Tuesday, October 11, 2011
For over a week, Flip has refused to enter his room unless he is unconscious. When I check on him at night, the nurses tell me he is either wandering aimlessly and falling a lot, or sitting in a wheelchair by their station. It's clear to me that he knows something is not right about Shekiya, and he expresses his displeasure in the only way he can. It was time to do something.
The director wasn't available so I spoke to Hillary, the director of nursing, about the problem. He took a firm party line, stating that if Flip is dissatisfied, he should be the one to move despite the fact that (a) when I complained initially about Shekiya's placement with Flip, the director said she would move "her" and (b) Flip suffers from dementia while Shekiya, who is 36, apparently does not. It would be disorienting to Flip.
He said, "Shekiya has not complained and moving her would be prejudiced." He leveled a stare at me and said, "I don't know if you're prejudiced or not." I responded that as it happens I am not, but that I do not regard this as a political issue. It's a medical care issue and I would object to any apparent female being Flip's roommate if it made him uncomfortable. (It occurred to me later that he may have been referring to the fact that Shekiya is black, as is he, but at the time I assumed he meant prejudiced against transgendered people.) Who knows? There are so many potential reasons to be prejudiced. Pick a card, any card. I am developing a prejudice toward unreasonable people, though.
I reiterated that Flip was unwilling to enter his room and he demanded to see for himself. Flip refused to be moved out of the hallway where I had fed him lunch in a wheelchair. Hillary insisted that he could not tell the reason for Flip's behavior and that I could not, either, pointing out that Flip wanders a lot anyway. I said it was not an issue until Shekiya arrived. He refused to budge from his position. I said that I still stand by my initial objection and had decided to take a wait-and-see position so as not to make problems for the director or for Shekiya, but that my primary concern is for Flip. Since he seems not to be anyone else's, my only option is to transfer him to another facility. I had hoped to keep him there despite the inconvenience to me, but if he has to move to a different room, I might as well move him altogether because both will be disorienting.
I think they are bending over backward not to be perceived as politically incorrect while railroading Flip, whose mental capacities are seriously compromised. Meanwhile, they shoot him full of potentially dangerous drugs the minute he seems agitated, and because he is uncomfortable with his situation there, he is increasingly agitated. They are choosing a specious political correctness over compassionate patient care.
The doctor we saw yesterday leans toward the belief that Flip suffers from both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We are doubly blessed. There is no way to tell how much the Parkinsonian symptoms were exacerbated by various medications he was given, but his physical movements resemble those of Michael J. Fox.
The staff member who went with us yesterday to help was very nice, but when she tried to pull Flip from the car and into a wheel chair, he fell on the pavement and she fell on top of him. She is a huge, heavy woman, but neither was hurt although her skirt was muddied in the rain. Next week, we'll be going to the hospital for an EEG and back to the doctor on a different day. Two more outings. I can hardly wait.