The smell of fecal matter, urine, and soiled linen captivate the hallways. It’s time for the residents of Symphony of South Shore to be cleaned and changed.
The first person on the patient care plan was Barbara Johnson. There was a knock on her room door but she didn’t answer. The knocking grew louder.
Ms. Johnson called out, “who’s there?”
“It’s your nursing assistant, if it’s okay with you, I’ll like to come in.”
She let out a shrill high-pitched noise, letting the nursing assistant know it was okay to enter.
It was pitch black, even though the bathroom light flickered. The faucet dripped. The nursing assistant noticed the sink was running over with water. She turned on the bedroom lights and placed a towel on the floor until maintenance arrived.
Her curtains were closed, blocking light from entering the room. The bed is in the corner closest to the door, away from the window.
Her room was hot but her skin was cool. A pool of clotted blood was located at the head of the bed. Blood oozed down her face with thick droplets of blood splattered on her nightgown. This was normal for Ms. Johnson. Her illness, stomach cancer caused her to vomit blood several times a day.
Ms. Johnson couldn’t remember her nursing assistant’s name, so she called her Kara.
“It’s time for me to get you cleaned up,” Kara said.
“I don’t want to be cleaned today Kara, I have no purpose here anyway.”
Kara said, “I’ll make it quick.”
Kara began to wash Ms. Johnson face. She screeched because the water was too cold. As Kara ran more water, she took off Ms. Johnson’s nightgown.
Her skin was peeled, dry, and flaked. Shedding skin, blood, and other bodily fluids was all over her white sheets. She had open wounds protruded on her body. Then Kara took off her panties.
More secondary lesions, caused by untreated primary lesions, invaded her body. She had neuropathic ulcers as a result of her diabetes. They were hard, reddish-purple, and discolored due to decreased blood flow. You could feel thickening inside the lesions as fluid oozed out. There was a break in the epidermal layer of her skin. The sores were so deep you could see her flesh.
Kara tried to be gentle with her but she constantly moaned and groaned. She weighed 90 pounds and stood at 5 feet tall. As Kara turned her over, she noticed bed sores on Ms. Johnson buttocks and thighs. This is a result of her lying in bed every day.
“This illness is taking control of my body and I haven’t come to terms with that. I use to be beautiful, really beautiful. I modeled for several magazine including Playboy. Now look at me. I invested in the stock market. I’m rich but one couldn’t tell because I’m here. ”
“A run down, shabby nursing home is where my family decided to place me. I guess I’m too much to handle but still. I took care of my four kids my entire life and none of them come to see me. They don’t bring me food or clothes. Don’t even call to say hello. My husband died four years ago. If he was alive, I know I wouldn’t be living here. I don’t want to die alone and somehow I know my time is coming.”
“I’m throwing up more and more, my sores are not healing, and I can’t walk anymore. I can’t bathe or clothe myself. I can’t keep my food down and my hearing is leaving. Why do I have to live this way? I thought I lived a good life and treated everyone well. So why do I have to suffer? I’m not ready to die.”
Kara never said a word. She let Ms. Johnson vent to her. She was the only one who ever listened. As Ms. Johnson cried, Kara hugged her. Kara noticed how much time had passed by. She had other residents to clean and clothe.
“I’ll be back Ms. Johnson after I finish making my rounds,” Kara said.
She kissed her on the forehead and placed her hand on the door. Ms. Johnson fell out the bed and Kara immediately called out CODE RED!
The nurse rushed in the room. Kara checked Ms. Johnson vital signs. Her blood was no longer circulating. Blood clots started to form. Her heart murmured, soothing sound. Worn out and run down, her tongue fumbled while she searched for last words.
Light quickly started to fade from her eyes. Her breathing became shallow. No more respiration, her lungs stopped. Her body experienced Rigor Mortis. On Monday, February 20, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. Ms. Johnson passed away.