Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Embarrasment Hangover

I didn't post anything yesterday.
Not because I didn't notice stuff. But because the stuff I noticed made me so angry and sad and crazy all at the same time that I pretty much lost my cool. Losing my cool is one thing if I'm home alone. Doing it in a public makes it even worse. I don't which was worse the outburst or the embarrassment afterwards.

So here's what happened (just the facts mam)
Mary had been given a laxative with her breakfast. (I'm still not sure if it was given to her or she asked for it. Either way she didn't need it.)
Well guess what. She started to poo. and poo. and poo.
Mostly unable to get out of bed without help and help was not always around (like 1 hour past the first call) she pretty much had to recline in her own mess.
So while I was there visiting, she was regaling me with these stories while she continued to cramp and other stuff.
When the aide came in, she was not what I call gentle.
I wanted to grab up my friend and take her to the shower. She needed to be scrubbed from head to toe.

In the middle of this, in comes the food tray. So I ask for a wash cloth so Mary can wash her hands and face before eating. I did ask the nurse in charge who was doing med rounds. I did not expect her to stop everything and get it for me. But I did expect to get one in a timely fashion. Yes, I know there were other patients and perhaps they had more pressing issues. After 5 minutes. Not long in the scheme of things, but long enough for my blood to boil. How can they NOT have washcloths in the bathroom, or a drawer? ( I found out later wash cloths have to be requisitioned.  And I couldn't help but wonder if the cloths that had been tossed in the trash along with the other dirty stuff were being charged to Mary's account.)

I just happened to have scissors in my purse. I don't normally carry scissors, but I'd been at the Post Office so there they were along with packing tape and a giant marker. I decided to take wash cloth matters into my own hands. I grabbed the one clean towel from the bottom drawer, whipped out my scissors and began to cut it into 8 pieces. Mary would have a clean cloth every day for a week.

Just as I finished, in walks the nurse with a washcloth. Her eyes got big and she looked at me like I'd defaced the Lincoln Memorial. I wanted to say wave the scissors in her face and say "stand back, I'm a towel cutter." Instead I simply stated I did what my friend needed so she could eat. As the nurse began to lecture me on what I could and couldn't do to their property, I began to cry. I told her I understood everything she was saying, that I was sorry, but I'd just about had it watching my friend suffer the indignities she'd suffered today.

Mary was uncharacteristically quiet. But as I grabbed my things to leave before I got any more embarrassed, she began to fuss about the eye drops she hasn't gotten since she's been there. Eye drops?

Please don't leave me, she cried. I can't eat my dinner by myself. I looked under the magic hat and found an egg salad sandwich, some creamed corn and some orange slices. I gagged. I had to kiss her goodbye and leave her to her own defenses. No, her dear son could not make it in to check on things.

I shook and cried the whole way home. Sweetie got an earful. Then my sister. This morning, I was still upset but knew I had to make amends. I shouldn't have cut that towel. I bought a new one, wrote out an apology and left it for the nurse who was not on duty today. I'm still embarrassed. I'm still boiling over. But it's time for me to let this go.   As I left this evening, I heard another family member say, "I'm not happy about this." Good golly I wanted to give her a high five.

My friend Terri's son, Josh Urban, has been on a one-man journey to find good in the world. He plays his guitar, sings in train stations, VA hospitals and elementary school. Good is out there, one just has to look for it. Sometimes closer than others.  Today when I saw Mary, lying in bed dressed in purple, looking tired, but relaxed, I thanked the guardian angel who had come in to help her. No, she still hasn't had a shower. But "Jackie" treated her with dignity and respect. I've got to be grateful for that.

I noticed today, how supportive you have been as I tell this seemingly-never-ending-saga. Thanks for your comments and understanding.
Merry ME


Unknown said...

Mary. I'm with you all the way. God bless you and God bless Mary and God bless the whole scenario. Sometimes we can't change a situation, but we can leave a blessing in it, and I think that's what you did. I'm proud of everything you did. Go, girl.
Now put your feet up, breathe, and smile.

terri st. cloud said...

i think when things are so out of my control and yet could be fixed so easily i have trouble coping. throw in watching a friend suffer, and i'd just lose it. in fact, come to think of it....i have. you're not alone and you have NOTHING To be embarrassed about. quite the contrary. you have much strength and compassion to be proud of. i'm so sorry it's so hard.

Constance said...

Don't be embarrassed! Their service - lack of it - sounds horrible. It is disgraceful that your friend was given a clearly unneeded laxative, left to lie in her own waste, and then not treated compassionately. The food sounds terrible and the situation very bleak.
My empathy to you both.
I would have been tempted to slap that nurse across the face. Telling you that you can't cut up a towel? Maybe they should be reported for not haveng proper sanitary care for their patients!!!!!

AkasaWolfSong said...

I just have to reiterate everything your beautiful women friends shared with you Mary...and for the record...in my anger I'd have already called a superior or high-up mucky muck to come and take stock of the very lax situation in that nursing home.
Anger can be used for good and it seems like you did just that. I surely wouldn't have gotten a new towel either...most nursing homes do their own laundry or send it out to be done and what the heck...one towel? The nurse could have given you permission to get one for Mary, and I'm so glad you didn't let her eat until she washed her hands and face. Why don't you send me the name of the place and I'll call someone...grrrrr! So don't beat yourself up woman for doing such a noble act...you are a jewel.
Sending you love, hugs and strength!!! :)