In the summer of 2016 I spent 6 weeks in a care facility following surgery on a multiple leg fracture. Six long weeks. Six weeks when I wondered what ever would become of me, six long weeks when I had time to contemplate what might lie ahead should I need care that could not be given by my family. Here I observed daily life in a rural nursing home/ care facility populated by elderly who were cared for by enthusiastic young girls and men, and by mostly Phillipino and immigrant nurses. This series of posts are my thoughts on those surreal weeks.
Company in Bed
Following surgery on my broken leg I was transferred to a care facility by ambulance, to await further orthapaedic treatment. I was quite pleased to discover that I had been allocated a private room with a private bathroom. It smelt peculiar and slightly unpleasant but I resolved to ask if the bathroom might be swabbed down with bleach to freshen it up. A small window did not allow much light in as it was only about two feet from a high wall, but as I later learned I was very fortunate to have a window at all and doubly fortunate to have a room of my own.
Exhausted after the transfer between institutions and delighted to have some bit of privacy after the 6 bed ward of the acute hospital, I settled into bed early with the TV for company and eventually dozed off.
During the night I became aware that there was someone in the room, and not only in the room, but climbing into the bottom of my bed. ‘Hello’ said he in a very quiet and friendly voice. ‘H..h..h..h..hello’ I blurted as he continued to climb in next to my plaster cast leg as I wondered if I should strike him with it. I said that I thought perhaps he was in the wrong room, but he told me that I was in HIS bed. All the while I was fumbling for the emergency button and was grateful that at least he was climbing in to the bottom of the bed and not the top end!
After some minutes, help arrived and he was coaxed out of my bed and led back to his own space, further along the corridor. Apparently he had a tendency to wander and he was regularly retrieved from beds that were not his own as he was confused.
It was an eye opening experience on my first night in a care facility, where patients who were physically capable of wandering about are free to do so. I was immobile in the bed, with only my heavily plastered leg as a weapon to protect my honour! A close call indeed!