My cramped quarters in the warehouse lay a stone’s toss away from the dayroom. Sometimes a dumpy middle-aged woman carried a Casio Mini-Keyboard into the dayroom and plopped her ass onto a folding chair in front of a bunch of bewildered geezers, who wondered why she’d switched off the television. She and her Thalidomide musical instrument always managed to instigate sing-alongs that included beloved ditties like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” (complete with “Arf arf!” responses to the musical question). She would begin playing and warbling; pretty soon the geezers would join in, caterwauling and clapping slightly out of time with the rinky-dink drum machine. more »
Archive for the 'Certified Nursing Assistant' Category
After the administration transferred Mort to God knows where, a middle-aged schlub named Bob moved into my room. Clearly, Bob didn’t qualify as mentally disabled but demonstrated he possessed the mind of a witless child—which is a semi-polite way of saying he was stupid.* Whenever some nosy CNA asked why he’d landed at the warehouse, he‘d answer simply, “Heart condition.” (“Heart conditions” were extremely popular among male residents.)
One morning at around 6:30 Bob managed to foul up the flushing mechanism in the toilet. He and he alone would reproduce this blunder at least once a week—as a young child I’d figured out how to properly flush. more »
One afternoon when I lived at the warehouse, I received a letter. Judging from the poorly sealed envelope, schmaltzy stationary, and shaky handwriting, it appeared that an enfeebled elderly woman had written it. In the brief three-sentence letter she revealed that she herself lived in a nursing home. She explained that she regularly wrote notes to nursing home residents, and signed-off with a call for God to bless me.
Some greenhorn “Up With People”-type psychologist had likely hijacked the poor woman’s good intentions. That’s terrible and awful and everything, but it’s a safe bet that she had allowed the psychologist to hijack her good intentions.
Like most bullies, the controlling powers-that-be in a nursing home—from fuck-stupid CNA’s to the browbeating administration to arrogant visiting MD’s—prey on those weaker than them, the elderly and infirm. more »
Warehouse living—or whatever happy-ass euphemism a clueless social worker might use—routinely dehumanizes residents. What’s more insidious is that warehouse administrations blame the infirm for their own subjugation. Before the warehouse consented to admit me, they insisted that I scrawl my misshapen John Hancock on an assortment of legal documents that gave the staff legal permission to open my mail, snoop through my drawers, administer what they deemed “appropriate” medical care, and generally butt into my business. They also required that I authorize the state government to address my benefit checks in care of the warehouse, and permit the administration to disperse my dough as they saw fit. more »
Read Part 6
. . . an orderly wheeled me to the rehab floor, where I spent the next couple of weeks in a private room. My newly-appointed caregivers structured my days basically the same as they’d been at the previous rehab hospital. A social worker I met the first day good-naturedly laughed: “This place is just like boot camp.”
Though I still felt exceedingly nauseated and debilitated, I noted a pang of giddiness—at least temporarily, I wouldn’t have to endure an unwashed batshit-crazy roommate. The rehab floor far outshone the warehouse by providing: a clean, intelligent, and hard-working staff (most of them anyway); slightly better than decent food (and lots of it); reasonable frequency of assisted showers (daily instead of biweekly)*; competently prescribed and executed physical therapy. (As always, I found the accompanying occupational therapy a waste of my time albeit a welcome respite, like study hall after calculus.) I’d forgotten that the fairly well-managed department of a health facility can be somewhat lively. more »
When I woke I had no idea what had happened or of my whereabouts—last I remember, the state still held me captive in the warehouse. Now I lay prostrate on a hospital bed flanked by other, recently vacated beds in an area that seemed the hybrid of a waiting room and an intensive care unit. The first indication of seriousness came from my mother’s presence. Though my parents lived 260 miles away from the warehouse, she hovered over me and gently explained that I was a patient in some hospital; “they” had removed my appendix nine days ago and encountered complications that pummeled me into an unresponsive state. more »
When I came out of the coma I lie strapped to a gurney in the intensive care unit of an urban hospital, literally unable to move or speak. I possessed a vague instinctual understanding of my condition and surroundings, but my perceptions were filtered through a haze of dream-like subjectivity. Any grounded impressions flickered in and out like the light from a bulb being screwed into a live socket.
Nurses casually conferred with one another regarding my situation as if I weren’t lying in the same room. When one of them bothered to speak directly to me, they cooed baby talk point blank at my face (I could tell which of them didn’t brush their teeth). Invariably a nurse “familiar” with my case would shake her head, smugly snort and advise the one trying to communicate with me: “Don’t bother. He can’t understand anyway.” (They always spat the pronoun “he.”) more »
Mabel packed an ass the size of a small continent. Her gargantuan derriere and beer-barrel legs appeared wildly mismatched to her plump but normally proportioned upper body. The warehouse administration employed Mabel as head nurse. (There’s a joke in there somewhere.) While the stubby angle of mercy pushed a cart filled with medicines and dressings from room to room, she didn’t walk so much as laboriously waddle. When she pulled a graveyard shift, she routinely interrupted the slumber of residents in order to tend to their medical demands. Of course some residents needed round-the-clock care, but clearly not everybody required frequent attention. Shortly after I arrived at the warehouse Mabel woke me at 4:00 am for some reason—I don’t remember why, so the reason couldn’t have been too stellar. more »
Read Part 2
Many warehouse residents were elderly and/or near death. The chintzy bastard administrator, Mr. Gold couldn’t justify paying a trained therapist to work with a resident, only to watch that resident waste any newly learned physical strategies by dying. The warehouse bosses promoted easily manipulated CNA’s who excelled at making beds and emptying bedpans to revered positions as physical therapists, much like teacher’s pets are chosen to clap erasers. Stupendously lazy young residents didn’t care about the administration’s tacit ban on competent therapists; they rationalized that their own lack of ambition demonstrated a mature acceptance of their bodily deficits. Or maybe they realized physical independence meant an end to their mooching. more »
Mr. Foley had arrived at the warehouse dependent on an oversized wheelchair. After many weeks of therapy he found himself able to slowly lumber while leaning on a cane. The simple-minded therapists and staff didn’t pay the gargantuan Mr. Foley much attention when he used the chair, but eagerly allowed themselves to be charmed by his dumbed-down sardonic-with-a-heart-of-gold personality when they noticed him walking. I often speculated that Mr. Foley’s brains were in his ass, though that would’ve certified him a genius.
When the administration discharged one of my roommates and I learned that they had dumped Mr. Foley into the bed next to mine, I briefly relaxed—relaxation at the warehouse always wound up marginal and short-lived. more »