One of my favorite older ladies that I take care of at work came back from the hospital a few days ago. This was the first time I had had a chance to see her, since she came home. She was out for almost a month.
For this post I will call her Lucy. (That “had had” looks wrong doesn’t it? but I think it is correct…)
Lucy has a beautiful multi-colored cat. His name is Bootsie, because he has white feet that stand out against the other brownish colors on his legs.
He is usually independent and not overly cuddly. He will come up to give me a quick hello, and then he will go and get on with his kitty cat business.
Lucy always told me that Bootsie slept in his cat bed on the floor and seldom slept in the bed with her. She wanted him to sleep on the bed, but he would come up for a goodnight petting, and then wisk himself away to his kitty bed.
Well, while Lucy was out, we were all taking turns to feed Bootsie and make sure he had water. I know the other nurses and aides were feeding him, but most of them were not really petting or visiting with him. Poor Bootsie…
Whenever I had that floor as my assignment, I always went in to visit with Bootsie. It was clear that he missed having Lucy around, and he was confused and scared about why he was alone all day and all night.
He became more affectionate as te days went on, and began to brush up against my legs and purr at me. I really tried to make an effort to go visit him and I enjoyed our little quiet visits as well. It got me away from the hustle and bustle of the facility for a few minutes, as I “hid out” in the room with Bootsie.
The other aides were giving him the dry food, but the cans of wet food, were still on the counter. So, I began opening one for him each night when I was working there on that assignment. Sometimes I would go up to that floor, even if I was not assigned there. i would open his canned food and to sit with him for a few minutes.
Whenever I went to see him, he would come up to me right away and talk to me in his kitty language. He would brush against my legs and let me pet him. I would sit on the kitchen floor and stay with him for 5-10 minutes or whatever I could spare.
Well, I saw Lois today and she was happy to see me. I told her that we had been taking care of Bootsie and she said that she could tell that we had been. She was very thankful for the care that had given her precious treasure.
Then she said to me that there had been a change in Bootsie, since she had come back. Bootsie, the aloof kitty cat, was now a cuddy and super affectionate kitty cat! He has slept on her bed every night since Lucy arrived home.
She told me that he laid next to her last night and was touching her face gently, with his paw. He has not left her side since she came home. When she leaves the room to come down for dinner, he runs right up to her when she returns to the room.
It is amazing how much our pets feel for us. They are kind of like people, in that we take each other for granite until something happens. Then it scares us a little and we realize that the person we love may not always be there.
We suddenly find time, where there was no time before. We realize that it is important to prioritize relationships in our lives. We have people (and pets) in our lives and it is important to show them that we care.
So, I thought this was a sweet story and I was looking forward to coming home tonight to tell you all about it.
Lucy is so happy that she now has a cuddly kitty!
But if Bootsie is anything like people are, the novelty will wear off and he will be back to sleeping in the cat bed again. We will see. Time will tell…
It is a good lesson for us to remember to appreciate the loved ones in our lives and not to take them too much for granite. That goes for our animals as well. It is easy to get busy with life and to overlook times when we do actually have a moment that we could take for someone else.
There is time to spend together, even if it is in small doses and there is time to let each other know how much we appreciate each other. Even a little extra time with out pet can easily be worked into our schedule.
So, go hug your kids and kiss somebody ! Give your pet a few extra minutes of time. It is good for you as well as for them.
It is not so much that we do not have the time, it is that we forget that time is precious. There is always time for kindness.
I had a lovely ten minutes at work this evening having a conversation with one of my elderly ladies. I was supposed to give her a shower but she decided to pass. I told her I had allotted the time for her so maybe we could chat , if she would like to. She is often in her room alone, so she was delighted.
I am aware that she is often seen with a handsome older man who also lives in the facility. I asked her about him and she blushed like a school girl !
She said that is her boyfriend and that they have been together for a couple of years. She was already living at the facility and met him shortly after he came there.
I love stories about how people met their husbands or boyfriends, so I just had to ask. She was so excited to be asked this question that her whole face just lit up!
She proceeded to tell me the cutest story about how they met. I ran home and typed it up..of course….You know, it is a blogger thing…
I changed the names of course. I just sent the story off to the Kindness blog because I thought it would be best placed there. So, I have given them the offering and hopefully you can read it soon. If for some reason they are too full for submissions, then I will post it here.
I know you all will love this story as much as I did. She was so cute how she blushed when she said his name. I loved it. She said she felt so blessed to have met him and that he chose her out of all the women at the facility.
There are always many more men than women at these facilities, so the the women are in the majority. The men that come can have more of a choice than the women do. That is just the way it is. So, if you are a man, this is something you can look forward to in old age!
These women are still very interested in men. They always notice if a new man arrives. Some of them wll even put on a little extra lipstick, when a new man is expected to be in the dining room that evening !
I bet you never knew !
I have time once in a while to visit in one of their rooms. When I have a few minutes, I always try to pick one of the ladies who I know is particularly lonely or who really likes company. When I watch the old movies with them, they always comment on the cute men in the movie!
One of them said to me once…(about the actor)…”Mmmm..I would have that man and there would be nothing left of him, when I was done with him!! ”
Just thought you might like to know. There is still sex drive in the 90’s. I don’t think that many people realize that, because you do not have the opportunity to speak with people that old, on a regular basis, like I do.
This is the story about the ghost in room 221. This is a true story and I will be describing the actual events as I witnessed them that evening. I was inspired to write up this ghost story after reading a ghost story that I enjoyed on another blog, which you can check out HERE.
I was working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home in New Jersey. I had five rooms assigned to me on this night. Each room had two roommates living in it.
It was dinner time, and all of my residents were at dinner, in the dining room. We had a call bell system, similar to that which you may have experienced in a hospital. If a resident needed help in the room, there was a call bell on a string , by their bed and they could pull the string to ring for help.
If the call bell was activated, it would call my pager in my pocket, and also call the computer at the front desk. When the secretary at the desk received the call, she would announce it over the speaker.
On this particular night, the call bell rang in room 221. As I said, the residents were at dinner. I went to the room to check, because you never know of someone may have wandered into the room. There are a lot of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease residents in the nursing home. They do wander into rooms by accident, from time to time.
When I arrived at room 221, there was no one there. I cancelled the call bell and assumed that maybe it had been rung before dinner, and I had forgotten to cancel it. I told the secretary that I had cancelled the bell, and let her know that no one was in the room.
A few minutes later, the call bell rang again. The secretary started scolding me for not answering the bell. I reminded her that she knew I had cancelled it. This particular secretary did not like me and seemed to enjoy telling me that I did not know how to do my job.
I went to the room and cancelled the bell again and informed her that the bell had been cancelled and that both of the roommates were in the dining room, eating dinner. The dining room was right in front of the desk and she could see into it. I gestured towards the dining room for her to see, but she just grumbled something about me neglecting my residents.
This went on a few more times, until the nasty secretary reported me to the supervising nurse, for not answering my call bells. I explained to the nurse that I had cancelled the bell each time and that there was no one in the room.
The nurse thought there must be something making the call bell stick, so that it was not cancelling. This was not true because there is a cancel message that is sent to my pager each time a call bell is cancelled.
That evening I had received a cancel message each time I had cancelled the bell. I knew it was ringing from scratch each time.
The nurse and I went together and she cancelled the bell. I asked her to please let the nasty secretary know, so that she would stop fussing at me. (I did not quite phrase it that way…)
So, of course about 5 minutes later, the bell rang again, The secretary started yelling at me about the fact that if the bell rings too long, the computer will call the Director of Nursing at her home. This was an overreaction on her part, because the bells have to ring for 20 minutes straight before the director is called.
I tried to explain this to the secretary. I told her that at no time has this call bell rung for more than a few minutes before I had cancelled it. Besides it was not my fault that the bell kept ringing. Again, she mumbled something about me not taking care of the residents when they call.
Needless to say, this woman was not my favorite person to work with. Of all the people I have worked with over the years, she caused me the most anxiety.
So, the call bell rang again and I got the nurse myself this time. I asked her to please have that secretary call maintenance, since there was clearly something wrong with the bell. She agreed that there was a maintenance issue and asked the secretary to call the maintenance guy.
Well, he arrived and found me to ask what had been happening. I explained the whole story to him and told him that I could not keep going into this room to cancel this mystery bell. It was beginning to interfere with my other work.
He was compassionate to my situation and went right away to get tools to fix the bell. He came back and worked on the bell. He found me 15 minutes later and told me that he believed it should be fixed okay now. He said to call him, if there were any further problems with the bell.
After about 15 minutes, the bell rang again. The resident were now sitting in the TV room and no one was in the room. The secretary began yelling at me again that I was neglecting my residents and I overheard her telling some of my coworkers the same thing.
At this point I was losing patience with the secretary and I refused to go into the room any more. She could sit there and stress over the bell calling the director, if she wanted to.
Maybe the director should know about it anyway. After all, if the bell was not working properly by the time I put my sweet old ladies to bed, then how would they be able to call for help if they had an emergency?
The nurse called maintenance and asked the secretary to stop telling the other workers that I was not taking care of my residents.
He came back and found me. He said he would try something else to fix it and not to worry if it rang while he was working on it. He said to ignore the bell for the time being and go about the rest of my work. I was happy to do this, as I was getting behind and I had a lot of people to get ready for bed.
He left the room and I saw him near the front desk, I was busy working and figured he would find me, when the room was ready for me to return those ladies to it.
He came to me on the floor, where I was working. He asked me, “did the call bell from 221 just ring on your pager?”
I checked and it in fact had just rung on there. I had been busy taking care of a resident and I had not noticed it.
“Come with me. I want to show you something,” he said.
I liked this maintenance guy, so I agreed to go with him, so that he could show me whatever it was that he wanted me to see. He took to to room 221.
He walked me into the room to where the call bell was. He said “Look” and pointed to the wall, where the call bell assembly was usually mounted.
There was just a huge empty hole in the wall. The entire assembly had been removed.
He said to me “I could not think of anything else to do, so I decided to remove the entire system out of the wall. I took it out about 30 minutes ago.”
“How?” I stammered…
He said, “I have no idea. There is nothing there. There is nothing hooked into the electrical system. There is no call bell here now.”
And still the bell rang for the rest of the night. The frequency slowed down after a while and it began ringing every hour or so.
When the night shift arrived on the next night, I asked them if that bell had continued to ring after I had gone home the night before. They told me that every couple of hours that bell would ring, even though all that was left of it was a gaping hole in the wall.
That is my ghost story from the nursing home. It was weird and I still remember the room number all these years later.
They eventually replaced that bell assembly with a new system. It was an upgrade and different from the older one. But from time to time, during the next year I worked there, that call bell would ring when no one was in the room.
A few weeks ago, I posted on here that there had been a fire alarm at the nursing home where I work. The single most terrifying words to ever hear, when working in a second floor dementia unit at a nursing home, are “This is NOT a Drill! “
So, there we were. It was about 8 pm. Luckily the hospice aides were still with us. They usually work from about 4om to 8:30 pm. had it been a half hour later, there would only have been 3 of us, to move all of the residents, including lifting heavy people out of their beds and getting them into wheelchairs.
There were 3 of us , plus 3 hospice aides there, on the unit. The hospice aides were great and stayed with us, until the danger was cleared.
The alarm system at a nursing facility, is not the same as what you have in your home. It is extra loud and there are all kinds of buzzers and lights flashing, in addition to the alarm ringing noises. The noise and the flashing lights are enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure through the roof.
In addition, there was a terrible problem with communication to the main nurse station. Since we were upstairs, on the second floor, we had no idea where the fire was, or what exit we should be taking people towards. At first we did not even know if it was a real fire.
Upon trying to contact the nurse station with our walkie talkies, we quickly found out that they could not hear us and we could not hear them well, over the sounds of the alarms. I was trying to ask them which way to take the residents. The response that I heard was “take everyone to a common area”
This idea of a common area was confusing, based on the way the dementia unit is set up. This is a lock down unit, with a coded door. The unit is sectioned away from the rest of the facility, in order to contain the people with Alzheimer’s disease, for their own protection.
If they were not locked into the unit, they could end up wandering outside in front of a car, going into the kitchen and getting burned and any number of possible dangers. Also most of the are “Fall Risks,” which means that they cannot walk without falling. but they also do not remember not to get up and walk.
Many of them think they are 30 or even 19 and they do not remember that they are in a wheelchair, and cannot walk by themselves without falling. This was a frightening issue during the fire incident, because we were afraid to lose track of anyone or leave anyone in a place where they might get up and fall.
In addition, these alarms are blaring and the lights are flashing and everyone is feeling that “fight or flight” mode in their body. We wanted to move them to the proper place, but where was the proper place?
What is the “common area” ? I was speaking into the walkie talkie and they could not hear me asking “DO you want us to keep them in the lounge area ?” “Do you want us to bring them out of the lock down area, into the hallway” …”DO you want us to bring them downstairs?”
No one could hear my questions. We had no idea where they wanted us to bring them all. SO, we guessed.
We started to bring all the residents in their wheelchairs, into the hallway, outside of the lounge , but still in the dementia lock down area. Some residents had to be gotten out of bed.
We had trouble even communicating with each other, over the extreme noise of the alarm system. And the longer the alarms kept going, the longer our brains and bodies stayed on “high alert” with blood pressure elevated and the whole body in that frightening “life and death” emergency mode.
The supervisor working with me that night had us take the residents down the hall. towards the back stairs.
Each bedroom was checked. As we were going along, we closed the door to each room that was cleared, and placed a pillow on the floor, outside the bedroom door. The pillow is an alert that the particular room has been checked and cleared.
The pillow system is great, because there is no time to be checking rooms that another worker already cleared. As it was, we were having trouble communicating because of the extreme noise.
Let me tell you something about the stairs….We would never get everyone out ! There simply would not be time.
It is terrifying that In the midst of this situation, there dawns this realization on you that….We Would Never Get Everyone Out.
How would we get people down the stairs? The ones that can walk, do not walk well. It would be a very slow process, walking one old person down the stairs, and keeping them from falling,
The wheelchairs don’t go down stairs. The residents cannot walk. We are supposed to take one at a time, lay them on a sheet, and with one person holding each end of the sheet…..drag them down the stairs with the sheet.
How difficult would this be? How long would it take? Do you think that argumentative residents that will throw their grilled cheese sandwich at you during lunch…are just going to allow you to lay them on a sheet….and just cooperate ….
…while we drag them down a hard set of stairs, inevitably banging them and hurting them a little bit, on the way down?
Do you think we could even get them to cooperate enough to lie down on a sheet? It would not happen…
Not only that…Even if we got one resident outside, what would happen to them, as we went back up to get the next one? These are the people that we have in the lock down unit, for the very reason that they are not safe to be left alone.
So, there we were. I was beginning to wonder about my own safety. Where was the fire? Was it on our floor? Was it right beneath us? Was is blocking our exit?
After a few minutes, before we had tried to get anyone do go down the stairs, the nurse came up from downstairs and said “NO ! You have taken them to wrong place. The fire is right underneath all of you ! “
So, then we had to start all over again, and move the 25 wheelchairs down the other end of the hallway. This time they wanted us to take them out the lock down door and into the 2nd floor hallway. This we did.
By some miracle, none of the residents fell or fought us too much, or tried to get up out of their wheelchairs.
So, the alarm is beginning to make my head hurt. It is disorienting my brain. My ears, and everyone else’s are about to bleed from listening to this alarm, for 10 or 15 minutes by now.
Then the fire department came and they cleared the danger. We were told that everything was okay now and we could return the residents to their rooms.
The alarm was still going….and going….and going…
By now, the residents were becoming very agitated, The ones that have hearing problems were the best off, but the others were becoming over stimulated by listening to this alarm, the buzzers and the flashing lights…which …would….not…..STOP !
I called down on the walkie talkie, but they could not hear what I was saying over the alarm.
“Turn off the alarm ! Pleeeeaaaase turn off the alarm. My ears are bleeding! “
“What? We can;t hear you. The alarm is still going off on your floor.?”
“yes, we cannot hear you.”
“Turn off the alarm! The residents are getting combative, Sarah tried to kick me and 2 others are climbing out of their wheelchairs and they are going to fall.”
“What? We can’t hear you.Your alarm is really loud.”
“Really ? I did not notice. “
Anyway, I gave up on the walkie talkie and I called the office from the phone in the kitchen, The alarm was going in there too, but somehow they could hear me a little bit.
They told me….and you won’t believe it ……
“The alarm is off on the first floor, where we are The alarm seems to be still going off, where you are, The fire dept has already left. We have to call maintenance . AT HOME, and have him come in to turn it off.”
“What? Holy crap. We cannot tolerate this for another 20 minutes. The residents cannot even hear us, when we are telling them to sit down. They are climbing up because the alarm is frightening them. ..
“The workers cannot communicate with each other. This is a major safety problem, besides the fact that my brain is going to explode right out of my ears, any second now !! “
“Yes, we are calling Marty now. He will have to come in from his home to turn off the alarm.”
FINALLY, 20 minutes after the 1st floor alarm was cleared, which was 20 minutes after the fire dept cleared the alarm originally. The alarm was off !
I could still hear it ringing in my ears, so I had to wait a minute to be sure it was really off, and not just a dream…
“Thank you. Yay ! Yay ! The alarm is off on second floor. “
dizzy, headache, room spinning, disoriented,,,,relieved.
I need magic! I love magical moments and magical ideas. To me life is very boring without some kind of magical sparks here and there to spice it up. Here are some things that I consider magical.
1. Balloons – I love balloons! I love the way they float in the air. I love the way they have a mind of their own and they will go whichever direction they feel like going, in spite of where you tell them to go!
I love the way the alzheimer’s patients eyes light up when I get the balloon out. They all smile and have so much fun just playing and batting the balloon back and forth in the air, with me. It is one of my favorite things to do at work.
In fact I am the one that usually stops at CVS pharmacy to get balloons when we run out. No matter how bad my anxiety may be before I get to work, the magical powers of the balloon can make it better. I can almost feel my blood pressure lowering, from the first time one of the residents smiles and holds out their hands to catch it.
I love the way little children are entranced by the balloon and how it floats and flies in the air. They love the way it feels when they touch it. To really amaze my little niece, I can rub in against my hair and make it stick to the wall.
2. Creative Collaboration – Collaborating on a creative, inspiring project can have a magic all it’s own. I have a very good friend that like to collaborate with me on business projects like redesigning his web site or coming up with new slogans.
The two of us work together in a perfect harmony and once the inspiration begins, we bounce ideas back and forth off of each other. It is .almost like a dance, where one of us takes the lead and then the other one steps together and the two creative minds do things that neither one of us could do alone. That is magical and fun.
3. Random Dancing – My friend Hanorah, is a very old woman that lives in the assisted living where I work. When she sees me in the hallway, she always puts her hands out and says “Time to Dance!” It does not matter who is around or what part of the building we are in.
Once we even danced in the elevator, on the way up to her floor. She just takes my hands and begins to dance to the music in her head. Then I will sing something for her, like “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and she sings along with me. She always loves to see me, because I will dance with her, just because.
4. Bunny – My bunny is magical, as most bunnies are! He hops and plays. He even hops into the air and makes a turn right in the air, to change direction and to be silly. He kisses me on the lips and he dances a special love dance around my feet, which is like a figure eight, going around one foot and then the other.
When he wants my attention, he will get it. If I am typing on this laptop, for my blog and he feels left out, he will jump right up and land his bunny butt right on this keyboard that I am typing on now. He just sits there, with his fuzzy butt in my face, and won’t move. So funny!
Once he took my cell phone away from me. I was talking on the phone, to my boyfriend and the bunny hopped over, took the cell phone with his teeth, and pulled it right out of my hand. He tossed it on the bed and then hopped away. So funny! Bunny is magical because he can make me smile no matter what my mental state it. He can always get a little smile from me, because he is so animated like a cartoon.
5. Bubbles – Bubbles are magnificent as they are blown in the sunlight outside. They float way up in the air and catch all the colors of a rainbow as the sun reflects off of them. Bubble are fun indoors too. I have a bubble necklace (you can get them around valentines day ) that I can wear and when the alzheimer’s residents are least expecting it, I blow some bubbles into the air and they love it !
I also just like sitting outside and blowing the bubbles to see how they float. It is relaxing and magical.
6. Spending the entire day on the phone with a very special friend – which is what happened today. My best friend, who is usually too busy working to be on the phone with me for more than 30 minutes at time, during the daytime, was off today! He stayed home sick in bed and I am sorry about him being sick. But he has been getting better throughout the day, as we have been on the phone.
He kept me on the phone for company all day, from 11 am this morning and he is still with me, but I hear him sleeping now. It is 10pm. He fell asleep a few times on and off and I just kept doing what I was doing and stayed with him, so that I would be there when he woke up, for comfort.
I went out to the store and back, and did some other errands, but we stayed on the phone together anyway. I just brought him with me. It was nice to be needed for comfort and I loves having the company all day. Too bad he only does that when he is sick. But I am thankful for the wonderful day together.
7. Blogging – Blogging is magical in many ways but there is one that is most significant to me. You get to meet and connect with people in a deep and meaningful way. These are people that you would otherwise never have met, because they live so far away from you.
8. The Floating Lanterns in The Picture on the Top of This Post – These lantern are beautiful and they look like they should have some magical element to them, to me.
9. The Laughter of Children – The sound of children laughing naturally, because they are children! It is a wonderful sound.
10. Dr. Seuss – Dr. Seuss stories and all the creative nonsensical characters are magical. I love their funny hair and the funny creatures. His stories like The Cat in the Hat. Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who and The Lorax are very special and I have never gotten to old for them. (but on the other hand…you are taking advice from someone who still plays with balloons and bubbles LOL )
Let’s have some fun, since I feel in a good mood today, because I felt supported all day, by my friend. You all can put the things that are magical to you, in the comments below and that way we can all learn about each other.
I did leave out my favorite magical thing in the world to do…but I was trying to keep this a post G rated! LOL!
Ok, so what are Your Magical items, Activities, and Magical Moments? You can think back into your past, if you want to. I did that for this post also.
I kissed a dead body tonight.
No, it is not pleasant.
Yes, it is disturbing.
And yes, your feelings at this moment of either disgust and horror… or morbid curiosity… are perfectly normal.
I pulled down the sheet that was covering her face. People cover the faces of dead bodies, because looking at death is disturbing, sad and disconcerting to most everyone, even if they work in healthcare.
I looked at her face, to see if it had any resemblance to the face that had smiled at me so many times.
It did. It was her face… but now… the life had gone out of her. My Rosalie. My dear Rosalie lying there motionless. No longer really there. It was just an empty shell that her spirited, affectionate soul used to reside in.
Her eyes were still open a little. No one had known they were supposed to close them. I was not there when she died, or I would have done it.
The nurse aides working in that unit must not have known about the eyes, although…the nurse who examined her to confirm the death, should have known. She just did not care enough about the dignity of the patient to take one minute to close the eyes.
The eyes must be closed, very gently, with your hand. You gently brush downward over them, with your open hand and they will usually close …for the last time. But if this is not done within the first fifteen minutes, then they get stuck open, which is very disturbing to the family.
I don’t know what it is.. about the open eyes of a dead body that is disturbing to people. Perhaps the fact that the eyes seem to be staring at some. Or perhaps the knowledge that those eyes are no longer attached to a functioning brain that can process what they see.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Therefor if there is no soul residing in the body, what are the eyes windows to? Something other wordly? Have the eyes now becomes windows to death itself?
Perhaps that is what people feel. The eyes of a dead person that were once the “widows to the soul” are now windows to death itself. Most people do not want to look into those windows, for fear of what they might see.
No one wants to believe that death is a reality, except for some. Some who have contemplated taking their own lives. Some who have had close brushed with death. And some others…
Even those people who accept death as part of life, would have trouble looking into the eyes of a dead person. Are we all afraid of what we might see? What secrets do the dead eyes hold that we are afraid of?
Well, I did look into her eyes and saw……
Nothing much. Just no life…
No one had arranged her body position either. For those of you who do not know…hopefully most of you…the body must be arranged into position within a half hour or so, of the death. Usually the arms are placed across the chest, in a cross, with the hands near the shoulders, like a cross shape or an X.
You can also arrange the hands in a position that looks natural and comfortable. What you do not , and should not do, is just leave the body in a random position. It should be in a position that looks like they are sleeping peacefully. In a relaxed sleep position, a person has relaxed arms and hands.
Once rigamortis sets in, the body can no longer be moved into position, without damaging the limbs. It is best to take care of all of these things right away, but the nurse just did not bother to do it. There is a lack of dignity in that.
So, I kissed her and told her I loved her and said good bye. I was done with what I wanted to do and tried to leave the room. I can tolerate that much, but I do not like to watch the body zipped into the bag. I find it very disturbing.
Yes, I said disturbing. Me..the one who kissed the dead body today…has a line … a boundary…of what is too disturbing, even for me,
But yes, the moving of the body off the bed onto the stretcher and then the zipping of the bag…Yes…very disturbing.
But I went back. …I don’t know why, but I did.
I went back into the room and not only watched the body being removed from the bed…but I actually assisted him in lifting the body and moving it. I wanted to ensure that she was treated with the highest level of dignity possible.
Thank goodness, he did not have the zipper bag, This particular company did not do that. I was lucky for that. He had a velvet cloth that he covered the body with. It fitted over the body and around the edges of the stretcher. I did not have to hear the zipping of the bag, which brings back bad memories to me, from an incident in my past.
There are more circumstances surrounding this whole thing, which were even more upsetting and in fact , somewhat infuriating to me. The nurses were very callous, lazy and insensitive to me about the situation surrounding her death and the guy coming in to claim her.
I will write that out in another post. I hope that people headed my trigger warning on this post and that no one read this that should not have. Feel free to leave comments or questions about death and dying, if you have anything I might be able to explain.
** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering in nursing homes””
TO MY NURSES…
Just because I am old
Does not mean I should be discarded
I was young like you once
Full of life and very big hearted
I raises my babies , just like you are
I loved my husband and drove a car
I had a beautiful house
that I took care of with love
I baked Christmas cookies
and knitted my grandchildren gloves
I bet you don’t know but I worked really hard
I struggled and fought for my family
I felt things very deeply and cared very much
I had family and friends whose lives that I touched
I once was important and had a real life
Just like you do and you never think
That your life will pass away just like mine did
You’ll end up with nothing you worked for, in the end
You’ll lose your driver’s license
and your favorite car too
You’ll lose your independence
and people’s respect
You’ll watch your spouse die and miss him forever
You’ll dread the phone ringing
because more and more family dies
But you might keep going, on with your life
Even thought there is nothing left that matters
You will not understand why God makes you stay
and does not take you home
to be with your loved ones
The only people you will have to talk to at all
will be the nurses in the nursing home
and the patients that do not remember your name
So, please have compassion for me and be patient
Because someday it could be you in my place
All the power you feel now
and the things that you love
and the ability to make choices about your day
Could be taken away , never to be seen again
and the life that you once thought was yours…
will become a sad memory that no one wants to listen to
Including the nurses that will take care of you
Something happened at work that really offended and upset me. It is so disgusting that nurses, doctors and other people in the health field are so insensitive and uneducated about mental illness. Health care should be about the whole person and not just their physical body.
We have a resident that lives in this particular facility who suffers from moderate to severe depression , that fluctuates from time to time. Sometimes she is very depressed. When she is in that downward spiral , she tends to stay in bed. She will still eat if food is brought to her room, but she does not want to go out to the big dining room and interact with people.
Being an introverted person myself, I can attest to the fact that it is very traumatic, triggering, and extremely anxiety provoking to have to be in a room full of people when you are is a state of depression. You simply cannot do it.
Forcing yourself to go out amongst people who will not understand your mood, is not a good thing to do to your brain. All those people having small talk and asking you “how are you” is like a torture chamber.
So, this sweet little old lady was in a very depressed state today. We will call her Nora. So, i went in to visit Nora at 4pm, when I began my shift. I could see that she still had her pajamas on and had not been out of bed all day. This is a clear sign that she had spiraled down into a depression state.
She said that she did not feel well and that she did not feel up to coming out to the big room for dinner. I went over the dinner menu with her and together we decided that she would eat scrambled eggs and toast in her room. I then left the room to place her order with the kitchen and requested a tray be brought to her room. The kitchen was no problem.
Then I went back to Nora’s room to let her know that the tray had been ordered. As I opened the door to the room, I saw that my supervisor (the charge nurse) was in the room, speaking with Nora. The supervisor said to me that Nora would have to have a “Sick Tray”.
I learned today that Sick Tray is a tray that they give to people who have a stomach virus and are too sick to eat a real meal. It is to keep them from vomiting up all of their dinner. You know when you have a tummy sickness, you don’t want to eat .
The Sick Tray consists of hot tea, gingerale jello, and toast . It is not something that you are supposed to force on someone. It is mainly to make sure that they have something offered to them, even if they say they do not want to eat at all. What it is not , is something to be used to withhold food from someone.
Yes, that is what I said. Withhold food! So sick, isn’t it ??
This nurse said to me the following, “Nora is not sick. She does this all the time. She is JUST depressed. She is saying she is sick but she is not. If she is going to stay in bed sick then she gets a Sick Tray.”
I asked her if there was any physical reason Nora could not have the scrambled eggs and toast that she wanted.
The nurse said “NO. But she does this all the time that she refuses to get out of bed. If she is going to fake being sick just because she does not feel like coming out, then she can just have a Sick Tray”
This is punishment. This is a clear punishment of someone because they have a mental health issue. This punishment is unfair and will cause the depression to get worse. Poor Nora was hungry and did want to to eat. She asked for the eggs and there was absolutely no reason she could not have them.
The supervisor was so disgusted by Nora’s continued pattern of depression ans self isolation that she decided to punish her by actually making her go hungry.
I was so upset and angry but there was nothing I could do. i did go back in to the room late in the shift. I won’t say weather ot not I snuck her in a snack. What is your guess? (wink, wink )
But what if I had not been there? This will happen again and again. To make her go hungry and to treat her with such disrespect, is detrimental to her mental health. It further isolates her.
She was willing to have me visit her in the room. The right thing to do would have been to bring her whatever she wanted from te kitchen and for me to sit with her while she ate. Then I could spend some time to talk with her about how she was feeling and she would have at least had a dinner she enjoyed.
What else can I say? I have hundreds of stories like this. I have collected them for 5 years. There is little or o compassion for people with mental illness in these facilities.
There are a lot of elderly people in nursing homes that have severe depression due to the many losses they have experienced. They have lost their home, their spouse, their car, their drivers license, their pets and many of their friends and family have passed away.
it is a very hard time of life and many people end up depressed and isolated, when they become old This is a horrible failure of the health care system and a lack of compassion from health care workers.
More awareness and re-training of the nurses is needed, if people are going to have lives worth living in the long term care facilities.
She smiled at me
And began to talk incessantly
On and on
Of funny things and happy things
Of beauty and love
Of passion and hopefulness
I did not know her
I was a stranger to her
But her heart was full of love and life
She told me she was 95 years young
She held my hand
And told me I was beautiful
She hugged me
And we danced together
We danced right there
In the hallway of the nursing home
I don’t know why
I couldn’t tell he no
She wanted to, and so did I
She twirled around and swayed
She was amazing and wonderful
At 95 years old
She knew what was important
She said to me “We are a bit crazy and fun!”
Yes we were
Dancing in the hallway
She reminded me of what is important
At 95 years old…
She loved life
And for a few precious moments
Dancing with her
To the music in her head
I loved life the way she did
And it was wonderful