Tuesday, July 9, 2013

9 July 2013

There is cooking, coupled with the art of presentation,
and then there is calorie loading

Every time a meal is brought forth it is brought on the same pink plastic tray with the same drab gray heavy duty plastic place settings, so utilitarian, so unbreakable. The flatware is metal (oh boy, at least it too is not plastic)of an entirely ugly, stamped by machine manufacture. I suppose the cups are made of this unbreakable substance to prevent breakage. 
Forgive the focus, I had to crop extensively in order to delete offensive - distracting  background

Lord knows I have been tempted many times to hurl one of these cups against the wall just on general principles and frustration regarding the food. But the unbreakable nature of these finely crafted heirloom quality cups just leer at me knowing that any such demonstration would only result in a hollow sounding bounce off the wall. Not very expressive and certainly without the satisfying crash that fine bone china or even some ceramic pottery would afford.

I am reminded of those halcyon days when as boys we came across bottles in an old open dump (My, that was a long time ago. Things are much different now). We would take turns throwing objects to break the bottles we found there. Even when going to the municipal recycling center, everyone else genteelly placed their glass in the open doors of the receptacle. That would be so sad. I would wait so no one would be struck by errant flying glass bits. Then draw back my arm and wing one in the opening. Crash! 

Followed by the sound of other glass that was not broken finding a new state of existence. The sound of that breakage carried with it a sense of sudden release. All tensions immediately drain away. No, draining is too slow to convey the sudden absence of that held tension. It is as if whatever was confining that tautly, tightly wound energy was completely removed in an instant. In a flash that energy that had been so constrained made an explosive sigh upon finding itself released. That sound of release carried with it an invitation to let other tightly held energy go.

When I used to do psychotherapy, I kept a large rubber ball in my office. This was 65cm diameter ball, very resilient, and is often used for physiotherapy. I kept it to occasionally roll on between clients to stretch my back from hours of sitting while in session with clients. I also kept a toy plastic ball bat to hit the ball. This was also a tool to help clients release some of the tightly wound tensions that many clients would carry in their bodies. Some people had been holding this tension for so long, they had become quite used to it. They couldn't feel it, they had no idea they had become so blocked up inside.

I would offer them an opportunity whack the ball. That it might help them relieve some tension. I got the ball out from behind the chair, put it in the chair, so it would stay fairly self contained, ready to whack again. Sometimes people were shy and would barely tap the ball, sometimes I would demonstrate how hard one could really hit that ball. The sound of the impact resounding inside that ball was reinforcing that something was really happening, the recoil of the bat from the ball was reassuring that something was indeed happening. Most often, in fact always, after a few tentative hits the next ones were quite explosive. There were a few clients who really got into the process, their frequency of striking the ball would increase, the amount of energy expended rose, a few got so into it that for a moment they temporarily lost track of where they were. They stopped red faced and somewhat chagrinned. When we spoke about it later, during de-breifing they were so surprised that they found that they indeed were not aware of how much pent up rage, tension, upset or other bottled up emotions they had been holding.

I need something like that. Due to the MS there are many physical things that I can no longer do that were good at relieving stress and tension. To throw something(unbreakable, of course). Like pillows, water balloons outside, to even play balloon volleyball with badminton rackets … There are many ways I know to release some frustrations that I know of that can be done even by those who use wheelchairs.

I mention these to the staff here and I am met with incredulousness on their part. Obviously, I am met with, “Well we can't do that here. Its too violent.”

Right, and letting it fester in people is any better?” After all we know that holding this stuff in raises cholesterol, which has the nasty habit of breaking down organs and tissues over time.

If you are feeling depressed, we can get you a pill.”

No, no pharmaceuticals. That is just a chemical straight jacket.”

What do you mean? Do you want to see a social worker?”

I know several Social Workers, no denigration intended, but I could teach most social workers, things their programs never considered.”

Okay, let me know if you ever want to break things,Mr. Whiting ...”

Why is it that I often feel like Gulliver lost in the land of Lilliput? Is it possible to know too much? How do you speak intelligently with those who already believe they know enough already? Or speak with those who believe they heard you before you even speak the words? Is it any wonder that I see so many people who are not exhibiting stroke symptoms but are in facilities like this one for short term rehab before they go home who develop signs of depression? Its kind of like an educated lunacy.
You can't codify human behavior, that always leaves something out. Human behavior must be felt then understood from that premise. Someday those in power of this insanity are going to realize the treating/caring for people is going to mean more than a physical form but also an emotional, psychosocial approach integrated into the daily interaction as well.

I daydream of some of the tea that I made at home. Steam curling up from the surface of the liquid as the tea gently steeped into perfection. Watching the liquid turning darker and darker as the near boiling water caused the flavenoids to leave the tea leaves to lend their unique addition to the body of the tea. Waiting for the appropriate time to steep for the fullness of flavor to develop. Smelling the aroma of the pine smoke issue from the tea along with the aforementioned steam rising from the surface of the gradually developing tea. Smelling that smokey odor knowing that soon the pan fired black tea that can only be Lapsang Souchong, smooth, strong, a favorite of Winston Churchill and Whaling Captains of New England. I love that tea. 

It does no good to get the dries tea itself, the difficulty is being able to secure hot enough water in order to make the tea.

But here in a land where some one else seems to have the need to take care of me, they believe that whatever their understanding is of the world must be mine as well. I am appalled at the things that are done, while here, are thought to be for my best interest, with no input from me whatsoever.

Tea here is made with lukewarm water, barely warmer than body temperature. Well, that isn't going to make tea, it only produces colored water. Remember those flavenoids? They're still stuck in the tea leaves – the water was never hot enough to release those flavenoids and actually cause tea to form. Why is this so? Why, State law, I am told, we don't want you to get burned. Okay here is some really fine tea, take it to the kitchen and have them brew it. Bring it out when it cools enough so even the State won't get burned.

Oh we can't do that, takes too much time.”

You mean those kitchen monkeys are so busy preparing the pseudo food we are served to make a decent cup of tea? Are these people incompetent?” Don't answer that, I think I already know the answer. For proof see some of the previous posts showing food serving photos.So here I am, frustrated as I ever have been, with no end in sight. No way to spill the pent up frustrations, no one willing to even explore various methods of known stress relief, judgement flying everywhere about some of the ideas I bring up to alleviate the routine boredom of being confined here. And yet I need the physical help to do some of the Activities of Daily Living. Life in a Nursing home seems to be the only option, and that comes with a big requirement. That I become more communal. That my way of being is not honored or even understood, and that I stoop to living at the lowest common denominator.

Oh, and for this privilege, I get to turn over my entire retirement stipend that I worked for seventeen years before I went for more schooling. Sounds like a deal to me, right?

1 comment:

  1. oh, John, I think there's a book in this..exposing our system of institutionalized care, but to laugh for a moment, Capt. Picard never thought the Enterprise could get a cup of EarlGrey right either.