Choosing the Right C.

Saturday I went out shopping at my local Wal-Mart. I bought a few things, including a battery operated floodlight for my outdoor Nativity set. I spent over 45 minutes perusing through the lights; carefully choosing the right one. Next to the battery section to pick up 6 “C” batteries.

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Batteries. Sounds simple enough, right? In my head, I could hear the Energizer Bunny beating his drums as I stared at the enormous selection……then the music from the Duracell commercial filled my head. Oh the choices.     As I made my decision, I noticed on the packaging the different types…” C 8″,  “C9″  ” C12″….on and on the numbers went up to  “C20″. Hmmm, must be something different about the varied numeric values of the C battery.    I flipped over the floodlight packaging, hoping it would specify the right “C”…..no help.   Twenty minutes later, I decided to ask someone who knew more than me about the specs of the common battery.   Sixty minutes later, I am surrounded by Wal-Mart employees all of which were as clueless as I was.     Hmmmmm.

If you were to ask any of my friends about my technical skills, they will all tell you I am an electronic and gadget guru.I can fix any windows based problem with ease. I can sort through Apple code-jibberish and have a Mac back up and running within minutes. Remote controlled devices…no worries….their intricate workings pose no problem to my insightful thinking.  So…….why am I still standing in aisle 9 at Wal-Mart, staring at the Battery Center, appearing dazed and confused?

I wonder how our high-tech world confuses the already confused dementia patient? The other day at work, a resident asked for a pain medication due to a flare up of her gout. The nurse replied, ” Let me check the computer and see if you can  have one now…”    As the nurse disappeared to the computer station, the resident turned to me and said, ” What does a computer have to do with giving me pills? I should have a bottle of pills….”     Good point.  But yet, due to the electronic medication dispensing system…the computer DOES decide if a pill is to be given or not.     Imagine being in the resident’s shoes….she has pain, she is accustomed to taking her own medications...yet now, a  computer dictates her pain relief.

I  am sure residents are alarmed as we take their temperature scanning their forehead.   Remember the glass, mercury filled, old fashioned thermometers??????   Blood pressures are now taken by machines and heart beats counted by finger devices…yet we wonder why the resident does not understand what we are doing!  It’s not always dementia, when a resident gives us the ” I am so confused”  blank stare.

Standing in Walmart, I too had become so confused about the who C battery business….I decided to buy the C8’s hoping, they would work …the middle age man who seemed most knowledgable had said that the number simply indicated the ” years of life” the battery would have. I felt 8 years would be a reasonable amount of time for $11.98, so the C8’s it was!

That afternoon, the neighborhood came to life. Everyone  was outside working on their Christmas lights, decorations and oversized blow-up Santa’s.  I knelt in front of my nativity, placing my new floodlight ever so carefully in the right spot….. My neighbor, Jen,came by and was admiring the Nativity, which led me to tell her all about the whole new battery rating.

” Yep, batteries now have their life-span rating on the top of the packaging. The ones I bought are the C8s. Eight years is a long time for a battery, don’t you think? ”   I felt proud of my battery packaging knowledge.

Jen gave me a very weird look. “Do what? What are talking about? I didn’t know that.”

Before I could tell the whole story, several neighbors had joined in the battery conversation…..many of which disputed my theory. Within minutes, people were emerging from their houses, each carrying their choice of batteries. We gathered in a circle, passing around the batteries as if we were cul-de-sac drug dealers; studying the packaging, flipping it over to look at the back and the front…….then passing it to the next person for analysis.

” Jessi…. he number doesn’t represent the life-span. It means HOW MANY BATTERIES ARE IN THE PACK!”Jen exclaimed.

” Seriously??? All that drama and it’s the number of batteries???????” I had to laugh…..

The moral of this story?   Never over-think the simple things in life……life is complicated enough!

The Gift is Not in The Wrapping

The Holiday season brings with it, an enormous amount of “seasonal” volunteers;those wishing to spread “holiday cheer”. I love what they do;visiting with the residents, singing songs, giving out cookies  candy and spending time with each and every resident. December seems to bring out the best in people…..

People always tell me how “busy Christmas-time” is…..which I fully relate to and understand. But, my question is this: If Christmas is a busy time of year, how can so many people find time to “spread holiday cheer”, yet for the other 11 months, there is rarely a sighting of volunteers?  Just a question of curiosity.

Back in the day when I was a little girl, I would follow my dad, who served as a pastor, to every sick and shut -in house within a 50 mile radius. Dad would sit with, pray for and console family members who had lost a loved one, showing compassion, kindness and empathy. When hard times fell on a family in the community, we as a church, would collect food , one can at a time, to give to those in need. As soon as we had enough to fill a few grocery bags, we would drive them to the home of the family, excited to be able to help in such a small way.     My father instilled in his children the value of ” giving”, regardless of the season.

I recall one event that impacted me greatly as a little girl;a life lesson that continues to manifest in my life today. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old…..a new family had moved in to the community. They had not “joined” our church, nor had any interaction with church members. Dad had incredible radar for new people moving into the small town. He made a point to find out “whereabouts” they lived, so he could stop in for an introduction, welcome them to the community and invite them to church.

Once my dad knew where the new folks lived, he decided to go visit them on a Saturday morning. Naturally, being his shadow, I was ready to go!

We drove down a very long dirt rood, somewhat muddy, to arrive at a very run down house, that surely could not be inhabited by anyone. My dad never flinched. He got out of the car, telling me to sit still until he told me otherwise.I watched as he straightened his tie, buttoned his suit coat, and slopped through the red clay to the front porch.

The woman that answered the door seemed to welcome the town pastor into her home. My dad motioned for me to join them on the porch.

” This is my youngest child, Jessi. …….” Jessi, say hello to Mrs. Moran.”

I never knew a day of shyness, and being daddy’s little girl, I copied him in as many ways as I could.

” Hi Mrs. Moran, I am pleased to meet you ma’am.” I said as I extended my hand to her.

For over an hour, we sat in Mrs. Moran’s home, listening to how she her husband had been laid off from the coal mine, so they moved down south to be near her ” husband’s people”. She explained to my dad how their two children were not adjusting too well to the new school, partly because they didn’t have pants that fit.

” You know, boys grow so fast, one day their pants fit, the next day, they are knickerbockers. They have been teased at school for what they call “high-water britches”. But we are getting by with the help of the good Lord and Jake’s job over at the plant.”  She seemed sad, but yet confident.  Dad asked her questions about her children, ages and hobbies.

As we got up to leave, dad offered a prayer  for the family….which Mrs. Moran seemed to appreciate. After that, dad us drove back home.

A few days later, as all of us kids came home from school, our mom was packing trash bags with clothes from the boys closets. She asked for their input as to what fit, what was too big or small…..she neatly folded each piece of clothing as she tucked in the trash bag. My brothers quickly sorted out their clothing….never questioning why.

The bags were loaded into the station wagon, and off my dad and I went…back down the muddy, long driveway. Knowing that the clothing was for the Moran boys, I turned to my dad , asking, ” Shouldn’t we have wrapped the clothes, or put them in boxes; something to make them look better?”     I will never forget his words.

” Jessi, what we share with others is never contained in a box, gift bag or wrapping paper. What we give to others, is the gift of love, caring and concern. It’s never the packaging that makes the gift….the gift is not in the wrapping. People can tell the difference, where the gift came from, the store or the heart.Store bought is fine, but it still has to come from the heart. Understand?”

Before I could answer, we were at the Moran’s house. Again, I was instructed to, ” sit still until told otherwise.”  Once he talked to Mrs. Moran, he motioned for me and told me to get the bags.

I carried them proudly to the door, handing them to her. I noticed inside the bag, some of my mom’s dresses, my dad’s shirts and pants, alongside of the clothing mom had gathered from my brothers.   Mrs. Moran began t cry as she repeatedly thanked my father for the “gift”. She explained to him how grateful she was and knew her boys would be so excited to have pants that fit………..She turned to me and gave me the tightest hug I have ever had in my life, whispering “thank you”…..

Years have come and gone but  the lesson of the ” gift “has never left me, I think about the gift, making sure it is the right one- heartfelt. I will always carry my father’s words deep in my heart….

So the “seasonal” volunteers are surely appreciated, but they too could benefit in knowing that the gift is not in the wrapping……..not in the month that the visit, the gifts they bring or even in the songs they sing.

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The gift……comes from the heart….and is not in the wrapping. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t Heal Until the Bleeding Stops

Listening to the news this morning, I suddenly became irritated, annoyed, frustrated and just plain mad. The news achor started off the news like this:
” Good Morning Richmond, today’s news is bleak, but let’s get to it. Last night protestors in Washington brought traffic to s standstill. Over 500 people came out, protesting the jury’s verdict in the Ferguson case….”

I flipped the channel before he could finish the story. Look, I am against racial profiling, racism, hate, discrimination and anything else that has to do with the racial wars. White is white, black is black….we all live and breathe the same air, so what exactly is the problem? If this young man robbed a store, didn’t follow the policeman’s orders and got shot, why is this a huge news-making deal breaker? Listen, I am Native American, hailing proudly from Lakota Sioux Tribe. Let’s talk about racial tension, hatred and discrimination. The Trail of Tears in 1831, caused over 4000 Native Americans from numerous tribes to lose their lives all because the “white man” wanted their land. Many just chalk the Trail of Tears up as a historical event….ok, fine. Let’s talk about the Battle Of Wounded Knee. It is maybe, possibly similar to Ferguson. To insure that I do not cross my opinion with the facts, I have copied this from the internet:
“On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it.[6] A scuffle over Black Coyote’s rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry’s opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow soldiers. The Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking soldiers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.” ( Source Wikipedia)

Did you know that over 300 Lakota people were killed that day? Mostly women and children. Unarmed women and children. What makes this even worse, did you know that 25 men from the 7th Calvary were awarded Medals of Honor for their actions on that day? After the massacre, there weren’t any Native American protests, no marches, no slurs of “that’s because we are red that they killed so many of us…” The Natives did not form lines, shout “burn this fort down”, nor did they loot the neighboring villages.

But you say, ” Oh Jessi, you don’t know what really happened at the Battle of Wounded Knee. You don’t know what really happened, who had guns and who didn’t. You don’t know anything at all about Black Coyote.” Well, you are right, but do tell me…..How can you pass judgement about Ferguson? None of us can speak to what really happened that day….but we can all speak to the behaviors that are being exhibited today by “protestors”.

What exactly is gained by blocking 395 or any other highway? What are you protesting exactly? The verdict? Blocking traffic does what exactly? What did the looting do for the case? Robbing Toys R Us is supposed to make the world stand up and take notice of what?

I just don’t understand. Maybe I never will.

Flipping through the channels, I seemed to be catching all the bad news. “This morning in DC, a 75-year-old male committed suicide. He was recently diagnosed with dementia, which police believe to be the motive for the self-inflicted gunshot wound…police are continuing to investigate.” How tragic. a man takes his own life, fearing the worst for himself, made a choice. Motive? I don’t think I have ever though of dementia as a motive for anything……until now.

The news continued on….more shootings, more break ins and burglaries….more sexual assaults…..the news just ripped though my last nerve……..Finally, the news anchor came back on, sounding upbeat and positive. Whew, maybe now for some good news! He introduced his “distinguished guest” and began their idle chatter about politics and the recent firing of a White House Staffer who criticized the daughters of the President.

” What do you think this woman was thinking, David, when she spoke out and criticized the daughters of President?”, The anchor seemed poised for the guest’s reply.

” I think if she had an opinion, she should have kept it to herself.”

I lowered my coffee cup, carefully gripping the remote, ready to flip if this line of questions/answers continued.

The anchor resumed, ” Let me ask you this David. What is your opinion on the Ferguson Protestors?”

Before David could I answer, I switched the TV off. Why do I care what David thinks? If the media would stop broadcasting every two minutes about Ferguson, maybe the limelight would fade. Nothing will change based on their looting, protesting or blocking traffic….nothing. Nor will anything change for the White House Staffer who made the wrong remark at the wrong time……and you know what? The 75-year-old man who took his own life, well, he matters too! Why isn’t someone stopping traffic, raising banners and waving flags protesting his death? What of the rape victims? Who is listening to them? The victims of other crimes…..where is their voice, flash mob and theater? Where are government officials when a Service Member of the US Armed Forces comes home in a body bag? Have you ever seen breaking news for a Presidential speech as a plane lands at Dover Air Force Base to unload the remains of our Fallen? Have you ever seen a news break for fallen Law Enforcement Officer killed in the line of duty? Where are the reports of those who die in service to us, protecting, serving and defending us??????????

You see, the 75-year-old man who took his life, he too had a family….He had people like me, who would have helped him, struggled along side of him…..and made his life as comfortable as possible..but he chose to end his life and not fight a losing battle. His little news story was a ” filler” lasting only maybe 30 seconds….I wonder what he thought about Ferguson, or did he even think of it at all? Had anyone ever asked him what he thought about the shooting, or the jury or the verdict? Why was his opinion not heard? Why, dear reader, has no one interviewed you and gathered information on your views about Ferguson or the White House Staffer?

My point to this long ramble is this. A wound will never heal as long as it continues to bleed. We are a bleeding nation….and until we stop the bleeding……..we will never heal.

Aside

Mismatched Shoes

Today at work, you could hear the whispers of staff as they flipped a quarter in a coin toss, to decide who would tell Jimmy that his shoes were on the wrong feet. You see, Jimmy is a proud man who can still do most things for himself without any assistance from anyone. He prides himself in his ability to recall historical events, discuss world politics knowledgeably and provide insight to articles he has read in American Scientist.   Jimmy is a very intelligent man, often using words I have to look up in the dictionary to follow conversation with him…….but yet, Jimmy has dementia.

Okay, so his boots are on the wrong feet…..which is better? Having him wear them incorrectly and possibly be uncomfortable or insulting his pride by pointing his error out? Or do we assume that he is having an ” off day” due to his dementia and monitor him more closely? Hmmmm…the right decision must be made here.

I passed through the living room and took note of his boots. Sure enough, left was right and right was left………oh boy. Sitting down at my desk, I was reminded of my own ” off day”….. For many years, I played the keyboards in my church during worship services. We had two services every Sunday morning, with seating capacity for 1500…pretty big crowd, eh?. I played two sets of keyboards, so I would stand the entire time, highly visible to the congregation.

After one extremely long service, the Pastor’s wife who was seated on the front row, beckoned me to the edge of the platform. She leaned in close to my ear and began to whisper quietly……
” Jessi, dear, I don’t know if you know this or not, but sweetie, your shoes do not match. I just wanted you to be aware.”.
Looking down at my shoes, they seemed perfectly normal to me. You see, I am color blind…..my world is a hue off from what yours is….blue and black are both black…...<a
mismatched-shoes

” Oh thanks for telling me”, I replied. “What color are they? Are they off by much? Is one a shade darker than the other?”

The look she gave me was one of bewilderment. awe and possible wonder. She recovered enough to whisper, “One is dark blue, the other is black……but sweetie, if you are comfortable with them being like that,it is okay by me. Please don’t be offended. I know you younger girls make fashion statements all the time…….”

I interrupted her, offering to explain my mismatched shoes…….” Mrs. Ferguson, I am color blind, not a fashion guru……” I could see the relief in her face……After a chuckle and a smile, we began preparing for the next service. There was no time for me to dash home and grab another pair of shoes, so it simply was as it was……..

During the second service, I became so aware of my shoes…almost paraniod….feeling that all 1500 worshippers were staring at my feet. Any other Sunday, I could play for an hour without flinching….the music flowed effortlessly for me. I didn’t need sheet music….I didn’t need anyone to prompt when and where to come in…..I simply flowed. Not this service. I missed several intro’s, forgot one entire song and let’s just say….there was no flow….zippo. Nada. None.

After the conclusion of the service, I raced outside to my car and went straight home. As soon as I walked in the door, I began yelling at Jeff, my husband. (It was his job ya know….to make sure I looked good!)

” Look at my shoes! They don’t match! How could you let me leave the house this morning looking like this??????”

” They looked fine to me”, he mumbled as he continued to stare at TV. I wonder why men notice some articles of clothing but not others??????

Pride. My pride had been insulted simply because I had worn mismatched shoes. Embarrassed. I can still feel my cheeks radiating heat as they turn bright red at just the thought of it……

What about Jimmy and his shoes? Should we ignore the fact that he is wearing them on the wrong feet, simply to spare him the feeling of embarrassment? Should we force him to acknowledge that maybe his dementia is a bit more defined than he would like to admit to? Hmmmm.

I decided to tackle the problem with no game plan at all. I sat down beside Jimmy and sighed heavily.

” Hey Jess. What’s going on today? Looks like you are having a rough run at it.” He folded the newspaper and devoted his full attention to me; shifting in his chair to make direct eye contact.

” Well Jimmy, it’s too early to predict the day, but I am sure the sun is shining somewhere in the world….”

For fifteen minutes, we discussed the morning news, the modern war and nuclear bombs. We decided that we could solve all the world’s problems if we were out in charge for an hour……..As I got up to leave, I slapped Jimmy on the knee and whispered, ” Before we take on the World, you may ought to put your shoes on the right feet….”

He let out a belly laugh….” That’s why my feet are rubbing. I grabbed my boots in the dark this morning and dag-gone if I didn’t put them on the wrong feet. Glad you caught that!”

I smiled as I walked away, feeling accomplished. Sensitivity is the key in dealing with all situations, even more so with dementia patients. People often think that since they are cognitively impaired, that mis-matched clothing, disheveled hair or even misplaced shoes is harmless. I think not. Preserving another person’s dignity should always be one of the first and foremost concerns…….no disease should over ride an individuals sense of pride.

Shoes…..who would thought such a powerful lesson could be learned from one Sunday morning…and a pair of mismatched shoes.

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Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my latest book, ” God’s Waiting Room” today!book

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……..

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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