Friday, January 6, 2017

He's Harmless, Just Confused

And, on the 6th day, a space opened and I was admitted to the IOP. Thinking back on it, why did I so anticipate this move? Being transferred from the regular hospital to the IOP required a wheel chair. This is one of those mysteries in life no one has yet to explain to me - if one is healthy and mobile why does the institution require one being moved via wheel chair for discharge? My only guess is so the patient will feel like the paralytic at Capernaum Jesus healed, when they rise from the chair to get in their car. But, I digress.

So be it, I was "wheeled" from one facility to the other. By the time all of this took place it was well past 4:30 in the afternoon. As I entered the unit, there were nurses and other staff  scurrying around and patients scattered about in the main common area.

They gathered some chairs and seated us in the middle of the main area, just in front of the nursing station. As the nurse was started asking questions, I became aware of a moderately loud din in the air.  As I looked to my left I saw several elderly patients in blue scrubs moving about as if in slow motion. One in particular was yelling at the nurse about his supper. I could hear low moaning sounds coming from some of the rooms.

There was a table where  4 or 5 patients were sitting silently staring blankly as if there was nothing left to say to one another. Several other patients were seated in large easy chairs in various states of awareness.  So there we were, in front of the nursing station and God and everyone, giving all my medical history etc. I guess by this time the assumption was there were no secrets.

The process was long and tedious, with the nurse flipping through page after page of the intake sheets saying, "This one doesn't pertain to you. Neither does this one . . ." Instead of being able to tune out the noise, I felt drowned in it. I was close to tears. Where was I? How was this really going to help me?

Seriously! This this could not be the "quiet atmosphere that fosters healing".  I was mortified. My family was also a little surprised. "Senior" to me, just meant an age difference. I never thought of dementia and Alzheimer's being thrown into the mix. Just as all this was going on, a Physicians Assistant came and introduced herself.  She asked me, "On a scale of 1-10, how depressed are you at this moment?"

My reply was, "Given I have been waiting to be admitted into this facility for several days, I did not expect to be in a unit with dementia and Alzhmers' patients, and so far I do not find this environment a place of peace and healing - I would say a '3' at best."

She smiled in a knowing way, made some notes to the card she was holding, excused herself, and left. What was the correct answer, a 9? That I was feeling on top of the world? Frankly I was waiting for Jack Nicholson to appear at any time. I was soon to learn no matter how you felt, never give less than a 5 when they ask for a scale of 1 to 10.

As the nurse was showing me to my room, a tall, mute, man with a blank look on his face was standing in the doorway. The Nurse went over to him and gently said, "George, this isn't your room, why don't you go out there and watch television."

About that time a med tech came to fetch George. "There you are. George, this is not your room. Let's go find your dinner."

The nurse looked at us and said, "He is really harmless, just confused."

"Here is the room," the nurse said showing us the two beds and low chest of drawers beside each. Your roommate is Jill, but she is quiet. She doesn't say much, just shuffles around and stays to herself." 

It was time for my family to leave. My daughter quickly said that she would make some calls to see if I could possibly moved to the "Adult" unit. This was just not acceptable to her. I did not have much to say. I did ask if she could bring me a few things, including a book light so I would not bother Jill if I wanted to read at night. I asked the nurse if that was an issue (given the extensive list of prohibited items - belts, shoe strings, any food, mirrors, anything in a glass bottle, phones, laptops, tablets, etc) He assured me there was no issue with my having a book light.

My daughter was quick to make a note of what I wanted, "And," being thoughtful as ever, she said, "I'll bring you your pillow. I think you are going to need it." Pillow? I was more concerned about maintaining what sanity I had. Creature comforts were not on my mind.

As I thanked her I thought, what have gotten myself into? In reading through all the information and reviews, no where did I see anything that described this environment. One thing was for sure, if I did not have mental issues before I arrived, no doubt I would if I survived this.

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