No Tools Required

This weekend, I decided my kitchen floor needed to be replaced. My German Shepherd, Minnie, had left a few puddles as a puppy, yet two years later,  I could still smell a trace of her urine. Replacing the ” Peel and Stick” flooring, surely was not rocket science, right?

I spent the morning, pulling, pushing, heaving and scraping. Have you ever seen the commercial on TV for a brand name glue that can hold a Ford 550 truck as it dangles over the Grand Canyon? Well, I believe the same glue was used on this flooring! I trudged faithfully with my flat head screwdriver, stabbing each little hateful piece of flooring that hung on the subflooring for dear life, until the floor was completely done.

That wasn’t that difficult, I thought to myself. As I went to get up from the spot I had been sitting, I realized I was stuck to the floor, sweatpants and all………..glued in placed. After a short struggle, I managed to get up, leaving my sneakers stuck behind in the mighty glue………….

Now for a new floor. I had not completely thought the whole thing through. Besides, I had just woken up on Saturday morning and decided that this project looked like a good idea. Ohhhh I am a smart, smart woman……..  

I found the perfect floor after two hours of staring at planks, vinyl, laminate and hardwoods. Peel and stick, tongue and groove,floating and non-floating flooring…..oh the choices.  Finally, I made  a choice. I chose the roll-out vinyl flooring. I asked the nice salesman if I needed to have a professional flooring man to put it in, or if this was a “do-it-yourself” project.

” Well, it say’s right here on the packaging, Easy to install, no tools needed.Just scissors. So seems to me, this could be a do- it -yourself project. Question is, are you strong enough to carry this into your house?”

Seriously mister? I work in healthcare.Ever caught a 180 pound man as he starts to fall backwards? Ever lifted a 150 pound dead weight person off the floor?  Ask me again about carrying your little roll of vinyl.    

Arriving home, I began the process of unloading my proud purchase. I fumbled and struggled, only to be rescued by my best friend.

” Do you need help?” She asked.

” No Sherlock. Being crushed underneath this mammoth roll of flooring was my hopeful outcome. YES I need help.”  Suddenly, I didn’t remember the story of the 180 pound woman on the floor who was dead weight….or the one about the falling man……

Once we got the over-sized tootsie roll of flooring into my living room, my friend, Jen, turned to me and said, ” Who is putting this down for you??.”

Without hesitation, I proudly announced that I, yes me, would be doing the work myself.

” You don’t even own a hammer, How are you putting it down. Don’t you need tools?”

notools

“Nope, no tools required. Just scissors.”  I was an expert on flooring.

She stared at me for the longest time. Then she decided to offer her assistance for the rest of the afternoon.  Thank God for best friends.

.friends-helping-friends

” What’s the plan?” She asked.

I explained in great detail, lumped into one sentence. ” No clue.”

Finally, we figured it out. We thought it would be brilliant to turn the flooring over, face down, which would allow us to draw out knicks, cut outs and shave corners easily. We measured, re-measured and began clipping away. It was a proud moment.

Five or six cuts into the job, Jen stood up and stared at the flooring. ” This is easier than I thought. We rock!”     I couldn’t have agreed with her any more than I did. We both stood there, planning how we would roll it back up, drag it into the kitchen, roll it out and begin glueing it down.

Without warning, Jen screamed “NO WE DIDN’T”.

“No we didn’t what?”

” The floor. It’s face down.”

” Um yes……I would never but a white floor in the kitchen. It has a wood floor design on the front……I …..

Before I could finish…..she cut me off.

” Jessi, we have cut it, UPSIDE DOWN. Get it? Upside down? We have cut it wrong. Upside down is a MIRROR image, not the right way. The cuts go on the other side!!!!!!!”

I didn’t speak. I stared. She stared. We both stared at the cuts.…the cuts that were on the WRONG side.

Well Houston, we have a problem.   Some things in life, can not be fixed, and this floor was one of them.  The best we could hope for was an overage. Hoping we have more than enough flooring to begin again.

Isn’t that how it is in life? We think we know what we are doing, all until the rubber meets the road….then it’s not smooth sailing after all. The packaging made the installation seem so simple. My brain recognized how simple the project was……but it was not processing the whole thing .  This entire event could be compared to the thoughts processes of those living with dementia. They believe in what they are set out to do, knowing how it should be done, but somewhere along the way, the whole process is not thought through completely. Disconnected thoughts lead to disarray.Hence we as caregivers redirect them; pointing them in the right direction.

After many hours, and I do mean many, Jen and I successfully laid the floor. It looked great, minus the knicks here and there ……oh and the slices here and there….but still, it looked great. You know the glue? Glue also works wonders to seal cuts, knicks and patches…………..

The lesson learned? Think things through, all the way through…..and even if tools aren’t required, you will need glue. Lot’s of it. You know the kind….it holds a truck dangling over the Grand Canyon……..

floor

The Secret of Life

Strolling through the halls at work today, I was stopped by a resident. This is a normal, everyday occurrence  for anyone walking through the facility. Most what time of day it is; where their spouse is or tell me  that they want to go home. Today was different.

” Excuse me Miss”, Clara said as I passed by.  I stopped and knelt beside her wheelchair, listening  closely to her soft-spoken voice.

” Do you know what the, ummm, the secret of life is?” she asked.   Unsure of what she meant, I leaned in closer so she could hear me .

” What do mean Ms. Clara? The secret to what?” I always try to clarify what the resident says, and weigh it against what he/she may mean. Often times dementia patients know what they mean, but have trouble conveying the message. Continual questions and prompts may lead to finding the root question.

” Did you have a good breakfast? Did you enjoy the food?” Since she had just wheeled herself from the dining room, maybe she was inquiring a bout the secret recipe in the buttered biscuits.

” No dear, you didn’t hear me. I said, what is the secret to happiness?”  Oh boy. She’s changing the words on me, but still consistent with her thought.

” Well, Ms. Clara, the secret to life is a deep thought for such an early morning. I may have to think about it and answer you later, Will that be okay?

” Young lady, listen to me. The secret to life is happiness. The secret to happiness is life. Happiness is the secret to life.” She patted my hand as she continued. ” People your age do not know what happiness is. You think it is a car or a house or a big job in the factory. Happiness is not found in material things. You can only understand happiness when you know happiness.””

Hmmm, you know I have more education than I know what to do with. I have spoken before large and small groups of people without a hesitation or a stutter.  Rarely if ever, have I been at a loss for words. How exactly does one reply to such profound wisdom?  This 94 year old woman who has Alzheimer’s ,  normally spends her days wheeling through the facility looking for her home in  Wheeling ,West Virginia…..not discussing the meaning of life, nor the secret to happiness……

I leaned in and gave Clara a hug and thanked her for sharing her wisdom with me. I did not expect her next remark.

” Young lady, I am not sharing my wisdom with you. Wisdom comes from your own experiences. Go find your own way,make your own mistakes, learn from them and then you will have you own wisdom, but you can’t have my wisdom.

With that said, Clara wheeled herself down the hall, out of my line of sight. I stood there in the hall, perplexed, confused but deeply enlightened. She is right ,you know. Everything she said was point on and profound truth………

As I carried myself through the day today, Clara’s thoughts have not left me……..You can only understand happiness when you know happiness………….Go find your own way,make your own mistakes, learn from them and then you will have you own wisdom, but you can’t have my wisdom.

Today, I think I learned the secret to life.

Passwords and Promises

This morning I attempted to check my email. The password police continually told me I was incorrect with what I knew was correct. After five attempts,they locked me out of my own email!!! Where are these secret password keeper people and how do they do that? ” Try again later”, the little prompter- cyber -thingy said, very candidly. Later? Try later? Oh boy.

computer-password-cartoon
I know the past few blogs have shown my stress level which seems to have skyrocketed through the roof, atmosphere and stratosphere….let’s just say it is way up there. I also know that worry and anxiety do not define the person I am…..Situations may drive me to become short tempered, anxious and overall a grouch, but I refuse to allow myself to become defined by circumstance.
Something as simple as a wrong password should not cause anyone to become ballistic, right? I typed, re-typed and tried again. Nope. Epic fail. Finally I conceded the point and decided to make a new one…..
As I sat, thinking about 8 characters, 1 letter, and a ! point to use, I decided that I would make the password something positive.. Something that would change my thoughts by having to type it 50 times a day… My password would force my mind to rest and to reaffirm the positive in my life. Something like Godsperfectpeace4me or Peacebestill4me or Blessedarethepeacemakers1 or BestillandKnow2………
The old saying ” You are what you eat”? Well, I am subscribing to the theory of becoming what I speak. It may seem simple, maybe too simple, but I will use each password to prompt myself to trust in God, to be calm and be at peace. promise2
God has given us so much to be thankful for, but at times, we become so burdened by the dynamics of life, that we forget the simple pleasures around us. People spend millions of dollars each year on “stress relief”, “meditation” and “self-discovery”, when really all they need to do is find peace within themselves, by changing how they allow themselves to think. If you always see the glass as half empty, it will never be full. The thoughts we think, WILL define us, IF we allow them to.
Now, each time I sign on to my computer, I will be forced to remember a promise given by God; the promise of peace, joy and of rest.peace1

Lost In Conversation

Have you ever been talking to one person about something while yet, turning to talk to another person about something entirely different?  The other night, I was standing  outside in the cold with a group of friends, chatting about a whole lot of nothing while watching a late season softball game. The conversation went like this:

Matt: I am freezing to death.

Dee: It is  cold out here. I can’t wait to go home and take a warm bath.

Me: Oh yeah, anything to warm up.

Sam: I’m going home and getting in my jacuzzi. The water is set at 120 degrees. Boiling!

Jeff ( just joining group). We had two boilers go down at work. Who has boiler trouble?

Diane: ( joining group)  Who is in trouble? I have a great lawyer  if you need one. He worked miracles in my divorce.

Tammy ( joining group)  Who is getting a divorce?                              word salad

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Each of us turned to see who Tammy was talking to, unsure of her place in the conversation.  Tammy stood there, awaiting an answer on who was divorcing who.

Diane: I have a great lawyer if you need one.

Tammy: Who? Me? I am not even married, so not me.

Mike ( joining convo) Who is getting married?

Okay, you see the point. This conversation about how cold it was outside, changed course with each new person piping in the conversation.  The original conversation was simply about “ warming up“, not divorce, not marriage, not boilers ( whatever they are),  and not about trouble of any kind…….One person merely commented on how cold they had become while standing out in the weather……nothing more, nothing less.

For a moment, I felt as if I were at  the facility, with a multitude of dementia patients, each lost in their own conversation.  I smiled to myself and continued to watch the ball game.  Tammy could not let go of the topic, or the subject, or whatever it was she thought we were discussing before she joined the conversation.

” Jessi, are Bob and Cindy the ones getting a divorce? I could tell something was wrong with them the last few times I have seen them. Gosh, it is so sad. It seems like they have been married forever. I wonder what happened?” With that said, she sighed heavily.

I turned to face her, eyeball to eyeball. I felt that for me to communicate with her effectively, I needed to have her hear me, acknowledge what I said, and declare her understanding back to me.

” Tammy, I do not have a clue about Bob and Cindy. I have not heard anything about a divorce, between them or anyone else……no clue.”

You would have thought the matter was cleared up……but it wasn’t. She, to this day, is convinced hat someone on the ball team is getting a divorce…….she just doesn’t know who.

Here is the thing. We as humans mostly hear what we think we heard. When we engage with another in conversation, do we find ourselves listening, or searching for the right thing to say back while pretending to listen?  It becomes a tennis match of words bouncing back and forth…….conversation.  You speak, I speak…your turn, my turn……..your turn, my turn………..

Somewhere in the conversation, the meaning is lost. Boilers? Marriage? Divorce? Trouble?  Lost? Who is lost?  Are you lost?………. See what I mean?

In dealing with dementia patients, I listen very closely to what they are saying. Do you know why? Because I can’t conjure up my reply before they are done speaking……I have to listen, really listen, to see where their story is going to take me. They may be talking about going home…..( I have to listen to see if a hint is dropped of which home.. childhood home?…military home….which home….last house called home? Which one?)  Once I determine the route of the conversation, I then can reply…..

What if we all stopped listening, just to listen?  Listening while the person speaking spoke to us, absorbing what was being spoken…..not bracing for a reply, ready for a “turn” to speak…….What if we did more than “caught part of the conversation” and heard enough to be able to reply?

Listening. Being heard. Understanding what was spoken.     If we all stopped talking, and just listened, what would we hear?  be still

 

 

 

The Proof is in the Pudding

For years I have heard the expression, “the proof is in the pudding”. I have often wondered what the true meaning of such an odd saying was meant to convey. The proof is in the pudding…..hmmm. What proof? What pudding?   Ok, admit it, you don’t know what it means either!  The good news is….I finally found the meaning ……so we can all relax and sleep well tonight, knowing the mystery has been solved! But first, allow me to ramble about why I am bothered by this old saying, “the proof is in the pudding”.

These past few weeks have been very challenging, both professionally and personally. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. My life’s calling is to serve dementia patients and support their families.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a dementia patient interacting with their loved one in a comfortable environment.   I thoroughly enjoy sitting with the residents, listening to their stories, knowing that many of their facts are not on point…………. I love my job.  The thing I dislike, no, not dislike; HATE….is the politics of governmental agencies dictating care through forms. Paper forms.  The governmental “gods” run through long term care facilities, spewing off mandates for care, when they nothing about the day to day care provided. They know FORMS. They even hand me forms to fill out with a tidy little sentence written in size 0 font that tells me how long it should take for me to fill out their form…..

Oh my goodness, I may have to go to church on Sunday and get saved all over again all because of these form- driven jackmules.  Let me share a few real life experiences from this week. If after reading my accounts and you think I am the one in the wrong, I will find Jesus all over again.

Resident Joe has a pacemaker. The pacemaker is now protruding from his chest, actually visible. We call the doctor. After days of phone tag, he refers to another doctor. That doctor refers to another doctor. Well that doctor says to contact a cardiologist. Cardio says he needs to see a pulmonary doctor……While this is all happening, resident Joe is appointed a guardian, (a lawyer paid to oversee his affairs). Guardian tells us to not do anything about the pacemaker because he is a DNR (do not resuscitate).  Guardian sends me a zillion forms, executing her power and authority in the matter. Right on. Let me get this straight, the pacemaker is going to physically fall out of the man’s chest, and we as health care professionals are to do what exactly? Stuff it in a desk drawer because guardian believes his DNR documents cover his need for NON-treatment?     Resident Joe is in pain. The site itches, burns and is infected.    Guess what? He is a DNR; therefore, we aren’t to treat.   SAYS WHOOOOO? The Guardian.  She faxes more forms, defining her role as decision maker.       Okay fine. I concede the point. She is in charge. She is a jackass. She is wrong. But, she has the forms to show she is large in charge.  I simply have Resident Joe who has an exposed pacemaker……..but her forms trump reality.  Again, she is a jackass.        If only the story ended there…..

I receive a LETTER in the mail from Guardian.   Oh boy, you will love this part.  Resident Joe has run low on funding. His monthly cost in my facility is 4 grand a month.  He has fallen one month behind in his payments.   This letter from Guardian says…..”Joe has $18.98 in his bank account. Therefore you will receive no payment until his house is sold. I will list it in summer 2015. Thank you.”     Ummmm…aren’t we in the fall right now? Am I wrong with the whole season thing, spring, summer, fall and winter? She really is NOT saying that she isn’t going to move on anything for 3 seasons???    I call Guardian. Guardian says,” You can plan discharge, but without funding, no place will accept him, and you cannot discharge unless you have found an appropriate place to accept him………see form G34B J Z. It clearly states you must”…blah blah blah blah blah………Pardon me while I snap my head BACK on.  Let me get this straight: Joe has a pacemaker that is coming right out of his chest, and you don’t care. Joe has no money, and you don’t care. Joe has a house that you can sell, but you aren’t going to be bothered until the summer of 2015.     At the rate of Joe’s decline, he will not be alive in the summer of 2015.  Right on.  Guardian is a form pushing jackass who lacks understanding, compassion, concern and consideration.

kindness

Next case in point.  Government agency does it annual monitoring of my facility. Agent sees what thing, writes down something entirely different. I appeal to his boss. His boss tells me to file Form 22A. I complete form 22A. I wait for a reply. I call Agency. They acknowledge that they are in receipt of Form 22 A. But I need to comply with Form 71BC and have it sent certified mail within 15 days of submitting form 22 A.    Well I sent Form 22 A in over 21 days ago. The Agency tells me that since I missed the appeal date, I can file Form 8922Gk and mail it registered mail.  I argue the point, that no one told me I had to file Form 71BC in conjunction with Form 22A. Agency explains to me that normally I would not have to file 71BC but since I missed the deadline for 22A, I would need to file 71BC and Form 8922Gk to be able to file Form 22A again………….What?  All I want to do is talk to a supervisor about a simple matter, set the record straight……I just want to talk to someone……Agency is a jackass.        I comply with the Form gods and file all of the alphabet forms alphabetically….I am set for the meeting.

Not so fast Jessi……Ten days pass, 14 days pass….no word from Agency about meeting date. I call Agency. I decide to use my itty-bitty knowledge base to my advantage. This is how the convo went:

Me: This is Jessi Steele, calling about my Form 22, Form 8922GK and Form 71BC Appeal. It has been over 14 days since I have filed, and the guidelines say you, the Agency, have 10 days to grant me a meeting. (Ha. I have them now!)

Agency: We understand your concern. We have received all of your documents. At this time, we have declined your request for a meeting.

Me: You can’t do that! The guidelines state on page 14, paragraph 4 A, that this is the process. How can you deny my request?

Agency: Ms. Steele, if you believe your rights to an appeal have been denied we suggest you file Form 11 B and Form 920 A and Form 872598. Please have all form notarized and sent to our office within five days. The forms can be found on the internet. Thank you for calling.”

Me : Wait wait, I have five days from when?

Agency: Since you called today, we have documented your notification of denial as of now. The five days starts now. Should you miss the deadline, you may file an extension by using Form…..

I hung up the phone. I am going to have a nervous breakdown at any point.  Ok, I will play along and file the entire alphabet again, using the Chinese and Arabic calendars as guides……

It’s Tuesday morning. I am perched at my desk, filling out FORMS.  I have no time to talk to the residents, visit with their families or pet the Therapy dog. Listen people, I am on a roll doing very important things. I have FORMS to fill out.     I look up from my desk to see Agency person in my doorway.    This is a bad bad bad bad day.

I ask why he was here, since I have appealed his last findings and am awaiting the Agencies response. Without hesitation he spouts off, “I am here because you did not file form BJM Z; therefore you are in violation of the Code.   Wait, a form without numbers? How can it be?

Okay, I blew it. I became enraged. I lost my temper. The calm, collected cucumber that I normally am became a hot pepper in full bloom. I yelled words such as “ignorant, stupid and bull-dung”.  Ok, I didn’t say dung.  I was angry.  I brushed past Agency.    I left the room.    Agency gave me MORE citations while I stomped off.       I appeal again. I filed forms.  Guess what?  Nothing happened. I called agency. Agency told me file more forms. Forms filed. Forms denied. Appeal denied.   Agency drops my rating from a 5 star to a ½ a star……………in the end, Agency has won the battle. I concede their victory. I am formed out.

paperwork

Here is the thing. We give good care. We provide a service to one of the most difficult populations.  The five star rating what we should have….not a ½ star, but because I cannot seem to file the right form, at the right time, with the right signatures, to the right place……..our rating is in the dirt. Paper compliance dictates care? I don’t think so.   You see, the proof is in the pudding.

That brings me back to that old saying. The actual saying is ““the proof of the pudding is in the eating”.  See? The situation I am in is very bad, but you know what? I know I have done my best, and I know the care the residents exceed any expectation set by a goofy agency that has nothing better to do than worry about forms.     The Proof, my dear friends, does not lie in any form for any quest in life. The PROOF is in how we treat our fellow man; not regulated by paper pushing gods.  Compassion is not limited to a form. Kindness is not rendered by pen and a pencil. Caring is not ruled on by a stapler or Xerox machine………we are real people, caring for real people. Five stars, three stars,  or even no stars,the proof of the pudding is in the eating!

pudding

I’m Super Rich!

Wow, I have exciting news to share with you today! Look at the letter I received via email ( unedited):

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Jessica,

I know that this mail will come to you as a surprise as we have never met
before, but need not to worry as I am using the only secured and
confidential medium available to seek for your foreign assistance in a
business. I am contacting you independently of my investigation and no one
is informed of this communication.

I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($12.5 million
united state dollar.) immediately to your private account. The money has
been here in our Bank lying dormant for nine good years now without anybody
coming for the claim of it. I want to release the money to you as the
nearest person to our deceased customer (the account owner) who died along
with his supposed NEXT OF KIN since August 1997.

The Banking ethics here does not allow such money to stay more than 16
years, because the money will be recalled to the Bank treasury as unclaimed
fund. Upon receipt of your reply indicating your interest in this
transaction, I will send you full details on how the business will be
executed.

Please keep this proposal as a top secret and delete if you are not
interested.

Regards,

Mr Marouphe Tanja.
Bank Of Africa, Burkina Faso-West Africa.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Now, I know you are excited as I am! What do you think I should buy first with that MUCH money???money

Are You A Foreigner?

I have known Pam for over ten years. We spend every Friday night standing around the softball field shooting the breeze , about a whole lot of nothing. Last Friday night was a bit odd; odd and a tad awkward.
” Hey Jessi, can I ask you something? ” Before I could answer, Pam continued, ” Are you a foreigner?”
Wow. Where do you think that came from? Right out of the blue. Okay, let’s assess the situation. I am dressed in a softball jersey and Nike shorts; nope not that. Could it be my jet black hair, maybe? Or is it my dark suntan than has enhanced my already “suntan color” skin? Is it my dark eyes?
” Um, no, I am not a foreigner Pam…” I said as I chuckled. I am Indian.” I think that should have cleared the matter right up……. or not.
” Oh cool. Do you wear the dot? You know the dot thing in your forehead?” By now the whole ball team was interested in the convo.
” Dot? Say what? What dot?” I asked before I thought it through. She was referring to the bindhi, the symbol adorning women from predominately Asia, including India. Pam thinks Indian means India-n.
” No, not India, Indian;…. Native American …Indian….” I explained. She seemed satisfied with the clarification, so I thought………
“Oh, I didn’t think Indians were called Indians anymore. Ya’ll are called Native Americans, that’s what is correct now. That’s why I was confused. Indians are the “dot people”, and the other Indians are Native Americans.” Pam’s education of what an Indian was/is and her definitions of both sects of people amused me.
” Well Pam, I understand your thinking, but to say I am a Native American is incorrect. America did not exist, until an Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci actually arrived in the continent before Columbus , discovered it. Hence the name ” America, after Amerigo.” Oddly enough, when Columbus did “discover America, he thought it was ” India”. Native Americans called America, ” Turtle Island” or other names, such as “Fourth Home” depending on tribal location……..” Before I could finish my explanation, Pam had lost interest and moved to another conversation………..just as the Ump yelled, ” PLAY BALL”!
As the team took to the field, I thought about Pam and the whole conversation that had just transpired. I wondered why she had thought to ask the initial question; what her curiosity was sparked by, and if she had understood anything I had said. Having been friends for over ten years, what difference did it really make it I were a “foreigner” or not? Would it have changed our friendship if I had answered ” yes”?
racist
We worry these days about being Politically Correct. We don’t wish to “offend”, but yet we will judge in a moments’ notice. Right after 9/11, each time I boarded an aircraft, I would become extremely nervous if I saw a “foreigner”, dressed a certain way…..If I took the subway in New York, I would become very alarmed if someone boarded the train that wore saggy pants and a sideways baseball cap……….Even though I knew the politically correct identity of each, it was what I thought I knew that allowed me to judge them…….I guess you could call it stereotyping. We forget who the person is, their stand alone identity…..and choose to group them as we assume they all are. Not all who are from the mid-east are terrorist……not all who wear baggy pants are thugs……
One day I will ask Pam why she asked that question, just to satisfy my own curiosity…..But you know, I did learn one thing from that Friday night experience; none of us are above being judged by another, even those who are our friends.. It’s just human nature. If there is anything unique or different about you, be sure those around , have taken notice and made a decision about how they feel about you.
Look at dementia patients. They have names, John, Bill, Teresa, Mary, Wilma, Nana, Grandma…Grandpa, Boompa, or Papa….Yet, due to the progressed dementia, they have been re-classed, fitting the definition of a disorder, not the person they are. Just because Nana can’t remember the family tree, her visitors slowly fade….The “family” doesn’t think she “knows what’s going on, or knows who they are”, hence the lack of visitors. Nana has been stereotyped with a class of forgotten people…the “dementia patients”. Here’s my question to them, ” Have you forgotten who she is? Is she the same Nana who cooked your favorite creamed filled chocolate pie every Sunday when you were a child? Was her home the destination for Christmas Eve feasts, where she filled your stocking with so many goodies that it overflowed? Did she not babysit you at some point in time? Were you not the ” apple of her eye” as most grandchildren are? Then why suddenly has she fallen into the profile of the forgotten? Simply because her memory is shot?
Just as Pam made her assertions based on what she saw, thought or had even heard, I am still the same person I was ten years ago when we first met; just as your Nana is the same person as she was in 1970……….it’s the your perception of the person that changed…………….
My point today is simple…..I don’t care about Political Correctness. I don’t care if the Washington Redskins are called the Redskins or The Washington Blacksheep, they are my football team. I don’t care if you think Columbus discovered America or India…….I am proud to live in the United States. I don’t care if you think dementia and Alzheimer’s are the same thing……
I care about kindness. I care about living peacefully with everyone else. I care about finding a cure for dementia. I care about making the world a better place……..It doesn’t matter if I’m red, black, yellow or green; or if I have on baggy pants or skin tight jeans, wear a bandana or a Hijab….or if I am of sound mind or half crazy……….none of it matters. ….. What matters is, we should all matter.

The New Normal

This week one of the residents in the facility, Mr. Irwin, caught a news segment about the violence taking place across the world, following by a blurb about an ebola patient in Texas. Even though his dementia, he recognized how the world has changed, for the worse.
“Back in my day, you didn’t see all those kinds of things. I am glad I am old and no longer out there.”
Wow, what a profound truth. The world has become a much more scary place than the Roaring Twenties, or even the Fabulous Fifties ……instead we migrated to Terrifying Two-Thousands. We have reached a place in our society where we live with drive by shootings instead of rival fist fights. We no longer walk away from a job, angry at our employer; but rather we whip out a Uzi and shoot them. We no longer simply divorce a spouse,; we hire a hit man to eliminate them. Our worst nightmares have become the reality in which we live.
As I walk through the facility, I see residents who have lived through so much. They battled some of the greatest wars ever fought, and came home heroes. They fought for our freedom, defending the Nation that once was “Under God.” Today, I am not sure what we are ” under”. It is my belief that the day the President proclaimed that we were ” no longer a Christian nation…”, we were doomed. Back in the 20s, Islam may have existed, but it was not the faith of our Founding Fathers. Back in the 30’s, I am sure no one could define “Muslim”. I don’t think there was ever a “school massacre in the 50’s. Even in the 60’s and 70’s, the psychedelic generations, no one knew what a ” terrorist attack”, was all about………. In the 80’s, we did not fear for our lives every time we stepped out of our front door. We didn’t worry about being beheaded or catching a disease that has no cure…..
Last weekend, I was at Washington Dulles Airport. I was caught off guard what I saw the police officers patrolling with dogs and machine guns. Machine guns. I looked around to see what was going on; assessing to see if we were under attack…hoping they would get the bad guy …but no, rather, this is the new normal.
I do not like the new normal. It was bad enough living in the Washington DC area when the Beltway Sniper roamed about shooting at, and killing people for sport. The entire Tri State area was on full alert. Gas stations placed tarps around the gas pumps so we could hide behind them as we filled up our cars. People ran for safety as they parked in grocery store parking lots; hoping to not be shot by the snipers. We truly lived in fear during that time. We all hoped and prayed that law enforcement would “catch the guy” who was terrorizing us. Once they captured the pair of shooters, all of DC went back to normal. The tarps came down; playgrounds were filled with kids playing and laughing and parks became overcrowded……we had returned to our normal lives.
Now with the possibility of random killings, beheadings, drive by shootings, flag burnings and “cell groups” laying in wait for their prey……I guess the police do need to carry machine guns….. I think the days of feeling safe anywhere….are over.
I remember starting the school day with the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. I attended Sunday School and memorized the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and Psalm 23. I was taught to say ” please, thank you, no ma’am and no sir.” I bowed my head and said “grace” before every meal. Before I went to bed, I knelt on my knees and prayed… ” Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die, before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, amen”. Child Praying
Now, the Ten Commandments are no longer allowed in Government buildings because they are “offensive and violate the freedom of religion”. Whose religion?????? Not mine. Children can not stand and say the Lord’s Prayer because ” it violates the rights of others”. Whose rights? Not mine. We live in world that is now more worried about the rights of others that we no longer have rights. We worry about violating other’s freedoms to the point where we have no freedom. We are no longer a ” Nation Under God”. We replaced our Fearless attitude with that of being fearful…..  ten-commandments-broken-top-001

 

Mr. Irwin forgot what the news anchor reported and the images he saw shortly after seeing them. He shuffled on down the hall to bingo without a care in the world…………oh how I wish I could do the same………..
if my peple

Forever Labeled

I was in the mall this weekend and found myself passing judgement on others based on how people looked, or were dressed.
” Check out the dude with blue hair…what a weirdo”….I whispered to my friends.
” Did you see that woman? She had to be at least 600 pounds”….another whisper. The whispering continued….
” Check out that guy over there with the tattoo on his FACE…”
” Wow, did you see that teenager with barely any clothes on? Her parents let her out of the house looking like that?”……….
” Look at that gangsta, he should invest in a belt or pants that fit…..”
” Aww, look at the older couple, holding hands, aren’t they cute?”……

Amazing how we define what we see, based on what we are looking for. We are all quick to judge based on what we see without thought to what we know. You know it’s true….and you know you are guilty of making assumptions and passing judgement; it’s only human to do so.

The same is true with dementia patients. We label them as “demented” and quickly forget that he/she is a person…We speak loudly to them, but yet, they do not have hearing loss. We direct them to “sit down”, “eat your food” and “let’s go to the bathroom” as if they are children. Yet, they are not children. We toss all dementia patients in the same proverbial hat and treat them all the same, without consideration for the unique person each was, is, or will be.

Look at Willie. He lost his wife, so he grieves. Since he has a diagnosis of dementia, we ignore his feelings of loss, sadness and grief, choosing to medicate with antidepressants to offset the dementia related disorder. Hmm. The label of dementia supercedes what is actually happening in his life. Labeled.
love
Look at Rev. Carmichael. He has dementia. BUT, he jumped out of a second story window before arriving at my facility. The documentation stated he jumped out of the window because of ” dementia and not knowing what he was doing”. After spending time with him, we learned that he wanted to die because he had no purpose for living. His wife had passed away, he was no longer a pastor, and he felt trapped inside of his 620 foot apartment. Yet,he was labeled as ” a dementia patient”……..

Look at Steve. Younger guy who recently moved in. He has dementia. But, at the psych hospital, someone asked him if he ever took illegal drugs. He said yes. So his chart reads, “dementia related to heroin and other mild altering drug abuse.” Ask Steve ” Is the sky red?”.. Answer “Yes”. “Am I an alien”? Answer “Yes.” ” Do you shoot Heroin?” Answer, ” Yes”. Are you the President of the USA?”……Answer…… “YES”. Now he is labeled as drug-induced onset dementia patient. Funny thing is, his family will tell you that he never took drugs, except for smoking pot in his younger days… yet he is not LABELED.

From all of this, I draw one conclusion. We as humans, need to stop labeling one another. We need to invest in the lives of others before we form conclusions, make casual assumptions or form opinions. Sounds simple. But is it?