(NOTE: Changes made on 7/6/13)
“YOU PICKED ORANGE” by SSK Chapter 43
“Ever Get The Feeling Somone Is Talking About You Behind Your Back While
You're Trying to Talk to Your Own Front?"
and: “The Whispering Campaign Begins”
After “The Meeting”, when the Powers That Be who ran the Asylum were now fully aware that I was fully aware of what our legal rights (not “priviliges”) were, something changed. The atmosphere... shifted. Aides, RN's, food service people, housekeeping staff: it was... kinda weird. Nearly unnoticeable. I wanted to ignore it, and I did, for a few days. But... my main purpose, as I've said endlessly, was Kimit and getting further along in all of his therapies, occupational, physical and speech. I'd deal with this weird vibe later.
K had come along enough well (chas v'chalilah) with his physical therapy, so the speech therapist, Michael, decided that Kimit could haul his ass down to the kitchen/family room/game room... room for his lessons. (This place also had a private bedroom with bathroom, for family members to spend the night if necessary- no one told ME that!!) So, we now shlepped on down to the kfrgr....r and carried on.
In the middle of the third of these sessions in the new room, Michael's phone “booped”, and, apologizing, he stepped out to answer it. He left behind, on the table, Kimit's chart, the soup to nuts chart. And it was open. And we looked at it. I looked at the page on the left, the backside of a “progress note" (which is fairly self-explanatory), and saw two sentences written about ME!
My two little sentences, scribbled by a doctor or nurse or whomever, read: “Do not anger wife. Wife is aware of patient and family rights and does not hesitate to use them.”
Awwww. They was a'skeert of me! I looked up at Kimit, sure he would be grinning from ear to ear to have read these notes, that labeled me a danger to all and sundry should they try to fuck with us.
But he wasn't grinning. He was the color of 12 different brands of cheese, and he was staring at the page on the right, an entirely different page than mine, with entirely different information: his diagnosis.
It read: “Patient, 51 yrs, male, presents with MASSIVE HEMMORHAGIC STROKE.”
Kimit was just... staring at these words. He was alarmingly diaphoretic, breathing too fast and if I hadn't moved quickly enough, he'd have puked all over the floor rather than in the trash pail I'd grabbed. I rushed to the “private bathroom”, took two washcloths, wetted one, which I brought back to Kimit and folded it, pressing it to his head and cheeks and wiping his mouth with the dry cloth.
Michael came back in at that moment. He was nearly paralyzed when he saw Kmit's condition. I told him, “Get Lori, now.”
He did. Lori ran in, with a B/P cuff and took K's pressure. I told her what had happened, that it seemed to be just seeing his diagnosis, in print, in such a “slap in the face” way, that tipped him into this state.
His B/P was a little high, but not dangerous, chas v'chalilah. Lori did recommend that we call it a day, but first we would wait for him to calm down, stop sweating (diaphoresis) and get his inner ear to quit doing backflips, which would, we hoped, end the nausea. This took about an hour.
I can't remember if it was Teddy Roosevelt or Lincoln who said (and I paraphrase) "A lie can spread around the world faster than the truth can get it's pants on"; what we had here, although we didn't have one single clue it was happening, was a naked, really fast... nastiness.
We got Kimit back to his room, into the recliner (when he was in his room, he preferred the recliner: it was far more comfortable than that bed). Michael was nearly inconsolable. He kept saying, “I should have taken the chart with me, this is my fault, I should never have left it behind, I am so sorry!” Privately, I agreed with the man. I didn't say anything then, but Lori did. She said, “You're right. You screwed up.”
(I had a private chat with Michael later that day, and told him that, yes, it was a mistake, but one he was likely never to make again. I felt kinda Richard-like just then!)
So, back in the room (the Harry-free room, as he was in hospital, and doing much better): Remember Portia, the aide who was fantastically good at her job: changing linen, shaving, keeping things neat and clean, who never shut up.
She had a mouth as big as that shark from “Jaws”, and from that mouth? Spilled 90% gossip.
But right now? Three hours after she's shaved him and changed his linens and bored us insensible with her family problems which we were polite enough to listen to, but not comment on? (I'd just do my crossword puzzles.)
Now, she was... not so blabby.
Today, she was, as I said, oddly quiet, but she just couldn't hold it; her mouth looked like 8 pounds of mud in a 5 pound sack, and it finally burst.
As she was tucking K's blanket around him, on the recliner, and he was fast asleep (and I thought he fell asleep too fast) Portia spilled it:
She said, trying to sound casual, and being about as good at it as George Bush pulling on the wrong door in China, “You know, a certain person here is talking about you guys, because you don't even have Medicaid and you have his whole big room to yourselves. I mean, I don't have a problem with you guys, I think you're great, but this person is just babbling to everyone about your having this private room, and not paying for it, you know?”
She looked up at me. I was so tired I didn't have the energy to be CHW, but my mind was clear enough to say, “Portia, have you ever heard the saying, 'A bad friend talks about you behind your back, but it takes a true enemy to tell you what they said?” She blinked, like a newborn cow, and I realized that not only did she not understand what I'd said, she had the commensurate IQ of that newborn cow.
She left. I sat, and thought. And then, finding the strength from I knew not where, I got up and walked down the hall, intending to hit up Mary Ann and let her know the gossip that was flying around about us.
And, lucky me! I met GBNGG right in front of the nursing desk. He was reading a memo, and jumped a foot when I said his name. “Oh, hi!” he said, looking for all the world like I was a killer whale and he was a harp seal.
I crossed my arms, and didn't move. I said, “Yeah, hi, listen, there's talk about me and my husband not having insurance or Medicaid and taking up a whole room but what I'm not hearing is that YOU and Brillo Head PROMISED us this private room, that Kimit would NEVER have ANY roommates. This “private room” has now had 2 roommates, thus fracturing your honor as a promise maker, and now I hear this crap about our being here without insurance. Oh, and both roommates? Kimit saved their lives in the middle of the night because the lazy assholes on nightshift ignored his or the roommates' call light.”
He gulped, and his eyebrows shot up so high you'd think they'd been burned off. “Oh, really?” he said.
“Cut the crap, name. You know it's being said, and you know who started it. If I hear one single solitary infinitesimal clue that we are being talked about in a totally unprofessional way, not to mention violating the HIPAA Act, I'll come at you with everything I've got. And I've got a lot.”
It was as if all of the air in him had gone away and wouldn't come back. He blinked, rapidly, and said, “Meep!” (a very common panic word around here, I was finding out).
All of this, by the way, was said, in the lobby, in front of other patients, their families and the nurses at the nursing station desk. And I was NOT quiet. He finally found his tongue and said, “Sure, that's bad, I can, you know, I'll deal... not a problem... that's... um... wow... I... deal... I think I know who's doing it...”
“Yes,” I said, patting his arm, “You DO know who's doing it. You go right ahead and deal with this person, and tell the bitch that talking about us in this way is completely unprofessional AND illegal (HIPAA) way, because if you don't...” I backed up, grinning like a happy loon, making little finger-pistol shooting motions at him. Bang, bang!
“If you don't fix this, you know I'll take action, right? Yep, I see it in your frozen Bambi eyes. Have a lovely day!” I shot him one last finger pistol. “Now! Take care of it now! Go, go!” He walked away in such a stilted gait, it looked like he had an IV pole up his ass.
I don't think this guy took a dump for a week.
But no more gossip reached my ears; the gossipers knew that if I heard one more teeny weeny word about our economic status, I'd trade those finger-pistols for other weapons, weapons that were far more dangerous than finger pistols.