I notified E by phone of what had happened at the other office and told her I didn’t want the other OT’s opinion to influence her in any way, and she assured me it wouldn’t change the way the two of us had been working. Unfortunately that fear was not put to rest for long before another equally disturbing threat became imminent.
The agency that supplies aids to me had been hard-pressed to find a replacement for the one really good Jamaican aid who took off to Florida about 3 weeks or so ago because of her sister and in desperation called in an old one that got things done but was extremely domineering and narcissistic. I had really hoped not to have any further dealings with her after she’d left for her own medical problems about 6 months ago, but figured that she couldn’t do much damage in a few days or a week while the owner of the business tried to get the one back from Florida ASAP. Unfortunately I failed to forsee that my merely telling her of what happened with the overly rough OT would give her ammunition to use to hurt me through E, but that is in fact what happened.
This aid whom I will call D has a particularly creepy tendency to be possessive and she once stormed out when a visiting nurse came to see me about my unstable blood pressure after stating “I hate to interrupt you two’s social hour, but I’ll be in the other room!” The nurse understandably was taken aback and asked me what her problem was and what she had done to offend her. It was clear she was jealous but it would be anyone’s guess what semblance of reasoning was going on in her head.
Today, just as we reached the part of the session when E was getting ready to massage my hand, D bursted in through the doorway. She asked if I was done. I said pretty soon but not just yet. She hovered there and then as she observed what E was doing said “Oh are you going to put some coco butter on that?” I quickly said to D “Yes, she already did” hoping D would go back to the waitingroom, but she stood there. E asked her if she was in a hurry and she said “No, I was just wondering what you all were doing.”
“She’s just doing the massage and then I’ll be out” I said. “I’ll be out in a little while”, in hopes she would go sit down, but instead she came into the room recounting loudly and flamboyantly that she had once had a hand injury from a car accident, and soon completely hijacked the session. She went into her story about how she massaged her own hand really hard and how you can’t “favor it”. Then she stated loudly, “You need to learn how to take it.” Needless to say, I was about to die from embarrassment and cringe.
She further advanced into the back of the room where E and I were sitting and got right up next to my left elbow, leaning over to look at E’s handiwork. “You have to really get in there” said D graphically illustrating a screwing motion on her own hand. It was clear she was trying to use body language to influence E to escalate what she was doing. I really wanted to yell at her to get out, but knew that this is the reaction a narcissist wants; to make you look like the crazy one, so I tried to figure out a way to save face. It was not easy to do. To my horror E increased the intensity of her massage. I yelped, “Ouch! Too much! Too much!” She stopped momentarily, mentioned that the particular part of the scar was tough, and then seeing I was rattled, asked if I was OK. I tried to put on a brave face so as not to give the aid the satisfaction of having gotten her revenge but felt completely horrified, not to mention betrayed by both. This style was not like E at all. Usually her massages were the best part of the therapy and actually left me feeling some residual endorphins which relieved any remaining pain and stiffness, but this time was different.
The aid went on describing the physical therapy she’d had for her previous injury and said something about the clinic she’d gone to sticking needles in her. By this time I was beginning to feel nauseated. “This is really stressing me out” I said. D temporarily shut up, but not for long. She restarted her rambling and then said to me “You can do this at home and it won’t hurt so much when she does it.” I told her “Yes, I know that! I do do it at home!” At this point I seriously wanted to kill her. Her implication was not lost on me, and I could only hope that E wasn’t buying into her insinuation that I wasn’t working on myself. Afterall, she’d only been back for a day and a half. Most of my rehab she had not been here.
When leaving the building and getting onto the van I said to the aid “don’t try to make her press harder on me. The way we’ve been working is just fine!” She tried playing innocent. “I was just talking about me.” Bullshit, I thought! Then why were you right up on us and phrasing it in the second person!
The ride home was a tense one. D Turned around after awhile and asked if I was OK. “No, I’m very triggered right now.”
“From the surgery?” D asked still playing dumb.
“No, from what happened”. She knew damn well what I was triggered about!
Not long after I got home I began having flashbacks. I found myself in an instant jerking and drawing back with fist clenched on my left hand a number of times. Before today’s fiasco things had finally subsided from the past two week’s bad encounters with the OT in Smyrna, but now I was right back in that fight or flight mode again.
I fought an oncoming meltdown as long as I could but once D had left for the day it came tumbling out like a bag full of stones. I have not had one of those in at least 8 or 10 months. The primal shrieks that came out of me pierced the air and it was as if something else had taken hold of me.
It’s bad enough when you have sensory issues others don’t ( I cannot stand certain textures touching the wound as it is) but then to have that intentionally exploited is beyond unbearable.
As I lay on my bed completely depleted and hopeless, I began to wonder whether various versions of this were going to happen to me the rest of my life, and I couldn’t visualize a way forward. All I could see was the resentment from any aid that might be hired to care for me and the harsh reality that they didn’t care.
I actually for the first time in many years wondered if it would be better to terminate my life before I became too incapacitated with advancing age. This is not a fate anyone wants in their golden years; when you need advocacy and kindness most of all and instead find that the person who is supposed to enforce your wishes is doing just the opposite. I did not want to be conscious because seeing this happen while being unable to change it was and is just too much for me to stand.
I thought about how E must think of me; (always something), although I’d asked for none of these crazies bringing chaos into my life. People whose lives are comfortable and who have enough money to take care of catastrophes that invariably come along when they happen really don’t understand that this is not of your own doing, so how then do you explain it to them? With Donald Trump as president and the divisive rhetoric separating the haves from the have-nots more now than ever, it seems as though kindness and empathy are rare commodities these days. If aging and disability are an inconvenience to others then what is one to do?