This entry happened in the past year. I thought it was worth repeating.
I’m in a skilled nursing rehab facility currently with a week left to go because I fell again where I seriously mangled my knee and hand big time. The pics are gruesome, and yes, stitches on my knee right down to the joint. The hand left an ugly scar, but I’m not getting married again to display proudly the ring on my finger. Once was enough. Marriage, that is.
Anyway, I’m in Portland right now, and the name of this skilled nursing place isn’t important because, with one bad seed of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) among many good ones, it could happen anywhere.
I came in on July 27, unable to move my feet to walk and with broken capillaries on my left thigh that were dark from bleeding under the skin. Like I said, big time.
Priorities, at least for me, are constantly changing. Before the fall, joyously vegan, I overly stressed to my assistant that there must be rice in my hummus, red pepper, olives, and black bean burritos because she or I sometimes forgot. Now, the pain was my priority, screaming loudly from my hospital bed any time–day or night–completely without drama. I was on Oxycodone and Tylenol, sometimes taken together, and it took a half hour at least for the pain to subside.
As I came to improve slowly with the PT and OT assisting me, I could see, at last, the light at the end of the tunnel. Now for the first time, I have zero pain. But at times, because getting my brace and shoes without which I hadn’t walked in my stroke since 2009, was too time-consuming for the CNAs, they brought me the bedpan on which I was willing to compromise.
I saw this particular CNA before. Her demeanor was rushed, hurried, with me and other people. It wasn’t the attitude that any patients want, especially brain-injured people of which I am one. She entered my spacious, two-bed and bath room out of view. I was lying down.
“You rang for help?” she asked begrudgingly, secluding herself behind the curtain.
“Yes. But come to where I can see you closer,” I said.
“I’m right here,” she said, still out of view, as she took her time getting the gown on for protection because we had two staff members with COVID yesterday.
She appeared now.
I said, “I might have soiled my pants [I didn’t, but half my body is paralyzed and I couldn’t determine]. The reason I used the call bell was because I have to go the bathroom right away, and I didn’t want to yell the news across wherever you were located.”
I didn’t tell her I had been ringing for 45 minutes. All the CNAs are constantly busy with placing and removing bedpans, bringing in meals, and generally attending to the patients whims. I know that.
“So you want me to clean you up and put on a new gown if I get it dirty? Finish your business and then I’ll clean you up.”
She attempted to leave when I demanded, “I. Want. A. Bedpan. Now.” The thought of pooping more just wasn’t acceptable without the bedpan, like pooping into the winds. Uh, no.
So she went behind the curtain again and returned with the bedpan and sour looks.
“I’ll be back,” she said with a snarl, or at least I heard it that way.
When she left, I called for the nurse manager. (FYI: If anything goes wrong with those attending you, call for the nurse manager. There’s always one on every shift). Something had to be done.
The CNA returned the same time as the nurse manager and both came into my room. The lower half of my body was still exposed, not exactly the best way to present an argument, with the private part flapping in the breeze from the fan.
“I don’t want this woman to come to my room any longer,” I said, gesturing at the CNA. “She has a bad attitude and it’s not the first time I witnessed it. If somebody requests a bedpan, there shouldn’t be any dispute about it. She needs re-training!” (I’m a big fan of training, having done training for others most of my professional career).
The nurse manager was apologetic on behalf of the facility, but even she knew the damage was already done and it was too late for apologies. The nurse manager had the decency to cover my private part, also too late. And then, the two of them left.
A couple of hours later, I resisted the urge to feel sorry for the CNA who had to learn the lesson of compassion the hard way. But maybe, just maybe, that lesson will help others who can’t stand up for themselves.