Saturday, June 29, 2013

29 June 2013

Wednesday of this week I had an opportunity to visit with my neurologist. He was very pleased to report that there was virtually no difference in my MRI since the last one a year ago., it was deemed that there was no further progressions in the course of my disease. Good news all round.

It was nice to get out of the facility. My neurologist is located roughly an hour away. There is a service that is equipped to transport people in wheelchairs to various appointments. It was fun to get out of the building for a while. It had been so long that it was interesting to see the vegetation along the highway out in full summer force. Everything looked so green. The last time I had been out was early spring and the buds were just beginning to show.

Strange thing about being disabled to the point where you need extra care doing the regular activities of daily living. Once an individual reaches the point where they need to be housed in a facility, the rules used to operate the facility take precedence over anything the individual may have done or been in the past. The resultant tendency is to lump all residents into the same common pile. This is something I call being reduced to the lowest common denominator. Yes, we all require air to breathe and water to drink. From here it goes downhill rapidly. I don't know what is, there must be something in this older building, my sinuses been playing havoc with me ever since I got here in the beginning of February. This is new for me, I typically respond to the molds that grow underneath the snow cover all winter long. Once the snow melts until the Forsythia bloom my sinuses usually give me fits. This year they have not quit. Granted it has been a very wet spring, but there have been enough sunny days to destroy the mold. I am suspicious that there might be mold in this older building.

As for the water to drink, it's City water. For more than 30 years I lived in my own home way out in the country serviced by my own well. The water was good tasting and since I had replaced the original shallow well with the deep rock well, the water was also very cold and plentiful. Here the water reeks of chlorine and after leaving it stand for a while it has not lost all of that chemical additive taste the city people grow accustomed to. To me it stinks, and doesn't taste good either.

The next commodity to be eviscerated is food. Short of the kitchen staff ignoring completely the use of spices to add flavor and distinction to any product that ushers forth from their doors (which are also locked, presumably for our protection) to taste very bland. I know they can't tailor every meal to every resident's palate. However, they don't even try. For this reason I keep an assortment of spices handy to try and doctor my meal post production.

The imagination of the crew in the kitchen has to be extremely limited. Lunch and dinner usually entail one piece of protein (meat, fish or chicken) some vegetables and some starch. The wealth of choices from which to choose the vegetables and the starch appear to be very limited. For about three days straight, lunch and dinner, sliced carrots was the vegetable selection. The vegetables are usually steamed, never stirfried or any spices added. The starch is most often instant mashed potatoes, served by way of a large scoop that sits impeccably perfect, a rounded hemispherical shape just leering at me from every plate. There is usually nothing added to the instant mashed to disguise the cardboard box flavor of the potato flakes have achieved from their storage container. Have they ever mixed in bits of cheese, no. Have they ever mixed in dill or bits of some kind of meat to extend the flavor of the unusually bland form of potatoes, no. There is just a hemispherical white lump, leering at me from the plate when I remove the cover.

I would make some sort of comment when the CENA brings the meal. As I lift the cover in expectation and that ubiquitous, flavorless, white dome is staring at me from the plate, I comment with a tone of facetious joy, “Oh boy! Another wonderful serving of blandness.” Its just another act to steal away any possibility of joy and delight with the act of eating. Actually another of a long series of continuing effects that combine to make sure no one gets the sense that they may be in charge of anything around here.

It is often said that life in a facility such as this can be very depressing. Also it is said that the disease of Multiple Sclerosis can cause depression. I don't believe that what I notice as depression stems in the MS. Rather, the food offering and many times the presentation that others give me shows a much better reason for being depressed, it is that after years of being an adult and making my own choices, I am now automatically considered stupid and in danger to myself if I even try to get close to what I once lived, did, or imagined. Almost every time I lift the cover when my food is presented, a little more of me dies inside. I used to cook, and quite well too. I know that cooking is not that hard. It takes a little bit of willingness, flair, funk and style to be able to master the art of cooking. Every time I'm served a meal here I am amazed at how these qualities seem to evade people. Look at the slop they turn out. If I produced that, I would be embarrassed.

The only thing I can imagine is that the food staff here is so in need of a job that the just come in and routinely go through the motions, mind turned off, punchthe time card, do the time, go home, eventually get paid. No investment of self whatsoever.

Often served with the ubiquitous white dome are little packets of imitation butter. I was used to use real butter, that which came from cows. Who knows what nefarious stuff resides in these little plastic buckets? They are always soft and can be scooped out with very little effort. The label indicates that they are made of some sort of oils that have been hydrogenated. Nothing on the label gives the impression that this “butter” may contain trans fats, but I am leery.

On some meals protein component is fish. Not a good tasting fish, or a high-quality fish. This fish is cheap fish, usually tilapia or a new one on me, skya. Both are broiled way past being a lightly cooked white fleshed fish. Rather, they are nearly singed and dried right out. At least they serve a little packet of tartar sauce to semi-rehydrate the nearly desiccated protein source. Any beef is always produced well done. I have asked about this and have been told that State regulations insist that beef be cooked to the well done state. It appears as long as I live here I will never taste medium rare or rare beef ever again. Same thing with eggs, the new food preparation company indicated that no longer will eggs be fried over easy. They hide behind State regulations as to the reason why. Supposedly, breaking the yoke and letting the yellow part of the yank cook until no longer runny is healthier, it keeps us from getting sick from bad eggs. Funny, I always cooked my eggs steamed under covers, which produces nearly the same thing as over easy. In all my life cooking my eggs the State never came skulking around to see if I was going to get sick. Also, I noticed that some of the ads on television show Denny's restaurants and other restaurants advertising soft yoke cooked eggs for sale. I don't believe that the State has 2 tiers of rules, one for the poor slobs in facilities, and another, much looser, rules for restaurants. If it is true as I have been told that this is for my health and safety, that the State is mandating this, I would suggest the State go bother the egg and beef producers to make sure they don't serve us tainted products from which we want to make our meals, rather than dictate to us how we are going to eat that meal.

We are, after all, disabled people, trying to maitain our dignity. The State doesn't need to pick on this population, they seem to be somewhat misguided. From my experience, it is easy to pick on people with disabilities, I see it happen all the time. Disabled people can't run away and they certainly have very few tools with which to fight back. All that is needed to have the arrogance of a care giver is some authority and a sincere sense of righteousness, then you can do just about anything to disabled people, because you are helping them, whether those ingrates like it or not.

This is just more of the many examples of how blind adherence to rules and code of patient care just serves to undermine individual's attempt to enjoy themselves and be more fully human. What surprises me is that everyone who seems to be in line above me (in these facilities that I have been in) gives lip service to care and concern for the individual, but the first thing they will do is snap to and blindly follow whatever the State wants them to do. I always thought that the State was there to be of service to the individual. From everything I've seen it is been just the opposite. The State machinations seem to be blindly adhered to by those in charge, and bent on furthering the State and mangling the individual at whatever cost.

I am used to this though, I've always been out of sync with whatever group process I find myself in. Always through school the teacher ran the classroom as a strict authoritarian. Those who did not blindly follow the rules were separated out from the group and set up for ridicule special negative attention, in an effort to get them to blindly adhere to the expectations of the authority figure. I look back and can see that this was true for my entire grade school career with the exception of 2nd and 6th grade. Those 2 teachers were delightful and encouraged self-directed exploration. The others were miserable creatures who obviously had no fun doing what they were doing and therefore they made everyone else miserable as well.

High school was more of the same, both junior and senior high. I look back at those years and can find only two or three teachers that made going to their class entertaining, exciting, and an act of sheer joy to walk in the door to their classroom.

It wasn't until I was working on my Specialist and later my Doctorate degrees that I read research by several progressive thinkers in education that this is pretty much standard for just about all education throughout the country. What passes for education, is most often indoctrination. Students are forced to learn by rote the information they need to know to pass the test. Those who don't are destined to be called failures. The indoctrination is into understanding which are the accepted answers and ways of behaving. Perfect socializing for the next generation of consumers citizens robots. The sad part is that almost no one can see what has been known to them.

This may be because the entire education/indoctrination system depends almost entirely on facts, linear thinking and left hemisphere functioning. Anyone who dares to use the right hemisphere, even minutely, is quickly discouraged and hastily ushered back into the world of left hemisphere thinking exclusively. Thus graduates from our educational system are often emotionally shriveled, lacking in compassion, and they're set up to be loyal consumers, which our present society seems to need in order to survive.

Those who have a tendency to be “freethinkers”, right brain oriented, or in any other way outside of the mainstream, have a tendency to be marginalized by the rest of population. This was to group people so well indoctrinated into what they are doing, that they fail to see that which they are doing easily. Thus like so many self- maintaining robots, they continue going about the task seems to be set for them.

Having gone through this whole educational process, I shouldn't be surprised to see so many people who seem to be so unable to step outside of the method of operation utilized by most of the population. It is always a delight to come across someone who has somehow, in some way, found a way to step away from operating in this, and most often used cultural method.

I found the people who have meditated, or are involved in the arts, or had of found a way to listen to their inner voice speaking loudly to them, all of these people I find to be a delight to interact with. They enter the room with joy and freshness radiating from them as they come forward. There is an excitement, a glow of ready openness that comes with them. I see these people as excited to share what they have experienced and are willing to hear of my experiences. The real meeting of the soul, so we each meet the part that exists behind the personality. Sadly facilities such as this one are not designed to encourage this type of person to either work here or to come visiting. I miss people of this sort.

Here are some views of many of the meals served lately. Notice the small volume of portions, the ubiquitous lump of white starch, the lack of a presentation to augment the meal, and the exstremely dull nature of the selection, which goes a long way toward reinforcing the lowest common nominator factor.
A lite meal, Tube steak and a lump of white stuff. Am I being punished, or what? 

Political statement - or playing with your food.

Chicken, green and white, I don't care.

Hooray! Rice instead of white stuff, green beans and the other white meat

Political statement about white stuff

Broccoli (trees), chicken and ... more white stuff!

Carrots, White stuff and a bite taken from a hamburger (I couldn't wait)

Another uninvited lump of white stuff

Tube steak, carrots and the ubiquitous white stuff

Real fried potatoes (rare event), chicken and green bean casserole

A scoop of tuna fish, carrots and white stuff

Ooo, yum a real baked potato, sour cream and spices

Until next time, I will be seeking to reinforce my grasp on humanity and rise above the pedesrtian sameness.

1 comment:

  1. What happens in institutions, esp. "for profit" institutions, food is bought in bulk, for the best deal possible and cooked as cheaply as possible. Hence the sameness of the meals. Also, they are hiring minimum wage "cooks" who don't really know how to coo.

    Sorry, John, I'll try to get in more "good stuff" soon. My schedule and (mild) depression have been keeping me away. I'll be there this Friday (8/2) but will call first.