A Nursing Home Dictionary

Stanley — 1.n. A masculine given name. 2.adj. Short, dark, hirsute, and urbane. Having a low forehead and beady little eyes. 3.v. To be the administrator at a nursing home. 4.adj.Extremely viscous or unctuous when visitors arrive. Not the usual family visitors, though: only wealthy family, or perhaps a new staff doctor. 5.v. To wear oversized clothing, notably black baggy suits, but made by an expensive designer. 6.adj. Sexually attracted to Jewish R.Ns. —- Expression: to stanley around. Meaning, to have an ear to every wall, a finger in every pie; to meddle, without practical result; to try to have one’s hand in everything, a thick-fingered hand, neither fine nor Italian. But professionally manicured, we think.

Talley — 1.n. A familiar form of Talia, a feminine name. 2.n. Another name for the Roman god Janus, who is two-faced. 3.adj. Possessing the droning voice of a cyclone. 4.v. To offer great hopes of salvation to others that are later utterly dashed to pieces. ex: The fact that she wore a nursing uniform every day, unlike any other director of nursing we’d had, led us to believe that she saw herself primarily as a caregiver — like ourselves — instead of an administrator, but within three months she talleyed.

Patience Jackass — 1.n. The punchline or refrain of a running joke that goes: A good, earnest man was told by God to travel to a certain place in the middle of the desert to worship Him. He loads everything he owns on his jackass and leading it by a rope, begins walking into the desert. Hours pass. They are tired. The jackass turns to the man, and asks, “Master, when will we get to the place?” The man calmly says, “Patience, jackass, patience.” They keep walking. Days pass. The jackass looks at the man and asks, “Master, when will we get there?” He answers, “Patience, jackass, patience.” They walk on. Weeks pass. The jackass cries,”Master, when will we get there?” The man, who is still calm and content, answers, “Patience, jackass, patience.” They continue on their pilgrimage, walking. Months pass. (Here the person to whom you are telling the joke should be bored enough to interrupt and ask you to get to the point. You turn to him and in that same calm tone, say, “Patience, jackass — patience.”) This joke is told to just about every new nursing home arrival, whether staff or patient.

Breakfast — 1.n. An unvarying round of despair. 2.n. The first meal of the day, served in what seems to be the middle of the night, when the patient is shaken awake and forced to sit up or even get dressed and up, in order to eat. Which they do not really want to do. 3.n. Any state of affairs for which no change is visible on the horizon.

Toast — 1.n. A piece of breakfast, of adamantine hardness. Must be soaked in hot milk and mashed with a spoon.

Eggs — 1. n. (pl.) A yellow pureed substance vitiated with green bits of an odd-smelling herb, without which the nurse’s aide could mix it with milk and lots of sugar and easily coax the patients to eat it, since most of them love sweets more in old age than they ever did previously in their lives. The herbs added by the kitchen, moreover, cause queasiness and nausea to whoever smells it. One young woman (who had stayed out late the evening before) was seen to drop the bowl of eggs she was attempting to feed a patient and run away to be violently ill.

English Muffin — 1.n. Nonexistent in this universe.

Waffle — 1.n. Nonexistent in this universe.

Granola — 1.n. Nonexistent in this universe.

Nursing Assistantalso Nurse’s Aide. 1.n. A work horse or other beast of burden which is disposed of when injured or has otherwise outlasted its usefulness.

Payday — 1.n. An unvarying round of despair. See: Breakfast, synonym.

Bills — 1.n.(pl.) Things which cannot be met although one works full-time and extra shifts, well past the point of exhaustion.

Ten Dollars — 1.n. Something which a pair of aides or other friends may lend each other back and forth, so each one may buy meat once in a while.

Lobby — 1.n. The large room of the facility which a visitor enters to see the receptionist and state his business there. Its walls are painted white, unlike the pale lilac of the rest of the nursing home, in order not to clash with the lobby’s lovely paintings, which sometimes change.

Twelve Thousand Dollars — 1.n. The cost of the vast rug from Pakistan, on the floor of the lobby.

Corporate — 1.adj. Derived from, or related to, the source of all hardness and evil. Administrators, directors, and board are all considered corporate. 2.n. A seasonal storm easily weathered by working-class persons but which unduly upsets management. ex: Those files had better be in order, because corporate is here to inspect.

Remodel — 1.v. What the administration likes to do at great expense every so often, including new paint, wallpaper in the patients’ rooms and new carpeting, to attract “the right kind of patients.” Stanley’s words.

Damned Fast — 1.adj. The manner in which an aide must work. also see: White Lightning, White Whirlwind.

Investigated — 1.adj. What the facility, its administration and work practices were, after aides filed many, many workmen’s compensation injury claims, caused by lifting far too often and far too much.

Within Legal Limits — 1.adj. What the patients-to-aides ratio was found to be, although it had doubled within the last three years. We take care of 12 to 14 patients per day, all of whom are full care. Down the road is a facility whose aides care for about 8 patients per day. It is staffed largely by aides who once worked here but quit.

Yungalso called Dr. Yung. 1.n. A smiling drinker of cups of plain hot water.

Edwardalso called Dr. Eddie. 1.n. A wearer of suspenders decorated with Disney characters, and a wearer of green and red shoelaces, one color in each shoe, purportedly to make patients laugh and ease tension. More likely to serve as an opening to conversation with attractive nurses and aides, however. 2.adj. Highly sought as a partner in coitus but so far unavailable to anyone. Anyone we know of.

Jackie — 1.n. Myself, in this place and time. 2.n. An individual who once had self-respect and a future.

Winkler — 1.n. That appendage more honored in the breeches than in the observance.

Illness — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Injury — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Patient — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Old Woman — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Old Man — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

You — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Me — 1.n. Something they can make money out of.

Foley Catheter — 1.n. A corporate facility attached to a winkler or its female counterpart, a pussywinkler; its plastic transparence allows one to see the nature of the vital fluids it drains from individuals, but the foul sediment exuded from its corrupted insides (usually in the form of doubletalk and prevarication, which see) soon clouds the tubing and obscures the vision.

Posey — 1.n. A brand name for the extreme fatigue and muscle aches which restrain an individual from ameliorating his situation and getting another job. (Experienced by work horses.) A waist Posey is tied around the back of the patient’s wheelchair and looped around the waist. A vest Posey is worn over the shoulders, around the waist and the back of the wheelchair or tied to the bedrails; in either vest or waist form, a Posey is really another way of saying “prison.” Requires a doctor’s written order.

White Lightning — 1.n. An exclamation uttered by patients when observing the white-uniformed aides go about their duties.

White Whirlwind — 1.n. Same as White Lightning.

Sanka — 1.n. A caffeine-free hot drink often used as a substitute for coffee. Everpresent, offered in individual packets in the lunchroom. Not recommended for patients with ulcers, or aides who cannot stop crying because their boyfriends left them. A Yung will bring you a cup of hot water instead, and tell you happily how good life is, really. Maybe with some lemon. And pat your back, like you were a real person who mattered here.

Bulimia — 1.n. The sad disease afflicting the youngest, sweetest and most beautiful female aide employed on the day shift. Its symptoms include: puffy, bloated face during bad spells, shyness about going out to dinner with friends, continued living with one’s parents, and secrecy. 2.n. The reason for our disgust and outrage at Dr. Eddie, who finally decided to pay his sought-after attentions to this rather childlike aide, who was unprepared to deal with his advances, and incidentally had just lost her father to a heart attack. How dare he bother her? He is in his fifties!

Post Office — 1.n. A federal place of secure employment provided one is lucky enough to be tested and interviewed during a time when employees are needed; often a relative working there is required to land a job. Before his heart attack, the bulimic aide’s father secured a place for his daughter, and we were sad but relieved to see her go, as her nervousness had grown under romantic pressure from certain physicians.

Bathroom — 1.n. A place of supposedly secure privacy where one may take care of bodily functions. 2.n. The place we see Stanley loitering, waiting for Talley to exit so they may resume their daily, grand, slow promenade up and down the facility halls inspecting and watching the aides. It is unclear why he stands right there, immediately outside the door of the bathroom, and we think it is strange.

Hair — 1.n. A naturally curly product of Talley’s attractive head, which we originally admired, as we admired everything about her, but which lost our regard when we discovered she was having it off with Stanley. They are both married. One afternoon a few of us were leaving work, and noticed Stanley’s car, a long, shiny Lincoln, leaving the upper parking lot. Talley sat in his passenger seat; when our cars passed she gave us a startled look and actually ducked. Talley’s hair used to be worn loosely and made her appear younger than she is; sometime after the car incident her hair took on severe, sophisticated waves obviously produced by a costly stylist. She looked corporate. The nursing uniform and good, flat white shoes were replaced by tailored suits and pumps. After the change, she was no longer dressed to assist an aide with lifting, feeding or bathing a patient once in a while during her inspection walks. She used to do it and gladly.

Walsh — 1.n. A surname. 2.adj. Sycophantic, if there is such a word. Sycophantic and superficial and unimportant. Cora Walsh, an R.N. who merely looks after some vague paperwork here, was sitting in the break room with a few of us aides and mentioned that Dr. B, a young man whose English is difficult to make out, still had the price tag attached to the sleeve of his suit. “He doesn’t seem to understand it’s supposed to be removed,” she said. I snorted and asked how much the suit cost. She reacted with horror that I would think she would try to read the price off his arm, and that we actually expected her to draw the poor guy aside and tell him to remove the tag. “He’s a very brilliant man,” she said, shaking her head. “You don’t tell him to do things.” Sure you do, if you have any consideration for him.

Doubletalk — 1.n. The preferred language of corporate persons when discussing wages or conditions with aides and LPNs. Its verbs are optimistic, its conjunctions confusing, and its nouns damned lies. This language was the one used in a film shown to all aides at compulsory staff meetings, a film explaining the many reasons why we should not vote to form a union. This film was produced by a consulting firm and cost around twenty thousand dollars (we believe the cost was shared by this facility with its sister facilities, where the danger of unionization was present also); it quite frighteningly showed repeated images of angry male strikers shaking their fists, then the pale faces of weeping staff who seemed to have lost a lot of money. Since there were no subtitles it could not be discerned that the angry strikers were there helping the crying ones. Doubletalk is an advanced and subtle language. Note: Doubletalk is not used between corporate persons and RNs, who are supervisory and salaried. Instead, the language OneUpmanship is substituted.

Prevarication — 1.n. An assault on the organs of hearing, and on the sensibility. Prevarication was performed when Stanley reported that I had made home visits to other staff for the purposes of union organizing, when at that time I had actually only contemplated doing so, and it was curious that he knew anything about it at all. The last time he passed me in the corridor, he couldn’t recall my name. Now he had it right.

Jan — 1.n. A young, long-haired male of pleasant personality. 2.v. To work in the food service of a health care facility but be friendly and affable enough to get a girlfriend who is an ambitious LPN, making an interesting couple who both wear whites but for different reasons.3.n. A discount of 100% on the cost of a hot cafeteria lunch when served by the correct kitchen staff. It is granted when the kitchen help deliberately fails to punch one of the spaces on your weekly ticket which purchases — normally — five meals.

Apartment Sink — 1.n. The location where Jan must wash his clothes frequently since he has very few and needs them faster than his girlfriend Patty needs hers washed. Patty usually has an entire load of uniforms to do at once; although she and Jan moved in together they aren’t able to cut their expenses as much as they need. 2.n. The full and sufficient (albeit symbolic) reason that Jan and Patty are pro-union. The day of the vote, Patty was the staffperson manning the ballot box for the pros. Cora Walsh was recruited by the administration to be the other person monitoring the ballot box; she sat with her head tilted to the side as if she were wondering how long this nonsense would take.

Coffee — 1.n. A hot drink Cora Walsh was invited to partake of in the company of Talley and Stanley back in their luxurious warm offices, once the vote was completed. 2.n. A sound of celebration, a gurgling.

Laughing — 1.n. An elite, among-friends sound Cora Walsh makes in unison with higher-ups including Talley. It is performed with the back turned to the aide who must interrupt them to ask a question or have a form signed.

Crying — 1.n. An action uncharacteristic of Patty, but performed by her anyway. When properly done, as it was on vote day, it reveals lines of frustration and fatigue in the face.

My Shoulders — 1.n. Where Yung put his brown hands and said “Patience, Jackie” as I stood with others by the coffee dispenser, disbelieving everything.

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