Friday, May 2, 2014

Blessed Solitude in the Institution

So Chatty moved out -- lock, stock and rotting orange juice containers. An aide came to tell me that she asked Chatty why she was moving rooms and she told the aide that I (Pat) am "not her cup of tea." We laughed about it. Right after that, Brad called me who is a tea drinker and I told him and he said, "Well you ARE my cup of tea."

I feel as if I can exhale. I was so happy I even called my former roommate at home to tell her that I miss her and fill her in with my short-term roommate.

Who knows who is next to occupy that bed? At least I know tonight I'm alone. It will also be nice when I have visitors over the weekend to have some extra room.

One of the residents near me went ballistic this afternoon and kept shouting at a staff member, "Stay in your lane; stay in your lane." I had never heard that expression, but I like it... it's like "You can keep driving, but just stay away from me."

The hospital shrink came to see me today. I had asked to see a therapist the first six days I was here and then gave up. She said she was waiting to get her visit approved by insurance, which I appreciate. We had a nice chat and it was clear that I'm basically happy, articulate and well-adjusted. We had an interesting conversation about institutions, losing your identity, emotional needs being ignored, etc. She said,"All I have to do now is write a report about the visit with  you..." and I said, "I'll write it for you and I spurted out the perfect report-like prose, ending with. "Patricia eagerly anticipates her discharge and a return to independent living." She was laughing about it and urged me to contact her again for a visit. I might do that, just for my own interest.

I remember a poem from that play from the late 70s/early 80s called "For Colored Girls who have considered suicide" and it's like a series of monologue/poems -- one is "Once I was pregnant and ashamed of myself..." and there's another with the line "Someone almost walked off with all of my stuff" and it's basically about letting a man take your identity from you... and I think about that with the institution -- the days a few weeks back where I was genuinely scared because I didn't know who I was anymore.

There's a Harrison Ford movie with a line I love where this woman says to Harrison, "I don't even know who I am any more" and Harrison replies, "I know who you are." And one day, talking to Brad, I told him that I was going to say, "I don't even know who I am any more" and he should reply, "I know who you are" and he said OK, and we said it and then he launched into a description of me, how he views me, and it really was a turning point. I told him that today. 

I told the therapist today a story I've told some of you about being in the shower for the second time here and the aide handed me a white styrofoam coffee cup with orange stuff in it as I sat in the shower. I took a drink of it... hand me a cup with stuff in it, and Institutionalized Me would drink it. It turned out to be liquid soap. I look back and think today I would never do that. I would smell it or ask about it, but back then, I  just automatically drank it.

So I have eaten my "pizza supreme" (barf, barf: think of the worst frozen pizza you've ever had, which has sat out on a counter for an hour so it's cold to the touch) and now I'm going to watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Restaurant Nightmares (with Gordon Ramsay) and Shark Tank. Then it will be my 10 o'clock bedtime and I can sleep all by myself and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and make as much noise as I want.

Ah, it's yee-haw night at the institution.


Melissa said...

good updates from the institution today :) and I'm so glad you have the night to yourself..hopefully it will last through the weekend! I think you handled Chatty Cathy just exactly right..... and it worked :). Don't feel bad about not being her cup of tea!!

Barbara said...

If I was asked to invent your personal nightmare, I don't think I could do better than Chatty.

Pat said...

Barbara -- that's an interesting comment, and I hadn't thought of it. She made me want to say that line from Planes, Trains and Automobiles when the John Candy character is pratting on to Steve Martin who finally yell, "get to the point, every story should have one."

And you're right: Decluttering me wanted to grab a black garbage bag and start throwing. She also saved sugar packets and other condiments.

This morning, the woman across the hall from me said that Chatty went in her room (uninvited) to try to make her say bad things about me. I have become friends with the woman across the hall who told Cathy, "gee, my experience has been she's a nice person."

The woman across the hall also said that when she was sitting there talking to her, Chatty lifts her one butt cheek and lets out this string of farts -- thank god I didn't experience that.