18 February 2014
I was awakened about ten minutes ago by the presence of someone entering my room. Its a defense mechanism, I guess. Even in sound sleep there is a creepy feeling that gives me the willies when someone comes into the space where I am sleeping. It just wakes me up, instantly, no grogginess. I am catapulted straight to a full waking state.
Normally this comes into play when the third shift CENAs come round to check and change my briefs, an event that occurs two to three times per night shift. This is normal and I have become used to it. I get along well with the ladies on the third shift. It demonstrates that the institution is serious about looking after me, making sure I don't sit in my own effluents too long. I appreciate that.
This was not one of those events. It occurred about an hour after the last brief check. I was asleep, with my CPAP mask on, connected to an oxygen line, when suddenly I was drawn to full waking consciousness by the presence of someone entering my room. Through the door strode this tall fellow wearing a dark gray T-shirt and a faded navy blue baseball hat and a pair of tidy whiteys. Silently, as if he were inspecting the facility he strode in, leaving the door wide open behind him. I could hear my neighbor's television in the next room issuing forth with its all night television programing. About five feet into the room the interloper spied the open, darkened doorway to the bathroom attached to my room. He turned and walked in there without turning on the light.
From the darkened bathroom I could hear the small sound of a slight stream cascading into the toilet. A remarkable feat coming from such a dark place. Like many males, he did not flush the toilet nor did he make any effort to wash his hands in the basin, which I'm sure works equally well under conditions of darkness. Then the inspector blithely walks back into my room with his hands clasped behind his back in a most leisurely fashion, as if to imply that nothing was amiss. He slowly made his way back through my room and out the door by which he entered. He didn't bother to close the door behind him as he left, my next door neighbor's television continued to spew that mind numbingly lowbrowed programming out into the vastness.
My neighbor is a cantankerous sort who has sustained his own special indignity to live here at Dead End Acres Rehab Center and Nursing Home. He is a former truck driver who has had a left hemisphere stroke. He does speak, but I have no idea if he has such a limited vocabulary because of his stroke or his previous lifestyle. He seems to delight in verbally abusing the CENA staff whenever he can. His vocabulary rests on the extensive overuse of “bitch, whore, the F- word, and goddamnit”. After which he manages that partial smile that is the hallmark of many stroke patients. His bark is way worse than his bite although he does on occasion strike out with his good arm. When he is awake he guards his room fiercely. Due to some lapse on the part of the original architect when the building was built the entrance to my room is gained by going through my neighbor's room. So much for privacy, of which there is none around here. No CENA or nurse can enter his room whether my neighbor is in bed or in his wheelchair, without being vocally accosted. He makes the perfect alarm system for anyone approaching my room. Except it was late enough in the night that even my cheap alarm system had conked out and was fast asleep – with the television running.
The middle of the night visitor was only gone a short moment before he returned. He must have stepped out of Joe's room (my neighbor) into the hallway, become confused and returned to see if anything in my room made any sense. I have been pressing the call light with great emphasis, which does absolutely nothing to make the CENAs appear any faster. One of only two CENAs on duty eventually appears. I tell her of the unwanted visitor. She tells me they have been having trouble with him all night. She says they begin to check and change one resident's brief (a tag team event) and this character gets up, puts his hat on and goes exploring. They are right now trying to find him.
This is the problem with being in a facility like this, they will accept anybody from the hospital at first, then they determine if that resident is too disruptive for the facility and maybe the residents.
Eventually I submit to sleep. Reconfigure my CPAP mask, park my glasses in a safe spot and catch up on my interrupted slumbers. Two more times the night shift CENAs come in to my room looking for the explorer. He wasn't here.
I awoke at seven-thirty and set the sleeping arrangements aside, getting my tray table ready for breakfast which can arrive as early as quarter of eight or as late as eight- thirty. Then yon wanderer again enters my room. I get a good look at him this time, I have my glasses on. He is tall and thin. His hair is blond and quite unruly, headed in eight directions at once. It looks as if he combed his hair with a pillow. Wearing a flannel shirt with a blue and gray pattern, and a pair of tidy whiteys. Here walks into my bathroom and all remains silent. Meanwhile I have again been pressing the call light button hoping that someone will respond in a timely fashion. The mysterious visitor has again left the door open behind him. I look beneath the tray tables to see the light blue pants of the nurse's uniform approaching my door. I just hold up one hand pointing to the bathroom. The nurse comes right in and goes to the bathroom. She sees the nightly wanderer and asks what does he think he's doing. “Why, getting ready to see the doctor' he replies, sounding very confused. This isn't your room, its not even your bathroom. Come with me, I'll show you where you need to be. Looking very disheveled the wanderer meekly follows the nurse out my door. Again, typical for the nurses here, the door is left wide open. Joe's television blares some morning show to a now empty room. Joe has been retrieved from bed and placed in his wheelchair and removed for the day, leaving his television to wear some sort of endless soundtrack into any who are nearby.
Throughout the day I hear more and more about the tall wanderer. It has the quality of gossip, not much should be made of it, except one thing, the tone of voice. This guy has the CENAs creeped out. They are leery of him. I don't know if he is dealing with elder dementia issues or a stroke. But caring for him looks to be a huge demand of time that the CENAs really don't want to take from their other residents.
The one thing that is nice to see is that the CENA staff does show some concern for delivering quality care. I must have done something right to not give the administration reason to pawn me off on someone else. This place may be several levels away from competing with the Ritz, but their collective heart is in the right place. That makes all the difference.
Keep your humor dry.
somewhere in southern Michigan