Archive for the 'Institutionalization' Category

I Win a Million Dollars

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Read I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer
Read I Ask Questions

September 11, 1995

Dear Sister XXX,

Guess what? Yesterday I won a million dollars at Bingo. The dog next door told me how to play and he has glowing red eyes and he always talks to me and he says he is my friend. Sometimes he says bad things about God but I think he just needs to go to the bathroom more. No one believes me. Why was I born? more »

No Comments »

I Ask Questions

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Read I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer

Unfortunately, I no longer have Miss XXX’s replies. I threw them into the garbage, along with other reminders of the warehouse, when I moved into my own apartment. I recently discovered my end of the correspondence saved on an ancient floppy disk. Her letters were brief—just two or three sentences scrawled on undersized dimestore stationary festooned with images of flowers. In her initial reply, Miss XXX informed me that a chaplain visiting her nursing home had christened her a deacon (hence the “Fr.” greeting). She also claimed to “love” and “care about” me. more »

1 Comment »

I Lose My Arms and Penis To Cancer

Friday, September 28th, 2007

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 »

1 Comment »

Simple Minds Embrace Clichés

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

After I’d been a patient at the rehab hospital for several weeks, the faceless administration assigned me to the brain trauma floor. My stroke technically qualified as brain trauma, but I’d managed to survive the debacle with my cognitive abilities unscathed. Other patient’s serious injuries had forced them to accept a diminished level of mental competence.

My first roommate appeared to be in his late teens. One afternoon his family—mom, dad, and little sister—showed up for a visit. He greeted them with befuddled grunts. After his father slowly and loudly recited the litany of events leading to his hospitalization, he warmed up and began to mumble at them. more »

1 Comment »

Go Fetch

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

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 »

1 Comment »

Sanctioned Imbeciles Botch My Appendectomy 2 — Escalating Distress

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Read Part 1
Suddenly the events of the past nine days bombarded me: dimwitted ambulance drivers, fuck-stupid nurses, arrogant butcher doctors, grotesque hallucinations (and I found out later, Last Rites).

The first thing I learned at the warehouse: Never ask other residents how they’re doing. If you politely ask, say, a co-worker about their health or mood, they usually answer “fine” and that’s that. Inmates at the warehouse responded to such casual inquiry by grousing about their aches, pains, and recent hospital stays; they described in detail the frequency and quality of their bowel movements, the ungratefulness of their children, and ultimately the hardships of securing government handouts. Chirpy do-gooders who took pity i.e. felt superior to elderly and lonely residents reinforced this irritating behavior under the guise of encouraging self-expression. I resolved never to pick up the habit of whining.

Several years into my stay, relentless nausea enveloped me. I couldn’t put my finger on the cause, chalked it up to stress and shitty food. I didn’t complain to the charge nurse but daily guzzled multiple doses of Mylanta (which seemed to me watered down). After a few days, the charge nurse predictably suggested that I go to the hospital. The staff strived to avoid both work and lawsuits—such circumvention took precedence over properly caring for people—and often sent healthy residents to the hospital for minutiae like a garden-variety upset stomach or heartburn. more »

4 Comments »

Bobby Goes On a Trip

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

My one-time roommate Bobby led a pointless life—unless you consider taking up space, pissing on the floor, and fouling the atmosphere with a pungent reek worthwhile endeavors. But when his crackwhore sister visited him, their prattling vaguely amused me. That and his comically inept burgling provided marginal worldly value to Bobby’s existence.

Particleboard nightstands stood next to each warehouse bed. (A few years into my stay, the administration tried to buy my testicles with a cheap desk from the basement. Their strategy failed but I thoroughly enjoyed my new furniture.) A hinged latch had been screwed to the top of the nightstand, and fit over a metal hasp protruding from the drawer (as was the case with my desk’s main drawer). The administration sold padlocks. Mr. Gold advised residents to buy and use the locks, store valuables in the secured drawer to thwart thieving staff members and dodgy roommates. more »

2 Comments »

The Curse of Mabel

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

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 »

2 Comments »

Paratransit Follies — Part 3

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

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 »

2 Comments »

Paratransit Follies — Part 2

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Read Part 1
While staying at the warehouse, I phoned a paratransit company licensed by the city and scheduled a ride to my bank. As the female driver strapped my wheelchair to the floor of the van I noticed a small portable black and white television stationed on the driver’s side of the dashboard. I assumed that during her breaks she parked in a lot somewhere and stared at mindless shows. She glanced at the schedule attached to a clipboard while she absently grabbed my fare. No sooner had she merged into traffic than she switched on the TV; it was tuned to a soap opera.

Three minutes into the journey she complained that she hadn’t eaten breakfast. While the TV blared, the van jerked to a halt in front of a McDonald’s or as she familiarly called the popular fast food chain, Mickey D’s. more »

2 Comments »