Grim

August 8, 2019

I had decided not to go into the dining room to eat until I got a chair and a placement I could get out of without assistance. The night before, Sheila, one of the top Blue Coats, had met me with the head of nursing who told me it was too dangerous to take the rollater into the dining room. And Sheila had backed her up, showing me that the welded strap on the back could snap.

I had replied what about the 20 plus people who sit in the hallway every night waiting on their rollaters for the dining room doors to open.

No answer to that.

Safety first.

No, as explained in previous post, appearance first.

So Sheila comes over to me while I’m sitting waiting for last night’s supper (to go) and says, you know I didn’t call the nurse. As far as I’m concerned, you can take the roller in.

You didn’t say that to the nurse last night, I said.

And Sheila whispered, I can’t jeopardize my position. I get health care through them. That’s the only reason I stay.

Meanwhile Vera is walking back and forth in the dining room. Every time she passes the open door where I’m sitting talking to Sheila she says, “he’s not gettin’ no food ’til everybody’s been served…”

Sheila asks what I want. I look at the menu board. It is empty.

I tell Sheila I have no idea what’s on the menu.

She goes in, and I hear her fighting with Vera.

Finally, she comes out and tells me: turkey, potatoes and beans.

I’ll take that to go, I tell Sheila. She says Vera will be out in a minute to take your order.

After five minutes, Vera storms towards me, asking what I want. She pulls a slip of paper from her apron pocket and shows me what’s on the menu.

I’ll take that, I say.

Might be a while, she says going into the kitchen.

No problem, I say. I’m in no hurry.

And so Sheila comes out. I tell her, you see, that’s what I go through with Vera every dinner.

Sheila looks at me, and says: friends?

Yep. You’re the one that’s pulled me off the floor twice. I don’t forget that.

Yeah, I know. It can be grim. But I see a wave of boomers making their way to this brave new world. And a lot of them still have a rebellious streak. Thank G-d.

A Comment

Thank you for sharing your life at the Castle. It some times is too much reality for me in what you write, as I’ve been employed in various capacities in health care. I know what you say is truth, I know how the system makes employees do what they do, I know when employees are just there for the paycheck, and lack of empathy/compassion runs wild in assisted living facilities.

Then there are the angels who are there for the right purpose, love their patients and truly want to do the best job possible under the circumstances. Thank you for your day to day adventures. I appreciate each and every one, though I know its hard, frustrating, annoying and lonely for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Peace.

Actually, it is annoying and yet there are angels. One that found me is a Muslim woman from Morocco. Always with a smile, and dressed coming into work like she was from a motorcycle movie from the 50s.

Always went out of her way to play some trick on me; tap me on the shoulder and then move away; kids stuff, but laughing ensued for us both.

I was sorry to hear that she’s leaving – tomorrow. She won’t tell me where she’s going, and it’s none of my business. What she did say, with a big smile: don’t worry about me, it’s a much better position.

But I learned some things about why they switch the aides around every month. According to her, each floor has a certain type of patient. The blind patients are all on the 2nd floor.

The troublesome patients are on the 8th floor, and so on.

So management says they want all the aides to deal with every type of patient.

I have to wonder if that makes any sense. It stops any relationships from forming. Each month the day and night shift are switched and I have to keep telling them I usually don’t go to breakfast, and I don’t like to be bothered in the morning.

The blind are always confused by the new aides. Is that you Matilda?

No, I’m Sara, Miss Broadhurst.

Miss Broadhurst is also 90% deaf.

Who?

Sara.

Since most of the patients have some form of dementia, I can’t see that switching their aides is going to be helpful.

A lot of times my first meeting with a new aide is confrontational. She wants to make my bed. I don’t want to be bothered. Eventually, we come to some understanding, and if she’s around long enough become friends.

This last aide began with the making the bed confrontation. Now she borrows books from me and tells me I make her laugh all the time. She is a full bred Zulu – whatever that means, and I mean to find out how a Zulu ended up here.