I am a lesbian, bipolar, artist, writer, and nurse. I have been a nurse for 30 years in Long Term Care. I love writing, art, and music. I hope anyone reading my stories can find something helpful they can apply to their own lives.
I Read A Lot
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window... I grew up near the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey. It is a vast wasteland of forest that remained untouched by early European settlers due to the inability to grow crops in the sandy soil. A person can get lost there. I'm fairly confident many people have. I even heard, among the legends of the Leed's family curse and the Jersey Devil, that the New York mafia used the Pine Barrens as a dumping ground for bodies they didn't want found. Despite being taught to fear the Pine Barrens as kids, we camped in the thick of it with Girl Scouts. Even as a 10 year old scout, I was a skeptic and didn't believe those stupid old stories anyway.
NURSING THROUGH A PANDEMIC
We lost half of our census at the assisted living facility where I was working during the first wave of the pandemic back in March of 2020. Many deaths and many people no longer suitable for assisted living and sent to a skilled nursing facility. I blame the company who owns our facility for the loss of so many of our residents. I blame the hospitals for sending our residents back to our facility with a diagnosis of urinary tract infections when they were infected with COVID. Now, since our census is low, the administrator, also the marketer, is out recruiting new residents and not really caring if they are appropriate for assisted living, as long as there is a body in the bed. The acuity is high, and the facility is staffed for assisted living. The majority of the residents belong in a skilled nursing facility. The staff are doing the work of 3 people at times. Morality is low and, at this point, no one cares, and the residents are being neglected. They are being left soiled with urine and feces for hours at a time. Their call bells are being ignored. Medications aren’t being reordered on time, so they go, sometimes days without necessary medications. There is no chain of command regarding management of nursing staff. Everyone just comes to work for a paycheck. Going through the motions of a work day, not really caring if they’re late to work, calling out frequently, defiantly declaring what they’re NOT going to do even if it’s part of their work assignment, talking on their phones while passing out medications or giving care, sleeping on the job, and just being insubordinate, confrontational, and being complete and utter, for lack of a better word, assholes. Administration is useless. You can report how badly the residents are being neglected, or how poorly someone is doing their job, but it falls on deaf ears. I don’t know if it’s the staff’s intimidating and confrontational attitudes about almost EVERYTHING that has the administrator afraid to say anything to them or she just doesn’t care about anything but making a buck by filling beds and saving a buck by cutting back staff. All I know is that people’s loved ones are being promised services that we simply cannot provide. The staff just doesn’t care. I’m doing everything that I’ve learned over the 35 years I’ve been working in nursing but to no avail. I always get arguments and confrontation from uneducated, ignorant people. I have the personality type which, even though I know I’m right, I can be almost bullied into doubting everything I do or say. Doubting my own intelligence. It’s so frustrating that people are so ignorant they don’t even see that I’m intelligent and know my job. They question me, undermine me, and plain old ignore me. Justifiably, though, since administration NEVER backs me up with anything. A resident died because everyone ignored my concerns. Her death was attributed to “old age” but she was completely healthy the day before, as healthy as she could be, but nowhere near death. She choked on food in her sleep after I reported repeatedly that I was finding her asleep with food in her mouth frequently and was afraid she would choke. In addition to finding her dead with food in her mouth, she was ice cold and in rigor mortis, so, even though she was on every 2 hour checks for safety, she had been dead for quite some time. The nursing assistant assigned to check on her obviously didn’t really check on her all night. She was face down in the bed, face was blue from livor mortis. Her tongue was hanging out, lips deep purple, almost black, and nose, pushed to the side in a grotesque manner. She resembled a peat bog mummy I saw on television once. I was horrified. It really stayed with me for weeks. I was told by the director of nursing not to tell anyone how I found her. I knew it was from these lazy, neglectful staff members. I knew it was from being ignored when I expressed a concern just two days before her death about her mouth being filled with food from the 3-11 shift. I wrote it on the 24 hour report for everyone to read and to check that she didn’t fall asleep with food in her mouth. Completely ignored by everyone. So now, there’s a dead resident on my watch. I was devastated. I really liked that resident. She lived in my hometown and we knew the same people. Even distantly connected by marriage. Not one blessed soul at that facility was held accountable. It was swept under the rug, and forgotten.
In Search Of Poetry’s Revival
I am a poet. I have been, since as long as I can remember. I formally started writing poetry at the age of 14, inspired by the death of my hero, John Lennon. Prior to that, my best friend and I wrote song lyrics about silly crushes we had on boys in elementary school. I guess that’s when the poetry really started. I have self-published three books of poetry that really didn’t sell. I mean, friends and family bought them, but I am totally clueless how to market to the public. I didn’t make much money nor did my words travel very far.
Living With Bipolar Disorder
Today I woke up on the sofa again. I feel safety and comfort in the corner of the sofa surrounded by pillows and my two cats. I leave the television on so the voices make me feel less alone. I go to the kitchen and make the first of many cups of coffee. I can use a box of K cups in one day. This box has 12 cups in it. I count my cigarettes because I am virtually penniless and don’t know how I’ll even buy my next pack. I contemplate quitting cigarettes but my current state of turmoil won’t let me. I wrack my brain trying to figure out how I’ll get through another day without money. It’s so isolating to feel this bad and have no one who understands, no one who can even deal with your presence because you have absolutely nothing left to give.