Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ted and the night visits

Most people here are really, really nice. Unfortunately we have a few residents that are, well, bitches. They come in either gender, it's just a very apt description of their attidude. The Royale has more than its fair share of bitches. One of them is Mara, who will serve you an earful if her breakfast is not precisely on time. (I must remember to tell you more about her later.)

Another is Ted. Ted has caught the "I am Entitled" disease. He is Entitled to call the carers "honkies" (as in Hong Kong people, and he might as well call them chinks or chongs with that kind of racism), He is Entitled to have his food brought to him on a tray an hour after meal time, just because he cannot be bothered attending the dining room; he is Entitled to extra dessert "because the residents paid for it all, don't you know, girly" etc, etc etc. And Ted even uses the word a lot.

Ted is extremely proper and dignified (while busy calling Arabella a honkie), carries a handkerchief and walking stick all the time, puts his best suit on every Sunday and walks over to the church across the road, because he is a good Anglican (who calls Arabella a honkie, but not on Sundays). He writes letters with a fancy pen and listens to classical music on his "wireless" and it is certainly not a stereo, it's a wireless, thank you very much, and his father worked for His Master's Voice back in 1781 or something and he should most Certainly know.

It is Ted's Entitlement to 24 hour nursing care that I write about today. We have two carers on site during the days between 5am and 7pm. They do things like take lunch trays to people who unwell (as opposed to Ted who cannot be bothered). They also shower the amputee lady Doris, and maybe change a bandage for anyone who's recuperating from hospital. Then there are general things, like the fact that Lola will still be sitting in pyjamas at 1pm if nobody goes in at 11 and tells her it's time to dress for lunch. They also distribute all the prescriptions that residents' doctors have prescribed. Virtually every single dinner place has a small paper cup of tablets sitting there, belonging to the occupant, waiting to be swallowed with lunch.

The overnight carer, however, is asleep, not sitting and waiting for someone to buzz or call. As they get a bonus for each callout, it costs the village quite a lot - and annoys the tired carers, who are difficult to convince into doing that shift in the first place. The manager sent a letter to all residents, asking them not to "bother" the SLEEPING carers if it can wait till morning. (That kind of embarrassment works wonders.) From that point on, callouts rarely happened at all. Unfortunately the exception was Ted, who called them 5 or so times per night, almost every night.

Ted's nighttime urinary continence has been going downhill a bit. When he first experienced problems he was given a bunch of options. One was to do Kegel exercises to strengthen things - apparently he thought that was hogwash and refused. He was also advised to cut down coffee, not to drink alcohol after mid-afternoon, told to drink MORE water to practice and strengthen things - what a waste of time. He would refuse to drink anything but coffee at meals, and I saw him with a glass of red almost every evening in the study of his apartment. The doctor also tried, and failed, to have him limit his sugar intake. I mentioned the extra dessert here earlier, so that advice went down like a lead balloon. When he wasn't drinking coffee he was drinking Fanta, and I can't think of a soft drink with more sugar than that sticky, bladder-killing stuff.

And so, the result was he got worse, often wetting himself only an hour after going to bed. Each time he would call the carer to come and clean him up. He refused rubber sheets and he refused to wear an incontinence pad. Sometimes he would wake in time to get to the toilet, and then call the carer simply because he couldn't get back to sleep.

The carers' supervisor sought him one day and said that he ought to consider the incontinence pads and rubber sheets since he was really being a little unfair with the attention he was demanding, not to mention the fact that the carers had to be paid extra for each visit. And Ted replied, "Well, the 24hour care is a substantial part of the reason I purchased such an expensive piece of real estate. We do pay for it, you know, so we do have an entitlement to such care." And that is exactly how he speaks, too. Incredibly refined.

But Celia was having none of this. Celia is one of the loveliest bosses I've ever had, but she is so incredibly businesslike. Everyone trusts her. There is just something about her confidence that people know she can deal with just about anything.

Celia called Ted into the office. "Ted, sit down. We've got a bit of a problem and perhaps you and I can sort it out. The supervisor tells me that the poor carers are being called out half a dozen times a night to assist you. Is this right?"

Ted, amazingly, wasn't ashamed to admit it was true. "Unfortunately, Celia, I've taken to having accidents throughout the night, and I do need assistance to tidy up when it happens, so yes, I've been buzzing the girls when it happens." Celia then asked why he refused the options offered to him, and he replied that he felt it below his dignity, and that he was entitled to refuse such ghastly things.

"Well Ted," Celia said, readying the punch, "we are a self-care facility here, and it's been suggested that someone unable to care for themselves overnight might require a more... substantial level of care, perhaps a nursing home."

Bang. I cannot believe she could say that. She can't actually ask anyone to leave and it's almost beyond belief that she played that card. But my aunt swears it's true. And Ted just sat there flabbergasted, realising his assertiveness had boxed him straight into a corner from which there was only one way out.

"I've had a chat to the nurse," Celia was saying, and she went on to describe Ted's Last Hope, spelling out the details and ending with, "...maybe it'd give you a good nights' sleep and we'd all be a bit happier, what do you think? Will you give it a go?" And he agreed, since there was little other option.

So I was working in the kitchen that day, when the phone rang and the supervisor was on the line wanting to talk with Preethi, one of the carers. And since the phone is in the kitchen there are no private conversations. Preethi did a lot of listening, a lot of exclamations of surprise, a bit of a laugh, and I was dying to know what was so funny. Preethi is loud, outgoing and just great fun all round. "The supervisor will be at work tomorrow," she said, "and wanted to ask me how to fit a Uridom. She needs to teach Caroline how to do it."

The first thing I asked is what a Uridom is, since I'm just a lowly kitchenhand and don't know what any of the medical contraptions are. It's what it sounds like. It's a condom-shaped thing with a tube attached to the bottom, which leads to a bag, and it's to catch urine for people with continence problems. Now you see, that isn't especially funny, even when you consider that silly old Ted deserved to have to wear one. Ok, that was funny, but only about him having to need help to fit it.

But the plot thickens. Consider that Caroline is one of the mice here. Tiny little thing that giggles and blushes a huge amount and who was too embarrassed to shower the men in her first week at the place. She, one of the honkies he hates, is now going to have to be face-to-face with Ted's penis, to fit this thing. Damn, wouldn't you like to have a microphone in there, just to find out whether he can insult her while she is busy staring at his penis?

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE. No, not a free set of steak knives. Better than that. He has to be erect while it is put on. I told you it got better. Preethi commented that she just "marches straight in, tells him he's got five minutes to get himself hard, and then it will be time for the Uridom" then leaves, and that he does as she asks. I want to know what Caroline says to him. "Um, mister, um, please can you please get... up please?" And I can just imagine Ted staring at her in disbelief. I don't really want to think about Ted masturbating to erection, but it would be just too funny not to know whether she left the room or helped him. Actually, no, I don't think I want to know either way. Some things are just never meant to be known.

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