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Strange occurrences in my room

January 3, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
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It was very important for me to have a working computer when I came here. My sister set it up quickly, but it had to be makeshift: there’s only one small table for my tower and monitor. I was concerned because wires and cables were close to the floor where they could easily be unplugged.

I could do without speakers since my voice-recognition headset plays audio. I do miss my printer, but until I get the right arrangement, the office prints documents for me.

Since being hardwired into the home, strange things had been happening to the electronic devices in my room. Some mornings my computer was off and I always leave it on. I had no idea why it was off. I wondered if an aide was bumping it, or if the housekeepers were accidentally flipping the surge protector off when they dusted.

My blow-in call light was also not working properly. Sometimes I blew into it, heard it click, but found out many minutes later that it was not on. One night the call light refused to work and an aide had to try other call lights in my room until it would work. We all thought there was a short but we could not know for sure.

Since the computer was sometimes off I made sure it was on when I went to breakfast. With the blow-in call light not working as it should, I became anxious that it too would lose power. So I asked the aides to let me test my call light every time they left my room. I also cannot see the call light's "on light," so I have no way to know if it is working.

I usually write during the day when the building is busy and the residents are most active. A couple residents walk the halls carrying portable radios with music playing. At times residents accidentally walk into my room and I have to redirect them. But usually when I am writing I can get into the zone and turn other noises off.

However, when the male resident next door gets nervous, he yells expletives and pounds on the wall between his room and mine. The first time I heard this I was in bed watching TV and it really startled me. There is no way that I could ignore that noise.

When I told the aides about the pounding, they instructed me to put my call light on whenever it happened. Usually his pounding episodes did not last very long. But sometimes he pounded incessantly, which was quite unsettling—so much so that I even wondered if the pounding might cause the light fixture above my head to fall! (Luckily it has not.)

One day while I was working on my computer, the resident next door began to yell and I readied myself for the pounding that always followed. After he pounded on the wall about three times, my computer screen went dark. I was totally flabbergasted that his pounding had turned my computer off.

That day I also realized that the resident's pounding could have an effect on how my blow-in call light worked. A friend reminded me that electricity is very delicate.

When I told the aides that the pounding from next door turned my computer off, they were surprised. I secretly wondered whether he would understand if they told him he was messing up my computer.

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Kathleen Mears

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