Quite the fright
It may seem ridiculous that I am afraid in a facility with 45 residents, three or four aides and other staff. But it happens.
The most frightening thing occurred when I was in the bathroom. I pulled the call light cord and found it would not turn on. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I felt real fear. I tried to maneuver my left arm so it could drop it off the shower chair’s armrest, which would tighten the cord and turn it on. I could do it sometimes but this day I could not.
I told myself someone would eventually check up on me. I thought it was about 45 minutes before breakfast. I needed to be washed up and dressed first, and I wondered if I would make it.
I began to call for a nurse but heard no one in the hallway. I called the name of the female resident next door and asked her to put her call light on for me. Again, there was no response.
Time was passing, and I wished I had a way out of my predicament. I tried to think where the aides might be. I thought maybe there was an emergency elsewhere in the building and all staff were tied up. Realistically, I knew it was just the busy morning goings-on before breakfast.
Even though I tried to remain calm, I could not manage. I was in semi-panic mode. By the time the aide knocked on the bathroom door, I felt like a passenger on the Titanic ready to jump on the last lifeboat. I sharply told the aide, “The cord was too loose, and I could not get the call light on.”
My aide began to get me ready, and I started to calm down. Because I need so much assistance, I get frightened when I cannot communicate. I suspect the aides felt I was safe in the bathroom until they came to transfer me.
I do not know a way to tamp down my fear. Even if they could, I do not want aides checking on my every five minutes. If one of the staff would be willing to check on me if my call light does not come on in 15 or 20 minutes, it might alleviate some of my fear.
Without regular rounds, a resident with a problem and no call light or other way to communicate, could experience my same fear while waiting for assistance.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.