Since my current nursing home is a primarily a cognitive behavior facility, the mealtime policy is strict. Residents are expected to be in the dining room on time. If a resident arrives 10 to 15 minutes late, he or she is served last. If a resident is later than that, that individual might not be served at all.
Usually, I get to the dining room on time. I have had some close calls when my aide runs late on shower days, or if a new aide is doing my care.
A while back, I woke up feeling ill. I had a stomachache and had already experienced a bout of diarrhea. After I was washed and dressed, I was about to head out my door when my stomach started to cramp and my aide put me in bathroom. I was concerned about being late to breakfast, but right then I was stuck in the bathroom.
When I finished in the bathroom, I headed to the dining room. I arrived 10 minutes after serving started. Since I was feeling weak, I sat with my head down at my table trying to gather myself.
The sound of a voice startled me. I looked up and Miriam* (my nurse) asked if I wanted my medicine. I told her I could wait until after breakfast. Then, Miriam said, "It will be a long time until after breakfast. Are you sure you do not want your medicine?" she said. I did not understand what Miriam meant but I told her I could take my medicine or wait—whichever was best for her. Then, she gave me a stern lock and said, "Your breakfast tray will be served last." Miriam did not mention my tardiness, but I knew that was the reason for her saying I would be served last.
Since I have to be fed, it is not uncommon for me to wait to eat. Many times my tray sits in front of me until an aide is available. When all the residents were served, I got my tray and my aide fed me.
On my way back up the hall, I felt badly about being disciplined for being late. I did not think I had any other recourse other than to miss breakfast, which I did not want to do. I know there are rules and they must be followed. There are residents who play games with the staff and end up late for breakfast, but I am not one of them.