One afternoon I arrived at work and discovered inspectors from the state bustling around to see what we were up to. They made random observations, usually once a year.
I walked past them down the hall toward Vivie's room. I greeted her and she pointed toward her bottom and said, It's gooshie.
Gooshie? I took her into the bathroom, where I discovered she'd had diarrhea. I cleaned her up, replaced her "diaper," and saw that her bottom was red.
When we left the bathroom, Bernadette from activities accosted me. What's going on? she demanded.
I needed to get Vivie cleaned up, I said, and wondered where the conversation was headed.
That happened this morning, Bernadette said. We had a hymn sing. Vivie was there and the odor was so bad I had to keep spraying air freshener. When we finished, I told the nurse at the desk that she needed to be cleaned up. The nurse said it would be taken care of and it wasn't done. She's been sitting in that mess for hours. You should take that diaper and open it up right in those inspectors' faces.
I am not doing that, I told her. I would be fired, and I'd deserve it. (I wouldn't have been fired for showing the diaper to the inspectors, but the Director of Nursing would have found some other way to get rid of me for such a betrayal.)
But I did take the plastic bag with the diaper in it to the nurses station, where I saw the Director of Nursing, Lynn. I told her––quietly––what had happened and then tossed the plastic bag into a bin in the Soiled Utility Room, where trash gathered in one bin and soiled linens went in another.
Lynne sent Donna, the night supervisor, to talk to me and fill out a report. I was glad I had flatly refused Bernadette's demand and followed the chain of command, but giving Donna the information was the easy part. Vivie's trouble was just beginning because of her red bottom and someone's failure to provide necessary care.