A few day after arriving home from the hospital, my home health aide arrived – laptop in hand. My mom was still cleaning up Officer’s vomit, which seemed never ending as the discovery of new piles continued. I reclined in bed unable to move. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because Officer was snuggled up alongside me, while Uncle Put sat atop my head mimicking a Ushanka hat. No, it was my legs; I couldn’t move my feet without feeling massive pain. I was completely helpless, and at the mercy of those around me.
My aide was busy working hard – on her online college classes! My mom had put Cinderella to shame cleaning, cooking, shopping, not to mention helping me in and out of my wheelchair, to and from the bathroom, and depositing me back in bed with the pig and cat. Meanwhile, my aide, the Student, was getting her degree in Health Care, and her minor in Customer Relations. To be fair, she did lift her feet occasionally so my mother could clean under them.
My best friend, the company’s owner, called that evening to see how my first day using his services went. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that my mom threw her back out, but it was alright because the Student just finished a class on muscle spasms, and slipped disks. Needless to say, I never saw that home aide, Health Care, Customer Relation student again.
According to the schedulers working on my case, there were two reasons why they had been unable to find me adequate personal care. One, was because of Officer. Most caregivers were terrified at the thought of a pet pig, let alone one that lived indoors. The second aversion was my BF, their boss. Prospective aides had been told during scheduling that I was best friends with the boss, wherein most decided to pass. However, the bottom of the barrel could care less, and that’s exactly what I got, one right after the other.
My BF, however, had the perfect employee to send over. She was a hard worker, a grandmother, and lived out in the country with her exotic animals. She wasn’t afraid of pigs, and happened to be available, so he had her scheduled to arrive first thing in the morning. I was fascinated with what I had heard about her, but that’s one lesson to always remember readers, you can’t believe everything you hear.
She arrived in the morning. The nighttime aide went over my schedule, personal needs, showed her around, and discussed my injuries. She wasn’t introduced to Officer until I awoke. He was always by my side these days, protecting me. When I did finally greet her, she seemed perfect, appearing gentle and kind, like a grandmother type. In a thick Russian accent, she told me all about herself, and her son. As she got to know Officer, she explained how she used to train lions and tigers in the circus. Her boyfriend, Bear, had been the bear trainer – oh my! Currently, her son was the big cat trainer, and she wanted to take me on a field trip to her home where they keep the kitties. I was actually excited about that. Everything had been going great until she helped me to the shower.
I’m a very modest person. I get embarrassed when my friends walk around naked in front of me, or when the sales lady tries to wiggle her way into my dressing room to check the fit of my bra. So when I’m at the mercy of a stranger, at life’s most intimate times, modesty goes right out the window. Although Grandma Tiger Lady did help me into the shower, I didn’t remove my clothing until the shower door closed.
Sitting on my bath chair, relaxing as the hot water massaged its way down my body, enjoying the feeling of getting clean, I savored the moment. Grandma Tiger Lady interrupted my tranquility by saying, “I want to introduce you to my son; he’d really like you.” I had to chuckle at the thought; me, broken and wheelchair bound, and the savage, wild cat tamer.
“You have a beautiful figure. I remember when my breasts looked like that,” Grandma Tiger Lady said in English, though I believe it was partly in Russian. As I looked out my foggy, glass shower door, I noticed her staring at my naked, disabled body. Help! She rattled on about her life with the circus, her spectacular sequined costumes, and adventures in the cage with her cats. Drifting off, her gaze once again shifted over my bare frame. “Ahhh, the things you must do with that body!” she voiced in a nostalgic tone. Yeah, like step off an unmarked curb and break my ankles.
It had been a week since getting broken, when my sister and family returned from the cruise. They came to visit me before heading back home. I don’t remember much, because the pain pill prescribe in the hospital was in the process of breaking me further. You see readers, I was constipated. The nurse that came to check in on me every few days said if things didn’t get “moving”, I could lose part of my colon. So, I wasn’t much for conversation. This also happened to be the first day for a new home aide, and she was obviously getting quite the introduction.
As I screamed endlessly from my bedroom, my sister and family found activities, far away from me, to do before their plane flight. The New Girl was amazing, or at least my mother kept telling me so. Soon thereafter, my mom had to take everyone to the airport, and felt confident I was in good hands.
By the end of the next day, life was more tolerable. The New Girl and I had many adventures within those first few days of her working for me. As far as I was concerned, we made it through the battle together, to fight another day. My mom had been right, she was a keeper. Before the evening aide arrived, the New Girl wondered if she could ask me a question.
“Will you adopt me?” she propositioned. What?! I explained that at twenty-seven, she was probably too old to be adopted. Furthermore, I’m not old enough to be her mother.
Almost forty, I contemplated her proposal. I could have a functioning, hardworking, adult child, who is already taking care of me. Not to mention, I could feel proud that I had successfully raised a damn good kid. That was the moment I considered the possibility of being overmedicated.
One evening when the night shift was beginning, my regular evening aide (the chain smoker from WI) was booked elsewhere, so the agency scheduled someone new. She lasted a total of five minutes before I sent her home, and canceled all future overnight shifts. The Screamer showed up to work expecting a guinea pig, not forty pounds of protective pork, a.k.a. Officer. She screamed, and screamed, AND screamed, and then jumped on top of me in bed, landing on both broken ankles. I unquestionably reacted by screaming myself; at which point, Officer responded by charging her like a Billy goat.
I got into my wheelchair, for the first time all by myself, because pork chop had to go potty. I knew the Screamer wasn’t going to be of any help, but I didn’t think she would’ve abandoned her patient either. After I let Officer out, I looked around only to find I was all alone. My wheelchair was stuck, I couldn’t move, I had to get the pig…
”Help,” I yelled; nothing. “Hello. Help!” I repeated louder and more forcefully. Finally the Screamer emerged from the guest bathroom, “Did you need somethin’?” Not a thing; just wanted to say, ‘Hi’.
Another memorable worker, was sent to my home for the bargain-basement price of five hundred and fifty dollars a day. For all intents and purposes, we will call her Halfwit Hannity. Halfwit Hannity was sweet as could be, but she never failed in messing everything up. Either she would break it, shrink it, or forget it completely, in which case she would default to making herself something to eat instead.
Outside, on my patio project, was a custom gas fire pit. Thanks to the fishing buddies, it had to be demoed and rebuilt from scratch. Containing three types of fire glass, each needed to be separated and removed before construction could commence. The only thing I asked Halfwit Hannity to do day-in and day-out, was sort glass. Now, I did feel sorry for the poor girl, that was until I learned of her penchant for silverware. Halfwit Hannity was a pilferer. The girl was foolish enough to take a spoon to the Super Bowl, and I know just whose spoon it would be – mine! By the time she had finished working for me, I had one spoon, three forks, and two table knives left.
Then came the Sister. Almost completing her first day of work, she wheeled me outside for some fresh air. All these gals loved to talk. I knew all about them, their mothers, daughters, husbands, lovers, lesbian partners, you name it. I welcomed the distraction from my daily life and pain. However, while sitting outside enjoying the sunshine on my face and the breeze in my hair, Sister started confession.
“I thought you’d be a bitch,” she said, “but I’m pleasantly surprised.” Surprised myself, I asked why she would think such a thing. “Because you’re best friends with the boss man, and everyone hates him.” Well this was getting uncomfortable, but it was going to get downright alarming in three, two, one…
“I told the agency that you having a pig didn’t bother me; if it bites me, I’ll just sue you and the company. And I don’t care if you tell that good friend of yours everything I’ve said” she dared. “I have a felony assault charge on my record, and it’s just a matter of time before someone finds out about it, and fires me. You look uncomfortable,” she observed with a sarcastic giggle. Um, yeah; someone save me from this lunatic. “My sister worked for you once. She was never allowed back because of that mother of yours.” OMG, the Student; her sister was the Student!
Fortunately, by the end of my days with Home Health Care, I had three solid workers, two of which I continued to remain close to. Something else that stayed with me long after my in-home care, were toll tickets. I received toll violations for months afterwards. Although most aides had permission to use my car for running my errands or taking me to appointments, they did not have my consent to joyride over the span of four counties and thru countless toll booths. Guess who was responsible for payment, the cripple at home in bed with her pig and cat.