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In The Dark

September 22, 2008
by Kathleen Mears
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Hurricane Ike's remnants made the wind blow strongly Sunday, September 14. While working on the computer, the lights dimmed and brightened throughout the day. Outside it was dark and rather chilly. When afternoon shift arrived at 2 p.m., they reported extreme winds. I wondered when we would lose power.

My late afternoon pattern is to lie down and watch TV or DVDs. I considered staying up till bedtime, since I can do little in my room without power. I decided to lie down rationalizing that I could nap if the power went out.

Since the wind was increasingly ferocious, I had an aide put my manual bed crank within reach. I startled when the lights flashed, but watched TV until the cable went out at 5:00 p.m. Soon after the power went out in the building, but came back on in part of it including my room. Intermittent brown outs followed and I turned the TV off. I chided myself for not purchasing more emergency lighting following a power outage in June. I had forgotten when the power came on.

Sitting alone I was nervous and afraid. I heard louder than normal voices in the hallway. Aides were moving residents with oxygen concentrators and other equipment to generator outlets in the hallways. An hour later the building went dark. The generator was on allowing half light at the nurses' station and in the hallways. But it provided no light in the residents' rooms or bathrooms. It was difficult for the aides to care for residents and finish serving dinner.

With my draperies closed, my room was dark. I put my call light on to have an aide get my rechargeable flashlight. I wanted it on to calm me down. I told her there were two flashlights with new batteries in my van that the staff could use, but the aides were too busy to get them. Without power I had no usable phone. When I said that I wanted to call my sister, an aide offered her speaker cell phone and dialed it for me. I felt better after I left my sister a message. Then the aide grabbed her phone and hurried out.

I sat staring at the flashlight pattern on my ceiling wondering how long the power would be off. In my 12 years at this nursing home, there have been several power outages, the longest being 16 hours. Trepidation filled me as my room began to get stuffy. With my fan no longer running, hallway noise permeated my room. I heard the aides' stressed voices reassuring residents. I was thankful the weather was cool. On generator power, we have no air conditioning.

My flashlight lasted an hour and went out. I put my call light on and the aide opened my window. It provided evening light and the much needed cool breeze. I had my call light on more than usual. Once I asked if management was called to bring flashlights and batteries. I was told the administrator was called. I was frustrated because I did not know what was happening.

I passed the time by making mental lists, outlining articles, and praying. I missed my comforting digital clock, but substituted a smaller battery operated one that was hard to see. I got my medicine early and the aides had a tough time cranking my bed down. None of them had ever used the emergency crank before. Even with my instructions, it was difficult because a flashlight was needed. I was able to settle myself and get about five hours sleep.


Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



wow kathy that was wounderful and very heartfeeling
it touch even mine. It is very different and un -routine when the power goes out. we all forget how fortuned we really are until
but through those little trials we remember. and you done such a great job with coping and understanding the situations at hand. You also was very helpful your self by answering call lights and just talking with the residents as well.
this blog is very lucky to have you. thank you

Kathy I know how hard this had to be! Wish I could have been there to help! You are doing so well with the blogs! I am happy to see you have a way to express yourself
Love and miss you