Saturday, March 31, 2012
I learned a lot from those books, enough to put together an exercise program for a woman with chronic arthritis who was now losing the use of her hands. The client is MR, but hugely independent, living in her own apartment without assistance, and holding down a five day a week job. Really quite a motivated woman, very inspiring to me. She came to me, asking for a home exercise program, fearful that if she lost the use of her hands, she would not be able to live independently nor to continue working.
I got my computer back and I began to arrange my information. I looked casually at the assignment guidelines, but did not print out this information. Last night, I came home with the sickening knowledge that all the work I'd done had been for naught. My paper could not use books as a reference. I had to use studies from scientific journals to formulate my ideas. I had supplemented my book reading with some studies, and I anxiously looked the references up. Unfortunately, there were only three, and only one if them met the requirement. They must be not more than five years old.
The paper was due in less that 72 hours, and I was starting over again. This time, I was determined to do it correctly, but the school website is down, and I could not get to the instructions, a sickening feeling. I worked last night, but I was working without those instructions from the teacher. Fear makes for inefficient research, and inefficient research makes for unconvincing writing. I reluctantly went to bed about 11 PM, feeling as if I hadn't accomplished much. I tried to console myself with the idea that I'd do a better job when I got up in the morning refreshed and ready to go, but I couldn't sleep. I was wide awake and worried when Tim got home after midnight.
I got up this morning, and there in my inbox were the instructions, sent to me by a student who had the foresight to print them out before beginning work. Reading them carefully, I was sick all over again. All the writing that I had done yesterday would not work. I still had more references to find. This was a disaster. I had to go to work this afternoon, and tomorrow afternoon, and the paper was due in less that 48 hours. I started over yet again.
I am done. I got that paper done today, in five hours. 8 pages, and I think it is good. I sent it to the teacher along with my thoughts on the importance of an evidence based practice. The school website is still shut down, so I am not sure when she will actually receive this. When Tim came in I was in the shower, and I shouted out, "I got it done! I'm all done! Party tonight when I get home from work!" My sister and brother in law stopped by after an estate sale, and dropped off ice cream. I shouted out once again, "I got it done! I'm all done!" and we did a happy dance in the kitchen.
I have one more assignment to do, plus my project, which is planned and ready to write. That's it for my homework. That's all I have left. 14 more days of clinicals. That's it.
It's all starting to seem really real, and it is so exciting I cannot even tell you.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Anyways, I love that the orientation really focuses on what the organization expects from its staff. Henry came to speak, and although I heard him before, I still got the same excitement, the strong sense that I can do good in this setting. We also saw this video today.
I admit it. I am a sap. I watched this and there were tears. Not sobbing or anything like that, but I sat quietly, with a chin in my hands, and there were tears.
For the past two days, I have watched two young girls in this orientation. They giggle, and they play games and they draw pictures, and they do not pay attention. I must say that they honestly are the exception to the rule. Everyone else is focused. You can see that they are understand the importance of what we do. But these girls...oh.
Anyways, we watched these videos today, and although I was not looking around, I think that most people were similarly touched. I didn't check for tears, but I don't think that it was just me that was crying.
We broke for lunch.
When I got back, there was a box of tissues on my table. The two girls watched, eating their lunch and giggling together, throwing side long glances at me to see what I would do. I picked up the tissues and put them back where they belonged. I suppose my reaction was disappointing to them. A classmate rolled her eyes at their immaturity.
The next session began and it was on the topic of abuse. We discussed verbal abuse, physical the whole gamut. The question was put to the class: can you abuse someone without words? I raised my hand. "Yes," I said. "I think if, for instance, you made mockery of a person's tears, well, that's dismissive and cruel. Making fun of people is abuse. I also think that talking about people instead of to them is abusive."
The instructor probably did not have a clue about the kleenex, but he agreed with me that this was certainly wrong, as did the class. At the desk next to me, I saw the two girls go stiff and quiet. I think that they were afraid that they were about to get in trouble, and jobs are not easy to come by in these times.
The giggling stopped and they listened. The girl directly next to me began to take notes.
At the end of that session, we were asked if we had questions. I said, casually, "Who generally reports cases of abuse? Co-workers or clients?" The instructor said, "Co-workers report most of it. They are very intolerant. They have developed relationships with their clients, and they are very protective. If they see something that they don't like, they are on it very quickly. The attitude here seems to be 'you mess with them, you mess with us.' " He seemed proud of that.
He also commented that people who come into it with the wrong attitude do not last. They're weeded out very quickly.
I smiled and said, "That's pretty cool."
Monday, March 26, 2012
I just took a call. The young man was supposed to meet Tim this morning but did not. He works nights. He got home from work and dozed off and did not wake up. I understand that. I worked nights. I know how tired you can get.
He wondered if there were any way he could still see the apartment. I said, "Well, I'm showing the apartment to two parties at 6:30. If you would like to come over then, you can see it as well."
"Is there any way that you could show the apartment right now?"
Yes. I could. Except that it is after five, and if I head down there, I'll either have a big chunk of dead time between showings, or will have to make two separate trips to the apartment within a hour and a half. I took a deep breath. "No," I say. "This is inconvenient for me, since I already have people coming in less than an hour and a half."
And he says, "Well, then I'll just give your husband a call tomorrow during the day. I don't have to work tonight, and I'm going out."
A young woman calls. She wants to see the apartment. She and her boyfriend are looking for a place. "It's pretty small," I say. She assures me that it is fine. She likes small places. They are comfortable in small places. She wants to know if we take pets.
"We have, I say carefully, "but we must meet the people first, and then the pet...what do you have?"
"A rottweiler," she tells me.
I remind her again that this is a small apartment, and that we would not consider an animal that big.
She tells me that the dog had been very ill as a puppy, with parvo. As a result, this dog is no bigger than your average cocker spaniel.
Yeah. Right. Does she remember that I would have to actually see this dog first? I said to her, "I'm afraid not. Your dog is too big for the apartment. We've allowed pets before, but they've been shih-tzu or something like that. It is a very small apartment."
She got mad, and she got mad quickly. "You know what? Just forget it. We're not interested in your apartment!"
And finally, it amazes me the number of people who come to the apartment looking at it for their children. Their grown up children. Sometimes they get quite irritated to hear that we expect to meet the prospective tenant in person before reaching any agreement.
All righty then.
I guess none of them top the day a mother came with her son. She loved the apartment. He loved that it was so near the skateboard park. His mother explained to me that she would be coming over twice a week to make sure he was doing his dishes and keeping the place clean. He had the look of trouble, sullen and curt, just a shade away from arrogant, and so I stressed to the son (and to his mother) that we tried to select our tenants with an eye towards people that would fit in well with the people already in the building, people that could get along. It was important to us that our tenants be respectful.
The mother turned to her son and said, "You hear that? That means when you get mad, you can't be punching holes in the wall or kicking out windows."
Not a snowball's chance in hades...
We've had a couple with a baby and a coonhound who wanted the efficiency (a living area, kitchen and bath), and felt that it was discrimination that we would not consider them.
We've had a couple who are new to the area with a pit bull and a rottweiler. In talking, they mentioned their best friend. I recognized the name. Their best friend was a druggie. I said, "He's got quite a drug problem." They cheerfully said, "Yes. That's what we heard."
I don't know.
Honest to pete, I just don't know. This rental thing is really testing my faith in humanity.
Friday, March 23, 2012
He is a tall man, thin, quiet, nervous. I directed him through the washing. I directed him through the chopping, and as he chopped, he began to talk.
He talked about the new guy at his job who laughs at him. He 'tries the best he can,' he tells me.
I've no doubt that this is so. So I try to think of the helpful thing to say, and finally come up with "You know, sometimes, people are just mean, and there's nothing you can do about that. You just remember that you are doing the best job that you can, and that in the end, that guy doesn't really matter."
He thinks of this while he's chopping his vegetables, slowly and carefully. He tells me, "If you teach me how to cook, maybe I could get a job at a restaurant."
"Maybe," I say, but inside, I feel terrible for him. He's asking for such a small thing...to work his job without being tormented by his coworkers.
We're running out of time. I give him his salad to take home for his supper that night. He is so tickled with that salad. Unbelievably happy that he has made this salad by himself. He heads towards the hall, carefully carrying his bag with his salad and the creamy garlic dressing I got for it. I say, "I'll see you next week," and he turns to say, "And we will cook?" I tell him that yes, we will cook. He smiles gently and says, "Thank you, my friend." And he turns once again with his shy and awkward gait, shuffles down the hall.
I feel it again. That rush of gladness, the knowledge that I fit in this place. That I can make a difference here. It astonishes me how the smallest gestures can mean so very, very much.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I posted my own link, commenting back: 'There is no childhood's end, Roland.'
I listened to that old music (30 years now! how is that possible?) and I cranked it up.
"And it was morning
And I found myself mourning,
For a childhood that I thought had disappeared
I looked out the window
And I saw a magpie in the rainbow, the rain had gone
I'm not alone,
I turned to the mirror
I saw you, the child, that once loved
The child before they broke his heart
Our heart, the heart that I believed was lost
Hey you, surprised?
More than surprised
To find the answers to the questions
Were always in your own eyes
Do you realise that you give it on back to her?
But that would only be retraced in all the problems that you ever knew
For she's got to carry on with her life
And you've got to carry on with yours
So I see it's me, I can do anything
And I'm still the child'
Cos the only thing misplaced was direction
And I found direction
There is no childhood's end
You are my childhood friend, lead me on
Hey you, you've survived.
Now you've arrived
To be reborn in the shadow of the magpie
Now you realise, that you've got to get out of here
You've found the leading light of destiny, burning in the ashes of your memory
You want to change the world
You'd resigned yourself to die a broken rebel
But that was looking backward
Now you've found the light
You, the child that once loved
The child before they broke his heart
Our heart, the heart that I believed was lost
So it's me I see, I can do anything.
I'm still the child
'Cos the only thing misplaced was direction
And I found direction
There is no childhood's end
I am your childhood friend, lead me on
I sang these words in my car years ago, back when I still believed them, before my life was twisted and torn and knocked about, before I became discouraged, before I knew the bitter grief that comes from abject failure, and now all these years later, I sang those words once again, and there was a power to them. A gray haired woman with her own scars sat at her computer with her eyes closed and she believed. All these years later, once again, she believed 'that the only thing misplaced was direction, and I found direction - there is no childhood's end.'
So I happily came home with my fixed good-as-new computer, and then I set it up and then I putzed around the house waiting for a phone call that never came, and then I went out grocery shopping, specifically to pick up salad makings. A quiet unassuming gentleman with cognitive deficits has a session with me tomorrow. He often eats cereal with milk because he doesn't cook. So tomorrow, we're going to make chef salads. Lots of meat and cheese fresh vegetables. I really, really love that job.
While shopping, I ran into a lady from church who misses me, and we blabbed for a while. It was good to see her.
Coming out into the parking lot with my groceries, I caught sight of Rog sitting in his car. I set my stuff on the back seat of my car, and went over to their vehicle, calling out, "Hey, are you old enough to be left on your own?" Rog is in his 80s, so he got a good laugh.
Tim had taken the buffalo up to visit him on Tuesday. He still thought that episode was pretty remarkable. He tells me that Tim came up to the door saying, "You'll never guess what I have in the back of my truck..." and Roger admitted he did not have a clue. He walked out with Tim and was astonished. Rog is a good friend alright, because he immediately turned to Tim and said, "Have you talked to your wife about this? Do you think she'll approve?"
Tim laughed. "Approve?!!! It's all her fault!"
So I explained to Roger how I had never been able to surprise Tim, and now I had. It was a warm spring night, and it was a pleasant thing to stand leaning on a car, having a raucous good laugh in the fading light as peepers provided the background music. I really love spring, and I really love good friends.
And Tim really loves that buffalo.
Oh, and know what else? I found two of the coolest balls I have ever seen for William's Easter basket.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
In any case, just in case you were wondering, I am here to pass along a helpful household tip. How to dust your buffalo. First you vacuum thoroughly. Be careful to notice whether your beast is losing hair or not. Ours does not appear to be, but the taxidermist tells us that even if Corney sheds himself bald, in those days, animals were taxidermied (is that a word?) with their skulls, in as much as there were no forms like we have today to stretch the skin over. So if Corney suddenly develops a case of alopecia, don't throw him away because a buffalo skull from that era is nearly as valuable as the mount. Just a tidbit I throw out there because I never knew this until today.
So, you thoroughly vacuum your buffalo. Then you take a bucket of water with a small amount of Murphy's Oil Soap and you gently shampoo the buffalo by using a wash cloth to work the soap solution from the roots up. Again, 'gently' is the key word. Murphys Oil Soap will not leave a residue when it dries. The taxidermist cautions me that this is a job that will take hours. Also suggested not to use paper towels unless I wanted to be picking bits of white paper out of buffalo fur forever, which, ironically, I decided that I didn't want to do.
I asked him about the history of taxidermy, which he was happy to share. Taxidermy was a for rich people in that day, and they were considered artists. Taxidermists, not the rich people. I asked him, on a whim, if they signed their work. Some did. Some did not, it turns out. It would be interesting to examine Corney more closely for a mark that might lead us to be able to identify his maker, which would be a big clue.
The taxidermist says, "You've got yourself a true piece of American history there," in an admiring sort of way, and he invites us to call him if we have any other questions. He seems just as interested in the possibilities of the story as I am. I like that.
This whole story is interesting, alright, a real mystery, something to be teased apart and studied. I was reading about rich men on trains speeding across the plains shooting buffaloes in such numbers that there were not enough left for the Indians, and by the time it was all said and done the bisons were an endangered species. (The Native Americans did not make out much better, as far as that goes.) Such greed and selfishness! My chin rested in my hand as I created pictures in my head to go with the awful story I was reading. Suddenly, the computer flashed, and began to go crazy before my very eyes. Perhaps it is the revenge of the native Americans.
I leave you with one last question to consider. It seems quite an affront to call the buffalo Cornelius. In all likelihood, our poor friend was slaughtered and left to rot on the prairie sans wooly head. We will be having a name the buffalo contest, with a prize to be named later, after I've pondered this awhile. So get your thinking caps on.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I talked to him (Tim, not the buffalo) on the phone at his break time, and he says, "The thing was supposed to be shot by "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt." Me: "You're joking." Tim did not have a clue. Looked him up on the computer. He says, "The guy was rich. Only rich people would have heads mounted." (The guy was rich. That would be an understatement.)
I called Pete. "Where'd you get this?" His ex-father in law. About 35 years ago. He's been hoping for a wall to hang it on ever since. His wife has stood firm for a such a long time now that Pete has conceded defeat.
There is no provenance, but it is very interesting, and I have come to the library for some books. And to post, because I was in the middle of reading about rich men hunting from the train windows when my computer suddenly went berserk, with all sorts of warnings and pop-ups. McAfee could not fix the problem. My great and powerful computer guru has gone home for the night. Hard telling when I'll be back, but it is a truly excellent excuse for not researching my homework assignment. My computer has gone all to crap, and the library closes at 8.
That's damn sad. I'll go console myself with some books on the Vanderbilts.
I'll be back at some point. In the meantime, why don't you all look up how to dust a buffalo?
Monday, March 19, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The funeral home was packed that night. Really crowded, and we had to wait. I stood behind the parents of one of Cara's friends. That friend had been very helpful to Cara away from home for the first time and hearing that I had cancer. Meggie stepped right up to the plate. She had been through this before. She had been in high school when her mother was diagnosed, and she had been a great comfort to Cara.
I chatted with her mother as we waited in line. The mother is doing well now. Meggie's a teacher in Michigan now. Some other people recognized me from the paper, and came forward to tell me how much my writing and friendship had meant to Bev. It made me uncomfortable, made me feel even more guilty.
I was surrounded by Bev's smile. It gleamed at me from her sister's face, and her sons. Nieces. Nephews. There were pictures everywhere, and in all of them, there was that smile. Bev's wonderful smile.
As I waited, I listened to the stories, I realized that although her life had been hard, she was able to hold on to that smile, and that smile had been a huge encouragement for everyone around her. She had touched lives. She'd been on the board of the corporation that I am doing clinicals at right now. I knew that she had a handicapped son. I knew that she was devoted to him. I never realized that that devotion had led her to do work which ultimately impacted on the lives of many, many people. I listened to those stories all around me, and I felt so very badly that I'd wasted those last few days, that I'd missed the opportunity to tell her what a marvel she was.
I missed it. I walked out of the funeral home into a downpour and lightning made clear what I had not seen before.
Cancer has changed me. Although I function and go through day to day living, I hold myself apart. There are things that I refuse to think on. There are things that frighten me to contemplate. In the end, though, I have to say, my prognosis is the same as everyone reading.
We will all live until we die.
Difficult people have changed me. For years now, I have simply withdrawn. Unsure of what to say or how to handle things, I simply avoid those people. I'm tired of their criticisms. That avoidance has lapped over...I spend too much time alone avoiding all people. I tend to believe that people will not like me.
Failing a child has changed me, and I spend a lot of time agonizing about that. But the fact is, I can't fix it. I can't. I can only pray, say the right things, and step back and let God work.
I am self conscious and awkward and uncertain. I've spent a lot of time feeling awful about things.
A long time ago, I had a dream. Our lives had been shattered, my children's and my own. I was trying to gather all these broken pieces of my life, to put things back together again, but I couldn't. There were pieces missing. I looked and I looked, clutching the pieces that I had close to my chest. I was trying to hard to make things right for my children, but I could not. I couldn't. In my dream, I admitted what I couldn't bring myself to realize when I was awake. In the dream, I accepted that our lives would NEVER be the same.
But in that dream, as I accepted the unacceptable, I looked down at the armload that I clutched so closely and so fiercely. I threw all those pieces up in the air, as hard and as high as I could, and the pieces went impossibly high, catching in the sunlight, glittering brightly, and then they began to rain gently all around me. On the ground, they fell into a pattern, a beautiful mosaic. The pieces were used to created something new. And it was beautiful.
That's how I feel right now. I don't know how to explain it any better than that, not really. I feel like I'm living that dream, as if I'm in the midst of re-creation.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
You are cordially invited to a virtual bridal shower for
Say hello to our guests so far:
Grab yourself a beverage, prop your feet up and raise a toast to a couple of good, good people. As the good wishes come in, I will continue to add to the list of links. Please feel free to leave your best wishes in the comment section.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Today, I learned that I am good at that. I am very good at that.
Today, I saw it in session after session. Spasticity eased from muscles. Self injurious behaviors stopped. Frustrated vocalizations stopped. Twisted faces went slack. Eyes went wide. There were smiles. There were happy noises.
You know, all I ever wanted to do is make a diffence in this world. I wanted to mean something.
Today I did.
I've never wanted a job like I want this job. I know it's only clinicals, but this is where I want to be. I prayed so hard for this job on the way home that I cried.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
It was nice to have that moment.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Anyways a father came in with a boy, a thin boy with big eyes. He came to the register with a rather large stuffed chicken. I laughed. Usually what that means is that the child has wanted a chick really really bad, and the parent was able to bargain his way out of it.
I blab a little as I'm ringing up their stuff, and the kidlet tells me that he heard the chicks talking to him.
I smiled down at him. "Really?" I said, although he seemed a little old for fantasy. "I'll bet they were asking you to take them home."
"No," he said, looking at me quite seriously. "They wanted to take my heart."
I looked at him shocked, not sure what to say next. I could only say, "Well, then, you made the right decision taking the stuffed chicken."
Saturday, March 3, 2012
A woman came for her first therapy, but would not talk or look, she simply looked down and wept. I couldn't bear it. I truly could not watch this, so I pulled up a chair and we began to talk, about this, about that, and at one point I touched her shoulder and she flinched and looked at me startled. I ignored it and kept on, making a mental note not to touch her again, but I am how I am, and as we got acquainted there was laughter and I touched her again, lightly on her arm, but she did not flinch. At the end of the session, she turned to me, and laid her hand on my knee. "Thank you," she said.
And the whisper came, "You are where you belong..."
Another client was angry and there was self injurious behavior. I turned up the CD player, and began to sing, fortissimo, "Bye bye Miss American Pie." It helped and by the end there was dancing and arm waving, and I stood on the outside of me and watched this play out. The delight on his face as he pantomined the motions, driving his Chevy to the levy, drinking whiskey and rye. I watched myself singing loudly and unselfconsciously. Who knew? Who knew? I surely did not know that this person lurked inside of myself waiting for permission to step out into the light of day.
And once again, there was a small whispered certainty, "You are discovering what you made for." I felt an uncurling, a release of the previous 8 weeks of stress. I had really struggled to make it in a placement where I did not fit, not at all. Discouragement had begun to pile up in the corners of my life. Fear as well. I was sick at the thought that we'd spent so much money for an education that had only opened the door to yet another unfulfilling job.
Mix this in with Cara's concern for her grief-stricken friend who has lost both parents.
My sadness at losing my own friend to a disease that strikes fear in those small dark corners of my own thinking. Both funerals were on the same day, and I could go to neither. I made a salad for the post funeral dinner, and I stood in line the night before to tell her sons what a remarkable woman she was.
Last night, I collapsed on the couch and could not move. I was weary beyond words, and I sat there trying to convince myself to move, but I couldn't. I finally gave up, and lay down with my head on the pillow and watched the sky grow dark outside the window. In the darkness, there were distant rumbles of thunder, and I watched the storm come in. At some point, I fell asleep.