This being The Holidays, the “patient census” is very low, so there are few scheduled activities. During normal times, the recreation therapy department organizes lots of outings and special events, in addition to regular offerings like yoga, relaxation, bingo, creative arts, and therapy dogs. I was disappointed but not surprised that there are no therapy cats, given the notorious feline indifference to human wishes, but the RT told me that there’s another reason: Cats can be carriers of HIV-1. At least I think that’s what she said. So far I’ve seen no evidence for that, but battery life is too damn short for me to look very hard.

Everyone—patients and nurses—has kept busy making hats on circular looms. Today I finally got some yarn of my own from the RT department, but I’m opting to crochet my hat. The trouble is that I have to turn in my hooks at the end of each day. I haven’t figured out how one could do much harm with a size H hook, but I guess people in mental anguish are pretty resourceful.

The nurses here weren’t aware that blood pressure readings can be inaccurate if taken soon after eating. (“Avoid food, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a measurement.”) Naturally I have made a pest of myself by refusing to be measured right after a meal. I’ve also had a couple of misunderstandings with one of the evening nurses, but the two long-term tenants tell me that it’s her, not me. I actually think it’s both of us.

Even with the low census, the unit is fully staffed. During the day shift there’s one nurse per patient; in the evenings we each get 2/3 of a nurse. There are also many auxiliary professionals (psychologists, social workers, etc.) and support staff. Someday perhaps I’ll try to estimate how much the taxpayers are shelling out to keep me here. Thank goodness Trump will soon be eliminating this “terrible” agency.


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