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Left Behind on a Silent Night (the Christmas Visit)

I'd been outside waiting for my return ride back to the nursing home (for nearly two hours). That's right, they forgot about me. And hence, the possibility of being stuck in Gilbert, Arizona overnight on Christmas Eve was becoming a real possibility. Lucky for me, the temperature was agreeable. Calm air. A cloudless sky. And an alighted water tower in the near distance cycling through all sorts of fluorescent rainbow shaded colors and seasonal flavors.

I'd sent my mother back inside an hour prior, after having convinced her that my ride would show up sooner, rather than later. There was no need for her to wait outside with me in front of her apartment complex, especially considering the chill in the air. Either way, she didn't complain. She's never been a complainer.

My ride was supposed to arrive at 6:00 p.m. although, the pick up window they gave me gave me indicated a 30-minute window existed. On a hunch, I called Valley Transit to inquire about my return ride. Sure, it was only 6:30, but I felt a sinking sensation.

I spoke to Eric. He told me he was going to find a driver for me, asking if it would be okay if he put me on hold.

Find a driver? That didn't sound promising at all.

I gave Eric the okay, and that's the last I ever heard from him. Three minutes later, the phone call terminated. So I called back again, and again, and again. Each time the call disconnected much in the same way. Something or somebody continually hung up on me.

After 20 minutes of being repeatedly dropped, I finally got through to Lisa. It was already 6:50 p.m., meaning… the driver was undoubtedly late. Or the driver was dead. In a ditch. With a six pack of Schlitz Malt Liquor coursing through his veins and arteries. Well no, that doesn't make sense. If he were nothing more than a corpse, the coursing would have ceased.

Anyway, this Lisa woman also indicated that she would do her best to try and find a driver. She also suggested I call back in 15 minutes to make sure that a ride had been secured.

Instead of 15 minutes, I called back 20 minutes later. Of course, Valley Transit customer service shuts down at 7:00 p.m. So really, that was rather clever of Lisa, having me call back AFTER she and the rest of her co-workers went home for the evening.

Meanwhile, I had already called the nursing home three different times, in efforts to report my possible tardiness. But of course, no one was answering the phone at my nurse station. I did speak with the receptionist, but she couldn't get a hold of anyone in my unit either.

The reason for my desperation had much to do with my paranoia. Me, paranoid? Well, yes. I was already paranoid because some nurses don't believe I should be going out on visits in the first place. And now…

Anyway, I continued calling the Valley Transit number, and the automated after hours emergency message instructed me to choose the Number "4' Option if I was planning to cancel a ride and/or needed status on a pickup.

Each time I pushed the super duper magical number four on my keypad, I was briefly put on a hold, and then the call disconnected. This succession of hang-ups continue down for 30 minutes (the automated phone line disconnected me 11 times in that time frame (which was 11 times additionally).

Sure, I could've slept in my wheelchair inside my mother's apartment, but I didn't happen to bring the necessary supplies for an overnight stay. Which really, isn't a great big deal. I can run on plain simple water for a period of time. But the main difficulty would involve my inability to use any kind of toilet in the morning. Assuming the need would come about. And really, that was my main concern. And there was no work around available.

*My mother's apartment is tiny. I can roll into her living room. And then I can roll back out of her apartment. But that's the extent of my movement.


Then, lo and behold, my ride showed up. Well, not my real ride. My real ride would have been a full-sized minibus. Rather large. Lots of available leg room. But this vehicle? Well, it was more or less shaped and sized like a station wagon. Or a crossover vehicle. Or something. I don't really understand vehicle categorization these days, having been isolated and far removed from the grid for nearly a decade.

The passenger side window rolled down, and the driver called out my name. I raised my hand. I was also planning on raising my concerns regarding the vehicles size, but decided to trust the drivers know-how. I mean, heck, he drives disabled people around for a living.

The driver lowered the ramp, and then instructed me to pull forward. Clearly I wasn't going to fit. But I figured that just perhaps, he had some kind of incomprehensible work around at the ready, right?

Well, he did not. It was up to me to figure out how to fit myself in the tiny tiny tiny space, the one with low head clearance and absolutely no leg room whatsoever.

I pulled my legs towards me and collapsed the legs of the chair. Then I inched forward as far as it would go, then stretched my legs outward across a collapsed bench seat in front of me. Then without warning, the driver slammed the back door shut, which pushed in against the hydraulic lift, which violently smashed against the rear portion of my wheelchair. I feared something was broken. Or dislodged.

Ummm… to say the least, I was unimpressed.

The driver asked me if I could take the rear portion of my wheelchair apart, or disassemble various pieces, so that I would become a better fit.

I explained to the driver that everything, including the rear assembly, was welded together - likely with safety purposes in mind.

So what I ended up doing, was collapse the back support of my chair unto myself… meaning, I would nearly have been nearly folded in half if I remained in my chair. So, in order to avoid crushing myself, I scooted forward as far as I could, so that my torso was supported by the folded over bench seat in front of me. Due to this positioning, my legs were dangling over the edge, pushed up into the rear portion of the driver's seat. And the only portion of my physical body still making contact with the wheelchair, where my head and shoulders.

To say the least, I was extremely uncomfortable. Worse than that, I was situated dangerously, laying across the folded seat with my body contorted and my head twisted to one side.

The driver tried to restrain me with the seatbelt, but I told him not to bother. I mean really, the only place he could have restrained me was wrapping the seat belt around my neck.

On the bright side (yes, there are always bright sides), no one else would be coming along for the ride. No other pickups. Because there was no way any other human could fit inside the vehicle. Not safely. Not comfortably… not unless they were a contortionist, and a top-notch one at that.

The return trip only took 45 minutes. Yes, 45 minutes through the haze and smoke and Christmas-induced fireplace smog. Too many damn fireplaces competing against the temperature inversion.

When I got back to the nursing home, my nurse asked me why I hadn't called to let her know that I would be arriving late. Well …

I went into my room, put some music on, and that was the end of that. That was my Christmas Eve.

A Mom Thing

I did get to spend several hours with my mother. She looked okay. Mostly. And despite not having had insulin for the past three weeks, she was as functional as could be expected. Why doesn't she have insulin? Well, actually she does. She just doesn't have the needles necessary. So she's been taking her insulin doses without having any needles. Yes. That's actually what's happening. Phantom insulin shots.

The nurses that have begun visiting my mother (last week) were supposed to bring the insulin needles on Thursday, but neither the needles nor the nurses showed up. They never showed up on Friday either.

Yes, it's my fault for not checking to make sure, but I just figured they would show up because that's what the nurses are supposed to do. And then this week, the main nurse is on vacation, so they're trying to find a backup nurse to do the kinds of things that back up nurses do best.

UPDATE / 2 days later: A nurse showed up this afternoon and showed my mother how to inject her insulin. I just got off the phone with my mother, quizzed her, and she seems confident that she can do it herself. For some reason, she thought she only needed to take insulin ONCE per month. So yeah…

Oh, and normally I would appreciate any recommendations, things that could possibly and potentially help my mother. But there's nothing anyone can do. She's too mentally functional to be placed in any insisted living environment. She too easily passes regular evaluations.

You may be wondering how she's able to pass any evaluation, considering her memory difficulties, etc.

Well, as long as she can name the current president of the United States, the current year, and pick out her favorite color, she's okay to live on her own. Nice, right? But that's all there is to it. That's all that's required.

Anyway, she's got nurses coming over now, and another woman (an elderly advocate) who's working towards finding a place for her to live, a place where she will receive daily assistance (based upon my mother's income). So, there could be a resolution in the making.

Anyway, my mother was happy to see me, and we did spend quality time together. And I plan on visiting her again in two weeks (weather permitting / nursing home allowing).

Take care of everybody,

Her Apartment


Me (on tour)


Glowing Water Tower


Where My Mother Hangs Out (at the park)



HI @Howard....Well, you certainly had a very different type of Xmas Eve, and it doesn't sound like it was much fun.

No, I can't imagine being scrunched up in a small vehicle for 45 minutes. That's a long time to have to be a contortionist. Sorry.

Howard, I gather that's a self-photo of you in your wheelchair. What happened to your head...why is it bandaged? (Or did I miss something?)

I'm glad you had a chance to be in your own room for part of Xmas Eve and hopefully the heat didn't awaken you at 4:00 a.m. Your Xmas present, if not.

Did they pass out stockings this year. If so, what did you receive?

I'm sure that your mother was very pleased to see you and yes, you're right, her place is just enough for one person. Thank goodness you were rescued....in the desert at night, it could be cold. Well, a better New Year and I hope the nurses stay on top of your mother and her diabetes. Doesn't sound good thus far. Yours, Lenora
First they provide insulin

Then they forget needles

Then they decide to give you instructions on how you might use teh drug which requires needles you don't have....

Sounds like the US health system. Yup. Don't worry, we are all FINE.

Outstanding Selfie, @Howard

You exhibit an impressive level of personal resiliency. I'd have lost it around having to make a phone call.

Phone calls are costly undertakings. And live people are sometimes on the other end of the line.
It slowly dawned on me: this is Christmas Eve

As in: nobody answers phones. Towns become ghostly. And the only people out and about (assuming thats what your field trip was) are not necessarily going to save you from hapless abandonment.

I got lost on a Christmas Eve visiting my future in laws... (unless it was New Years, almost the same difference) having driven about four blocks to a Seven Eleven to obtain instant Coffee (no coffee for Xmas morning was clearly going to be unacceptable).

The Hound Dog Came With. My boyfriend, Future Husband, the local did not.

It was horrible, being lost. Unacceptable, lost is Unacceptable.

(how?...instead of retracing the four blocks, I thought I could merely circle back but the roadway veered off in some odd direction and I became captured and disoriented and Where The Heck Am I?

I was lost in a sea of Apartment complexes and literally could find nothing recognizable.

Cell phones did not exist. Nor did I really know the phone number of my "boyfriends parents".

I think the worst part was when the dog started sobbing in the back seat.

(Hound Dogs, they know what lost is, as in They Do Not Get Lost) (I'd have been better off ditching the car and suggesting the dog find the way back)

Eventually I was on a Hunt for the El Camino. Thats a famous roadway. Historic. And every few miles, you'll pass a historic marker, a large bell indicating your on the original path of the great Spaniard Conquistadores.

If I could just find the El Camino, I"d only be having to decide whether to head south or north. (left or right).

I started canvassing at stop lights, rolling down my car window appearing desperate: asking neighboring cars: do you know where is EL CAMINO

Nobody working at gas station speaks English on Christmas Eve.

Eventually, a nice person was getting gasoline and they spoke English. I was only about ten blocks away!

(never again, did I venture out of that place by myself)
Thanks for sharing your Christmas Eve adventure even though it sucked at the end for you. I swear..............some of the predicaments you get into:wide-eyed:.........with no fault of your own.

Glad you had a nice quality visit with your Mom though and hopefully many more visits to come without any resistance and red tape with Nursing Home.

I've been hesitating to ask you this for some time............but have you seen or heard from your son?
Howard and the horrible, dreadful, no-good, very bad van service. Yikes.
I'm glad you survived that and at least got to spend some more time with your Mom beforehand. Is your chair okay?

Having a brain blob, bleary-eyed day so won't post more but may come back with more ideas, questions, later. :)

Edit: I just thought of one. How did your J-tube replacement procedure go AND did it survive being contorted like that on that 45 minute ride back?
What happened to your head...why is it bandaged? (Or did I miss something?)

I do not have a bandage on my head. It's a bandana. It keeps my hair in place. My hair is super long right now. Or maybe it makes me look super cool! :)

Did they pass out stockings this year. If so, what did you receive?

For Christmas, they ask the residents what kind of gift they would like to receive. And then they have staff members pick out an individual's name.

Whoever picked up my name did not end up getting me a Christmas present - which is okay, because I don't really need anything in particular. Betsy ended up purchasing a blanket for me. Soft. Fleece, I think. And then I was given an additional blanket as part of a room-to-room donation.

So now, of course, I have plenty of blankets to keep me warm when it gets really cold in here. Hahaha!

Oh, I also wanted to say I found your Mom's competency to be very reassuring

Yes indeed, the bottom line is … do not get old. Nor should you ever get sick.

Nice story, too. It wasn't Deadsville in my vicinity, or perhaps relatively speaking, it was.

have you seen or heard from your son?

My son and I had a 3-hour long conversation about 3 weeks ago. And we really got into some things. Deeply. I enjoyed the experience.

He also said he was going to visit me a couple of months ago. Now and again, other people have threatened to visit me as well. :)

Is your chair okay?

My chair is undamaged. And I did have a stiff neck for a few days, but that's to be expected. No big deal.

I could have simply refused the ride, and then figured something else out.

How did your J-tube replacement procedure go AND did it survive being contorted like that on that 45 minute ride back?

The J-tube replacement was a mixed bag. I wrote about the experience, but didn't post it. In summary, they did not have the correct feeding tube, as it was (and is) an obsolete model. So now I have to make adjustments, utilizing clever workarounds for the next six months or so.

And here's the thing, I explained to numerous staff members, hospital administrators, and even a couple of nurses, that I needed a specific all-new highly adaptable version of my feeding tube. One with the new ENFIT system. And I informed these people two weeks in advance. And then several times immediately prior to the procedure. So yeah….

I won't go into details regarding the procedure itself. I think the doctor skipped a couple of steps which made things less pleasant. In the past few days though, it seems to have finally healed. I'm pain-free. :)

Thanks to all for inquiring!
Or maybe it makes me look super cool! :)

I thought You Looked Cool.

Maybe I"m biased.:hug:

It wasn't Deadsville in my vicinity, or perhaps relatively speaking, it was.

I'm glad your temporary abandonment was largely in daylight, with "others around". And that the van/that became a station wagon/ CAME THRU!

do not get old. Nor should you ever get sick.

Darn it, why didn't you warn me sooner? :devil:It's already TOO LATE!:eek:

My chair is undamaged. And I did have a stiff neck for a few days,

Obviously I:m; missing some detail here. Its not possible for you to sit in the seat of the car with it slightly reclined perhaps? I guess I thought you could sort of gt out of the chair, altho you have to "recover" from the exertion.

(I'm recalling this debacle once, in which we got my not very mobile mother back in the front seat, only she was sideways and 112 degrees backwards. Neither my husband nor I (both of us less infirm back then) could get MOM properly repositioned.

(we drove her back two blocks, sideways)
I do not have a bandage on my head. It's a bandana.

Im convinced I could generate a sense of style and pizzazz, if only I could figure out head scarfs.

After it all came down, I did not exactly go out shopping to replace things like scarfs.

Scarves. (I own one bandana, in tie dye fuchsia)

somehow I never managed to get anywhere which sells scarves.

I've been admiring the Ukrainians. They have very cool scarves.
Yes indeed, the bottom line is … do not get old. Nor should you ever get sick.

Isn't that the truth!

I don't have the cognitive ability at the moment to describe two recent experiences out in public that reduced me to tears, but my takeaway from such unpleasantness is:

American society doesn't give two f*cks about the chronically ill, disabled, or the elderly.
Your Mom looks so sweet. Wishful thinking but is there a bigger apt in her building she could move into so you could live with her there that way you both could look out for each other?
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OK, OK.....I looked at the photo again and can see that it's a bandana.

I think with the talk of falling roommates (or remembrances of them) I thought you'd fallen and had a bandage around your head. My mistake. Yours, Lenora
American society doesn't give two f*cks about the chronically ill, disabled, or the elderly.

I'm sorry to hear you (and probably everybody else) are having difficulties as well. Experiencing the real world is both intensely interesting and scary. And for me, my new found real life experiences have been quite extreme, on either end of the ledger.

So many people go far out of their way, offering to help me when I'm out and about that it makes up for those who are either rude or all together and considerate.

Now the medical community… that's probably problematic from start to finish. That's where the help ends. That's where the hope ends.
Your Mom looks so sweet. Wishful thinking but is there a bigger apt in her building she could move into so you could live with her there that way you both could look out for each other?

Yes, I believe there are larger apartments in her complex. The problem being, I do not have any income. And I do not have any credit. Sooo... I don't qualify for anything anywhere.

If I get approved for SSI 6 months from now, opportunities will present themselves. At least, theoretically. The other option (assuming I don't get approved, because that's the way everything works in this world of ours) is to become well enough, to cure myself, so that I'm able to seek out gainful employment. And really, that's probably what I need to do. :)
Hi @Howard. Re: Income: Not that you need my advice, but well, I am an old lady now, too....so here goes.

What about sending in a few samples of your writing to AARP? You could write under a pseudonym, but make it about nursing homes and what would/would not be helpful. You're good in the laughs dept., so that's great. But you could start by writing past stories about people you've encountered (and you've had some funny ones - from the patients to the staff and you could throw in a doctor or two). Also serious ones about shortages and the like.

Just think. I'll bet everyone in the home gets AARP and I'll also bet that not one of them reads it. Plenty of material there. Anyway, it will give you some income and may help you at least put your foot on the ladder. At least it's a national production.....everyone ages.

Some comedy would be good and personally, I'd pay for it, even if I didn't get it because of my age. Just a thought. Put your talents to use....man! Also, you may still be poor enough to qualify for an apt. in your mother's complex. L.
HI @Zebra, I'm sorry that your experiences haven't been great.

Like Howard, I find most people to be caring individuals who are more than willing to "lend a hand." I've lived in both the northeast and TX and many places in between....and that's the one thing they all had in common. Friendly cashiers, co-workers, waiters/waitresses....everyone.

Give it another try and you may find a difference. I hope so. Yours, Lenora

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