â€œNo, Iâ€™m not going over there,â€ I said to the nurse supervisor, Sharon Kimberly. â€œJack Stevens is a tyrant!â€
â€œKathy, listen to me.â€ Sharon put her hand on my shoulder. â€œEveryone deserves a chance. This isnâ€™t about Jack anyway.â€ Sharon drew me close and whispered in my ear. â€œItâ€™s about Ruth Townsend.â€ Sharon drew me back to arms length, and as if to seal the argument, looked at me under raised eyebrowsâ€”as if to say, â€œwe have an understandingâ€â€”and walked away.
What do you do? Iâ€™ll tell you what â€“ you walk your buns right over there and help Ruth. When Sharon tells you to do something, you do it, and you do it to the best of your ability. She never loses her head. Sheâ€™s always professional, even when they found Mrs. DeCamp in Mr. Hodges room, â€œConsoling him,â€ Sharon called it. I saw something completely different, but Sharon sees the good in everyone and in everything, so thatâ€™s the only reason Iâ€™m in this godforsaken diesel golf cart puttering my way over to see the most hated man at Coral Reef Retirement Community.
I remembered Mrs. Townsend from a previous trip to her apartment. She was showing early signs of dementia, and we knew it was just a matter of time before she would need to be admitted to the Health Center and the restrictive Alzheimerâ€™s Unit. But because Mr. Stevens had used every resource at his disposal, heâ€™d been able to keep his wife of one year in their apartment.
I prepared myself for the worst. You never know what youâ€™re going to come across on these visits. One night it might be a victim of a stroke or diabetic shock, another it might be someone who is lonesome and wants company.
Last week, I got a call from a woman who was anxious because she wasnâ€™t having her usual bowel movement for the day. I love these people but leave it to them to try your patience.
Tonight, it took much longer to check on Mrs. Townsend than necessary. â€œThis really shouldnâ€™t be happening,â€ I said to Sharon and anyone else who would listen, but they donâ€™t because Iâ€™m known for my rants. Anyway, after that, I left without a word. What kind of people are they hiring here anyway? It took me 15 minutes to find Mrs. Townsendâ€™s chart because apparently activity coordinators donâ€™t know where to put charts back when theyâ€™re done writing in them. Then, the security guard, Fred Deans, god bless him, took the community vehicle off property, and no one could reach him. So here I am in a diesel powered golf cart responding to a call from the most disliked resident at Corral Reef. And I went to Phillips Andover Academy! Donâ€™t they know who I am! Two Presidents went to my high school!
After I calm myself down, the drive from the Health Center isnâ€™t so bad, but I know I donâ€™t have much time. Itâ€™s usually a relief to leave the Health Center because Coral Reef Retirement Communityâ€™s complete care unit can be so depressing. Everyday, you see elderly men and women, mostly women, who die slow, painful deaths, all while their minds go. Their children go on about their business while we do all the hard work, changing diapers, ADLs, and provide any and every need. They arenâ€™t your flesh and blood (which is probably good the way people treat their families these days), but they start to grow on you after a while. With a twinkle in their eye, they might pat you on the head and call you sweetie, mistake you for their child, or just tell you how much they appreciate all you do. Thatâ€™s the only reason I do it. I absolutely love them. Sure some get under your skin, but there are always rotten apples, you just canâ€™t let them spoil your day or the rest of the bunch.
I promise myself Mr. Stevens wonâ€™t get under my skin tonight. He is infamous for raising Cain. Before he came here, he was a trial attorney from Empire City, and he knew what levers of power to move to get his way. A couple years ago, he sued Corral Reef and won a small settlement as well as some concessions. He found a tooth in his food and sued for the whole plantation. Everybody thought the tooth was his, but he provided his dental records and the tooth. No one could touch him. Heâ€™d been fighting managementâ€™s efforts to move him into the Health Center.
Shortly after the case, all talk of him moving to the Health Center was dropped.
In response to managementâ€™s efforts to move him, he claimed he was only temporarily immobilized and that his new wife, Ruth, was capable of assisting him with his ADLâ€™s. So, here I am pounding on their door. I hope Ruth is OK.