Sunnyside Care Center–Not

6/27 Today is Saturday. I am in the Rehabilitation Unit of SunnySide Care Center but neither the room nor the phone number is posted in the room where I can see it. I am across from Room 16. At 7:00 a.m. I push the call bell. In ten minutes a staffer arrives wearing no ID.

I ask her to open the blinds; neither my roommate nor I had asked to have them closed. It is facility policy, out here in the boondocks where only the birds and the bunnies can see in, and I doubt that they care. The air conditioning is on and most certainly is below government standards. I ask for another blanket, more water, to have my dentures rinsed and to have maintenance called—again—about the cold.

The Unknown Woman who answers the call bell takes five minutes to open the blinds, cover me with another blanket, bring me water and ask if the denture pan on the sink is mine. How should I know? There are two of us in here, both bedridden, and staffers do or don’t do as they see fit. The Unknown Woman chooses not to use it, but wants to know why there is yellow liquid in the denture cup.

Because the doctor ordered it for thrush, which I got in the five days I spent in Upstate/Community General Hospital’s Observation Unit, where I was transferred from the Emergency Room. The Observation Unit had no denture tabs in the type of Efferdent, and did nothing to assist me in getting my dentures out at night, hence, a thrush infection.

A few minutes after Unknown Woman 1 leaves, Unknown Woman 2 comes in bearing a piece of paper with my name printed on it in 2-inch letters and asked if she can hang it on the wall over the bed. Sure, I say. They were required to name me two days ago when I arrived, but oh well . . .

6/28 It is 6:30 a.m. Sunday, and terribly cold. I press the call bell and the night nurse comes in. I tell him I need to go to the bathroom, which starts with moving the two big yellow plastic “caution wet floor” placards that are posted between my bed and my walker. The nurse says what’s up with this? I debate how much to tell him, and blow it off with “There was urine spilled on the floor,” by an incompetent nurse.

The night nurse then notices that the catheter bag is quite full. I put out three or four times as much as a normal person but nobody has checked the bag all night. Urinals are kept in the bottom drawer of the night stand but when the night nurse checks, the drawer is empty. He hustles around the room looking for a urinal while I try to remember.

The night before the charge nurse, with thirty years’ experience, tried to empty the cath bag and bungled the job terribly. For starters, she opened the clip on the tubing while holding it about eight inches away from the urinal. Urine spouted all over the floor. Then, when she jammed the thingy back into the thingy, she did it in such a way that it couldn’t be re-opened. I’ve had this catheter for four years and no one else has jammed it up this way.

It appears that the bag will have to be changed. The nurse says she doesn’t want to do anything invasive. I reply that I’m not talking about changing the catheter, which is the tubing that goes into the bladder and which I would never let her touch because she is clearly incompetent. I’m only talking about changing the bag, which is attached to the tubing outside the body. The nurse says that hospital bags are different from the bags Sunnyside uses. And so the argument goes. It is 9:30 p.m. and I am tired and need to sleep, so we agree on calling the nursing supervising.

And I don’t want to re-hash the bad night anymore, but after spilling more urine, arguing with me et cetera et cetera was the supervisor putting the urinal back in the drawer without the lid, which was lying under the dresser. When I pointed that out to her, she decided to get a new urinal. She left the room and did not return.

7/1 Tuesday night. Full urinal is sitting on sink next to my dental supplies. After I ate supper then I took a nap. Woke at 7:00 p.m. with the urgent need to have a bowel movement. Pressed the call bell. Sat up, put on shoes and discovered the hook on the catheter bag had been jammed into the edge of the bed and I couldn’t get it out. The call bell was on for 25 minutes. When the aide finally arrived, she got angry at me because there are 40 beds and four aides—two are on duty and two are on break.

I keep telling her that a bowel movement is a natural bodily function, and asking her what I should have done.

She keeps telling me not to abuse her.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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