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Ties that bind

May 9, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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Three years ago I decided to let my hair grow longer and wear headbands to keep it out of my face. I wanted a lower maintenance hairdo that was not too different.

A year later, one fall day, I had a bad headache. I thought it might be caused by the temperatures—one day warm, the next day cool. When I told the aides my head was hurting, they removed my headband. But I got no relief. When my nurse brought my meds, I told her about my aching head. Strangely, my head hurt worse after I was in bed with my feet up. Later I realized I failed to ask my aide to see if anything on or near my head could be causing such discomfort.

When I lay down to go to sleep, my head was throbbing and I wondered if I could sleep. After a while I dropped off and woke after midnight. Then, I fell back to sleep and woke right before 5 AM. When I put my call light on, I hoped the night shift aides would do my care without disturbing my peaceful, early morning.

After using the bedpan, I told the aides my gown was damp and asked them to change it. When they rolled me on my side to untie it, it seemed like it was taking a while. I heard a disgusted sigh and asked what was wrong. One aide told me the ties were in a knot. I lay quietly while each aide tried to untie it. Knowing they had other things to do and since my gown was older, I told them to just cut the ties to get it off.

Then, they told me my hair was also caught in the knot. They told me they would have to get the nurse to cut the knot because my hair would have to be cut.

While I waited I hoped the nurse would be able to get the knot out and my gown and hair would be rescued. But, the knot would not budge, and she cut the ties and my hair.

Afterwards, the aides asked which afternoon shift aide tied my gown. I told them I did not know. It was then I realized that my hair caught in the gown's ties might have intensified my headache. I made a mental note to check that my gown was not tied too tightly and that my hair was nowhere near the knot.

Since then, I keep my hair a bit shorter in the back and, so far, it has not happened again.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...