Unhappy Endings: Reversed Momentum During a Backwards Slide into Oblivion

No Sleep Till Hammersmith

Because I'm an idiot, the battery on my feeding machine died over an hour ago (4am) and I'm still waiting for someone to respond. The unplugged chord lies dormant upon the floor, and I cannot reach it on my own.

Meanwhile, the sky is ever so slightly illuminated, turning a grayish blue from the east. Despite the faint lighting, there's nothing stirring, neither rabbits nor traffic. Although, the parking lot is partially populated by night crew vehicles.

Beyond my forgetfulness, I would have been awake anyway because a super loud phlebotomist lady drew my roommates blood right after my battery died. And soon thereafter, Dora was moaning and screaming… or yelling and bellowing … likely some combination of the two. And of course, the guy who moved into my old place (Room 125, with a view) was yelling for help, or yelling for Hell.

Why Hell? Because perhaps to him, the fiery depths would be an upgrade compared to this place.

Eh. Restful sleep isn't half way possible in this joint. But at least I can still function on three or four hours.

Down to Earth

My roommate stood up to take a gander at the power strip on his computer desk. He's not supposed to be standing up without hands-on assistance, but he often does what he does. And I was about to remind him to sit down (again) when he just as suddenly took to sitting back down. The problem being, his wheelchair brake wasn't locked, so the chair rolled backwards and away from him, so he reactively grabbed the only thing within reach, which was the refrigerator.

Of course, the half-sized refrigerator rests uncomfortably atop two milk crates (so no, it's not secured). Luckily, as my roommate fell to the ground, his grip slipped. So rather than pulling the refrigerator down upon himself, it teetered back and forth menacingly, before settling back into its milk crate groove.

Sure, the darn thing likely weighs no more than 50 or 60 pounds, but perhaps that's enough to do damage.

So you know, my roommate mostly landed on his rear end (and didn't suffer any notable injuries).

Slum Burrr

Due to a spate of restlessness, my roommate slept out in the TV Room overnight, the one adjacent to the nursing station. Except that he didn't really sleep. He's not slept in days. And his mental acuity is deteriorating rapidly, to the extent that he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing at any given moment.

Meanwhile, his wife is now in the hospital (but remains in constant contact with me). As part of the plan, my roommate doesn't know where she is. And she doesn't know how badly he is faring. It's a delicate balance that I am maintaining (at the behest of the daughter). And it pains me to know that each is suffering in their own way.

His formerly slow deterioration (over several months) has accelerated exponentially. There's no way I can help. Not anymore. He doesn't sleep. Never ever. No REM sleep recovery. The hallucinations are worsening. All part of the disease.

Here's The Thing… (Something Else)

I typically go outside around 8 a.m., after the breakfast trays are picked up (and deposited back in the kitchen area). That's when a CNA comes to get me, and takes me outdoors into the courtyard. But today I waited, and waited, and waited some more. And it wasn't until 10:30 that someone offered to bring me outside.

But by then, I decided it was too late. I'd have to be brought back inside by noon anyway, as the temperature would easily have crossed the 100-degree barrier (97° seems to be my melting point right now).

After deciding to stay in my room, I asked the CNA to close my door on his way out. Privacy is atypical here, but I felt like having some (I had the place to myself, as my roommate was under constant supervision, elsewhere).

The CNA didn't shut my door. So I pushed my alert button, hoping to attract attention from somebody else, anybody who would be able to close my door.

*This is the same CNA who once took my urinal away to empty it out, and never returned. Ever. And it took me three hours to get the urinal back!

Well, after two f_____ hours, no one responded to my call light being activated. At first, I assumed the staff had been summarily murdered. How else is it that nobody would respond? Tragic as that may seem, none of my favorites were on the schedule. So…

Being ignored for two hours is unusual. During a shift changes, it may take an hour for a staff member to respond, but we were nowhere near a designated shift change.

Then, paranoia setting.

Perhaps they were simply trying to get a reaction out of me.

I wondered if I should throw a temper tantrum… that's what others do.

Okay, probably not. Because that's exactly what "they" wanted. Evidence. Excuses. Reasons. Examples. Besides this, how many opportunities would they have to color me bad?

So I waited and wondered how many hours it would take to get my f_____ door shut.

Intervention

They just performed a crisis counseling session with my roommate (with me present). Apparently, violent things happened somewhere out there, earlier this morning. Out of privacy concerns, I'll spare you the details.

After the session, the crisis counselors left the room, which left me to supervise my roommate... which wasn't advisable. Soon thereafter my roommate stood up and started walking around the room. Of course, he's an extreme fall risk, and shouldn't be walking anywhere.

I was able to reason with him the first time, so he did get back in his chair. But then he got up again and started wandering around aimlessly..

I would have pushed the call button, to get someone to come help him, but the call button had already been pushed, three f_____ hours earlier, and as of yet, nobody had responded.

I yelled "help" a few times, but nobody responded to that either, so instead, I called the front desk, who relayed my call to the nurse station. I explained to the nurse what was going on, and then as she was hanging up the phone, she said, "Howard is trying to tell us what to do again."

Of course, that set me off. The only time I call the nurse station is when one of the residents is at risk (ex. someone's been left outside, or they've fallen down). I do not want to tell anybody what to do, much less ask anybody for help, unless absolutely necessary.

Fortunately, one of the nurses caught up with my roommate as he left the room.

And eventually, one of the nurses came into my room (coincidentally) to swab me for covid-19. And in her presence, I let loose a series of f-bombs. No, this particular nurse wasn't my target, but since she'd been the only staff member I'd seen in over three hours, I decided to let loose with her in the room (of course, I apologized an hour later. And she seemed to understand).

With the door closed, I was able to quietly listen to music, and also talk on the phone with a close friend, in private! Yes, privacy is a valued commodity here at the nursing home. And when I have the opportunity to experience private moments, I like to take advantage. And as it turned out, my privacy lasted all of 20 minutes.

Moving Out

I was informed that my roommate would be transferring into another unit. It'll be a place where he can be constantly monitored, while also receiving a better quality of care. I'm glad they're finally doing something, as I (and the limited staffing) can only do so much to keep him on track.

His departure likely means I will be able to sleep through the night, at least, for one night. And what this means for my roommate and his family, I'm not quite sure.

I'll miss seeing his family members, but I suppose they may choose to visit me anyway, at least once in a while.

The whole darn thing is sad as can be. An upsetting downer. Scant few months ago we spent a fair amount of time navigating conversational latitudes, and now…

The Day After

"We've got a new roommate for you!" she offered, smiling uneasily.

It was Social Services interrupting my peaceful mid-morning in the sun. My former roommate had been gone less than 12 hours… As a matter of fact, all of his personal belongings were still in my room.

"It's not gonna be the guy from 125, is it?"

"Yes it is, how did you know?"

How did I know? Well, for reasons unknown, I conjured up the worst possible pairing I could think of… and that's what I get for conjuring.

"No, I don't like this idea at all - '125' is up all night yelling and shouting for help. Everyone down at the other end of the hallway wants to murder him. Literally."

She didn't seem to be listening to me.

"It's okay, we'll see how it works out," the social worker offered, then made a token attempt to touch my shoulder (failing), before heading back indoors.

"F____, F____, F____!" I spat out, making sure she would hear me as she headed off. I mean, what else the hell was I going to do as a means to protest?

In a place like this, you have no choice. Practicing acceptance is key. And really, I should simply be thankful that I even have someplace to live. The government is darned generous, allowing me to be both indoors …and air-conditioned, at the same time.

In protest of this rendered decision, I decided to crank up the music, .. rather loudly, while uneasily reclined in the empty courtyard. What other options did I have? When you live in a place like this, you do not have a legal right to sleep. It would seem as though this is some form of cruelty.

For whatever reason, no one else came outside into the courtyard for the next hour and a half. Hmmm… Perhaps they knew I was angry as fuck. But eventually my heart rate dropped, and my heart palpitations diminished. Why? Because I began concocting a plan, how I'd be able to survive sleeping outdoors into the summer months.

It seems I can tolerate up to 97° for several hours. Anything above that is negatively and notably impactful. Right now, we are typically dropping down into the 80s by 10 p.m., before settling into the 70s through the wee hours, approaching dawn. That's not only quite tolerable, that's absolutely joyous sleeping weather. But one month from now, the temperatures will be hovering around 100 degrees at 10 p.m., finally bottoming out around 90 degrees in the early morning hours. I've got some ramping up to do in order to tolerate that kind of unrelenting heat.

At least mosquitoes aren't an issue yet, as monsoon season doesn't kick in until July. And maybe by then, my new roommate will be dead. Or I'll be cured. Or I'll be dead. And he'll be dead. Lots of possible options.

Inside Job

100° was getting too hot for me, so I went back inside around 3 pm. And shortly thereafter, Nurse Raleigh gave me the good news. Against a departmental order, she moved Difficult Human Being #125 into a room with another difficult human (who also stays awake all night watching TV, and complains loudly and frequently).

I am both grateful and thankful that I'll be getting another full night of sleep.

Insider Info

So you know, I have been writing lots of things, but I've been sleep deprived of late, perhaps even sleep depraved. And the series of words I've been dictating into my phone seem rather unimpressive. Hopefully these words are more or less coherent.

Take care,
Howard


Blazing Sun Set Social Event #2

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Comments

she moved Difficult Human Being #125 into a room with another difficult human (who also stays awake all night watching TV, and complains loudly and frequently).
Makes me wonder why they couldn't have thought of that solution in the first place?

I'm sorry you're going through all that. :(
 
Hi Howard.......Oh, dear! I am sorry that life certainly doesn't seem to be giving you a minute's peace at the moment. Isn't there one other fairly quiet human being you could possibly share your room with?

I can remember when my mother was in a nursing home. It's.too bad you can't share these complaints and not feel like the nurses feel like you're complaining. This man should have been moved to another unit days ago....for both of your sakes.

Still, I know how things can go. Even if you get someone who is almost comatose, some of them can make a terrible noise constantly also. I agree that I'd rather be in the great outdoors at night....will they even let you?

Personally, I think you've done a great job of taking care of others, watching out for them, calling the nurses station, etc. How about having a heart to heart with Social Services? Better yet, how about if I stop asking you questions, huh?

One more....perhaps you can tolerate it, please? What can WE do to help with your not-so-great situation? I wish my brain could compute but I've actually been getting some sleep....and at times it leaves me more confused! Like you, a few hrs./night is better than nothing.

I thought the summer may be harder, and I'm sorry that you're going through this. You're a good man, Howard. Be annoyed as long as you have to be. We'll be annoyed right along with you, I promise!! Under the circumstances, I'd say you're one mighty fine man. Still, that doesn't help....so tell us. Yours, Lenora xo
 
Howard,

I laughed out loud often while reading this. Hysterical. Though darkness and suffering plague you and your former roommate, a healthy dose of humor regarding the situation certainly helps.

The nursing home sounds like a complete but relatively pleasant looney bin, very reminiscent of my 5 psych ward experiences, the majority being extended stays of a few weeks. And the sleep bit is the cruelest of all. I can also relate, as I had similar experiences in the psych ward and have had severely dysfunctional sleep for 7 years now from this horrendous illness. All I talk about is “sleep, sleep, sleep, and if I could get better sleep” to most people I know, except my wife and mother, who have heard just about enough of it.

Keep hanging in there, will you?

- Dave
 
Makes me wonder why they couldn't have thought of that solution in the first place?

I'm sorry you're going through all that. :(
As I understand it, Social Services manages the room and roommate scenarios and situations. They may or may not ask for input from other departments and factions during their daily morning meetings (when the decisions are made).

It doesn't seem there's any rhyme or reason for roommate placings. The only exception is when another staff member objects to the placement, and then recommends an alternative.

And then a few days ago, it was a matter of the nursing staff objecting, knowing what I'd already been through of late.

The other problem that's been mentioned to me, is that they believe I am a nice person. And that means they believe I can put up with anybody. But in recent weeks, I've more often been angry (now and again), so perhaps that will work in my favor… eventually. Lol


@lenora

I'm okay. It's just that sometimes I need to complain. I think. And the people in my life think this is a good thing, that I vent on occasion. And this blog entry is simply one episode in a series of continuing episodes (most being generally positive in nature).

I have been soliciting others to be my roommate, but the one person I wanted is checking out Friday, and into his own apartment. Another guy offered to take me in, but I wouldn't have a window - and he can't be relocated into my room due to a lift mechanism permanently affixed within his room. Plus, he lives over in unit two, my original unit. And that's a mad house over there. Unit one is extremely quiet in comparison. Then lastly, is another guy who sleeps through the night and is pretty much an introvert. The problem being with him, is that his roommate is comatose and provides no resistance. So this guy has no motivation to move.

And thanks for offering, but there's nothing anyone can do. Normal everyday people have problems akin to this… sort of. :)

And yes, summer is still up in the air. I'm still trying to come up with solutions.


@Cloudyskies

As each of you knows, sleep is a difference-maker. It seems I went from being completely totally non-functional, to being capable of doing this and that from bed, as a direct result of my finally being able to achieve restful sleep (exclusively attributed to tart cherry powder) several years back.

I hope you are somehow able to resolve your sleep issues. Again, sleep really does help.
 
I read your latest post during my post- dental crash float trip. Surfing the magic carpet. Crashed again but at least it wasn't the full on unravelment.

A prairie falcon flew past the dentist's window: that made my day.

Your photo: something I thought was a palm tree has turned into a microwave or cell tower.

Think how the birds feel. Those orioles, for instance, all yellow and black and gorgeous nectars eaters, head over to the palm trees to make nests. Only the leaves are plastic and there is no fiber for basket weaving. Well, they will have to find a real tree in the next neighborhood.

the Sun definately looks "hotter".

as a direct result of my finally being able to achieve restful sleep (exclusively attributed to tart cherry powder) several years back.
are you out of tart cherry powder? I would assume it cannot override flood lighting and 3 am cowboy movies.

I guess in the arena of roommate roulette, a very quiet comatose one may yet turn up.

Or: somebody who is always out and about (I never once ACTUALLY saw the woman my mother shared a room with.)
 
I read your latest post during my post- dental crash float trip. Surfing the magic carpet. Crashed again but at least it wasn't the full on unravelment.

A prairie falcon flew past the dentist's window: that made my day.

Your photo: something I thought was a palm tree has turned into a microwave or cell tower.

Think how the birds feel. Those orioles, for instance, all yellow and black and gorgeous nectars eaters, head over to the palm trees to make nests. Only the leaves are plastic and there is no fiber for basket weaving. Well, they will have to find a real tree in the next neighborhood.

the Sun definately looks "hotter".



are you out of tart cherry powder? I would assume it cannot override flood lighting and 3 am cowboy movies.

I guess in the arena of roommate roulette, a very quiet comatose one may yet turn up.

Or: somebody who is always out and about (I never once ACTUALLY saw the woman my mother shared a room with.)
:woot::woot::woot:
 
All I talk about is “sleep, sleep, sleep, and if I could get better sleep” to most people I know, except my wife and mother, who have heard just about enough of it.

my husband was standing over me...yesterday. It was 11:30 am, he was back from going to the eye doctor and I was still asleep in my post dental crash.

He needed proof I was breathing still.

It was odd, coming to. Oh, hi there, your back?

Not refreshing. But Im still grateful I can check out. And go elsewhere.
 
Hi @Howard.....I agree, you should vent occasionally and yes, you are probably far too nice. As a result, you get stuck with everything(one) no one else wants to deal with. Let them give you a break every once in awhile....especially as we go into summer. Mosquito bites and heat rashes are aggravating enough, aren't they?

Heck, Howard, I often can't get along with the person beside me....it doesn't matter that we genuinely love and care for each other, the fact is that we're each just plain aggravating at times. (This man needs a fulltime retirement job at Home Depot....he's there all of the time, anyway). And no, he's not a quiet sleeper, which is why I wear earplugs. At his age (78 this year) his internist "thinks" he may have a thyroid condition. A bit late on the draw with that one.

Heavens, he was hyper from the day I met him.....but I was then, too. We did accomplish a lot in those years b/c of it, and now she thinks he has a thyroid condition? So it stands to reason that a perfect stranger could really get under your skin....especially if every night is an all-nighter.

Maybe it's time to give up your window with no view and exchange it for either some masking tape, or a very quiet person. Just some friendly advice....and I know you don't want it. No one does. Yours, Lenora.
 
As each of you knows, sleep is a difference-maker. It seems I went from being completely totally non-functional, to being capable of doing this and that from bed, as a direct result of my finally being able to achieve restful sleep (exclusively attributed to tart cherry powder) several years back.
Hi Howard! I gave tart cherry powder a try for insomnia, but it didn't do for me what it did for you. I have a lot left. Would you like it? If so, PM me your address.
Lynne
 
@Rufous McKinney

I'm glad you survived your dental visit. No further commenting necessary I suppose.

And yes, I'm still doing the tart cherry powder, but I recently had one of my sisters send me a bottle (different brand) and I'm not sure of the potency. Sometimes it's rather difficult determining what's wrong (overall)... and changing supplement brands was probably unwise.

@lenora

Yes, I need to find productive ways to do so. To vent. But also, I need to figure out why I'm so angry, frustrated and impatient (in the background).


@Woof!

Thanks :)
 
Hi, @Howard

I come to your blog to "keep tabs" on YOU and how YOU are doing.

However, in following your journey, I feel like I've also learned so much about the inner workings of a nursing home, from the appalling to the amusing. From the horrifying to the heart-warming. I've laughed out loud as often as I've shed tears.

I appreciate that in the process of blogging about your experience in a nursing home, you have also given a voice to those residents who are truly voiceless.

The more you blog, the more strongly I feel that these are stories that need to be heard and shared for the greater good.

I'm not suggesting it's your job to take this on, but simply observing how, in the United States, we round up the sick, the disabled, the elderly, and the dying, and, literally, put them behind closed doors. We keep "them" out of sight and therefore out of our collective minds.

Have you ever heard of the podcast Ear Hustle? It was originally created and produced inside the walls of San Quentin prison, and basically curated and presented stories of life "inside" that those of us "outside" would otherwise never know or imagine. It captivated its audience in it's early years.

I am imagining a future where stories from nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospices, etc. can be shared in whatever format works and become just as popular as Ear Hustle came to be.

My post feels incomplete, but I'm tuckered out from struggling to put these few thoughts into words. I feel things quite deeply, and in addition to my care and concern for you, Howard, I'm feeling quite fiercely about making the lives of the sick, the disabled, and the elderly fully known in some form or fashion.
 
Very nicely written @Zebra.....Yes, @Howard does have stories to tell, and is a voice for the voiceless. He has a purpose in life, probably more so than us many of us who are still at home.

In the end, this is aging and dying for most people. If the mind goes, then nothing can be done....at least yet, although medicine will eventually find a way to provide stopping deterioration until the very last months.

Cancer was a word not even spoken when I was a child. Death Certficates often didn't even contain the word. "cancer." It was a taboo subject. Look at where we are today. A cure? Not for all, but for many there are years and years ahead of them and many will die of other ills. There are facilities, fine diagnostics, machines that are out of science fiction (in my childhood), but yet no "one fits all" cure....because its cellular structure and spread is so different in many cases.

I do think that AARP could print more useful articles by using stories such as Howard's. His writing is good, leaves an imprint long after you've finished and, if nothing else, would reinforce that once again society has to pay attention to those who are housed in pretty looking buildings....that are perhaps cosmetic.

What goes on behind those doors though? Volunteers could definitely help take patients in and out, tidy up rooms (with patient input), hear their stories (that their roommates have probably heard more times than we can imagine. Take them for rides in their wheelchairs, if they're able.....I'm sure there must be many different things that can be done.

Volunteers who can actually help the nurses with basic care, talk to people (if they're able), and we have to remember that once a patient has crossed a certain threshold, they're not suffering in the same way that we may think. Then thoughts should be given to the caretakers (even before that point though).

I'm of an age where friends are passing on in the very same manners. There really is so little we can do for them and we know what may be may awaiting us. People shouldn't be strapped into a chair and left there all day...things like that are wrong, or their food be so far out of reach that it can't be eaten....but we can't forestall the inevitable. I saw it with my own mother-in-law....and we were very caring and did everything possible.

We can and should do a better job of trying to ease suffering. It's very difficult b/c there are so many different types of pain....still, Howard should send some of his articles onto AARP. A monthly magazine is included, and perhaps it could be printed in there. Of course this subject scares many people....perhaps that's why they don't. What do you think?

It was a good comment on a worthy topic...and yet even I don't know how to make much of a difference. I know it may be coming. Yours, Lenora.
 
@Rufous McKinney

I'm glad you survived your dental visit. No further commenting necessary I suppose.

And yes, I'm still doing the tart cherry powder, but I recently had one of my sisters send me a bottle (different brand) and I'm not sure of the potency.

Sometimes it's rather difficult determining what's wrong (overall)... and changing supplement brands was probably unwise.

@lenora

Yes, I need to find productive ways to do so. To vent. But also, I need to figure out why I'm so angry, frustrated and impatient (in the background).


@Woof!

Thanks :)

Well, @Howard, who wouldn't be "angry, frustrated and impatient" under the circumstances? You don't live that way all of the time and really, you deserve far more praise than you know.

People even in hospitals (and I'm one of them) tend to be awake about 24 hrs. day, especially when phlebotomy begins at 3:00 a.m. I'm fortunate in that I'm in a private room, but really it feels like a prison at times.

You're a nice guy who wants to be liked by everyone. Well, sometimes telling your roommate off may let you blow off some steam, shape him up for an hour or two and give you some inner peace. Yes, I know....then the guilt sets in. As I often say, sometimes The answer is; there is no answer.

It's not fair of the families of other patients to phone you and have you check up on their loved ones. You can't take on that job....ask them to call the nursing station. Let them check more often....and the families should bring in some donuts for the staff once in awhile to say "thank-you." Let yourself off the hook every once in awhile! Yours Lenora
 
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@Zebra

I appreciate your response. Thank you for the support and following along.

It's been suggested by several others that I do something about this (being here), writing about nursing homes from the perspective of a person who is highly functioning.

And I probably could (eventually) if I received assistance from a professional editor / organizer. Someone like that somewhere down the line.

Before this illness I could have tackled a project like that easily. Perhaps not successfully though! LOL

But yes, I am also averse to unnecessary suffering. If I were in-charge, I would prioritize something other than mass consumption. The want and need to attain things is unnecessarily strong in this country, and perhaps worldwide. Of course, if I put my plan into action, I would be summarily executed for treason against The Corporate Realm of Supreme Spending Justification. Ha!

@Tammy

Hello! The karaoke was very okay. The crowd was smaller than expected. And there were technical and logistical difficulties. Despite that, I would consider the first event a mild success.

I'll likely detail the ongoing karaoke experiment in future blog postings.

@lenora

I swear I wrote out an extensive response to your comments, but now seem to have misplaced it.

Anyway… I do not intend to be liked by everyone, but probably on some level, I do wish to entertain a fair amount of everyone. And that's a vast improvement upon the olden days, when my desire was to appear intellectually impressive. In any case, I failed on that one, but at least sometimes I'm able to humor those around me. :)
 
The want and need to attain things is unnecessarily strong in this country, and perhaps worldwide.
Just Being....as in Do Be Do Be do.......such a challenge.

Yesterday , decided that if I simply had the one more paintbrush, well then all the obstacles to painting would fall away. all would be solved.

But this is an illusion........

(I used to do alot of editing, but I retired from doing that)
 

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