Friday, October 23, 2009

Adventures in the world of Activities

I will admit that my job is a bit more exciting and unpredictable than the normal office job. Working with the elderly, many of whom have dementia or Alzheimer's, provides an endless supply of strange scenarios and awkward moments.
Monday was movie day. Once a month we take a small group of ladies (not because the men aren't invited, but I think they're intimidated by being stuck with all females) out to lunch and to see a movie. I feel like I'm pretty ready for the unexpected at this point since I've had almost 4 years of this job. But days like this make me realize I'm never quite prepared enough. For the sake of HIPAA laws, I'm going use fake names for my ladies :) On our way from Wendy's into the movie theater, a couple of the women needed to make a brief stop at the restroom. So Amanda headed with them for the pit stop, and I got the other residents seated in the movie and then made my way back to help in the restroom. After several minutes and a few times of asking, "Are you doing OK in there?", I realized things weren't going as well as expected behind the stall door. Finally "Becky" fessed up and told me she couldn't get up off the toilet- which also meant she clearly couldn't reach the lock on the door to let me in so I could help her get up. A little important background info- Becky, a few months back, was stuck in a doctor's office bathroom for about an hour for this same problem. She had locked the door behind her, and was then unable to get back up after finishing her business. So, with this story in the back of my mind, and me thinking "Oh no, oh no, oh no", I try to calmly devise a plan that would not include me crawling army-style under the door on the nasty floor. So I stand up on the toilet seat next to her and look over the stall and attempt to coach her at how to rock back and forth to get momentum, and to grab onto the toilet paper dispenser as leverage to pull up on. I quickly realize this is not going to be successful. I then get up on the back of the toilet- the flusher part- and hoist myself up gymnast-on-the-uneven-bars style, and try to evaluate what my next move is. I kick one foot over to her side so that I'm straddling the divider (so thankful at this point that no one else is in the bathroom), and on my stomach I shimmy my way down toward the door. I had originally envisioned just reaching down and unlocking the door so that Amanda, my co-worker, could get in and help her. But then I see, once I'm there, that there's no possible way for me to reach down and unhook the lock without falling and breaking my neck- the lock is on the opposite side of the door (clearly, I should have gotten up on the opposite side. Stupid, stupid.) So I finally just decide to slowly lower myself down into her stall, but the side of me that's still a teenager finds this hilarious, and my hysterical laughter makes this very tough. I'm hanging from the stall with one leg dangling, the other still stuck over the divider, and my arms getting very weak from all my laughing. I had considered using the toilet paper dispenser as my midway stop on the way to the floor, but realize it probably won't hold me, and end up just dropping to the floor. Thankfully, and surprisingly, I did not land on Becky, did not break an ankle, did not pull the stall down with me, and did not wet my pants from laughing. Becky then proceeded to tell everyone for the rest of the day that I saved her life :)
THEN, with about 30 minutes left of the movie, one of the theater employees comes in and says, "Um, I think there's a lady out here that is with your group." Sure enough, I look around and one of our ladies is gone!!!! Seriously, how the hell did she get out without anyone noticing?? So I hurry out, completely embarassed since this worker must think I'm a total moron or on drugs. We go out the hallway- she's not there. Then we get out to the lobby- not there. She had made it all the way outside of the mall and was walking around!!! OHMYGOSH. I seriously am not usually this incompetent at my job- although reading this, I myself wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that. So I turned "Dixie" back around and escorted her back into the theater, down the hall, back to her seat. At the end of the movie, we were talking to her about the incident, and I asked why she had left, and she said "Really? I left during the movie? I don't know where the hell I was going" and then just laughed it off. Wow. Only in the land of retirement homes :)

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