Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sometimes I fear that I am at my best when I'm a bit tired. Maybe. I refer to it as "punchy." It makes me think of what they say about sleep-deprived people-- after 24 hours with no sleep, your brain functions are equal to that of an inebriated person (and after four days they are equal to a mentally insane bat). And I, when somewhat inebriated, am terribly outgoing and funny. Productive, even. And that is what I am right now. A little sleepy but mostly a detached enthusiastic personality. Strange strange strange. This morning while driving back to South Heart from Dickinson-- my favorite drive lately-- I was seized with happiness. I sang loudly. I stuck my arm out of the window. I shook my limp-wristed fist of justice! Upon getting home I found the still semi-flooded apartment empty so I put on Janis Joplin, showered, got dressed and pretty and danced around the room. Afterward I decided to go buy some cute things and send them to people far away. Wal Mart is actually a fun activity here. So I did that. And spent forever at the post office, mailing old postcards that I should have sent from Illinois. Glorious. Then the library. Glorious. And now back at The Brew. I have picked a "usual" table. We will see how long it takes for the owners to fall in love with me.

I don't remember if I mentioned it in my last post, but it is the plot of my friend Amanda's and mine to crack the owners and convince them to hire us. We are both somewhat lonely here in that our circle of friends is much smaller. As in, restricted to the people we live with. And this is mostly due to our jobs. Caretaker jobs. Not exactly friend-makin' connections. Anyway, we decided since this place is SO COOL that we will try to work here, picking up a couple shifts a week if they so choose to let us. I also realized that this place, just getting off the ground, has no marketing in place. No social networking! This needs to happen, especially by fall, because it needs to appeal to the youngsters around here. I have a feeling ND has some untapped hipsters in its midst. And I now have marketing experience! I could perhaps enhance my career path here after all if I make my case for them to hire me. I have experience! Ingenuity! Insight! and HIPNESS. I AM HIP!!!!

Another gulp of iced coffee, yes yes yes.

This good mood is a strange one, especially considering last night was so difficult. How so, you say? Well. I am hesitant. Hesitant to reveal things because I'm pretty sure that we're not supposed to talk about residents and whatnot. So I won't mention them by name or TOO many details, however I simply have to relate what a night is like in my new existence:

There are usually four of us at night. One person gets one side, a second gets the other side, the third gets the kitchen, and the fourth "floats." The floater helps people on either side with the residents who need extra help as well as doing most of the cleaning so that the people on either side don't have to worry about much aside from direct care for the residents. If you get one of the sides, you get a cleaning list, a laundry list, and a weekly cleaning list. You also have a list of people that you need to get to the bathroom at certain times. You have to take them every four hours. Also, things... come up.

Some residents are difficult because of their conditions. Some will not make any sense. Some will not walk for you. And some... will yell at you. Some... may punch you.

So there's this one lady. Apparently the disease has done a doozy on her-- I hear tell before this she was a very glamorous woman, always dressing to the nines, wearing gloves and incredibly well-mannered. A real 1950's lady. Now she can be either a sweet grandma or a terror. And I mean Terr.Or. She has a bit of a broad forehead and a squinty eye and a large eye, so when she looks at you she already seems a bit off-kilter, and when she's angry I actually get scared to look directly into her face. She has yelled and hit and picked fights before, she has bit the staff. We go in to check her at night and if she's wet we need to change her-- this upsets her, and she is no dainty woman. She is taller than me and square-shouldered and strangely strong-- if she hits you with a fist, it will hurt. It won't kill ya, but you'll be in pain. Anyway. There are many interesting stories about this woman, but tonight took the cake. I get there, and according to the report, she's been a terror all day, picking fights with everyone, cursing, etc, and now she dozes quietly in a chair at the dining room table. Warily the staff-- last night comprising of a pregnant woman in her first trimester who constantly gets ill, an agriculture nerd of a pixie, and a sardonic young guy who's been working here for so long his eyes look as ancient as his grandmother's -- warily the staff writes out our usual paperwork, keeping an uneasy eye on Agnes. As we leave the table, she begins to wake. Two minutes later I peer into the room to see her piling our papers and notepads into a heap and moving them around. I quietly come into the room and take a few papers. The chatterbox, lacking diplomacy, also enters and snatches away a notepad. Old Lady freaks out, and says in her low-angry voice (she does NOT have the high-pitched witchy voice you'd think) "DON'T YOU DO THAT. GODAMMIT THOSE ARE MINE!!" Enter string of curses. She pounds on the table. Chatterbox and I run away.

Later, Old Lady goes into the breakroom, pounding on things. She is extracted, still sitting in a chair, by sardonic young man. She's really mad now, a fury in a green silk nightie. Preggers and sardonic lock themselves in the nearby kitchen. Chatterbox goes to see about another resident and I... just run away. Later chatterbox interrupts my conversation with Doris, a favorite, to tell me that Old Terror had followed her, slammed the door of the other resident to keep him out, and slapped chatterbox across the face when she objected. Fear. My buzzer goes off, which means a certain frail old lady is trying to get out of bed. She's teeny, and I'm afraid that if Old Terror finds us she will harm the teensy one. I ask Chatterbox to come with for protection. As I ask her this, we spot Old Terror, in periphery, glowering in the hall, looking the dark room over with her owl-like eye. Chatterbox and I move calmly out of the side door to get to the Teensy One, but Old Terror has spotted us and is on the move. I kid you not, Chatterbox and I FLEE. Once we get to Teensy's room we shut the door, spying out of it. We see Old Terror picking a fight with another resident (one who can thankfully handle it but who does not deserve to be bothered). Chatterbox goes to fetch Sardonic, who promised me he would handle Old Terror if I did the left wing. Sardonic returns, taunting Old Terror, and gets her to literally chase him down the hall. All is calm. All is mild.

Later, we had to go into her room and change her again, when of course she tried to punch and kick the hell out of us, but thankfully we were prepared for that.

Part II of the night was pretty awful, in a non-funny way (there really IS something funny about Old Terror chasing one. Because it really is ridiculous). I was taking care of a particularly needy lady and getting ready to go on my break at about 2AM (the blessed hour in which nothing usually happens) and suddenly I hear CRASH! SLAAAAAM!!!! SCREAM! And then crying, from somewhere. Me, praying it was just someone slamming a door, lept up and roamed the halls, trying to find the source. It was coming from a shut up bathroom. One of the mobile residents, a sweetheart with a sixties hairdo and horseteeth who always smiles hugely when you greet her by name, had tripped in the bathroom, crashed into the open door and slammed it, taking her walker down with her. She was sprawled on her back, crying for help in her kitten sweatshirt. I fetched help, then went through the proper procedure for checking etc. The others wrote a report, called the on-call nurse and the family, and finally, once we realized we could not determine ourselves if anything was broken, we called the ambulance. For a long time it was just she and I, while they were doing all of these things, and while they waited for the ambulance outside I sat on the bathroom floor with her. She mostly shook and cried quietly-- not theatrical old-lady tears-- and said she hurt, but she couldn't really say where or how exactly she fell. It made me think of a little kid or a pet, who is enduring pain but can't understand why. She might have even thought I was hurting her. At one point Sardonic was taking her vitals and she just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "Hold me."

Which of course I did. And I sat there, holding her hand and asking her about her wedding ring, and her late husband (whose name she can't remember), and the kittens on her sweatshirt (even though she's not sure if she likes cats or not), until the ambulance came to take her away. After that I spent about an hour writing up a report on the matter. We all ended up laughing, exhausted, around 5AM about something I can't remember. I think it was to relieve the sadness that I was probably emitting.

I was watching a movie called Bright Star the other night, it's about John Keats and his tragic romance with Fanny Brawne. I didn't like it at first, but by the end I was carried away by the tragic romance of it all and cried like a little baby when the lovers were ripped apart. There's one part where Fanny says something to Keats along the lines of "there MUST be another life. we cannot be made to endure only such pain."

I have to be a bona fide writer someday. I have to give this to somebody else.


Laura Allyson said...

I think this might be my favorite post of yours. Not "favorite" as in fun or amusing or anything... just one of your best, I think. Please write a book using this. I will legitimately cry. In fact if I'd read this the other day, when I was already tired and emotional, I would have.

I miss you and love you, and I have a high respect for you and what you're doing. More writing!

Katrina said...

That's kind of you. <3

Sonja said...

Your life.

Have to agree with Laura -- it is book-worthy!