Sunday, December 15, 2013

15 December 2013
Sunday morning

Today's continuing installment 

Here we are, the last half of the weekend. The weekends are the worst. The higher level administrators are not around so the low level folks end up running the show. The problem is that the higher level administrators are salaried, and so their work hours are 9 to5 on weekdays. Technically they don't have to been here on the weekends – so they aren't. I imagine like everyone else the weekends take on a semi sacred flavor. The last thing anyone wants to do on THE WEEKEND is show up at work. So they don't. Not everything we set up takes the weekend off, keeping astronauts supported in space, for example. Its hard to imagine, “Houston, we have a problem” and the weekend crew are theonly ones around. “Ah yes, Apollo – can this wait until Monday?”

Once, during the week when I was having a particularly difficult time getting anyone to respond to my calls using the call light, the Charge Nurse, upon hearing my complaint said, Yes John, I understand. We were, all fifteen of us, in a supervisory meeting, downstairs. And you know how it works – when the cat is away, the mice will play.” I hate to think that my care is being handled by the equivalent of small rodent brains. I used to have pet mice as an early adolescent, mice do not have a very wide ranging world view. The simile is not lost on me, even though I realize that the Charge Nurse was using a figure of speech. Sometimes we speak volumes in the innocence of colloquialisms.

So weekends have devolved into two day bridge events over less than ideal conditions. Having experienced sever weekends in nursing care, you don't want to experience such events. As the clock unwinds on late Friday I find myself involuntarily bracig for the upcoming hours of sloppy thinking,smaller than usual viewpoints and a sudden inability of the CENA staff to understand anything beyond “gosh we are so over whelmed” mentality.

About two weeks ago the resident population was low, people don't tend to schedule elective surgeries and such medical excursions during the holidays. The population on the floor was thirty, which is below the capacity. So,in order to keep costs low the number of CENAs scheduled to be on duty was trimmed back, there were two CENAs for the whole floor, according to the CENAs themselves. Responses to the call light extended to twenty, thirty minutes. When the CENA appeared at the door the seemed harried, usually in a voice whose qualities reinforced this notion they would say something like we are swamped, there are only two CENAs on the floor. Being an empathic sort I get the message very clearly – these folks are feeling rushed and like someone on an assembly line moving faster than the can keep up, they are in the beginning phases of frustration. People get to the work when they can, but it may take a while.

One thing that makes this running-on-a-tight-margin operation difficult is that communication is severly hampered. Unlike being in a hospital (as is my experience), this place has only call lights. This entails a push button at every bed that sets off a light at the nursing station and an electronic beep that repeats incessantly until canceled. The beep is obnoxious andloud enough to be heard the entire length of the hallway. This is, I imagine, so that the call will be heard and responded to. However human beings are more adaptive than this. A constantly ringing call light can eventually be successfully ignored if one tells them selves that they are busy with this resident, someone else will have to get that call light, but there is no way of knowing who that other responder might be. This system inadvertantly shaped the behavior of the CENAs like Pavlov's dogs to not be responsive. The other problem with the call light system is that no one knows what the call light is for until someone physically walks into the room and asks the resident what is needed. This touches on a problem previously mentioned, that the tone of voice the inquiry is spoken can imply lots of information. An exasperated sounding “what do you want” gives more of the wrong message to the resident than is ever intended, plus it takes up a lot of time on the part of the CENA.

Whereas the hospitals I have been in use an intercom system. When the resident presses the call button a signal at the nurses station opens a channel to someone manning the response board. A pleasant, unharried voice responds inquiring how they could help. A vocal transmission is elicited, the information is exchanged quickly, directly and without undue wear on the CENA staff. If some equipment is needed to assist the resident (like an easy stand) this can be collected on the first trip to the resident without having to make a separate trip to collect the equipment after finding the resident's request.I have mentioned this before and it is usually brushed off with some half-hearted reason as towhy it hasn'tbeen done before, too expensive, or it breaks down or some other answer that tells more about the speaker than anything else.

It is Sunday morning and I am sitting in the same briefs I was put in after my shower Friday morning. Not many people willingly wear the same underwear three days in a row, except for here - on the weekends. Things are looser on the weekends, the cat is away and everyone knows that it is the weekend when they are working. I imagine the kick back attitude that pervades the culture creeps in here. I hear the staff as they compare notes with one another, “No I can't, thats my weekend to work”, they know where in the week they are, and it always means the weekend is different. Different rules, different expectations.

Now the weekend spent in the same undergarments may not be that earth shaking, other people have managed this before, I'm sure. But I am operating under different circumstances. I have Multiple Sclerosis and due to that cannot stand or walk. I am basically disabled from the sternum down. I can't roll over, if I am placed on a toilet when finished cannot lift one cheek to clean myself, formant of the activities of daily living I require help. I can use my hands but I am limited to the position that I am in at the moment. Usually first thing in the morning the CENA used to ask if I needed a bed bath before breakfast was produced. That, however has gradually subsided over several weeks until that is a rarity. I have asked to have a bed bath, which includes a new brief, only to be told, “Later, we are extremely busy now” (staffing remember?)Only problem is later never comes. Used to be throughout the shift I could repeat the request, but lately I am visited so little by the CENA staff that (weekends especially) I see them only twice per shift. And even then they are busy.

This week the results are the same but the reasons given are different. Last night the shift nurse told me that she was late bringing my three PM medication at nine thirty PM because they are swamped. Five new admissions in one day, so much paperwork, they have even called in extra CENAs, there were five working at that time. The vocal tone factor comes into play loudly here. And still I am pretty much left alone.

Some of the staff have told me, “John, you are too easy. You need to press the call light more often.” Wow, thanks for your fix on the situation. I never thought of pressing the call light to get help, what a great idea. Meanwhile I press the call button when needed, wait twenty minutes, on average, to get the same vocal exasperation expressed to me about how rough it is being a CENA these days.

The administration ought to don a CENA uniform and just spend some time on the floor. They don't have to be undercover or anything clandestine, just be here. Oh, their presence may cause the staff to be on their best behavior, but is that so bad? They might find out how things really go during the week.

The progression of events this weekend was; Friday morning I receive my shower. I start off clean and dressed in clean clothes and a new brief. The rest of the day nothing special. Thursday morning the CENA assigned to me steps in the room shortly after six AM, greets me pleasantly and drops of the daily bath linen for later. I never see her the rest of the day. Next CENA visitor is a person whom I have known since I have been here, she comes across as Eeyore, always depressed, mopey in presentation with a wiff of waiting for Prince
Charming to appear in a sort of demandingly expecting sort of way. She never uses words that could be used against her, she is very careful that way, but the mood says it all. I'm glad to see her too.She arrives at approximately noon bearing the lunch offering – nothing to write home about. I never see her again.

The next in the line of CENAs parading through my room was a male who usually works the second floor. We share some personal tales about the joys of winter camping and backpacking. He had just returned my neighbor to his room in his wheelchair, when he stopped in to check on me. He was surprised to find my lunch tray still waiting in my room at three PM, I had finished the meal two and a half hours earlier and he was mildly intrigued that the empty tray was still here. I told him about my request for a new brief and the pattern of ignoring my being here as much as possible. His helpful advice was to use the call light to get the help I may need. Notice how quickly the weight for the situation was deftly shifted from any impetus to help, even if taking my message to another CENA, on to me. He leaves taking the now long forgotten lunch tray with him.

Following his helpful advice I press the call light after he leaves. The CENA who apparently is assigned to my care appears several minutes later to find what I require. I tell her I would like to have my briefs changed. She tells me that she will be back in a moment. I don't see her again. Dinner is delivered by a different CENA around six PM.

By eight-thirty my dinner empty dinner tray is still here. I can't clear the extra items from my bed because the tray is taking up the space I use to move these items from sharing my bed with me. My briefs are now soaked from two days of use, I have difficulty moving the bed coverings to access my briefs to use the urinal when my bladder signals that it needs attention. I was disgusted with the lack of follow through from the CENA staff, the usual weekend slovenly follow through and that I was now sitting in soaked briefs for several hours now. My dinner tray was still here taking up space so that I couldn't set myself up to take better care of myself, so I stuffed a terrycloth shirt protector (bib) from the now long past dinner, into my briefs to help soak up some of the urine to be met through the night. Being too sleepy to stay awake, I put my CPAP mask on and let the bed down to go to sleep.

Next thing I know is that the second shift nurse is calling to wake me up to administer my three PM medications, as noted before, at nine thirty PM. The tardy dinner tray had been removed, the urinals deftly placed fully out of reach. I explained to the nurse that I was not happy as I had not been able to achieve a brief change over the entire weekend. It was she who said that they were swamped with too many intakes, that they had five CENAs on the floor, she would have two of “the girls” come down to attend to me when they are finished where they are. After she left I cleared the bed, now that then tray table was clear. I put the CPAP mask away so it wouldn't be in the way when “the girls” came to clean me up. I put aside my iPod and got ready for the expected to be helpful CENAs. By ten minutes to ten (the shift ends at ten) I realized that if they hadn't arrived yet, “the girls”weren't going to show up.

I reassembled the sleeping paraphernalia (CPAP mask, iPod and ear buds, made sure the extra absorbing clothing was secure in my briefs) and waited for sleep to arrive. Off and on throughout the night I awakened just enough to observe the strange sensation as my bladder was full and the trickle of relief in my pants. Through out the night I slept well but uneasy as bodily functions continued unabated regardless of the needs and perceptionsof the CENAs.

It is quarter passed ten as I write, the CENA who delivered breakfast got an earful of how I was not happy regarding the same briefs issue and that I wanted a bed bath. She was polite and appropriate, she listened and said she was sorry, that she would tell the CENA who was assigned to me. Breakfast has been eaten, as much as I could tolerate, the tray has been removed by yet another (different) CENA, and I am still sitting in the same soiled brief from Friday.

Its another weekend and everything is normal according to the way things work around here.

As the old post cards used to say, Having fun, wish you were here.

Self Portrait 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

14 December 2013

Being in two states at once
how to step over the threshold

Dead to the world

I woke for good this morning about six AM. I had been dreaming. It was one of those last dream cycle dreams where your unconscious has already spent the night going over events of the previous day, had given you all sorts of impossible tasks to complete many times over while you finally get an understanding of what ever you have been trying to work out, until the last segment of dreams.

Often these are fanciful, like having discovered the secret to levitation on a moderate scale. It occurs slowly and you only float inches above the ground. It takes along time to get there so you are not going to make any great escapes from bad guys or anything like that. Or dreaming of having learned how to move like kangaroos do with great leaping bounds, often twenty to thirty feet at a time. You try to tell everyone but no one is interested. In fact they act as if they can't see or hear you. Here you are, busting with this knowledge that could change humanity – and nobody seems capable of paying attention. One time I dreamt that I had created a beautiful series of photographs that depicted infinite wonders of the universe. In that way that one can learn more from a picture than any amount of words, the way an image slips right past the defenses and patterned way of prior understandings that dupe us into believing that we know when we really don't. Our prior knowledge that keeps us from understanding any further. It is often based on that which everyone in our culture knows and is propagated through words. I couldn't get anyone to look at the pictures, it was like they were all ignoring on purpose by some secret command.

In this way we as individuals are effectively kept within the range of the group as a whole. No cowboys here thank you, iconoclasts need not stick around, we know all we want to know, just keep on moving or be the same as the rest of us.. These dreams are not only highly visual but are accompanied by a felt sense that is stronger than any other type of dream. Much like the theater organist would play a score to accompany the old silent movies to enhance the mood being portrayed on the screen, this felt sense added a fuller dimension to the dream. So full, in fact, that it seemed there had been a reversal of parts to the dream, as if that theater organist had become somewhat overzealous and was making his part more present than the film images.

Puppy dreams

These end of sleep cycle dreams were mostly about the felt sensation than the images. In fact there are many times in the progression of these dreams where the feeling continues on and the images have temporarily ceased. Sometimes the images of the dream fitfully develop, as if the images were being made up to fit the feelings. It becomes very clear at this point that the feeling is the most important part, that the visuals are what we create to augment and shape the felt sensation.

This seems to run counter to the science we have all been subjected to, that we are visual beings, our brain uses most of its massive amount of neuronal capacity to process vision. Or that the brain cannot tell the difference between an imagined event and seeing the real activity. Athletes use this visualization technique all the time. We all do this all the time without realizing it. Our brain is encased inside of a dark cranium of bone with only sensual peepholes open to the outside. From these bits of information we construe the world in which we live, develop a pattern of understanding and expectations about that world, and then boldly strike out to be in this world of which we don't have any more sense of the realness of it than our capacity for confabulation and delusion can carry us onward. No wonder society changes, as Max Planck once said of science “One funeral at a time”. We are all blind. Some of us leap to the fore exclaiming that they have it sussed. The concept of memes comes into operation here as people don the mantle of scientific explorer and explainer, or moral interpreter, the image presented becomes more and more accepted until the cumulative weight overtakes even the strongest and most resilient. A culturally accepted understanding prevails which if we buy into we gain certain behavioral privileges. Like earning a driving license, graduating from an educational program, obtaining a job – which in turn bestows even more benefits.

The mass delusion is ubiquitous, rampant, and self perpetuating. It is everywhere and is relentless in the way that memes can do, like viruses they take over our body (through the mind) to ensure that the illusion is maintained. There is no mastermind behind this, no bad guy onto which we can lay blame for this condition. It is us. We have allowed ourselves to become infected with this malady. Some of us play the part of social administrators keeping everyone in line, others of us play the deviant finding ways to push the envelope of acceptance and yet remain within the fold.

If we try to confront this situation solely with the mind, we are only binding ourselves deeper into the morass. Sort of like trying to dug a hole in a large body of water using a shovel, the chore is going about the task using the wrong tools. So trusting on the mind and its ability to manipulate logic that we fail to recognize a solution even as it is knocking on our forehead. It is there but we don't see it.

Along comes Candace Pert and her research, very scientifically oriented, without flaw. 
Candace Pert

Everything is according to standard operating procedure, and yet her discoveries immediately answered some physiological questions but also the implications could not be stopped there. Through her work we have been able to see that our bodies are a repository for our unconscious, that thought and electrochemical neural messages are not the only manner the body is able to move information. The body also can very quickly know what is going on at the other end by chemical messages alone, nerves are not involved. We often sense this as a felt sensation. This began an investigation into how our felt sensations were more than mere emotional enhancements, like spice is to food. Feelings are real conveyors of information, they are of value, they are trying to inform us of something. The old time worn idea that they are poor imitators of valuable data has now passed. But as Planck's comment mentioned above cites, don't expect any changes anytime soon.

So this morning I awoke with this very interesting dream, not only echoing with fecundity in my mind but I realize that I was dreaming lucidly before I awoke. The dream had a continued sense that transited from the sleeping state into the waking state. The transition was seamless in that was not interrupted as dreams usually seem to be, rather the dream took on the added component of an experience that spanned two different states of being. It lent itself to the knowing that we are awareness that can exist in many states. Our responses depend on which is the present state in which we place ourselves.

This leads to another understanding, that we can bring ourselves forth into another state , by bringing ourselves forward, to step over the threshold, and enter a different realm than one we are familiar with. It is possible to see this often when someone goes beyond what can be attributed to practice as in an athletic event or a series of patterned behaviors. This is not doing the same thing with renewed vigor, it is more like doing the same thing with a renewed self. A different self, much like the older self, the more familiar self, the one that we have become used to with the same old caveats, the fears, the sense of inadequacies, the hopes and dreams – all of the beliefs that we have saddled ourselves with that impede that actualizing of our own true sense. The self we know is often a shadow of our truer self, one which we know is inside of us but often very difficult to bring forth before others. So often we fail and present our smaller self, which can be detected – usually by felt means. Like the world presented in the Flammarion Woodcut, we find ourselves in it but we are vastly different.

Flammarion Woodcut

We know when we are showing forth in one realm or the other. Some of us even know what was holding us back, but to know alone is not enough. That feeling component enters into the mix.

When we are hitting that mark everything seems to be in an expanded state. We tend to know not where our physical boundaries end and find ourselves feeling "connected" with the rest of the world and everything in it.

During this dream I sometimes dreamt that I was interacting with my former wife and for some reason she was actually responding to loving inputs and little acts of adoration in a positive way. Then, like a radio that was failing to hold the station to which it was tuned, she was just off the mark. Acting calculating, judgmental, accusative and suspicious (which more and more grew to be her favored way of acting/being as time went on). Various vignettes of tender moments would pass by my awareness and she would be one sort or the other. The contrast was amazing. Throughout it all I can feel my sense of affection toward her and at the same time feel her response or lack thereof in return. Toward the end of the dream she was settling into being more and more as if she were operating from her head and not her heart, which is just the way the marriage ended up. I woke up with a strong sense of wanting to love and appreciate someone and there was this tremendous feeling of a void in return. That is very disorienting.

Normally it is said that when one gives out love, more returns. The caveat is, the other person has to be in the same relationship at the same level. Otherwise, love pours out and is met with a resounding silence of nothing.

This is how I started up my day and I have been astounded to note that the feeling I get from most of the CENAs that have interacted with me is one of conditional acceptance. There is no sense of love being returned. It would be quite strange except for the fact that this is, sadly, normal in my experience of this place.

I can't help wonder if my wanting to hold the staff in a sense of appreciation and acceptance might be more flavored by the "Stockholm affect" then real altruism? The conditions for Stockholm affect are certainly in place. I am, for all intents and purposes, dependent on the goodwill of the CENA staff to get various things that I need - in the sense of physical needs, food, clothing and shelter. It seems that they are steadfast against showing or allowing any form of altruistic acceptance. I wonder if there is a fear of not being "professional" and that they may find themselves under some kind of administrative reprimand or something. I am not talking about flirting here, or any other physical or lascivious behavior. I'm talking about simple accepting and allowing someone to be who they are. That seems to be next to impossible for just about everybody here.

I often feel like Gulliver in a land populated by merely the shadows of the people who actually could be here, if only they would let themselves.

And so goes another day of supine paradise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

11 December 2013

You can continue to turn the other cheek
but some fools refuse to notice there is something wrong,
Meanwhile, I'm running out of cheeks

Yesterday I found myself in a foul mood. Surprisingly I began the day in for good spirits. It was my shower day and I always look forward to those. However, after the shower things began to go downhill. Upon returning to my room to collect a few things to utilize during my foray in the wheelchair I discovered that while I was in the shower someone had been in my room (totally legitimate of course) but in the course of their being here attending to their chores some items on my tray tables were knocked off onto the floor. I could tell that they had been disturbed as they were not in the usual positions in which I leave them. Most distressing to me was that my iPhone was placed back in the container in which it was resting without most of the other stuff that also resides in a container and the phone was in a different position. Now I've been in this room several times in the past when various CENAs have moved the tray tables and the phone has gone to the floor before. One of the staff actually dropped her phone onto a hard surface floor once and the gorilla glass on the front actually cracked. She contacted Apple and they told her that the phones not meant to be dropped and they do not replace the glass. Her phone still works but there is a big spider crack on the front of the phone. I realized that these are somewhat robust items, but they are not really designed to make sudden stops upon hitting the floor.

Amongst the items I was retrieving was five dollars to give to the activities director, who usually makes a shopping trip for residents who are requesting certain items. The other thing that I was trying to retrieve was a dime to give to the bookkeeper.

Toward the end of October the bookkeeper approached me and indicated that the previous nursing home I had been to still feels they need to be paid six cents. Six cents!! that alone shows me what money grubber those folks were. They know that all of my worldly possessions have been dispersed due to Medicaid rules, and they are grasping for six cents?! I have been told by family members that the former nursing home has contacted them trying to get $7000 they think that I owe them. They are trying to get it from my brother or my father!

That nursing home made some sort of arrangement with the bookkeeper that they would retrieve their six cents after I had paid my next installment at this facility. So she indicated to me that if I didn't mind they would refrain from going into my bank account for the next month so that some buffer could be built and then they would retrieve both months in December. I was not pleased with this arrangement for a couple reasons. One, I had not been involved in the negotiations for this arrangement, but I was merely being told that somebody else had made this arrangement. Two, the other facility has shown themselves to be less than honorable on several occasions, which they don't seem to accept but rather look for other people to hang this problem on. After they decided I was not someone they wanted to keep in their facility (i.e. they could not squeeze any more money out of me) they finally arranged to have me transferred to this place. I find very little reason to trust these people. I do not like being made available for them to mistreat me one more time, yet again.

I have been haunting my bank account regularly to see if indeed this arranged payment has been affected as it was set up. Nothing has changed in over six weeks, and there is already has been the second installment deposited into my bank account. Yesterday I intended to give the bookkeeper a dime so that she could give the six cents to the other facility and we could be done with it. When I tried to do this she became very dismissive towards me and indicated that she could not do that, they had rules to follow. They may have rules but they have no sense of propriety, no sense about how to treat their residents. And this is not the first time I've dealt with this bookkeeper. She has the unnerving ability to talk like a young child in the way she pronounces words, and her choice of words is always very haughty and dismissive. I do not tolerate this kind of treatment very well. So already I was in a not good mood as I returned to my room for lunch.

I know not to expect any better from the kitchen staff, but lunch did not improve my attitude at all. Ever since the kitchen crew had been replaced by a different organization the quality of food here has changed quite a bit, in only very few cases for the better. Previously the meat here was all mystery meat. That is it was ground-up and formed into various shapes depending on what the meal was to be. The same type of meat was used for hamburgers, pressed into round patties, meatballs formed into round spheres, riblets, formed into faux rib bones and connective muscle tissue - much like McDonald's does. The only thing that made these various meat dishes different from one another was the kind of sauce that was drizzled over each entrée. Fine cooking technique at its best.

Yesterday, I was grumbling to the woman who was taking over the receptionist spot during her lunch hour, a rather large rotund woman who obviously likes her meals. I indicated it ever since the kitchen staff had changed affiliations that we no longer were served eggs in the morning that were prepared over easy. When they had a big meeting to inform us of this new kitchen regime several of us asked why the change in egg style, as we enjoyed our eggs this way. We were told that it was a state law, because it's easy to get food poisoning from undercooked eggs. This brings up two questions. Since bacteria are killed at 160°, and this is not enough to cook an egg yolk all the way into a hard state. Does this kitchen staff not have the equipment and/or ability to judge when 1 60° has been reached? Why, if people are so concerned about bacteria inside of an egg shell that was formed inside of the bird, obviously the bird must be sick or damaged before the egg was formed. Why is the state that looking to the egg producers for this supposed problem instead of harassing the public about their preferred eating style? Of course both answers were dismissed as ridiculous, as those in charge of the kitchen took the stance that is often taken here toward the residents. That is we know better, were in charge, will take care of you, now just run along and let us do our job.

No fried eggs are presented unless in this overcooked state. Not only that, but whatever product they use to cook the eggs in to keep them from sticking to the cooking surface is a low quality oil that one gets sick of day after day. This makes it hard to eat the same politically correct eggs every day. This morning as the plate rested on my chest, it was not perfectly flat. While I was setting up my breakfast to eat, a slow stream of clear yellow fluid slowly oozed from beneath the eggs toward the low spot on my plate. I suddenly lost all interest in eating fried eggs this morning. I found myself missing greatly cooking in my own kitchen. It seems like a cruel fate to lose my ability to stand and walk, for this get to be treated as less than human, and the food is bad too.

This lends itself to another problem that I've had here. It is the wholesale reduction of anyone (read residents) to a very diminished intellectual state. Something which I find be thoroughly disgusting. I come from a long background based upon Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. There is more to people than just food, clothing and shelter, and being able to string plastic beads twice a week or play bingo does not account for enough beyond the food-clothing- shelter scenario. And yet I find that most of the upper administration here tends to believe this way and act this way toward all of the residents. I have mentioned this to a few people in that category and they don't seem to understand. In fact they almost take offense that anybody would find umbrage with the way they are treated.

I have been in nursing care for more than two years now, in two different organizations, nearly eleven months in this facility. It is one thing that this disease has taken my ability to stand or walk, even to wipe my ass after a bowel movement. But there is no reason on earth that my very humanity should be messed with. I find that the fact that many of the people here, and certainly the administration should fail to understand this is a great indictment on these people and the culture that allows this to exist or continue unchecked. Why should I be the one that has to constantly remind them that this is not the way to treat people? There are studies, for those who can't somehow manage to find this for themselves, that show time and again that when you consistently treat people this way it shortens lifespans and lengthens the time needed to heal from bodily wounds. So why is it that I'm here? Is it to earn disapproval from many in the administration and some CENAs because I know better and refuse to succumb to their uninformed treatment of residents? These may be the last years of my life. Do they really think that under these conditions is any way to spend them? Do they even think at all?  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

5 December 2013

I wish that I could consider this as a type of retirement bliss
but who would tokerate this kind of treatment?

Here I am, again. Back for more. Yesterday was really crazy. I keep finding out more about how this facility works, I'm not impressed. Apparently the time around Thanksgiving until Christmas is a slow time for the nursing home/rehabilitation industry. People just are not scheduling elective surgeries and therefore there is not much need for the rehab that most nursing homes offer (like this one) during this time of the year.

Although the floor that I am on is designed to accommodate 40 people, most of them stacked like cord wood in a room (2 residents per room, very little privacy, providing unwanted and intimate information about the assigned roommate) this place shows in many ways how it is designed to work with people as objects rather than living breathing human beings. When there are 40 people on the floor there are four CENA staff assigned to help care for them. As the population drops from 40 the CENA staff is trimmed appropriately (whatever that may mean). Yesterday there were only 30 on this floor and so the intelligence that guides the administration of this place demanded that only two CENAs be shceduled.

Now to be fair, the staff Christmas party was shceduled for last night. So the administration was probably concidering not filling too many daily slots to allow the CENAs to be able to make the party. (Hint, most of the ones I spoke with had no wishes to attend)

Now, there are some individuals who come here and they are destined for only short-term rehabilitation, a matter of three or four weeks. Some of these individuals have never lived in a communal situation, military barracks, dormitories, or other groups living situations. Judging by the way they act, they are the center of their own universe. Think of it as someone living at the small end of the funnel, and everything else falls in towards where they inhabit. There is a man two doors down that insists the call light is not fast enough. Sometimes he doesn't even condescend to using the call light button. He just bangs on the table and calls out for the nurse in a demanding tone. On the occasions when the CENA staff does attend to his insistence on help, he asks them to do lightweight things that he could do himself, like fluff his pillow or turn down his sheet/blanket slightly. There are a few people that come through this place who are so demanding, most of us can hardly wait for them to rehabilitate enough to move on home.

Yesterday was one of those days. My understanding was there only 30 people on this floor so only two CENA staff were scheduled. This is woefully inadequate. Shortly after lunch I felt the internal movement indicating there was a bowel about to make itself present. Knowing the drill, I pressed the call light and waited for one of the CENAs is to come by, to whom I would indicate that I felt a bowel movement impending. Upon which the CWNA would leave to fetch the lift-stand which is used to help get me out of bed and position me over the commode. It only took her 10 minutes to respond (about normal), I indicated my need and she informed me that she would go get the lift-stand. She left at 1:25 PM, I never saw her again. Knowing that the shift changes at 2 o'clock. I believe we had enough time to locate the machinery, extricate me from bed, position me over the commode, do my business, and be returned to bed in about 10 to 15 minutes.

I was quite puzzled, not to mention very uncomfortable, when half an hour after she left I still had no CENA in appearance. I ring the call light again and another CENA appeared wearing her jacket indicating that she was ready to leave as her shift was nearly done. I indicated my condition and that I had been attended to but not finalized, half an hour earlier. I got a partial answer when this individual left as well. After another 20 minutes I got my cell phone and called the front desk and asked to be run up to the third floor nursing station, whereupon I indicated to the nurse who answered my predicament. She indicated that they were very short staffed but she would have someone come by shortly.

While I'm waiting for someone, anyone to come by driving a lift-stand, I'm trying to picture how it is that whoever administers this place figures because there are less bodies in the facility, that those who are here suddenly don't have physical needs or bodily functions that need to be attended to. This just boggles my mind.

It only makes sense if you watch the staff and administration here in action, most of whom are women. And I am constantly reminded of watching the little girls in my third grade class during recess. They had an activity that they all performed in unison out on the playground. The school was situated where there were large oak trees, and appropriately there were many leaves on the ground during the fall. The girls would all race outside to "play house". For this activity they all assumed certain familial positions, father, mother, little brother, and little sister ( for some reason it made sense they all chose siblings who were younger) it always boggled me to watch these young ladies assume roles that anyone would find in a house, and yet they all knew the roles. To my mind they seemed extremely bossy and spent a lot of their time trying to direct their peers in the roles that they had been given. It also seemed quite interesting that they always insist on going through the open space that was designated as the doorway between rooms or into the house. Although the leaves were only pushed into a long snaking pile 8 to 10 inches tall, no one dared to ever step over the leaf row for the sake of expeditiousness. The girls never did that at all. Some of the boys would step over their leaf piles and the girls treated them as if they were ghosts passing through the walls, screaminf and berating them. There was something about the bossiness and the common belief that they all held that they knew best about this whole situation. It was just a game. It was just a bunch of leaves push together into an arranged format. And yet these individuals acted and believed as if the very structure of the world hung on what they did.

For some strange reason I'm reminded of that when I see the individuals, (mostly women) who run this facility. I have found that other than polite “hello” chit chat, there is no talking to them. They do not want to know what you have to say or see or feel. Don't approach them with your version of a problem, they can't hear it and they won't tolerate it. It's sad. But that's what I have to work with.

After an hour and a half of discomfort yesterday, I finally was helped with two CENA staff that had come on for the second shift (with whom I have never had any problems). It is sad that residents of this facility have to put up with this sort of physical discomfort just in attending to what are their usual daily bodily functions. I haven't done anything wrong. I have not been convicted of any crime to be treated like this. And yet I know that state prisoners are afforded better care than this.

Now, I have mentioned some of the kitchen proclivities in the past. To some it may sound like complaining, however I used to be a good cook and had a kitchen that had all the right tools. Yesterday at lunch the kitchen sent up another mound of instant mashed potatoes (which I normally do not eat, on general principles - potato flakes in a box are not a real food source, besides they taste like cardboard box), some steamed cauliflower, and two hot dogs (euphemistically referred to as tube steakes). What was interesting is that the kitchen set up this fine culinary repast with no condiments. No mustard, no ketchup. There was however, packets of salt and pepper. Now, I have yet to find a hot dog that needs extra salt. I found this to be somewhat insulting. Fortunately, I had a few packets of mustard and ketchup that I had saved from other meals, just for occasions like this. For the evening meal this same kitchen sent up a wonderful stuffed pepper, with another helping of the ubiquitous white stuff (instant mashed potatoes). And for this entrée they figured that nobody needed utensils. Luckily I had the presence of mind to save a spoon from one my previous meals. With that I eat the stuffed green pepper and my salad. When the CNEA of the evening came by to retrieve my plate, I indicated that it was a fine meal, however, next time I would appreciate some utensils with which to eat it.

She was aghast, I was once again bemused. What better addition to insult the residents here who have gone through a day of reduced staffing?

More later, now I have to recover.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

28 November 2013
Thanksgiving – morning

Oh yeah, don't forget to be thankful
no matter what

I awoke this morning at six unable to sleep any more, so I got around to my usual supine routine. I turned on the iPad to tune in the nearby university streaming radio, so I could listen to NPR news without being gnawed into submission by endless and unrelenting commercials. The problem with starting NPR early is that there comes a point in their broadcast where the stories begin to repeat. If I have been left alone and haven't missed a story, this can become tedious. If that happens I turn the iPad off and switch to my computer, a MacBook AIR, a mighty nice and very small computer. I had a MacBook PRO but that slid off the bed at another nursing home I was placed at, due to the air mattress (to alleviate pressure sores) cycling through its pattern of increasing and decreasing air pressure within the mattress. I returned to find the mortally wounded computer, open and still trying to function, on the floor.

The management said that they would fix it. It was yet another in a long list of promises that were never intended on being fulfilled, sad is the experience of one caught in the jaws of such a large, burgeoning actually, market for caring for the unable of us amongst the population. I eventually sent the computer for repair back in Lansing, by way of a friend of mine. The computer store, the employees whom I know, indicated that repairs would have totaled $600, that the age of the machine made decision not very worthwhile. So we decided to scrap it and recycle the parts. Now I am down to two machines, this MacBook Air and my main computer a 24” iMac that I wrote my dissertation on, which currently is living in storage at my idiot brother's house. It has been there over two years and isn't getting any newer. But no amount of begging and cajoling moves him not one bit. It only teases me that I own a machine that was so capable as that and it is effectively being kept from me. I dis so relish the big beautiful real estate that machine afforded. Now the choice of better resolution is being offered, called Retina display. Eventually I will want one of those.

I did purchase a pneumatic arm designed to be affixed to the wall to hold the iMac so it would float over the bed, a cordless mouse and cordless keyboard would allow me to work with the machine, very cool. But there was one tight nut that would not come undone so it could be mounted, my brother took the machine back to his house, I got unceremoniously moved here, the arm was summarily removed and delivered here , where it languishes on the floor in the closet. I have spoken with my brother about constructing an armature of white ABS plastic pipe that could be assembled next to the bed on which the pneumatic arm could be mounted.
But he insists that he is an engineer (never took any engineering classes though) and true to his form he always wants to over engineer something. Next thing I know he is telling me about a design he has worked out that has all sorts of legs going in different directions, and using a couple of cinder blocks to hold the legs down from the extra stress magnified by the lever arm of the computer on the end of the pneumatic arm … I said. “Fine. Who is going to haul all of that stuff up here to the third floor?” Why he would, of course. I have been here since the beginning of February and there has been nothing yet. I really don't expect anything, but it is a kind of perverted fun to reckon the continuing clock running down,wondering if anything will happen?

This morning is Thanksgiving Day, I should consider things that I am thankful for. It is hard, though. So much does not go as expected, in spite of well laid plans, simple human frailties get in the way. It often comes out sounding sarcastic, but that is how things work. One of the administrators told me once that when the cat is away the mice will play. I suppose all of the nurse overseers are off site having their own Thanksgiving. Meanwhile I am left to enjoy mine with the mice. I have had my call light on for an hour now, waiting for someone to come so I can get some water (been out now since 2 1/2 hours ago) and my toothbrush from the other room were it is recharging. At 11:30 it is time to get breakfast out of my mouth. I suppose I am thankful for a call light, even though, depending on it seems a fool's errand.

I am thankful for all the time I was able to spend aimlessly in the woods finding wonderful items to photograph and feeling so included by nature. I certainly do not feel so included by people, almost as if they were bound and determined to be exclusionary oriented. It is so difficult to even see some of the pictures I had taken over the years, mostly the best I can do is remember those times. I am thankful that at least I can do that.

When I was first divorced (actually before then too)I used to cook a lot. For me it was an exploration of living in the world, with style. I had begun as a self defense because of the Celiac disease I endured, but I soon reached a point where cooking was a celebration of life, not merely a means to an end - calorie loading. I am thankful that I could at least learn to push the possibilities as far as I could. When I left my home I was exploring sous vide cooking and the potential there. Obviously none of that equipment survived, it would not surprise me if my idiot brother ate all of the frozen beef in my freezer as well, so it wouldn't go to waste, if you know what I mean …

Looking back at my list, most of the things I am thankful for are from the past. That is because there is so little that I can do, or am allowed to do now. It is amazing how limited one becomes living like this. No incense, everyone is deathly afraid of fire. No candles either same reason. I really miss the annual season long fire in the wood stove. There is no heat quite like radiant heat. I am thankful that I had the presence of mind to record all of my CD's onto the big iMac, and that I got the wireless backup of that entire Hard Drive on my Time Capsule. I am thankful for a decent WiFi system here at the facility, through my computer and iPad I can explore the world, instead of being confined to one very small room.

I am glad to at least have some of my books.  

I suppose that to some small degree I am thankful for this place and its denizens. But as they often do a less than stellar job, I hesitate to speak too loud or too fast less I jinx the whole thing and the maddening little peccadillos become the new norm. Let's just say it could be worse. Now I await the big Thanksgiving meal that was advertised, the delivery is already forty-five minutes later than usual for the noon meal. Let's see for what I could be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

27 November 2013
6:20 AM

Yet another day in the crazy house

Awake since 5:00 AM sleep is no longer imperative. Listening to NPR morning news, there is a quiet knock at the door – the sign that a staff member is outside intending on entry. The knock, subtle as it is, the knock alleviates the surprise factor of someone barging into the room. After an evening that has been for the most part a quiet interlude of rest and restoration. This time the knock was followed by one of my least admired CENAs entering the room. She announced, “Good Morning” in the flattest tone of voice that one could imagine. The felt sense that arose was one of just going through the motions without any investment of ones self. We have all experienced this. It is the tone used by insolent youths who have the need to make a statement and yet unwilling to be open and own the comments they make.

This is nothing new from this CENA, she has demonstrated a continued unhappy exchange with me in the past. In one discussion from the past about the lack of CENAs signing in on the white board in my room, I made the comment that it was interesting to note the sign-in behavior slowly drain away to the current state of no one telling, even verbally, if they were the assigned CENA working with me today. Her immediate response was that such things were not her fault. She offered that her toddler daughter always used her markers, bought for work, and then left the caps off, so they would dry out. I surmised that she could buy some markers and leave them in the glove compartment in her locked car. “Oh no”, she countered, “She would get into that.”

I ask, “So who is in charge of your household, the toddler?” she surely didn't like this observation. I am continually amazed at the adolescent quality that some of these CENAs insist on using. They show the need to be grown up even if it puts them into a logically compromising position. It is the standard I-am-too-grown-up. The fact that they may be parents does nothing to boost their cache, it only shows that it is possible for children to beget children. Others show an amazing ability to always want to be right and correct. This reminds me of being back in the court system where I was years ago, dealing with youthful offenders. The behavior is remarkably the same.

There are other CENAs who celebrate their youthfulness, who try to go about their duties with the refreshing antics that only 20 somethings can do, I do enjoy interacting with them. Many of them, in turn, seem to enjoy interacting with me as can be seen by their numerous inquiries of me and my life.

But today's CENA has shown herself to constantly a dark cloud whenever she enters my presence. She radiates a dark attitude, a sense of just doing what needs to be done and nothing more. There are times when I wish I could be surrounded by more positive staff members, being subjected to such individuals as today's CENA goes a long way toward coloring my tendency to drift into depression.

I was questioned the other day by the facility Social Worker as to a standard orientation questionnaire. I am oriented to place and time properly, when he asked if I was depressed I smart assed replied, “You bet I am, I just love losing all of the emotional, physical and intellectual choices to a bunch of people who are too busy to even get to know me, and yet the believe that they know enough about me to make decisions about me without even asking for my input. I find that completely an institutionalized form of dehumanizing behavior.” Its one thing to lose the physical ability to stand or walk on ones own, I can grow used to that. What I have difficulty with is institutionally being rendered less than human. I don't believe that any medication is designed for me to take that changes the behavior of others. It just doesn't make sense.

Watch out the Red Queen is due anytime soon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

9 November 2013
Saturday approximately 9:45 PM

Even though things are alright
they are not rosey

Well, nothing too exciting or harrowing to report today from this muffled life here in Happy Haven. I have discovered that usually on Saturdays and Sundays everything takes on a very lax tone around here. I suppose this echoes what goes on in most homes throughout the country. There is not a push to get to work on time or get kids off to school or any of those things that keep us hidebound to the clock. And usually when we have the time to ourselves, as in the weekend, things can get a little laid-back. We may not get out of our jammies until later in the morning, find no need to quickly address and prepare to leave the house, everything just takes a laid-back, easy attitude.

Same thing happens here. I'm not sure if many showers are delivered on Saturdays, it is my understanding they certainly are not done on Sundays. The place I see it the most, is contact with the CENA staff. Unlike the weekdays no one comes in to regularly "take my vitals" trailing behind them a machine on wheels that is designed to simultaneously take my blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate. For some reason, that sure is not done at all on Saturday or Sunday. Also when meals are delivered around here that are approximately close to the same time for all three meals of the day. Usually, during the week, the tray with the finished meal and used dishes is picked up approximately an hour later. Then there is the weekends. Often the pickup of my used tray is 3 to 4 or sometimes six hours later. This even surprises some of the CENA staff, as can be viewed when they enter the room as their faces register the surprised look when they exclaim, "Is your tray still here?"

Rather than treat this as a straight question awaiting a straight answer, I treat it as a foil to which I need to make some sort of quick and witty comment immediately. I look at this is grist for the mill, or yet another of the many unending methods of being set up for some sort of creative response. The trick is to come up with something unexpected and yet not mean or aggressive towards others. Usually this response from me brings forth a grin from the CENA, which I hope implies that I'm not upset. Although, I too have to ask incredulously, is that tray still here?

I did read (or more accurately came across to a combination of video and audio reporting on one of my electronic devices) and article based on some general news print that came from some scientific journal reporting, that in the US the measurable amount of creativity in our children is slowly inching downward. This caught my attention immediately. Now I do I consider myself one of those creative people, but much of my academic studies in the field of psychology were predicated on various aspects of creativity. Even before Iheard the article I could guesstimate as to what the problem was. In the article they went through the usual searching for causation. This did not surprise me as in general this is what a lot of our society is doing lately. You can see it in the politics as one particular conservative group insists on finding the cause behind everything, and what makes their "findings" so absolutely hilarious is that they're looking in the wrong direction. There's this huge surge and cry to"Go back to basics", there are great number of people who want to turn back the clock in live like we did, in say, the 1950s, or even further back. To bolster their argument they point to the Constitution and how the founding fathers lived. I find it interesting with a smirk. If you want to live like they did in those colonial days, go do so. In fact they have a nice place in Virginia that is an historical replica of village life back then called Williamsburg. Go live there.

Meanwhile technology does not slow down, nor does it take a U-turn because some people want to. I doubt you could find many people who would willingly dispense with their smart phone, their tablet computer, Wi-Fi, Internet, or the ability to see and buy things from a distance without having to travel. I just don't think that human nature is going to buy into that for very long, no matter how seductive or accusatory some of these "self-proclaimed tea lover types" try to make themselves appear to be so wonderful. There is a reason why we don't live like they do in Williamsburg anymore, it was cold, hot, hard, boring, took so much work to live that we had no time to do much else. I have a real rough time believing that the bulk of this country would like to go back to that. However this does not stop the tea heads from pulling every trick in the book to try and get their way. Even if they succeed, it will only be temporarily as people will realize, "What the hell were we thinking?"

Back to the creativity measurement of children receding. With all the fuss about how to run our school systems, the constant pressure to measure and make sure that everybody gets to be the same. This is where the toll is being paid. Everybody isn't the same, that's why we had this built into our government in the first place. Wake up folks! This is a very backwards and underhandedly insidious way of dumbing down the populace. If everyone is taught to try and be the same, it may make it easier for the teachers, or those others who designate themselves to be overseers in charge of the rest, but it will do nothing to increase what our culture has been known for - innovation, production beyond the wildest dreams, pulling out the most audacious result not done by others. Want an example? How about in less than 10 years building a space program from scratch and landing a man on the moon. Not just once but several times. Look at all the innovative things that have been built and absorbed into our culture that people don't even realize, but take for granted.

Part of the problem is that people are trained to just note that some of these things have changed and to accept them. When was last time anyone looked critically at why certain things were changed? What was adjusted and why? Does it make it better? Whose version of better? In what way?

In the last decade people have been lamenting the economy. It certainly has changed. And there are several people that will show you many ways that started this change, those are all debatable and only time will settle the issue. Meanwhile technology keeps moving on. As certain politicians will now tell you, with measurements, that the economy is improving. Yes, the economy may be improving, and it can be measurably shown. However, an economy and a jobless rate are not a straight correlation. Notice that as the economy is improving, many manufacturing concerns are now placing orders for robots that they plan on having do the work of several employees. In an article I read one moderately priced robot at $27,000 has an expected lifetime of 5 to 7 years, will work 24 hours a day and generate no healthcare problems, a factor whose price increases no employer has any handle on. Simple grade school math rather than high level economics dictates which way they should go on this choice. So while the economy is improving, there are less people being hired back to take the jobs they used to have.

If one were to look at this from strictly an objective point of view, the choice is a no-brainer. The company becomes more efficient, more product is generated, the owners and stockholders become wealthier. From a subjective point of view, the worker can no longer find the same kind of work that used to be done, they no longer have money which does not get plowed back into the economy. So the problem becomes how much objective and subjective point of view are we to include in our view of this situation. Yes it is true that we no longer have thousands of people employed making buggy whips any longer. And it is a valid question as to whose job should it be to retrain workers who may find themselves supplanted by machinery. I would argue that if you are one of those previously mentioned owners or stockholders, you could give a ripped shit about what happens. And for a while your monetary fortune may keep you insulated from a growing problem outside your door. However, those untrained workers who are unable to find any way to reinvent themselves and make themselves useful to others are going to gather and grow in size and strength, gaining support from others like them. Does the history of the French Revolution mean anything to you?

Looking back at that event it was not pretty, nor did it really achieve any good purpose. Some observers will say today that French politics and governmental systems are still somewhat haphazard, and lurch from one charged position to another depending on the whim of the public. Taking a larger view of the French Revolution, it did act as a diffusing of long pent-up anger and emotions, but at a very steep cost. While that may have been affective in the short run, I'm not so sure that the long-term shadow of the way that event proceeded has really served the French people very well.

Back to the issues of creativity. One of the things that the creative person is able to do is step back and look at the same situation as others and be able to see it differently. They can see different outcomes, they can see different factors taking place, they can see different ways of helping guide it to the successful resolution. The noncreative types will, I'm afraid, tend to see things for the easiest, cheapest, most logical ways. This may not be what we need to do. Go back and search the newspapers and public media from around the time of Kennedy's speech charging the nation with a manned space program ending with a man on the moon - and being brought back successfully. We had nothing to build on. Up to that point most of our rockets either exploded on the launchpad are only rose a few hundred feet up in the year before they blow up. In the race against the Soviets for supremacy we looked to be very far behind. But people bought into the image of landing a man on the moon and then they looked critically at what we had to work with and began to design better. We took incremental steps, and critically analyze the success and failures of each. Then change the design as we progressed. Eventually we were able to control rockets so they launched successfully. Through tremendous errors we figured out after the fire in the Gemini capsule on the launchpad, 100% pure oxygen atmosphere was not necessarily the way we needed to go with the breathing atmosphere in our space vehicles. Again we learned with the Challenger disaster that space shuttles are so complicated they need to be prepared and launched when ready not because were trying to adhere to some sort of timetable following a business model. Eventually we learned not only how to modify our technology, but also our approach and use of that technology towards more perfect results. Even simple things that most people have never seen or heard of like Venn diagrams and Gantt charts were used to plot the timing of subassemblies and the completion of supporting events that fit into the whole, which had never been done before. Now these things are taught in most business programs so that people can anticipate needed parts to be delivered on time at the right place.

None of this would've occurred if we wanted to stay in the same mindset of the strict production oriented worker. The creative person usually does not specialize in only one area. It's a lifestyle. It can be applied everything that the individual may see or do in their life. It requires familiarity with the materials and techniques so that one does not go down a wrong path unnecessarily . Sadly I am not seeing that this approach is being very welcomed in the school systems these days. Everything is oriented towards conforming, being like everybody else, at a high level, but very much the same. The thing that bothers me about this is that these things have sort of been shown in nature to not work very well. For example the potato blight that hit Ireland and caused so much death and misery, and caused more than three quarters of the Irish population to emigrate, just so they could live. More than once we've been shown that to depend on such homogeneity is a recipe just waiting for disasterto come in. Did we not learn the lesson? Is there a reason why we insist on doing this again with a whole generation of our youngsters? Is anybody paying attention? Does anyone care?

Friday, November 8, 2013

8 November 2013
Friday evening

All this and asking as well
Contrary to what appears to be believed - I'm not dead yet

Well, it's been an interesting week. There been some exciting moments and some things that have happened that one would not have expected. For example, as you may know, Friday is one of my shower days. A moment that I look forward to as it only comes around two times a week (the shower, not Fridays). And one never knows when one of those times might be superseded by someone else's more important construct or situation. Like the time I was nearly in my wheelchair, literally halfway from the bed to the chair, when a CENA popped her head in the room and announced that suddenly all showers are off as of now.

Why? It seems that when someone from "corporate" arrives on surprise basis to tour the facility. The word is that such demanding chores as helping residents get their carcass cleaned is too demanding of the CENA staff. They need to be out on the floor where they can be visible attending to residents, not hidden away in the shower room dealing with only one person at a time - it just doesn't look good. So my shower was canceled so that we could make a nice impression for some fat guy from out of town. This is not sour grapes speaking. I saw the guy. He literally looks like he could be a double for Norm on the old show Cheers.

Only problem was, I couldn't generate much positive feeling for the man. His general overweight condition did nothing to help my assessment. The lack of any form of neck whatsoever and the fact that his belt was straining mightily against the overwhelming onslaught from his belly region reminded me of too many other people that I've known who exhibits the same physique and yet also project thoroughly self-serving personality. Somehow that self-serving personality aspect matched up perfectly with the fact that my one of two showers per week and been canceled, just so he could be served a false image of how wonderfully busy everyone was.

Today's shower was much more efficient, the CENA helped me remove the leads from a 24-hour heart monitor that I'd been wearing since the day before. Then we proceeded to the shower. Everything went smoothly and I was set up in the shower. Since I have shown proficiency with being able to do most everything by myself, the CENA is free to leave me for a while to attend to other chores. Things like stripping my bed for new linen, getting things that we had forgotten from my room, like clean pair of socks, and on such things.

I noted while the water was running waiting for the pipes to heat up as the water traveled from the water heater to where I was using it, the sound of the water hitting the floor beneath me did not have his usual splatter of drops of water hitting the tiles. It didn't take me long to realize that the sound of water dripping into a gathering puddle of water indicate that it may be the shower drain was running a little slow. Slow enough that the input from the showerhead was overtaking it. I proceeded to soap up and scrub, processing the shampoo through my hair when I began to notice that the water was growing deeper. The water dripping off my seat onto the area beneath me wasn't hitting the tile floor, but rather was adding to the mix of the growing puddle beneath me. I then realized that the water was starting to raise to the area my feet were. The floor of the shower slopes slightly upward to imaginary line bisecting the shower area from the rest of the shower room. The water on the shower stall side of line flows toward the drain any water that flows in the other side of this mentoring line flows out into the larger room itself.

It didn't take me long to realize that if I took my time and delighted in the shower (which is one of the few joys attendent to taking a shower) the slow drain would cause the water to eventually flood the shower room, and as there was no drain in that floor, it would seep under the door out in the hallway. I had no control over what might get into that water in the hallway. Along the far side of the wall was a baseboard heater. I had no idea was electrically run or hot water based. Suddenly the image of some stray source of electricity meeting up with my growing puddle frightened me quite a bit. I proceeded to finish my shower as quickly as possible and turn off the water. I did get clean, although the parts that would normally wait for the CENA to come back and finish for me the parts I cannot reach did not get scrubbed. Somehow that seemed like small enough issue under these conditions.

I was beginning to wonder if my shower might turn into this ?

Or this?

Or some rollers like this ?

What if sand dunes began to form?

Or if exotic livestock appeared?

I managed to finish everything and turn the water off and I noted that slowly the water was lowering in my shower stall. So the drain was not completely stopped up, just running slow. I didn't have any access to a towel at this point but did have two wash clothes provided for me, I had only used one. Realizing that it might take a while to shiver dry, and not wanting to do that, I took the dry washcloth and used it as a miniature towel to at least get most of the water off the surface of me so I would not be losing heat so fast.

The emergency call light cord was just about out of reach. I suppose if it was a real emergency, and I was conscious, I may be able to expend a lot of effort and energy to reach the call light to pull cord, but under these conditions I thought why would I do that? I was clean, I was safe, there had been somewhat of an adventure, but pulling the panic button now would not be of any real service. I could afford to wait.

Not long and I could hear the CENA pressing the lock key code into the door lock from outside, meanwhile exclaiming in a loud voice, "Hey there is water out here, what you doing in there?" As the door opened I could hear by her exclamation that most of the shower room floor was still underwater. Also, the water had been seeping outside the room under the door and was starting to run down the hallway. Suddenly the first chore that needed attention was to grab as many towels as possible so as to throw them on the floor and sop up the water. Problem was that towels are not always stocked in the shower room every day. Or if the stocking had been done it was early enough that most of them had been used by now.

She quickly ran to the linen closet for more towels. She was gone quite some time before she came back, explaining that she had to go down to the second floor and then finally to the laundry room to find more extra large bath sheet type towels. She explained that the woman in the laundry, when she found out why they were being sought so quickly, said so that's why they had so many yesterday. She mentioned that the plastic bag used to collect soiled towels to take them to the laundry, was so heavy that she could hardly lift it.

This is a major clue. Are you paying attention? This clue tells us that yesterday there had been some major water on the floor event that many large towels had also been used to sop it up, and they had made there way to the laundry for processing. Knowing how communication is the first thing to suffer around here, it is an easy stretch to imagine that possibly this drain was running slow yesterday and caused a backup when the towels gave away the situation. Now as we chase this down the inevitable maintenance man, who will get the chore, to see if he has heard of this before. An amazed comment and a negative response will let us know that whoever was overseeing this fiasco previously did not think that it was valuable enough to let anybody know so that would not happen again. It occurs to me that anyone would continue to allow something like this to happen without doing anything to stop it is a candidate for the dumb shit-of-the-week award.

I just can't get over the fact that what seems obvious to me, should seem not so obvious to those who work here, and then I just blown away as to how many times I see this sort of thing not followed up appropriately. There is some CENAs with whom I share my observations about events like this, and they too have a difficult time picturing how some people, who happen to be their peers, fail so miserably in following through on something like this.

I did eventually get dressed, inspected by the nurse to see if my various wounds are healing, set my chair and released upon the facility. The CENA did an excellent job attending to my shower as well as the unexpected facility cleanup. Needless to say, her lunch break was following this episode, and she was eager to go and relax.

Meanwhile, my father's wife was due to come for a visit and bring a nice salad for lunch. I went downstairs, visited with a few people that I normally find down there and made myself ready for my visit - and lunch!

Earlier in the week my father had come to visit. Prior to his arrival I had written a note to his wife, asking if she wouldn't please use her magic to nudge him into completing an errand that he has promised to complete for many times over the last few months that I have been here. This was to bring a couple of my favorite photographs that were saved from my home so that I can hang them here. I had already found from the building manager that would be okay to do and that he would be more than willing to help me. I found out today that my father's wife had gently reminded him by getting my photographs out of wherever he had put them away and put them in large garbage bags, then placed them in the hallway where he had no chance but to see them as he went toward car. Then she made sure to ask if he was going to have any problem carrying them into the car and into building once he got here. He assured her that he could do it and indeed he did. As luck would have it I ran into the same building manager the day after Dad was here with my pictures and he put one of them up on the wall which is at the foot in my bed, where I can lie and look at it with no effort at all. We talked about this over lunch and I told her I was very glad that I written and that she had made the effort to "nudge" dear father in this direction.

It's not much, at least compared to all the other photographs I've done, many of which my younger brother thoughtlessly gave away as he was closing my house, because he didn't want to deal with them at all. I don't know how these were saved, they are couple of my favorites. Now as I take a moment throughout the day and gaze at that photograph opposite me, the memories and thoughts that arise just as a result of seeing that particular photograph are more numerous than most memories I have been entertaining in the months that I have been here.

I have noted that most people treat me as if I'm already dead and gone. That's one of the strange things about long-term illness or disability in this country. It's well known that most of your former friends suddenly are finding themselves "too busy" to take the time to stop and see you, or even write, or call. I would imagine this is about the closest thing to dying without actually leaving the planet. There are few people who come by, even fewer who come by regularly. Many who came by once, have somehow found reason not to be able to come by again. I can't tell you how much this hurts. It's a strange condition to be just as live as you once were but now nearly everything that you used to know is gone. House, savings, investments, the money set aside for retirement, car, friends, nearly all of your possessions, many of those little knickknacks that really did that amount to much, but they were saved because for some silly reason they meant a lot to you.

There are certain things that mean a lot to me. I'm very visual, I had a lot of photographs. Not just snapshots in a shoebox in a closet somewhere, but I had noticed there were things that really attracted me and so I strove to get good representations, well presented, often well framed and hung up on the walls where I could admire them. These gave me inspiration often.
A print ad destined for a magazine cleverly showing the strengths of each hemisphere
catches your attention doesn't it? 
To have a family member, whom you thought would have known you better than they showed they could handle, inform you that you had too much "junk" and that their method of dealing with it for you, at your request, was to throw it out in a dumpster or give it away. That did feel and still feels like having my heart ripped out of me while it's still beating. I wasn't ready to find myself so separated from the things that meant much to me. Little things used to mean a lot to me like, I had printed out once the words to George Harrison's My Guitar Gently Weeps and had them on my refrigerator, held with glass magnets that I had made in my own stained glass studio in the basement. Granted it was just a piece of paper with some ink on it, but I always got a little misty eyed every time I passed that song and read even just one or two lines from the whole thing. That's why it was there. There are the things too, some of which were not even considered. The Grateful Dead song ripple always gives me pause. I cannot hear that on the radio, on one of my iPods, anywhere without the world slowing down in my view expanding infinitely in all directions. Many things that I had collected had this kind of impact on me. How anyone could not see that, not understand, not even try is beyond me.

So the recovery of two of these photographs has done a great deal to encourage my attitude in the months that I've been here. I know that this is basically a rehab facility, people are here for a short while and then move on, usually somewhere else often to a place that they call home. I heard this social worker earlier today talking to a woman about how she's going home to her place over the weekend, and that they're going to coordinate with another agency to make sure that she's being checked on regularly as she acclimates to being in her own home, again. I'm happy for her. And yet hearing those words from around the corner and down the hall, I could not help but think to myself I don't have a home anymore. Everything that I used to have is gone. This is my home now, and I may live another 20 years. I realize after having that missed photograph of mine recovered and hung up on my wall, how much we gain from our surroundings. And if you can decorate a place to your own liking that will sustain you. And I'm here to tell you living in an institutional setting quickly overruns its newness and there is not much to sustain one. Unles you strain to attain the sanitized effect of institutional living.
Grab shot of Photograph recovered
Made over thirty years ago

View of photograph as seen from bed in perspective with the rest of the wall
There is a lot more empty space to fill
Some other photographs needing framing can be seen on table next to television

To some degree I am lucky. I have managed to make myself noxious enough to get some of my family members to regain some of the things that used to belong to me in my own home. For example, in a box over by the entryway to my bathroom (which I am unable to use) in a box full of many knickknacks are all four of my college diplomas. It was fortuitous that those do not get thrown out with some of the other things that I'm missing. They are in good shape and something I have always wanted to do with them when I was at home, but never got a chance to, may come to fruition now. I always wanted to frame all four of them and hang them together. Now these show my acedemic achievement, but it also shows that if you stick to it you can get to the end. Granted this is not exactly the end I envisioned - but it's the one I have available, now. And I would like to get those framed. The building maintenance manager has even said that I can frame them and hang them on the wall in the space above the door transom visible in the picture I'm going to include. I have a packet of the 3M Command product to hang them. All I need now is to get them framed.

Therein is the problem. Due to Medicaid's draconian requirement that people in my position covered by them on nothing of value more than $2000. I did have some of that money but has drained away. So I invite you to do something bold and adventurous. I have begun a PayPal account. As you may know, if you've ever used PayPal, it is a way to send money to someone all you need is their email address. Since Medicaid does allow people to give small gifts or things in kind, this in no way stretches anybody's rools . I'm going to put it out there and ask anyone who would like to to donate any sum that they feel comfortable with through my PayPal account. I am going to try and get enough funding to purchase framing for my diplomas so they can be hung up and appreciated. Just knowing they're there in the box is one thing. It will be quite another to see them protected and displayed proudly for one in all to acknowledge. Seeing them displayed like that will be of tremendous boost to my sense of attitude and who I am. The next step will be to find somebody who will be willing to take them to and from the framing store so that this can be accomplished.

I imagine most facilities like this one have the right intent at heart. However, the journey from at heart to being completely accomplished often causes a huge diminuation in the original intent. I'm saddened to find out how many people are willing to put up with such losses. That attitude never served me well at all. It is half the reason how I got behind getting so many Degrees in the first place. I do not wish to succumb to the general attitude of so many around here just to get along. I'm looking at too many years of having to lose myself in such a gradual, diminished fashion. If people are not familiar with how PayPal works, go to, they have an excellent set of webpages instructing on how this works. My email address is

This feels awkward, but under these conditions, I am no longer allowed to work and am scrambling to find some way to put my talents to use. If I factor it out there is nothing wrong with asking for help, and the results to be gained by feeling a part of a community. That will go along way in these conditions where the community is so conditional, and so antithetical to what I used to be. I am not used to quantifying what I do against some economic scale and then deciding that it cannot be done because it's too costly. There is more to interacting with people than the economics of pecuniary materialism. I'm looking at too many good years to live like somebody else that is so foreign to me. Asking is hard, somehow we tend to believe that it belittles us. It doesn't. It is an honest act brought right out into the open. I have paid for nearly everything I wanted. It was my nature and how I was raised. Asking for something and getting it some seemed as if I had done something slimy and socially improper. But now I am existing under certain rules that preclude me from earning anything, or I run afoul of those rules and those earning can and will be taken from me. Suddenly the very thing that was that the at the core of my being is now not to be done. If I play the game according to these strange rules I might as well be amoung the unburied dead whom Medicaid creates and encourages. I am free to involve myself in hobbies, thing I have done before, but as you may recall, most of my equipment, tools and work equipment has so thoughtlessly been disposed of by my younger brother. Most of my camera equipment, stained glass tools, books are all gone now. The only thing I have left is a chance at a clean start and the inability to earn my way to the new beginning. I'm not ready to live a life that seems to be straight out of the Twilight Zone.
Strangeness may be closer than it appears