Thursday, December 5, 2013

5 December 2013

I wish that I could consider this as a type of retirement bliss
but who would tokerate this kind of treatment?

Here I am, again. Back for more. Yesterday was really crazy. I keep finding out more about how this facility works, I'm not impressed. Apparently the time around Thanksgiving until Christmas is a slow time for the nursing home/rehabilitation industry. People just are not scheduling elective surgeries and therefore there is not much need for the rehab that most nursing homes offer (like this one) during this time of the year.

Although the floor that I am on is designed to accommodate 40 people, most of them stacked like cord wood in a room (2 residents per room, very little privacy, providing unwanted and intimate information about the assigned roommate) this place shows in many ways how it is designed to work with people as objects rather than living breathing human beings. When there are 40 people on the floor there are four CENA staff assigned to help care for them. As the population drops from 40 the CENA staff is trimmed appropriately (whatever that may mean). Yesterday there were only 30 on this floor and so the intelligence that guides the administration of this place demanded that only two CENAs be shceduled.

Now to be fair, the staff Christmas party was shceduled for last night. So the administration was probably concidering not filling too many daily slots to allow the CENAs to be able to make the party. (Hint, most of the ones I spoke with had no wishes to attend)

Now, there are some individuals who come here and they are destined for only short-term rehabilitation, a matter of three or four weeks. Some of these individuals have never lived in a communal situation, military barracks, dormitories, or other groups living situations. Judging by the way they act, they are the center of their own universe. Think of it as someone living at the small end of the funnel, and everything else falls in towards where they inhabit. There is a man two doors down that insists the call light is not fast enough. Sometimes he doesn't even condescend to using the call light button. He just bangs on the table and calls out for the nurse in a demanding tone. On the occasions when the CENA staff does attend to his insistence on help, he asks them to do lightweight things that he could do himself, like fluff his pillow or turn down his sheet/blanket slightly. There are a few people that come through this place who are so demanding, most of us can hardly wait for them to rehabilitate enough to move on home.

Yesterday was one of those days. My understanding was there only 30 people on this floor so only two CENA staff were scheduled. This is woefully inadequate. Shortly after lunch I felt the internal movement indicating there was a bowel about to make itself present. Knowing the drill, I pressed the call light and waited for one of the CENAs is to come by, to whom I would indicate that I felt a bowel movement impending. Upon which the CWNA would leave to fetch the lift-stand which is used to help get me out of bed and position me over the commode. It only took her 10 minutes to respond (about normal), I indicated my need and she informed me that she would go get the lift-stand. She left at 1:25 PM, I never saw her again. Knowing that the shift changes at 2 o'clock. I believe we had enough time to locate the machinery, extricate me from bed, position me over the commode, do my business, and be returned to bed in about 10 to 15 minutes.

I was quite puzzled, not to mention very uncomfortable, when half an hour after she left I still had no CENA in appearance. I ring the call light again and another CENA appeared wearing her jacket indicating that she was ready to leave as her shift was nearly done. I indicated my condition and that I had been attended to but not finalized, half an hour earlier. I got a partial answer when this individual left as well. After another 20 minutes I got my cell phone and called the front desk and asked to be run up to the third floor nursing station, whereupon I indicated to the nurse who answered my predicament. She indicated that they were very short staffed but she would have someone come by shortly.

While I'm waiting for someone, anyone to come by driving a lift-stand, I'm trying to picture how it is that whoever administers this place figures because there are less bodies in the facility, that those who are here suddenly don't have physical needs or bodily functions that need to be attended to. This just boggles my mind.

It only makes sense if you watch the staff and administration here in action, most of whom are women. And I am constantly reminded of watching the little girls in my third grade class during recess. They had an activity that they all performed in unison out on the playground. The school was situated where there were large oak trees, and appropriately there were many leaves on the ground during the fall. The girls would all race outside to "play house". For this activity they all assumed certain familial positions, father, mother, little brother, and little sister ( for some reason it made sense they all chose siblings who were younger) it always boggled me to watch these young ladies assume roles that anyone would find in a house, and yet they all knew the roles. To my mind they seemed extremely bossy and spent a lot of their time trying to direct their peers in the roles that they had been given. It also seemed quite interesting that they always insist on going through the open space that was designated as the doorway between rooms or into the house. Although the leaves were only pushed into a long snaking pile 8 to 10 inches tall, no one dared to ever step over the leaf row for the sake of expeditiousness. The girls never did that at all. Some of the boys would step over their leaf piles and the girls treated them as if they were ghosts passing through the walls, screaminf and berating them. There was something about the bossiness and the common belief that they all held that they knew best about this whole situation. It was just a game. It was just a bunch of leaves push together into an arranged format. And yet these individuals acted and believed as if the very structure of the world hung on what they did.

For some strange reason I'm reminded of that when I see the individuals, (mostly women) who run this facility. I have found that other than polite “hello” chit chat, there is no talking to them. They do not want to know what you have to say or see or feel. Don't approach them with your version of a problem, they can't hear it and they won't tolerate it. It's sad. But that's what I have to work with.

After an hour and a half of discomfort yesterday, I finally was helped with two CENA staff that had come on for the second shift (with whom I have never had any problems). It is sad that residents of this facility have to put up with this sort of physical discomfort just in attending to what are their usual daily bodily functions. I haven't done anything wrong. I have not been convicted of any crime to be treated like this. And yet I know that state prisoners are afforded better care than this.

Now, I have mentioned some of the kitchen proclivities in the past. To some it may sound like complaining, however I used to be a good cook and had a kitchen that had all the right tools. Yesterday at lunch the kitchen sent up another mound of instant mashed potatoes (which I normally do not eat, on general principles - potato flakes in a box are not a real food source, besides they taste like cardboard box), some steamed cauliflower, and two hot dogs (euphemistically referred to as tube steakes). What was interesting is that the kitchen set up this fine culinary repast with no condiments. No mustard, no ketchup. There was however, packets of salt and pepper. Now, I have yet to find a hot dog that needs extra salt. I found this to be somewhat insulting. Fortunately, I had a few packets of mustard and ketchup that I had saved from other meals, just for occasions like this. For the evening meal this same kitchen sent up a wonderful stuffed pepper, with another helping of the ubiquitous white stuff (instant mashed potatoes). And for this entrée they figured that nobody needed utensils. Luckily I had the presence of mind to save a spoon from one my previous meals. With that I eat the stuffed green pepper and my salad. When the CNEA of the evening came by to retrieve my plate, I indicated that it was a fine meal, however, next time I would appreciate some utensils with which to eat it.

She was aghast, I was once again bemused. What better addition to insult the residents here who have gone through a day of reduced staffing?

More later, now I have to recover.

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