations? How is that professional?”
       “Then put your Facebook on private!” Chrystal was getting riled up. This was the first hint, though never confirmed, she had been the one to look at my Facebook page. As her title was Technical Director, she seemed a likely suspect.
“It is on private! Somehow, you looked, anyway! And you just assumed I was some violent maniac without even asking me about the posts. You put me one on one without even contacting my therapist.'
       “Dr. Hiatt isn't going to violate your confidentiality.”
       “But he is not going to let you abuse me, either! Besides...you could have had me evaluated. The first thing Dr. Lilly asked when Sonya stopped into his office with a lawyer is whether anyone had examined me.”
       “We didn't have time for that,” Chrystal said.
      “Don't give me that! You didn't want me evaluated because you knew there was nothing mentally wrong with me! You could not afford for that to be written down on anything official!”
       “We have other residents to protect!”
       “From what? Garfield?” I yelled.
       You can always tell when you are winning an argument with a woman when she begins complaining about the way you are arguing. Chrystal through this one at me. “I've been polite to you this entire time, and you have continually been rude to me!”
       I need to remind you even though this is Chrystal, I thought it was Victoria. As such, the accusation of my alleged rudeness rolled around in my mind. I did not think I had been rude to Victoria at any point. At least, I had not meant to be. So now I was bothered I may have treated Victoria badly in the recent past. She had a tough job as Director of Nursing. She had to strike a balance between maintaining my health and keeping management happy. We were often opposed in this regard, but I tried to cut her as much slack as possible.
       Chrystal, on the other hand, copped an attitude from the moment I met her. From refusing to accept any explanation for my being placed one on one to lecturing over my ingratitude to warning me in no uncertain terms to watch the content of any emails to her in light of my 'aggressive' and 'badgering' behavior,” she was someone who could not claim to have been nice. I guess it was a small blessing I had mistaken her for Victoria or else this scuffle would have escalated. As it was, there was quiet for quite a while before Chrystal said anything else.
“I don't see why you want to stay as much as you hate everyone,” she declared out of the blue.
       Maybe it is a personal quirk, but I think we someone uses the word hate instead of dislike or contempt is not taking the matter seriously. Hatred is an irrational emotional response. I was not being irrational about anything here. I was, however, irritated at the accusation. So I said something I should not have even though it was cleverly making a point.
       “Most of the people working under you don't like you.”
Chrystal bristled at he declaration. “Well, they don't have to like me.'
       “Exactly,” I said.
      Out of all the things I said to everyone during this whole ordeal, this is the only thing I still feel guilty about. It was a nasty thing to say even if I was trying to make a point. But it is doubly so because I thought I was talking to Victoria. As one with a close relationship with virtually all the nursing staff, I was privy to their low opinion of Victoria. (spoiler alert; Victoria has since quit to become a floor nurse at a regional hospital because she felt the director of nursing job was more than she could handle. ) regardless, I did find it amusing both Chrystal was not surprised those working under her probably do not like her, nor did she wonder how I would know they felt that way about her. Corporate/Oakhaven were always wondering how I knew things I was not supposed t know. Maybe she chalked it up to my mysterious spy network.
       Thing were silent again until we pulled under the Oakhaven carport when Chrystal spoke again. “what do you want me to tell them/”
        I decided to end on a peaceful note. “Look, I am sorry if I was rude. I'm in a difficult situation.”
       “I don't understand your situation, bu I can sympathize,” she said.
I am still baffled to this day why she did not understand matters or how she could sympathize considering how large a role she was playing in making my life difficult in the first place. But I let it go like Elsa.
       “Ask them why I should have to pull my feeding tube, damaging my health, just because they have acted improperly.”
       She agreed, but I have all confidence the question was never considered or probably even asked. She might have been just a baffled by my final statement a I was over hers. Whatever the case, we had hit a major bump in the road. But at least I got a platter of quesidillas out of it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Written in Black and White

       The next day brought a visit from Aysa with a copy of Michelle's ruling. Everyone knew the ombudsman's ruling would be in my favor, but the wording was going to be pivotal. Bless her heart, Michelle gave me all the room I needed to be a legal case against corporate/Oakhaven. I was quite happy. For the first time in weeks, I might add.
   Michelle deemed the effort to discharge me was improper. Corporate/Oakhaven's claim their providing amenities, such real (Wi Fi and a baseball) and others fabricated (boom box, CD, books on tape, etc) counted as all reasonable steps to satisfy my needs, and, since I was not satisfied, should be discharged. However, none of that fits within the description of services provided by a skilled nursing facility. The feeding tube does, and all parties agreed the nightly tube feedings were successfully maintaining my weight. So all parties were satisfied with the skilled nursing care being provided. No one addressed the bizarre personal attacks about alleged coded messages on Facebook or supposedly projecting “hatred for [my] sister who abandoned [me] into Brock. Everyone wanted the claims swept under the rug. Except me, but what could I do? Well other than sue for slander and/or defamation? The ruling acknowledged, in spite of all this, I had agreed to leave because of the toxic environment, which I supposed addressed the bizarre personal attacks without mentioning them.
       Turnabout is fair play. It was arguable corporate/Oakhaven had violated the agreement by failing to provide a non-abusive environment. A hefty paper trail of their abusive behavior towards me existed from DHEC. The possibilities for slander and/or defamation cases were self-evident. The ruling left me with much freedom to pursue legal actions for the abuses I had suffered.
       After Aysa left, I took the ruling in search of Victoria. She seemed to be the only Oakhaven management type who did not recoil from me like a vampire from garlic. Failing that, I was going to go to Marlie's office. She would know where Victoria was. In keeping with my bad luck, I encountered Paulette first. I suspected a coin flip determined how she acted towards me on any given day. Some days, I was scum of the earth who ruined her promising career. Other days, we were bosom buddies. Today the coin must have landed the later side up.
“Are you looking for me?” she asked as she stepped out her doorway at the same time I passed it.
       The answer was no, but she could find Victoria as fast as Marlie could, so okay. She needed a witness. I suggested Victoria. Paulette insisted on Edna, but fortune smiled on m and Victoria appeared first. Paulette read the ruling with an interest that made clear she liked being part of a drama from which she was otherwise excluded As I sat in front of her desk, it dawned on me there was no reason for Paulette to read the ruling other than to satisfy personal curiosity. She handed it off to Victoria who took less time to absorb it all. As luck would have it Brock passed by the office door on her way down the hall. Victoria went trotting after her with the ruling.
       “I've read it,” Brock tersely responded.
       Sure enough, she had. I had not bothered to look at the date. Brock had been sent the letter on Monday. There was a confidentiality clause. I suppose that meant this was our little secret unless I let it be known. She was not happy to see I had not kept it between us. Then again, Brock was never really happy about anything. I am sure a failed attempt to improperly discharge a resident she despised is a special instance.
       Victoria handed the ruling back to me. “it doesn't say anything new.”
       “No,” I said. “But it is now in black and white you all were in the wrong. In other words...I won.”
       “We're not against you, Jamie,” Victoria said.
       “Could have fooled me. Spying on me. Accusing me of making coded death threats. Putting me one on one for no reason. Accusing me projecting alleged hatred for my sister onto Brock. Whose butt did you pull that out of?”
       I noticed Paulette flinch ever so slightly. I am not certain if it was because I had suggested before she might have told Brock that or out of guilt for actually having done so. The matter was still murky at the time. Still, it was interesting to see her body language.
       “You're never going to be happy here, Jamie,” Victoria said.
       “It's a nursing home. No one is happy to be here! Besides, your job is not to keep me happy. T is to keep me healthy. Now, if you would just act like professionals and do that.”
        It was clear from both Brock and Victoria's demeanor they knew they had blown it with the improper discharge. If I changed my mind and backed out of the agreement to leave, the law was on my side. Their desperation was amusing. Only an idiot would stay at any Wilson Senior Care facility, much less Oakhaven specifically, after the mistreatment I had received, but since they dreaded the prospect of being stuck with me that much, it was fun to tease the prospect of a slam dunk appeal of the discharge. But the weekend brought a visitation to a couple assisted living facilities and a perspective altering turn of events.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Swimming in a Sea of Anarchy

       I am well aware how much I came off as a jerk in the previous entry. These were difficult circumstances in which most everyone's highest priority was rear end covering. Attempting to deal with corporate/Oakhaven was difficult enough without wrangling the best possible outcome for myself. Let us face it...there were no good options for me at the time. The best I could hope for was the least of several evil. So I was not the most charming person during the process. I would become even worse before it was all over.
       I went back to the dining hall to set up my laptop again. Thoughts kept eating away at me. Of particular concern was the thirty day deadline. Granted, Michelle assured me the deadline was merely a guide. Corporate/Oakhaven could not just give me the boot if I was still a resident after the deadline passed. But since when did they care about rules? Michelle warned me privately at the conference when I agreed to exit if I did not set specific demands, they could just drop me anywhere and be done with it. So I said only assisted in an urban environment. Now Chrystal showed up after a week and a half of no contact with a brochure from a nursing home. I was not certain she knew I was losing weight, but I assume she did. If the tube could not be removed for health reasons, were they going to oust me into a nursing home anyway? I was not going to allow that to happen. I needed to assert myself.
       All these thoughts ran through my mind in only a few minutes. I packed up my laptop and headed back to Marlie's office. My arrival was so soon after my previous departure, she had barely started what she was working on before Chrystal drafted her. I asked her about the deadline and appealing it if I so desired over concerns I might not be receiving the control over my fate I am supposed to have. She opted to punt the inquiry by calling Chrystal. She happened to still be in the building. Via Marlie, Chrystal told me to sit tight. She would come back to talk to me in a moment.
       While chatting up Marlie in the interim, she offered a concession of sorts on behalf of Chrystal. After I left, Chrystal revealed she was bothered by my use of 'you' when accusations. According to Marlie, she said “He acts like I did those things to him.” Marlie assured her I used “you” for the sake of convenience as a reference to management in general. Granted, details were fuzzy as to Chrystal's role in events leading up to my current predicament. She was the one who corporate chose to explain why I was placed under sitters. She copped a contemptuous attitude both then and at the conference. Marlie herself told me Chrystal selected the wording for the hostile behavior on my health care report Sonya insisted be added over objections I was being (deliberately?) misinterpreted. I was not too sure about her. I am still not. But I offer up the conversation between her and Marlie for you to make up your own mind. Chrystal features prominently in remaining posts regarding my departure from Oakhaven.
       Chrystal showed up with Victoria in tow. I had assumed Marlie would serve as witness again. Chrystal must have been bracing for a debate. The last time she paired with Victoria, the two attempted to argue—poorly, I might add—how I was either a threat to the safety of other residents or too ungrateful at the resources spent on me or...a couple other even weaker suggestions. They were not looking forward to a repeat performance as we entered the infamous conference room. Neither was I. I want straight, honest answers for once.
       I explained my dilemma of not seeing why, if my feeding tube could not be removed, I should be forced to depart Oakhaven when the problem was management not respecting my rights, not one of dissatisfaction with the nursing care. Chrystal countered with my agreement. I wondered if she knew what Michelle advised me in private during the conference.
       “I have no idea what she said to you,” Chrystal told me.
    “Well, let me enlighten yo,” I said. “She told me you were pushing an improper discharge. I could stay if I wanted to, but you all were going to make my life miserable if I did so. If at any point in the future I was hospitalized beyond ten days, you would refuse to hold my bed, thereby finally getting rid of me.”
       I am going to give Chrystal even more credit. She appeared genuinely surprised to hear this. In hindsight, it made sense she would. Michelle would not have told her this in respect of my confidentiality. Chrystal probably thought we were agreeing to the discharge, but take no responsibility for the accusations compelling it, in order to save face. Such a belief would explain her thinly veiled hostility. Or maybe she was aware, and hoped I would be anxious to head for the hills as soon as possible. Whichever the case, she was beginning to see the real possibility of being stuck with me.
       “You are the one who said you wanted a discharge. You told Victoria you wanted to leave,” Chrystal offered.
       So that is why Victoria was here. “I also told her I wanted to wait and consult with Dr. Lily over whether removing the tube was a healthy decision. Besides, I told Victoria that in between the time I posted on Facebook and you placed me one on one. According to you, I was not in my right mind, anyway. By your own argument, you should not have taken my statement as valid.”
       “Dr. Lilly could have just said remove the tube and that would have been it,” Chrystal said.
       “No, he couldn't,” I shot back. “Pulling the feeding tube without my consent would be a battery. He knows that, and so do you.”
       Chrystal did not respond. Interestingly, Victoria never chimed in to give her a breather. Maybe she had learned from past experience. If the awkward silence was to be broken, I would have to be the one to break it.
       “For the sake of argument, let's have it your way. Th meeting was a courtesy since I had already agreed to leave. Why attack me personally in the written statement?” I asked.
       “I don't know why you were attacked personally. I really wasn't aware of what was going to be said at the meeting,” Chrystal said.
       “Then why were you there?' I asked, more to have it said out loud than to elicit an answer. I was not expecting one. “You went so far as to say I hate my sister and am projecting the hatred onto Brock. I mean...who came up with that?”
I looked at the two of them in succession. Victoria was the only one to respond. 'I don't know.”
       “It's disgusting,” I said.
      “It's disgusting I don't know?” Victoria asked.
     “It's disgusting in general,” I said.
     Chrystal must have sensed the need to defuse the situation, but she interjected.     “Jamie, there are past issues. That is why they picked me to help you with your discharge. Because we don't have history.”
       Actually, corporate picked her because they no longer trusted Paulette, no one else wanted to do it, and Chrystal got all the crap jobs no one else wanted. But I saw no point in escalating matters by bringing the points up. I could tell by her tone Chrystal wanted to wrap this up and be anywhere else but in a closed door meeting with me.
       “If there's someone else you'd rather have...” Chrystal said.
      “There aren't any realistic choices,' I said.
      “Then what do you want?” Chrystal asked.
    “Answers. Such as why you were secretly eavesdropping on my private conversations,” I said.
    “We can't answer that. That is up to the people people who made the statements,” Victoria said.
       “According to one CNA, Brock told staff to do so,” I said.
    “Well, you can believe me or you can believe some CNA,” Victoria said, visibly miffed.
   The nursing and CNA staff frequently complained about Victoria’s condescending attitude towards them. Here it was clearly in action. The complaining definitely had been credibility than your average employee grumbling about their supervisor. I though about asking why, if Victoria had such disdain for the general CNA's credibility, did she accept their recounting of my eavesdropped conversations as credible, but Chrystal jumped in before I could.
      “Do you want another meeting to discuss your questions? Who do you want to meet with? Dennis [Lofe]? Brock? Sonya?” she asked.
       “Lofe complained to Michelle I was at the conference in the first place. He won't agree. Brock won't go anywhere near me these days. Sonya has led to my face repeatedly.” I said.
       “That's everybody. You're putting up barriers,” Chrystal said.
I paused for a moment. I was not going to gt anywhere with these two. If I wanted answers, I could not cut off every avenue. “Fine. I would like to talk to Sonya.”
       “I'll let her know,” Chrystal said.
       The meeting descended into parody after that point. Victoria went into this spiel about us both being the same age and how she could not imagine being in a nursing home. I would have noted she worked in a nursing home currently and potentially for another 25-30 years, but her maudlin act threw me off. We all opted to politely end proceedings at that point.
       If you want to know what she was like, Victoria reminded me of Brian Griffin's over-protective father act in the following video.  Skip to the 1:45 mark.  




Sunday, November 1, 2015

Breaking the Silence

       It took a week and a half for Chrystal to get back to me regarding my next step in the transition from Oakhaven t...wherever. As noted in the previous entry, leaving me alone to contemplate my situation while being influenced by surrounding events was enough to convince me as I was not getting a fair deal. I was not certain what my next move would be, but I was determined to assert as much control over my fate as possible. Wilson Senior Care/Oakhaven were famous for asserting control even as they lacked the skills to maintain it. Friction was bound to occur. Case in point: the aforementioned next encounter with Chrystal.
       It was Wednesday in late January. Resident rooms were in the process of being repainted all month long. My room was scheduled for painting, so I had to occupy myself out and about for eight hours for the whole process. In late morning, I was set up in the East wing dining hall with my laptop. I was approached by Chrystal and Marlie. It was well known I liked Marlie. She was likely there o not only serve as a witness for Chrystal's benefit, but ease any tensions that might arise. There is a split decision on the success of her inclusion. In fairness, my toughened posturing did not help matters. When Chrystal asked how I was, I replied I was enjoying my reprisal. She looked puzzled. Marlie translated: sarcasm. Chrystal nodded in understanding, and did not miss a beat before getting down to business. It was going to be a long morning.
       Chrystal held several brochures and web page print outs. They were from two assisted living facilities and a nursing home. The latter raised a red flag. The express agreement was my relocation to an assisted living facility only. My intention was, if the feeding tube must stay in, there was no way I was enduring a hellish adjustment period in another nursing home which might b even worse than Oakhaven. Better the evil you know than the devil you do not. The only person I had said this to was r. Lilly. His response was “We'll do whatever yo want.” Maybe he was being genuine, maybe he informed the powers that be and they opted to add a nursing home choice into the running. I do not Chrystal was miffed at my forcefulness. know, but my weight was noticeably dropping. The decline was making people nervous about the necessity of the feeding tube. I was still miffed over the general principle of supposedly ethical medial professionals backing me into a corner over pulling the feeding tube regardless of my weight.
   “No. I expressly said no nursing home. Been there, done that. Got the emotional scars. There is no point in even looking at the brochure,” I said.
       Chrystal was annoyed by my forcefulness. Then again, I had yet to have an encounter in which she did not demonstrate an irritation for taking part. So...no big deal. Yet. She wanted me to view an embedded video on one of the assisted living site's home page. I obliged by turning my laptop towards her so she could type in the address. The web page slowly came up, but the video wooed not stop buffering. Both Chrystal and Marlie remarked on the glacial speed.
       “This laptop is seven years old,” I said.
       “Really? They couldn't have given you a newer one?' Chrystal asked.
       “I asked to buy my own. Brock said no.”
       “Why?” Marlie asked. “i don't see why we couldn't have ordered it right off Amazon and taken it out of your account.”
       “It was Brock's decision. She doesn't need a reason,” I said.
     The pair opted not to comment. Chrystal suggested she go to her car to retrieve her laptop. It was newer, and should have an easier time loading the video. But she soon returned with it and we figured out even a newer, faster computer does not help. The culprit was the slow Wi Fi. Oh, the delicious irony. After claiming the laptop and Wi Fi were excessive measures to increase my quality of life, one of the corporate reps who threw the claim in my face was now being screed over by the inferior laptop and Wi Fi.
       “Is the Wi Fi always this sow?” Chrystal asked.
       “Yep. This is the Wi Fi you keep insisting I grovel for,' I told her.
       “No one is asking you to grovel,” Chrystal said.
     Chrystal herself had brought up the Wi Fi as an expense nursing homes should not cover weeks prior when I was placed under sitters. Her assertion fit right in with the chorus of what a waste of resources I was—and I still had the nerve to assert my rights granted under federal law. I could not let this one go.
       “You're right. This isn't about grovelling. I'll tell you what it is about, though. There are 88 residents living here. Ask all 88 what 42 CFR 383(10) says. Eighty-seven of them will tell you they don't know. One will tell you it is a federal statute granting nursing home residents he right to have any visitors they wish without interference from the facility. The 87 who don't know that can stay. The one who does has to leave. That's what this is all about,” I said.
     Chrystal was silent for a beat. “Would you like us to take your blood pressure?” she asked.
       “You're turning red,” Marlie noted.
       I held back a laugh. It was painful to do, but I managed. I needed to get that off my chest. Someone from corporate/Oakhaven needed to hear what I really thought about the situation. Chrystal and Marle were stunned, though they tried not to show it. The relief of finally getting it out there combined with their reaction was finally. I felt inner pressure deflate. The two must have noticed, because the subject of blood pressure was dropped in favor of walking to Marlie's office to view the video on her computer using the employees' network.
       I did not show one iota of interest in the video, but sat in Marlie's office chair slowly swiveling back and forth for the seven or eight minute video. The highlight had nothing to do with watching the video, but the hilarity of Brock stepping into Marlie's office blissfully unaware of my presence. She stopped dead in her tracks, gasped an “Oh!” and dashed back out without acknowledging Chrystal or Marlie. This time, I did not bother to stifle. It was never clear if corporate told Brock to stay away from me or if it was her choice, but the steps she took in avoiding me were absurdly funny. Chrystal and Marlie could sense the awkwardness in the air, but refrained from comment. They were probably anticipating sarcasm would b the response. It was a good call, if so. My inner voice cried out “Run, Forrest, run!” as Brock rounded the corner and down the hall. Self-discipline, folks. I haz it.
       Chrystal told me we were spending Saturday visiting the two assisted living facilities. I cannot say I was terribly thrilled at the prospect. I doubted there was a huge difference between one facility or another. Wherever I wound up—assuming the feeding tube was removed—it would be the same no matter what. I did not care to hear a phony, rote sales pitch—twice--, either. But at least I was not going to suffer a nursing home tour on top of it all. My lack of enthusiasm was palpable. As I was leaving Marlie's office, Chrystal asked if there was anything that would make my remaining days at Oakhaven more enjoyable.
       “As much as you all complain about what you've already done? No, thanks,” I said as I turned the corner towards the hallway like Brock had moments before.