Teela Pheamster leaned back in her chair stretching the knots that seemed to have knitted into a ball between her shoulder blades. She had been bent over the chart for the past hour reading medication orders and nursing notes. That was the easy part. It was deciphering the physician's progress notes that gave her the most trouble and caused the headache. Hmm, after being here so long you'd think I'd have this down pat by now she marveled.
"Why have you suddenly changed Duane Rikker? Why are you alternating between lethargy and fully awake and combative. Let's see."
Teela flipped through the large notebook chart studying the information on the pages. She loved this part of the job; the detecting, finding out why someone was changing. Next to actually getting a chance to talk to her resident, the social worker loved solving these sorts of mysteries.
Teela immersed herself in the chart that told who Duane Rikker was from a medical point of view. She did not hear the initial knock upon her office door. The louder banging got her attention. She looked up to see a CENA standing in her doorway.
"Teela, Marcia Hallorian is refusing to have her bath and take her afternoon medications. She keeps repeating that she does not need medications that she is allergic to them. She is not herself today."
"Oh really. Why is that?"
"She is swearing at everybody. She says that she just returned from Hawaii and did not take them while she was gone. So why take them now?"
"I see. Did she have a good time?" the CENA looks at her confused. "In Hawaii, did she have a good time?"
"Teela, I don't think she has been anywhere."
"Did you ask her?"
"Why? She never left."
"And did you tell Marcia that fact?"
"And how did she react?" Grinning knowing full well how a demented person would react when their reality was challenged. You people will never learn.
"She hit me and called me a stupid fat ass."
"I am sorry to hear that. Now what do you think would have happened if you talked to her about her trip to Hawaii? Ask her what she did while she was there?"
"Why? She confused today. Yesterday she was clear and could remember everything. She is just being mean."
"Aaahhhh. Not true. Listen. Marcia has what's called Lewy Body Dementia. It stems from her Parkinson's Disease and her underlying demented the difference is, is that the person generally alternates between being clear and being confused. They also have very clear and vivid hallucinations. So ya see. Marcia is not being difficult or mean. She truly believes she came back from Hawaii."
"I think I see."
"Okay. Try this. Go back to her room. Start up a casual conversation with her not about what you want her to do. Don't mention that at all. Let her turn the subject around to her vacation. Ask her questions like you would one of your friends. After she starts feeling comfortable with you sneak in and ask her to help you to do whatever. As far as the medications you can try and say the doctor wants to make sure she is okay since she has returned from her trip and would like her to take the medications for a few days to make sure."
"But that's lying."
"Not really. That's preventing the resident from getting sicker if she doesn't take her medications. If I remember correctly, she has a lot of cardiac ones she needs, not to mention her Parkinson's meds. She truly needs those or she will start freezing up again. Besides, this population puts a lot of stock in what the doctors say. We just use it from time to time."
"If she hits me again...."
"Either A - leave her alone and have someone else re-approach later. Or B - move out of the way quicker."
Teela snickered at the look on the CENAs face. "Come on I'll help ya." She stood an tapped the CENA on her shoulder. "But I can't go in the room. She calls me The Gestapo."
Teela followed the CENA out into the hall. She had worked at Appleway Rehab and Convalescent Center for the past ten years as a Social Worker. The ARCC as it became known to everyone was a 160 bed Long Term Skilled Care Facility. It boasted a high family satisfaction rate of nearly 94% and has had fewer than 3 citations on their annual state inspection for the past 6 years running. Two of those years, the ARCC received a Citation Free Survey. This helped to boost marketing and revenue.
But Teela called it home. Sure she had offers to work in other facilities, but there was nothing like the camaraderie that she found among the staff of the ARCC and the patients that lived there. It was a rare thing indeed for this industry to have a truly open line of communication among the major departments that provided direct care and interaction with the families and the patients. That would include the Nursing and Dietary Department along with Social Services and Therapy. It was a rare thing that everyone was working towards the same goal for the residents and could cross departmental lines easily. So long as the other department knew what was happening. Things generally ran smoothly.
Moving towards Marcia's room, Teela greeted several of the residents she passed by name. No one should be ignored. Even if she couldn't recall their names or if they were a fairly new admission to the ARCC, Teela said hello to them with a smile or a wave.
She stopped outside of Marcia's room and listened to the interaction between the CENA and Marcia.
"I told you I am not taking no pills!" the graggy voice drifted into the hall. "So you can just get the hell out!"
"I am not here to make you take any pills, Marcia. I just wanted to come back in and make sure you were not mad at me."
"Well I am."
"I'm sorry. What can I do to get out of the dog house?"
Teela nodded in agreement with the CENA's response. It's not the line of conversation I was thinking of, but it might work for her. She turned and headed back down the hall to her office when the page overheard called her name to call extension 190. What do you want Kat? I know I don't want another admission today. I have had two already.
"Hi Charles. How's things going today?"
"Hopefully better in a little bit. I get my new leg brace from therapy today."
"Hey that is good news. You have been waiting for that thing for a long time now."
"Yeah I know. Once I get used to it, my kids say that I can go back home."
"I hope you do Charles. I'll be pulling for you."
"Me too Teela, See you." He wheeled himself up the hall from where Teela just came.
Watching him, Teela hoped that he achieved his goal. So far Charles had been through three braces and none had been effective in making his mobility sufficient enough to consider independent living. Making it back to her office and into her blue office chair, Teela lifted the receiver and noticed that in that short span of time that she was gone, her message light was blinking.
Teela sighed heavily and dialed the number to retrieve her voicemail.
"Hello Teela, this is Shelton Parmer, Great Nephew and guardian to Barbara Mulder. I will be leaving town in an hour and then will not return for a week or so. I wanted to touch base with you before I left. I believe you are more familiar with my Dad. When He passed away, care and custody was handed to me. I have the documents from Probate. So I wanted to speak with you. I will be at home for the next hour. I hope that you will call before then."
Then there was a call from Kathryn Faullman, the Admissions or intake Coordinator. She deleted both messages as Kathryn Faullman walked through her office door, grin plastered across her face. Teela sighed. She recognized that grin.
"What do you want Kat?"
"You have an admission."
"Awww come on! It's after four now and I leave at five. I have a tee time at six Kat."
"Well I would do it but my son Sean has a ball game at 5:30 and I have to take him."
"Well what about Eerie Warden. Why can't she do it?"
Kat snickers at one of the many nicknames that Teela and Nica gave to their immediate supervisor. Eerie Warden was a play on her real name. Erin Barden. But she often acted like a warden with Teela and Nica as unintelligent prisoners of her Social Services Department at the ARCC. In fact, Teela had more knowledge than she let on. Kat often wondered why Teela did not apply for the Director position when it was open a year ago.
"Eerie' s husband has a dinner planned with his bosses this evening and she is cooking."
"Her husband really likes her huh?"
"Guess so. At least twice anyway. They have 2 sons."
"Must have been a power outage both times." she scoffed and found Kat giggling along with her. "Is Frank going to allow overtime? Of course he's not. Silly question."
"Maybe you can off-set your hours later in the week. He'll go for that."
Walking through the door came Clarabelle "Bell" Vleiken. She was being her usual pleasantly demented self and mumbling nonsensically. She was a woman in her late seventies, with ever slipping knowledge of who she used to be. She found the strings on her shirt more fascinating as she lightly tugged on her shirt.
"And there she is. Hi honey." Belle briefly forgot stretching her shirt and made her way over to Teela for a hug.
"Hi Belle. You're looking swell."
"Thank you honey. You like me?"
"Yes Belle. I like you very much."
"Okay." She then carefully took a seat next to Kat and mumbled to herself.
"Look Kat. It's not that I'm complaining about staying late and doing this, because am. But I already have six hours of overtime this week. At this rate, I will not even have to show up on Friday to work."
"And that would be a bad thing?"
"You want to contend with Eerie?"
"Good point. Listen, just do the necessary signature pages. Tell the family that they will be able to finish tomorrow. They have been waiting at the hospital for this to happen since 10am this morning. So they are tired and probably will be grateful for less paperwork."
"I could do that." Teela cringed as her telephone beeped. "This is Teela."
"Teela. Elizabeth "Liz" Lipps is pestering Andrea Butts again and Liz won't leave Andrea's room."
"What have you tried?"
"We told her to leave and she won't."
Teela sighed loudly, "I'll will be right there." She turned to Kat. "I don't believe it. It has been non-stop today. Is there a full moon or something?"
Belle suddenly stood. She looked down at Teela's desk and decided to grab a handful of the business cards sitting in the black holder. Teela smiled watching Belle exchange her used Kleenexes, by putting them on the desk and then walks out.
"Fair trade huh?
"She thinks so."
In quickly walked a CENA carrying a small item wrapped in paper towels. Without a word she handed Teela the package and the white Broken Report From along with it, giving her a sheepish smile and leaving.
"Great!" At the denture in 3 pieced. Quickly dialing the dietician, "Hey Dawn, FYI, I just got Denise Julier's broken dentures. You might want to check her for a change in food consistency." She returned the receiver. "Can you place her on the dental list?" Kat nods. "Good, okay give me the info on my new person. What's the name anyway?"
"Lee Riddell, 85 year old........" Kat told her the brief history.
It wasn't long before Teela found herself walking down the hallway again heading this time to Andrea Butts' room. As she passed by one particular room, she noticed an unfamiliar woman sitting at the bedside of Maureen Baldwin. I know recognize generally everyone who visits. The majority by name. But I don't recognize her. I can't really see her very well, but still, I wonder who she is. That's alright. After Liz and Andrea, I'll stop back by and see. Feeling that her plan was a good one, she continued on to her destination.
Teela got to Andrea's room. There was Liz still insisting that her husband quit being lazy and to get out of bed. Poor Andrea Teela thought sadly. She is just smiling, not even phased that she is being referred to as a man. She heard the CENA's frustration and that she was arguing. Big mistake.
Knocking on the door, "Excuse me. But you can't argue with someone who does not possess reasoning skills."
After what seemed liked eternity, Teela was finally able to coax Liz into going to another room with the CENA. Following behind them, Teela literally ran into one of the physical therapist, Marcia Konclin.
"Here you go Teela. Saves me a trip to your office." Marcia handed her a piece of paper and kept walking down the hall.
"Wait. Is this was for real. Marcia?" Marcia nodded not fully understanding.
"Will Finger is adamant he wants to leave tomorrow."
"There is no way we can get things prepared for tomorrow. It's unrealistic. It's so late in the afternoon already. We have to contact the physician for approval and scripts. Does Cassandra know about this?"
"No. She's gone for the day."
"Oh great." She threw her hands in the air in disbelief. "Then you break it to her in the morning. I can't start anything on this right now. I have a new admission waiting for me." She ground her teeth this has got to be the worst cotton picking day ever.
On her way back to her office, she stopped and knocked on the door to Maureen Baldwin's room. Maureen was asleep and the strange woman was gone. On the over bed table in a clear vase stood a fresh rose and a card. Being nosy, Teela moved to read the card. It was signed Love P. Whose P?
Curious, Teela stopped a passing CENA who was working the hall and ask if she knew who the stranger in Maureen's room was. The CENA replied she thought it was her daughter. That she had seen her there before the past couple weeks but usually at night after supper.
She returned to her office full of inquisitiveness. Pouring a small cup of coffee from her steel thermos Teela checked her watch again. She quickly dialed Shelton Parmer. While it was ringing, she reached behind her to grab the three-ringed binder labeled Admissions. Opening it and flipping to the B tab, she easily found the face sheet for Maureen Baldwin's Admission, including her Initial Social History and the Privacy Disclosure Form. Each listed only three names. Two sons, and a daughter-in-law. Hmmm, no daughter listed. I wonder why? She is probably on the outs with the family. That's not too uncommon.
" Shelton, this is Teela Pheamster, your Aunt's Social Worker at the ARCC."
"So you are heading off for a holiday I see."
"I wish it were. My wife's mother fell ill in Pennsylvania, and we are going there to see her."
"I am sorry to hear that. I hope things will be alright for her."
"So do we Teela. Thank you. I have just taken over the care of my Great Aunt within the past two weeks.
"Sometimes, we get busy doing things Shelton, and time gets away from us. I do recall your Letter of Authority coming across my desk recently."
"I am feeling guilty for not maintaining contact with her over the years until now. So I want to do the right thing. But when I visited last night, she seemed quite agitated. Like something was wrong. Now I question if I should leave town now or stay and find out what is going on with her."
"That's what we are trying to find out as well Shelton. This self abuse started about a week ago really. So did her profanity. Up until then she was very mild, pleasant, cooperative not difficult at all. So she has us a little baffled as well."
"Why is she doing this? I really am concerned."
"It could be a number of things actually."
Teela took the time to explain to Shelton basic concepts concerning his great aunt's dementia. She loved teaching newly diagnosed families about the disease. Sometimes she had to subtly sugar coat the more devastating characteristics or changes in personality and behavior. But for the most part, she loved getting them to understand that their loved one was not doing things on purpose or out of spite for them or the staff.
"Well I heard they put people on strong medications to keep them drugged."
"Shelton, sometimes using medications can be effective. But it is not my first choice. I prefer to rule out any medical changes that may be happening and possibly causing the changes in Barbara. If her lab work or cultures and stuff come back negative, then we can talk about using those types of medications. I don't want to start her on something she may not need in the first place. Alright? I think I may even put her on the list to see the dentist and to get her ears checked.
"Really? I never thought about that?"
"Well, let us work on her and see what we come up with. You and your wife focus on your mother in-law and having a safe trip. We can call you at the emergency numbers he gave her if anything drastic were to happen with Barbara."
"Are you sure."
"Pretty much. We'll call you if we need to."
"Okay then. Thank you."
Sighing she shook her head to clear her focus. I did start out with an agenda to finish today. I should have known that was a mistake. She grumbled and returned to the Rikker chart. The telephone buzzed again. It was Kat. She told her that the ambulance with Lee Riddell pulled into the parking lot. Teela glances at her watch and then to the ceiling as if praying for strength. She closes the chart and begins to clear some working space on her desk so that she can do the Admissions contract.
In the parking lot of The ARCC, the object of Teela's curiosity sat in her pick-up resting her head upon the steering wheel. Twenty year old wounds reopened and pierced through her heart once more. She clutched frantically at her heart as her wails filled the cab of the truck. Not since Jen, had she allowed herself to feel this deeply and experience the agonizing pain that ripped beyond the soul.
She wept for her mother, a mother she had no other choice but to walk away from more than 20 years ago. A mother so intolerant and narrow-minded that she told her only daughter she regretted giving birth to her. The person she loved looked upon her as a stranger 20 years ago; she had a selective vacant stare then. Now she had that stare, but it was not her choice.
"She didn't know me the n; she does not know me now." she sobbed.
Pax Baldwin finally calmed and her composure slowly returned. She merged into the traffic. It's going to be okay. I never really stopped loving mom. It was the other way around, but we can work with that now. I hope.
"Thanks to Damian I at least know where you were and what happened, mom. He was loyal. All those letters over the years, I knew what was going on in the family even if I wasn't apart of it. I may not have answered, but he kept writing. I love him for that." Then her mind switched to her older brother, Zander. Prick! She snarled.
She finally pulled into the drive of her rental home. I have to stop letting him get to me. He's not worth it. She chastised herself. She didn't want him to bother her anymore now than he had for the past 20 years.
Pax kicked her shoes off at the door. She walked into the sparsely furnished living room and pushed the button on the answering machine and before continuing on to the kitchen. Listening to the messages mostly from telemarketers wanting to get her opinion on a poll for this or that issue.
"I've got to get my name on that list." she grumbled.
The next messenger was a female. She would recognize the voice of Celeste across a crowded room. That was not a good thing.
"Hi, lover. It's me, Celeste. We are set for dinner with Mona and Jenny tonight. They are just so excited to meet you. I have told them all about you. Anyway, I will be at your place at six to pick you up. I miss you. Oh I almost forgot. Wear your blue polo shirt; it goes fabulously with those sexy eyes you have and the khakis. Don't forget those cute loafers too. Bye love."
"Ooh great" Pax said, looking at her watch while growling and grinding her teeth. "Two dates and she thinks she owns me."
Teela completed the Admission contract for Lee Riddell in record time. Now she stood on the third hole, at the gold course with her best friends Jo and Boney. Teel normally preferred to walk the course for great exercise and to releases the frustration and hardship she experienced in any given eight hour period at the ARCC, but not tonight. Tonight, Jo and Boney insisted that she have an electric riding cart because they were getting one.
"Well you were right Jo. Getting a cart is faster, especially when there aren't too many people wanting to golf. "
"Well the old biddies on the Wednesday night league are so rude, they scare most people away" Boney chided.
"This is true" Teela agreed. "They are nasty to people sometimes."
"Hey Teela, maybe you'll end up with some of them where you are. I'm sure someone is going to break a hip out here."
"Boney. You are just too terrible for your own good." her wife scolded her.
"You married her Jo. Now you're stuck with her."
"Not stuck with me, Teela. More like stuck to me sometimes. Huh babe?" She blew her wife a kiss.
"Eeewww. Must you two always do that?"
"Do what Teela?"
"Be lesbians in public." she chided her friends.
Jo looked to her wife and winked, "Yes we must. It keeps us from drying up."
"Yeah. Speaking of drying up, when was the last time you went on a date?"
"You can be so crude, Augusta Jean Bonniker."
Teela laughed as her she watched her friend coil and hunch her back. She hissed menacingly towards Teela clawing at the air.
"Why must you tease my hillbilly so Teela? You know she hates that."
"Because I can." she laughed.
"Still, speaking of drying up." Boney continued in stride.
"What she means is, is that a friend of ours wanted to know if we knew any nice single lesbians she could meet, and we thought of you."
Teela sighed knowing that her friend meant well. They were looking out for her as always. The last four people who happened to be their single friends that were extremely nice.
"Jo, Boney listen carefully. I am not interested."
" You haven't even heard anything about her. How can you say that you are not interested?"
"Easy. Watch my lips. I am not interested." she pronounced each world with exaggerated lip movements.
"Tanesha is very pretty. She has an athletic build because she exercises all the time. She has a doctorates degree so she is very smart." Jo praised.
"And she is chocolate like my Jo." Boney smiled proudly goosing her wife.
"I am not interested in her eulogy Jo. I am not interested in anything about her."
"Is it the black thing?"
"That does not bother me Jo, and you know better. I have a busy life as it is. I have the house to take care of and Thumper. I do my gardening and reading. It's quite full really."
"Sounds like filler to me Jo." Boney chimed in.
Jo looked down the fairway and saw that the person playing alone and behind the foursome ahead of her had replaced the flag and finally moved onto the next hole.
"But what do you do for companionship Teela?"
"There is nothing that a companion can do for me that I cannot do for myself." she replied smugly, watching her friend tee up her ball. "Besides, I have Bess to consider."
Jo focused on her swing and teed off. Seeing that the ball sailed straight down the fairway, she turned back to her friend. "That is admirable of you Teela, to continue to care for Bess, but you cannot continue to punish yourself over her."
Teela approached and teed up her ball. She had grown weary a long time ago of this very conversation with her best friends. It was getting old. She swung the club with all the frustration she felt. It was just enough to land close to Jo's drive.
"I don't consider caring for someone you love as a punishment."
"Ordinarily no, but these are unusual circumstances are they not?
"I am not interested in dating anyone Jo. End of discussion."
It was wishful thinking for Teela. Being tag-teamed by Jo and Boney when they had an idea trapped between them, they could be doggedly persistent. That was exactly what they were being regarding this person Tanesha. They never ended singing her praises through the third and fourth holes. Teela deliberately opened the face of her club and took her stroke. The shot was to the far right and away from her friends as she went in search of her ball. It's going to ruin my score but damn, I needed a break. Justifying the shot made her feel better.
As the threesome finishing the fourth hole and rounded on the fifth, they saw the two carts lined up waiting to tee off and someone standing with a pull cart. Teela was the first one to pull up to the area but stopped far behind the woman playing alone. Jo and Boney finally pulled to a stop besides Teela and look at one another slyly.
"Oh my gosh, is that you Tanesha?" Jo exclaims.
Teela snapped her head looking between the very pretty black woman and her friend. Her eyes narrowed at Jo who pretended not to notice the daggers flying through the air at her. I'm going to KILL HER. And her hillbilly wife too. I should have known they were up to something. Just you wait. This will not go unpunished. Teela began to plot her revenge.
"Yes, it's me, Johanna," The woman smiles a toothy grin at her.
"Why what in the hell are you doing here?"
"Ahhh playing golf, I think."
"Well, Boney, will you take a look who we ran into. It's Tanesha. We were just talking about you with Teela. Now we've run into you. Amazing."
"Truly amazing." Teela voiced dryly. Coincidence my ass Jo. You are so dead meat.
"Well, Tanesha, you've met my Boney before haven't you."
"Yes I have. How are you?" she shook Boney's outstretched hand again.
"And this is Teela. Teela I would like for you to meet Tanesha Evans."
Jo I would like for you to meet my foot going up your butt! "Hello Tanesha, nice to meet you." She gave her most courteous smile and took the hand offered. Tanesha grinned at her with instant adoration. Oh great. Now she thinks she has just hit pay dirt. I am going to go to jail for a double homicide tonight. I just know it.
"So how is your score so far?"
"Great. I always cheat when I am by myself." she chuckled.
"Well let us make an honest woman out of you. Why don't you join us Tanesha? Teela is riding alone and won't mind sharing her cart. Would you Teela?"
"No not at all Jo. Not at all." There, those knives had to have landed in your chest, Jo. You saw me throw them. "Come on Tanesha, I'll help you strap your bag in."
Being as graceful as she could manage under the conditions, Teela spoke with Tanesha and found out that she did in fact work with Jo at the Community Center as a psychiatrist. Stealing glances when Tanesha was not looking, Teela found her to be pretty. Her features seemed to be a blending of both the white and African-American races. Her skin a smooth Carmelite color, full lips but not overly pronounced, hair in long braids surrounded small but distinctive cheekbones. Her eyes were nearly almond shaped, and were a hazel color that changed from light brown to dark. Too bad I am not interested in dating anyone. She chided herself.
At the same time, Tanesha was checking out her impromptu golf partner. She watched the gentle sway of slender hips as Teela approached and swung her club. Her eyes twinkle when she smiles. She is very pretty with those ruby lips and firm breasts. They are being restrained rather tightly aren't they? She is intelligent, witty. I really like her in addition to her attributes. Tanesha you are such a dog. Naw more like a snake. Silently snickering.
At the end of the round, Jo and Boney put their clubs away in back of Boney's pearl colored Escalade. Tanesha unstrapped her clubs and walked to the next row over to her car. She was stowing her gear and thinking of a way to ask Teela for a date.
"Well ladies. Thanks for letting me join the round with you. I think it saved all of us a lot of time."
"That's no problem Tanesha." Jo chimed in and raised a suggestive eyebrow at Teela.
Teela saw the look her friend gave her, but she was not biting. Although, she does have a very nice body. Nice muscular, tight thighs. Can't blame a girl for wondering what she would look like naked. More importantly, I wonder if the look and texture of her nipples are different than what I was used to. God can you be anymore crude Teela. Jo and Boney are right. I need to get out more.
"Hey, it's only eight. Would you like to join us for a quick bite?" Boney offered seeing the unheeded hint her lover threw at Teela.
Tanesha's gaze was fixed on Teela. She couldn't tell how to read her face or her reaction. "Thank you Boney, but no. I do have a few things left to do before the night is out. It was very nice to meet you Teela. I hope we can meet again sometime soon."
As soon as Tanesha got into her car, Jo whirled on Teela. "Are you crazy? I could see the sparks flying from the cart out there."
"Go get her number Teela before she leaves the parking lot."
"For the last time, Jo. I am not in the market to be dating."
Boney looked between her lover and her friend then grinned widely and said, "Just think Teela, if you two start dating, you'll be T-N-T. Imagine how explosive that could be." Jo slapped Boney on the back of the head.
"Only you Boney." Teela laughs at her rubbing her head. It does have possibilities. But I am not about to tell Jo that.
Later that night, Teela lay upon the couch, the belly of Thumper her dark caramel colored Staffordshire Bull Terrier was her pillow. Together they were watching the home movies from five years ago. Teela and a 3 month old Thumper were running and playing in the back yard of their home.
The video camera panned from a gangly dog to that of Bess, manning the grill as her major responsibility.
"See that Thumper. Bess always had to tend the grill. Next to you, it was her baby. I just came in somewhere down the line most of the time. Oh but remember this girl?" She pointed at the screen as Teela saw herself and Thumper stealing a hot dog from the grill and running. Because she was filming and running backward, the jostling of the camera made for dizzying footage.
"Ooh here comes Bess' favorite part Thumper." Teela giggled watching herself fall over backwards into the kiddy pool. They had purchased the small pool for Thumper. On extremely hot July days, the dog could sit in it and cool off. "Yeah, Thumper, you never liked to get wet, so why did you push me into the pool?" She craned her neck to look at the sleeping dog. "I ended up using the thing more than you did."
She watched the screen as Thumper grabbed the Water Willy between her jaws, shaking her then small head ferociously. Bess entered the shot and was cooing at the dog looking down quizzically at the plastic toy. Hearing herself chuckle into the mike, Teela began laughing in real time as heard Bess squeal and Thumper bark their dissatisfaction when Teela turned the water flow back on. They were instantly soaked. Hearing herself bark on the screen, got Thumper the pillow growling in warning.
"Awww what's the matter girl? Don't like being the brunt of jokes do ya?" Thinking that she had enough abuse for one night, Thumper wiggled telling Teela that she wanted up. "Spoil sport. Can't take a good joke."
Thumper stepped down off the couch languidly and stretched. She looked at her mommy and then ambled her way into the kitchen.
"Bring back a pop will ya? Earn your keep dog."
She turned back to the screen. Her mood melancholy. Now they were at Nettles, the women's campground in the lower Northern part of Michigan. The trailer they had purchased was being moved into place. Always the director, Bess was instructing the men on how she wanted the trailer placed on the camp site.
"That was a great first year. We were so happy then. Our own little family. Right Thumper?" She glanced into questioning hazel eyes. "I wonder if you miss her as much as I do sometimes."
Teela felt the tears slowly roll down her cheeks. Longing for those days to return was futile, and only brought loneliness closer. It was the family she missed. She wrapped her arms lovingly around the thick muscular neck of the Pit bull and buried her face in the short fur.
"If it wasn't for you T-Dog, I don't think I could have survived." Thumper half barked her agreement. "Tomorrow is Thursday and for a couple of hours, our family will be together again." She clutched the sagging jowls in her hands. "Tomorrow we go visit Bess. Your mom always seems to light up when she sees her T-Dog. Doesn't she girl?" A loud firm bark resounded from Thumper.
Teela quickly scrunched her face and closed her eyes and mouth as her T-Dog gave her a sloppy wet kiss from the chin to for head. She thanks her and felt the coldness of the red nose nudging her cheek. T-dog quickly left the room heading for the kitchen. After a moment, she gave a tiny yelp, not even a bark. that was what Teela liked about Thumper. She hardly ever barked. Unless there was a knock on the door, she was sassing back, or when she ran the vacuum cleaner. Then, she only snapped and nipped at the front of the machine.
"Ooh no. It is too late for a T-r-e-a-t. You only kissed me thinking you would get one. Well you guessed wrong. Come on, let's go to bed."
After turning out the lights and double checking the door locks, she and Thumper made their way upstairs. In the bathroom, Teela washed her face and brushed her teeth. She reached into the small container on the back of the toilet and handed Thumper one of her breath and teeth cleaning cookies. Thinking it was another treat, Thumper never had a problem with the mint smelling goodies.
Teela finally lays her head down upon the pillow only to bounce upright to check the alarms again. Once satisfied, she pats the opposite side of the bed. Hearing her cue, Thumper jumps onto the empty side and immediately began pawing her own pillow. It was her favorite one with the puppy paws all over it.
Thumper finally dropped onto her side, back to Teela and her feet stretched out. She gave a heavy, weary sigh.
Teela laughed and turned out the lights. "Had a hard day did you dog?"
Teela and Thumper turned into the drive marked Pine Ridge AFC home. Each time she pulled in, Teela marveled at the wonderful landscaping with beautiful flowers and expertly trimmed bushes. It was the best home in the area she could find and still keep Bess close. She had looked at so many until they began to blur together. Teela finally began asking her colleagues in the field what their recommendation were for Adult Foster Care's. Several had suggested Pine Ridge.
First, Teela wanted to know about their reputation. She found out that not only did they have an exceptional one in the industry, but that it was run by a couple former Long Term Care Director Of Nurses turned State Surveyors. With that, Teela was confident and reassured as to the quality of care they would provide. She was just thankful that Bess had invested in Long Term Care Insurance as a part of her Health Care coverage through the airline not to mention her pension. If balanced just right, she should have enough money to pay for Bess' care for another 5-6 years at best. Sure, there were lesser expensive places that could provide for what Bess needed, but she was not ready to risk it. She knew as well as anyone that being private pay opened up a lot more options when it came to the Long Term Care Industry.
Feeling a little guilty as she did not make visitations last week, Teela hesitated a little before getting out of the car. It was unavoidable. It was 'strongly suggested' by Eerie Warden that she attend a marketing dinner at Ramoni's for Heartfull Home Health Care and Hospice. They were actively marketing to the ARCC for an in-house Hospice contract.
Nica had a date and Eerie Warden would only attend these things if they contained some level of prestige. So she was it. For three hours she smiled and networked with the other Director of Nurses or Care Coordinators from other facilities and hospitals in the tri-county area. A free meal was a free meal, and she did not have to cook, but it would mean not seeing Bess on their scheduled night.
"Okay girl. Settle down now. I can't get your lead snapped on if you keep flitting around like that. I know that you are excited."
Teela latched the retractable lead through the metal hook on the back of Thumper's blue chest harness and they emerged from the car. She braced for Thumper's initial pull as she only has a very short line with which to work with. Thumper was prancing all about her short area while Teela opened the back door of the car. She was balancing the jumping arm with the lead with grabbing the small white bag and the bouquet of lavender and white carnations she brought for Bess. They were her favorite.
They entered through the large white double doors of the ranch style building. All of the private or semi-private rooms were located on a single floor. It was a great design since the general population was elderly with the exception of one or two younger like Bess. Teela and Thumper stepped into the small vestibule and through the sitting area or lobby. It was pleasantly decorated with floral curtains and furniture. Cherry wood end tables and book cases invited visitors and resident alike to stop, relax and enjoy themselves reading or conversing.
By now, Thumper had channeled her excitement and walked obediently beside Teela. They walked through that room and into another monstrous area that contained only the nursing station. Much bigger than the ones to which she was used to at the ARCC, the imposing circular nurses' desk sat in the middle of the floor. The high sides and top were cherry veneer that shone brightly beneath the fluorescent lights. There was a counter on the other side of the cherry veneer that ran the circumference of the desk where the nurses actually did their writing. Built-in chart racks held the clinical records neatly labeled in four different sections. There were at least four telephones, at the station and a multitude of nursing paraphernalia scattered about from stethoscopes to portable blood pressure machines. Forgotten records were opened to the progress notes section and an overturned cup of pens that had spilled out.
Shooting off in different directions were four brightly lit halls in festive colors to appeal to the eye. Each was distinct in their major color scheme. When she had initially arrived for a tour of the place, it was the cheerfulness of the staff and the atmosphere to which she was drawn. Each hall was named after a street. Teela loved that concept. It took away the institutionalization that most of the larger Adult Foster Cares tend to assimilate. Maple Street, Elm Street, Oak Street, and Pine Street extended off of the desk making it easy for a person at the station to simply look up and scan the streets. Each street contained 12 private or semi private rooms. Because some of the bathrooms connected between rooms, one side of the street was generally for males, the other for females. Couples rarely roomed together at Pine Ridge.
Teela spotted her favorite nurse coming down Pine Street and smiled. Annie had been there the day Bess was admitted. She was a very kind and compassionate nurse who went the extra mile to help a family or resident. Teela felt she was an ideal for the nursing profession.
"Hello Annie. How are things?"
"Hi Teela." She bent down towards the dog. "And how is Thumper today?" In response, T-Dog rolled over on her back wanting her belly to be rubbed.
"You have no shame, do you dog?" She grinned. "So how is Bess today?"
"Bess has a bit of the sniffles, but she is generally alright." she commented from the floor where her hands were busy stroking the shameless animal. "Ooh those are pretty." She said indicating the flowers.
"Bess' favorite. I brought us in some fruit punch. Can you we get some cups and ice?"
"Sure Teela. I'll bring it to her room when I'm done making this note."
"Great. Thanks." Satisfied, Teela turned and headed down Elm Street. Teela giggled and looked down at her companion, "You know Thumper, Bess hates scary movies and for her to be living on Elm street it's kind of funny. She would have a conniption fit if she knew."
They stopped outside of the door marked "5." She delicately touched the 5x7 picture upon the door. A smiling Bess at the campground sitting at the picnic table playing Scrabble. Only Boney's elbow and right side of her body could be seen, but it was a good picture of Bess. The filthy Australian Outback hat she loved so much was tipped back on her head and her black hair flew wildly sticking out of the sides. 'The dirt adds to the coloring and characteristic of the hat' Bess used to say to justify it's continued existence and keep it out of the trash. Teela thought smiling. Then she remembered. It was the last time they were there as a couple before the stroke.
The one large bedroom was Spartan in furnishings with a dresser and mirror against the far wall. On the surface were Bess' favored trinkets, pictures of her Thumper, Teela, Boney and Jo. On the wall were other eight by tens or five by seven's Teela had enlarged for Bess' room including a copy of Bess standing in the control tower at the airline where she used to work and one from the trip they took to the Bahamas six years ago. Two recliner chairs were placed in front of the TV/VCR combo sitting on the TV stand, a small end table placed between them.
Bess was lying on the bed with a colorfully knitted lap blanket thrown over her. Uncertain if she was sleeping, Teela spoke, "Bess?" The figure on the bed lightly stirred. Stepping to the side of the bed Teela waited for her eyes to open before touching her. She didn't want to startle or frighten Bess coming out of a dreamscape.
"Bess. You're best girl is here to see you."
After calling her name few more times, sleepy gray eyes blinked open and focused on her. Teela waved at her lover. The right eye slightly drooped along with the right side of her mouth. They have not been bright since the stroke. She missed their sparkle. She gently sat down upon the bed.
"Hi sweetheart. It's Teela and Thumper. We've come to see you." She smiled and slowly reached out her hand to brush some of the wooly hair back from her face. We've missed you and wanted to see how things are going."
Teela gazed upon the confused dull gray eyes and then slowly bent over and gave her girl a kiss upon her forehead. She does feel a little warm. I'll need to tell Annie when she comes. Teela tapped the side of her leg loudly and soon the brown head appeared by her side. Teela watches Bess eyes twinkle in an instant and her lips turn upward into a crooked half smile. The left side of her face and body was unaffected by the stroke, but Teela knew when her girl was smiling and apparently so did T-Dog. Bess reached out her left arm and wrapped it around the dog's neck. Thinking that it was welcomed, Thumper proceeded to bathe Bess in kisses.
"Did you have a good nap?" Teela knew there would not be a verbal response as the lifeless eyes stared back at her. The smile turned back into a tilting flat line.
She set Thumper free from the lead to wander around the room as she always did. Even though she has been here hundred of times, Thumper had to check out every scent and piece of furniture each time. Teela stroked Bess' hand and watched Thumper investigate. After a while, she finally slumped in front of the doorway, sighing heavily from the exertion.
"So, I thought we could watch a movie tonight, but I bet you have to go potty first. Don't you?"
She stood and went to the door. Tapping the dog on the side with her foot and she lazily stood and moved to Bess' side again. Thumper sat on her hunches not phased by Bess' hard pats on the head. You are truly an amazing dog Thumper. Teela thought to herself. You seem to know that Bess can't control how hard she pets you and it's okay. Isn't it girl?
Teela stuck her head out the door, seeing Annie and calling to her for some help. Annie came and Teela told her what she wanted to do. Teela stood on Bess' left. Annie brought over the modified roller walker. There was an arm stray with a cloth-covered handle at the end. When walking, Bess' affected right arm rested in the tray and was loosely Velcroed in place. The handle or short pole at the end was so that her fingers could wrap around to help her steer it. She retained a surprising amount of strength and regained mobility in her right leg. Although she limped, she was still able to walk smoothly for the most part.
Together they got Bess upright but her nose ran immediately. Teela used a Kleenex to clean her nose then kisses her on the forehead.
"Ok darlin' let's get you up and to the bathroom." Once upright, Teela chuckled. "Ooh Bess, you have such
a lovely hairdo this evening." Her hair was imitating Don King and sticking straight into the air at all angles. The lower half of her hair was plastered straight down causing an obvious open spot in the center of her cranium. "I do wish I could invent something to prevent bed head. Don't you Bess?" She chuckled trying to smooth the unruly mass.
"You would make a fortune." Annie snickered.
"We'll fix it after you get out of the bathroom. Ok?"
"Okay Bess. We want you to stand on the count of three." She gently took Bess' left hand and placed it on the walker making sure her fingers had a firmly wrapped grip. Annie placed her arm underneath the elbow of the partially functioning right. "Ready?"
Bess' face instantly darkened and she removed her left hand from the walker and began to using it to lightly bat at Annie. Annie immediately stepped away from Bess.
"Now Bess. That was not a nice thing to do to Annie." Teela gently scolded. "She needs your help to get you to stand. Then you can go to the bathroom." Bess batted at Teela's leg several times. Teela stood there not budging. "You can hit me all you want Bess, but we still need you to stand and go to the bathroom."
"She has been doing this for a few days now."
"Is it all the time or what?" She felt her social worker mode rising above the role of lover.
"No, with standing and moving really. She gives us this evil mean look though."
She chuckled, "I know the one. I used to get it all the time I called it the 'I'm not amused' look."
"Once we get her up and moving, she stops. I think we need to look at her Tylenol."
"That's a good idea, but she may just not be feeling well too."
"She hasn't hurt anyone has she?"
"No. She just slaps a bit."
After another try and some more slapping, Teela and Annie got Bess standing. Annie took over and led
her into the bathroom, closes the door.
Straightening the bed, Teela listened to Annie talking to Bess, smiling as a result of Bess' occasional "Shit" her favorite word now and then. She turned on the TV and sets it for the VCR. Scanning the VHS tapes stored below in the cabinet, she selected what she knew was one of Bess' favorites, Mothra. In fact most all of the tapes in her collection were about some sort of Japanese monster. Teela chuckled; it was one of the endearing things about Bess. She found Bess' taste in movies bizarre but fun.
Bess had a huge collection of the monsters, mostly the Godzilla's from 1949 to 2004. So many hours I had endured watching Godzilla eating nuclear energy, destroying Tokyo or fighting another man in a monster costume, but you did love laughing at their special effects didn't you baby? How many times had you laughed at those toy models until you nearly choked on popcorn? I almost dreaded you discovering a new movie, because that meant I had to watch them with you. She turned the VHS movie over in her hands. Oh you were near tears when we watched Godzilla finally get heartburn and have a meltdown. I wish those days back now and can't have them.
Teela was lost in her reverie and didn't know that Bess and Annie had left the bathroom. Annie helped Bess get situated in the recliner.
"Thanks for your help Annie." She kissed Bess on the fore head. She was greeted by a smile from Bess. "Okay ladies and canines, today's movie is a classic. " She leaned over Bess and snapped the brightly colored clothing protector around Bess' neck.
Teela placed the Tupperware bowl of Butterscotch pudding in Bess lap. She positioned her right arm around the plastic bowl to secure it in place. Then she placed the spoon in Bess' left hand. If she had to be thankful for anything about her lover having a stroke, it would be that it occurred on her right side. Bess was naturally left-handed. She would have had tremendous difficulty learning to eat with her right given the amount of the cognitive damage she suffered.
Teela sat beside Bess alternating between looking at her lover and the little twin fairies pleading for the gigantic egg to be returned. Teela gently lifted Bess' left hand, extending the index finger and placed one of then petal shaped butter cookie on her finger. It was Bess ritual: take the cookie, place it on your finger and nibble around until it nearly fell off. Only now, Bess lightly bit the cookie and removed her finger before she bit it in half and shoved the other half into her mouth. Every second cookie, Teela would encourage her to take drink of the fruit punch. Teela helped her with the straw and then would wipe her mouth. They settled in to watch the movie.
Thumper eased to the door and poked her head out looking at Annie and another nurse. Thumper slowly sneaked out the door and down to the women.
"I see Teela and Thumper are here."
"Yeah, can you tell?" Said a nurse laughing at the dog seeking attention.
"Have you told Teela about Bess?"
"No and I am not going to tell her. Neither are you. Teela and the other two women are the only ones who come and visit with Bess. If I told Teela that Bess cries when she leaves, she might not come back. Being a social worker in a nursing home, she will understand that Bess gets upset and distressed. It will only make Teela feel guilty. She may even stop coming. Where would Bess be then? At least we can still calm her down afterwards. So what would be the point?"
It had been sometime since Teela was able to get to the nursing station and read the daily reports for her unit. However she knew the critical information: who was sent to the hospital, who had behavioral problems the night before, and if there were any changes in her patients' psychiatric medications. The remainder, she would glean from her unit partner and RN Cassandra.
As of this morning, she had two rehab discharges to schedule and plan. More importantly this morning Teela wanted to sit at the nursing station and do some much needed charting. Even though her office was behind the station, the walls would start to close in on her.
Concentrating on the progress note, Teela did not see Steve Preminger approach the desk. He was an elderly man of 82, thinning white hair and oversized yellowed teeth. He smiled his usual lecherous grin and banged his fist upon the desk. Teela jumped in her seat and placed her hand over her pounding heart.
"That is not funny Amanda." she said to the snickering floor nurse.
"I know. He scares the crap out of a lot of us doing that. He can be sneaky and quiet when he wants to." Teela looked into the grinning face. "We want you to know that he has been pinching the CENAs' butts when he passes by, and he has been making sexual comment, especially during toileting."
"Well his son did say that he liked the ladies in his younger days."
"But he's old Teela."
"He's regressing Amanda."
Steve easily engaged Teela. He took her hand in his and giggled pointing towards her breasts. He intermittently smacked the counter with his fist.
"You are quite the naughty boy now aren't you? How is your eye Steve?" Steve's reply didn't make sense to Teela, but he held still so that she can take a closer look at the dark purple and black bruising above and alongside his right eye. "How has his gait been lately Amanda?"
"Steady since he fell three days ago, but Teela you have to do something about him. He is getting worse." He thwacked the desk top again. "I think his Depakote dose should be increased."
"That is not a solution." She smiled taking her hand back from Steve's. "That's just covering up the problem."
"So what do we do then?"
"Look at what's behind the behavior problem."
"He's got dementia. When the psychiatrist is coming back in? Can't he be on the list to be seen? If not he should be."
"Saying he has dementia doesn't mean that's the reason for everything he does or doesn't do Amanda. That's not being fair to him or to anyone for that matter." She turned to the young nurse. "Amanda, you've worked with me how long?"
"Couple of years."
"And is jumping to increase drugs the first thing I do in cases like this?"
"No, but it would be quick and it would keep him from getting into the other ladies rooms. He is constantly going in there and jabbering at them. Some of the women are getting pissed at him."
"I can understand that. Really. But riddle me this Batwoman...."
"I hate it when you say that." Amanda grins.
"Because you know what's coming. You increase his Depakote and he is a wanderer. What do you think is likely to happen?" Amanda realizing, chooses not answer. "He may fall and then what? We are dealing with possible fractures or worse. You know I'm right. But no, that is not how I work."
"So All Knowing One, then what?"
"Aahh haa! This is the fun part of the job."
"Yes. We get to become detectives. Since you like those CSI shows and stuff you should be very good at this." Amanda scratched her head wondering what she is talking about. "Get his chart and I will be right back."
Teela went around the station and started to guide Steve down another hall. Amanda watched the bizarre little social worker talking and laughing animatedly with Steve. They finally came to a door with a large sign announcing The Improve Room.
There were six other resident's in the room in various states of activity from folding towels to thumping through magazines or doing a puzzle. Teela greeted the CENA and briefly filled her in on Steve needing something to keep busy. Once she saw that Steve was occupied, she quickly left the room closing the door quietly behind her.
Nearing the desk Teela overheard Amanda giving Erin Barden her opinion on Steve. Erin Barden
straightened to all of her five foot four frame and rested her hands on her hips. Her pageboy hair style did not have a strand out of place.
"Maybe it's time to ship him out." Erin concluded.
"That is not the answer, Erin. He is not at that point yet." Teela did not want to send another person to the geriatric psychiatry unit at the hospital.
Erin narrowed her gaze at her social worker. "Why not? It is apparent he is unmanageable. He is sexually inappropriate with others and that is increasing as well. From what Amanda here tells me he is invasive and frightening the women who's rooms he enters. That to me sounds like he should be in a psych unit."
You little devils spawn I would love to stick your ass in a psych unit. Teela's silent retort resulted in a pleasant smile on her face to address her supervisor. "I don't believe sending him to the geriatric psyche unit is the answer when we have not ruled out other probable causes for his behavior." Making her way around the desk, Teela stretched to her full height, loving the extra two inches she had on Eerie Warden. "That has always been first line of intervention, as you should know."
Erin thinned her eyes until they were slits beaming up at Teela. Her lips in a severe, tight line. Why you impertinent little bitch! Erin's mind screamed. Just you wait. "Well I truly hope that you are right Teela. But know this, and Amanda you are my witness. If he gets hurt or causes someone else to be injured, you will be responsible. If there is not improvement in his behavior in two days, then he will be shipped out."
Erin desperately wanted something for filler to put in Teela's employment file. She had been waiting and looking for the past 3 months but no, Miss Goody blonde bitch kept out-smarting her. Soon you will slip and I hope it's a good fuck up.
Understanding the threat all to well, Teela shook her shoulders and attempted to refocus her thoughts on Steve. She wished that Erin would find someone else to pick on. She was getting very tired of having to keep an eye looking back over her shoulder all the time. Teela could only guess why she was the Target of the Month. Despite their dislike of one another being immediate from the moment they were introduced, Teela was a strong advocate for the patients at the ARCC under her care. Erin, on the other hand was a 'Bottom Line' social worker.
All too often Teela had seen Erin sacrifice what was decent and beneficial to the resident for what would benefit the ARCC instead. Here, they frequently clashed In addition, Teela knew that she was considered at top pay for her classification and degree. In a privately owned Long Term Care Facility, that could be costly. Budget studies were already underway and she was well aware of how the game was played. After all, she has survived ten years thus far.
"All righty then. First thing to do is find something that may help him without increasing drugs. Now, generally he should be redirected back to the Improve Program."
"He does not want to stay in the room with the group."
"Then we find something else to divert his attention and occupy him. We need to call on Activity Department and see what they can help with."
"What is wrong with him besides dementia?"
Teela flipped open the notebook and scanned. "He has Alzheimer's, Prostate Cancer, and an Myocardial Infarction or heart attack. So given that, he was in a coma for about a week according to the Health and Physical report. However, his family says that he has always been into the ladies. Has been married 3 times."
"I do not see why she needs to know this. That information was not necessary," Erin scolded.
"It is helpful because 3 marriages may say something about his attitudes towards women in general. The heart attack may attest to whether there is enough oxygen continuing to get to the brain. Sometimes lack of oxygen can cause increased confusion, or in the case of Steve, more confusion and a change in his behavior. The cancer, may be active or still dormant, I can't recall, but there may be some pain there at any rate. So let's take a look."
Looking through the chart for clues Teela and Amanda looked back over Steve's past two weeks. Amanda was on her second day back from vacation, so she could not tell if there were any changes in him. While reading they discovered that Steve had started Duragesic 50mcg, a strong pain medication patch, about a week and a half ago because of his Arthritis.
"Now why would he start that?" Holding her page, she turned over to the nursing notes and reads the entry for that day and several before and after that time period. "Steve was grimacing and limping then. He received Tylenol Extra Strength for a while but it was still not doing much." She read further, "Then Vicodin for a few days, but he had nausea with that. Then started Duragesic last week. Hmm..." Could be that. "What if he is having a side effect of the Duragesic? It's a guess, but what if the fall was also related to him using it? Amanda, can you interpret his labs results for me?" Looking at the recent blood reports from the lab.
She turned the tab to the Lab section and slid the book towards Amanda pointing "Everything looks okay. No problem with hydration either as BUN level is okay."
"What about a recent urine analysis?"
"No. There has not been one."
"Okay, let's do this then. I will update Cassandra, run it by her and see if she agrees to talk to the physician and ask to him rethink using Duragesic or at the very least to try a lower dosage. Second, let's ask for a urine analysis just to make sure nothing else is going on." Peaking in the office beside hers and not seeing Cassandra, she said "I'll catch her later. She is always flittering about here somewhere. Then we will go from there."
Amanda clearly saw the look upon Erin's face. Oooh Teela you are in for it. You know she does not like to lose. "Okay Teela. I think you may be onto something, I'm just not as confident as you are though."
"Can't hurt now can it?"
Not liking loosing the upper hand, "Teela, let's go to my office and look at Steve's Behavior Logs to see if those interventions are the same on his care plan and to see if they are working." She turned to go, Amanda sighed and Teela looked after her compelling herself not sneer.
"Don't worry Teela, I'll be here with the saline solution to clean the bites when she is done."
Chuckling along with Amanda, Teela said, "Thanks, I will need that and stitches probably."
Sometime later, a tall blue eyed woman dressed in khaki pants and shirt approached the desk to speak to Amanda. "Excuse me. Can you tell me how Maureen Baldwin is doing? She looks a little peaked to me."
Amanda looks at the woman and smiles. "If I can ask you who you are?"
"Pax Baldwin. Maureen's daughter."
"Just a moment please." Amanda quickly located Maureen's chart in the rack. "I'm sorry, I don't
recognize you. But then I just came back from vacation."
"Well that's quite alright. I'm only return back to town myself. I've been gone quite a while."
Opening the book, Amanda turned to the form for which she was searching, "I'm sorry, Pax, but all that I can tell you that she is doing fine."
"Oh. Well is she receiving any kind of therapy for walking? How she was doing with that?
"Pax, I am truly sorry, but I cannot legally tell you anymore than that. You name is not listed upon the Privacy Disclosure Form and because of it, I cannot give you specific details about Maureen's care."
"Well can't you write my name on there and then tell me?"
"No. I can't, but a Zander or Damian Baldwin can. They have her Powers of Attorney."
"If you have any questions, you can speak to her social worker, Teela Pheamster can help you. She went to speak with her supervisor, but her office is there behind me. She would be able to explain it further."
"Maybe I will. But right now I have to get back to work."
"Oh, where do you work?"
"At the zoo. I'm a zoologist there."
"Ok. Hay a nice day then."
Teela finally returned to the desk, to have Amanda informs her about the woman claiming to be Maureen Baldwin's daughter. Teela walked down the hallway and saw Maureen in her bed sleeping. Knowing the mysterious woman had left, she really didn't expect to find anyone there. But as before, in a vase on the over the bed table was a single rose. She then turned and headed back to the desk resuming her place with charting.
Teela had just settled back into the chair when she heard a throat clearing. Looking up, she saw a man looking down upon her. She smiled in greeting at the minister. "Hi John, how are you doing?"
"Marcella told me that the nurses are refusing to give her medications, and her legs are hurting her desperately." Marcella's son-in-law replied with worry.
"It is probably the other way around, John. She does that from time to time." Pointing down the hall to the nurse that is standing by the medication cart, she said, "I'll tell her and ask her to come talk to Marcella when she is finished."
"Good enough. Thank you."
Before she could move, Teela heard her name on the PA system to call extension 190. She dialed Kat's number and waited for her to pick up. "Yes Kat, what do you want?"
"Do you remember Will Finger?"
"Sure I do. He just went home."
"He is at the hospital ready for a bed."
"Oh you are kidding me! Did we not tell that man and his daughter that he was not ready to go home so soon."
"Yes we did. But, he went to get off his riding lawn mower yesterday morning stumbled and fell, fracturing his hip. His repair surgery was last night and he should be ready for discharge tomorrow afternoon at the latest."
"Am I going to get him or Nica? We both have male beds open."
"I assumed that you wanted him since you and Cassandra are familiar with him."
"I knew you were going to say that. Sure." She took a step around the desk before a CENA came running to her. Oh what now? I am never going to get anything done. I chose the wrong profession. I should have been a baker or something.
"Teela, do you still have those lower dentures that were turned in from the laundry two weeks ago?"
"I believe they belong to Henrietta."
"They are in my office in the tall file cabinet, third drawer, marked with the date. Let me know if they belonged to Henrietta so that I can mark it off her list and get her name etched in them." Only another four sets of teeth to find a home for.
Teela entered the nearly empty break room long after the usual period when lunches were taken around the ARCC. It was sometimes much nicer that way, and definitely much quieter. For company, there were only two CENAs and herself in there. They called to her to grab something and to come join them.
"Hello Louanne. How're the kids?"
Louanne Marshanucci, a thirty two year old single parent, supported herself and her two children, Tamika her 9 year old and Mario the 7 year old. She said, "Starting a food fight in the school cafeteria."
"And then trying to sneak out. But enough about me. What about you Teela? Any new conquests yet?" She playfully shoved the other CENA watching Teela blush. Must have been good if it makes you blush still."
"Why does it seem everybody is interested in my social life lately? Besides, Louanne, you should know better than to even ask."
"Oh Teela. You should be out there knocking the women dead in their heels." The other CENA nodded in agreement. "Like the one I saw today. She looked really just the type for you. Wearing a uniform of some kind. Tall, had to be 6ft. at least, dark hair, very good looking."
"And what makes you think she is my type, Louanne?"
"Just a hunch. But she was very cute. Got some scars on her face though."
"What counts most is on the inside. That is if I were looking."
Louanne smiled and said to her, "Just think about being a squirrel and climbing up that tall tree." She makes a squirrel face and chattering sound.
The break room echoed with uproarious laughter.
"Now honey," Louanne continued, "if that was a tall black beautiful man walking down the hall like that, you know that I would make a point of introducing myself."
"And what about David?"
Louanne guffawed, "David is back in jail. His ex-wife, that low down bitch, is trying to press assault charges against him because he gave her a little push when she was standing on our porch over the weekend. I was right there and he gave her a little tap." Louanne demonstrated on Teela. "A couple hours after she left, the police came and arrested him."
"What is going to happen?"
"I do not know. He has only been out for 3 months this time. Who knows?"
"Hey I heard this morning that Selky is being sent out."
Grateful for the distraction to her thoughts. "Why?" Wondering what Nica's resident's did.
"Selky is so terrible with her hitting, yelling, crying, wandering and not resting. They don't know what else to do for her. She bit an aide yesterday, and kicked Erin in the shin. I guess she finally gave Nica the okay to transfer her to gero-psych."
"I knew that Nica had recommended to send her two days ago but Erin said that they were not doing enough. She kept telling Nica what to try."
Nica had talked to Teela about Selky and how Erin was over riding the decisions she was making on the case. The things that Erin was 'strongly suggesting' that Nica try were generally not relevant for Selky, nor were they feasible to do with only so many CENAs available. Teela had wondered why she had not seen Nica all day. Gero-psych admissions are so time consuming and often difficult to coordinate. It involved getting the physician on-board to agree and finding an open bed in one of the two available units in the area. The worst part can be in dealing with the family.
Teela finished her sandwich and began to leave. As she got to the door, Louanne called to her, "Steve will need more tennis shoes and underwear. He keeps ripping the elastic bands off the ones in his drawer and stashing them under the mattress."
Teela laughs. "Maybe they can make an art project for him to do with the elastic bands. I'll talk to Activities and see what they can do."
"By the way, if I see the tall tree lady, I'll send her to your office."
"Good shot Teela." Jo exclaimed watching the little white ball sail through the air and land on the fringes of the green to the left of the pin.
Teela bounced happily, and kissed her 3 iron. Challenging her friends to beat that shot. This was her favorite hole on the entire course. She could usually make up a stroke or two to tie Joe and Boney. It was the remainder of the holes that she hated. From the tee, it looked as though she could try to putt for birdie. This was good.
"One of the guys at the plant was trying to show off to the new girl today." Boney told them. "He decided to lift a crate of clams packed in ice." She was mimicking a burly man hoisting a heavy crate. "Then goes to take a step. Slips and sprays the clams and ice all over the dock." She cackled.
"Was he hurt Boney?"
"Just his pride. He was so embarrassed, that he simply picked up the little slippery things and walked off not speaking to the unimpressed girl at all. Not only was his pride hurt, so was his manhood because the crate dropped right onto his lap."
Jo laughed. "He'll be sore for a week."
Teela joined Jo. "Just as good as a cold shower."
Boney, approached the tee and tried to stifle her laughter to concentrate on hitting the ball. As she swung she connected under the ball and popped it flying high into the air and hooking to the right. Boney watched her drive plop behind a tree. "Damn!" She swore aloud to Teela's silently cheers.
"Speaking of cold showers" Jo tossed out. "Have you taken any lately Teela?"
"Karasi." Teela whined at her smirking friend. Teela used her first name only when she did not want to answer a question and Jo knew it.
Still smirking, she approached the tee for her shot. Placing her ball upon the University of Michigan tee, she aimed its matching ball towards the pin. Teela was amused at her friend. She was the ultimate alumni today, sporting her school colors flagrantly dressed in University of Michigan shorts, t-shirt and visor. She was proudly displaying the presents her wife purchased for her, including the matching U OF M pro golf bag, tees and balls.
Teela leaned in Boney direction and whispered, "Nice gifts Bone. Must have been a big dog house you were in, huh?"
With a wide Cheshire cat grin she said, "Never seen one so big."
Without a practice swing, Jo wound up and released her swing. She connected solidly with the ball as they all hear the certain "ting" of her titanium club head hitting the ball. Jo smiled. She loved that sound. All three watched as the ball sailed through the air and landed 3 feet to the side of Teela's.
"Damn, Jo." Teela grumbled then, "nice shot. I guess." She looked at Jo who smiled and kissed her 3 iron as well.
Jo and Teela stood by their respective balls waiting for Boney to figure out how to get from behind the tree and onto the green.
"So, what are you going to do with the remainder of your life?"
"Keep making a difference. Why mother?"
"You know what I mean Teela. I only want what's best for you. We both do."
"We've had this conversation a million times already Jo. Give it a rest."
"Tanesha is crazy about you and you have not even gone on a first date yet. She asks me almost every day if I have spoken to you." They heard a loud curse and turned to see Boney duck and then wildly swinging her club, muttering to herself. They watch her walk back several yards to where her ball bounced off the tree trunk.
"Jo, I have not even spoken to her. We are not going out and that's that. I do not have the energy to commit to more than one day at a time. Work is getting busier with the open bed will come a rash of admissions and then I will be even busier. It will be impossible to focus on anything else. Jo, I barely spend time with Thumper these days."
Jo snickered, "Is there something about you and Thumper that you would like to tell me? I am a psychologist. I think I can help. The first step is admitting it."
Boney's ball bounced upon the green and then off to the other side into the fringe.
"You may be my friend, but you are also a pervert." Teela shook her head and addressed her ball with her putter. Focusing, she tapped the ball and watched it roll and stop just outside the cup. She jumped up and down in a tantrum while her perverted friend just laughed.
Boney walked up on green giggling, going to Teela's ball and lightly batting it back to her. Jo approached the ball with her pitching wedge.
"Taking a risk aren't you?
Jo looked up and said, "Some risks are worth taking." She focused on her ball. Lightly she chipped the ball onto the green and it rolled in. She grinned at Teela, "Told ya so."
"Bite me." she grumbled to Jo and Boney, who were hysterical with laughter.
Continued in Part 2
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