Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lucky Not-a-Stroke

On Tuesday, August 18th, 2009, I was not feeling very well. I could tell my blood pressure was up and my feet looked like they belonged to the Michelin Man. So, I decided to go to the doctor on the way in to work.

I arrived, paid my copay and waited...and waited...and waited. People who came in after me (even walk-ins) were going in before me. Then the receptionist called me to the window and informed me that I had a $60 balance from a previous visit and they needed to collect at least $40 of it that day. I told her I had $5 left on my debit card and maybe $3 in my pocket. She said "just a minute" and went into the back. Shortly thereafter she came back to the window and said that that would be ok (they would take the approximately $8 I had left and I could be seen by the doctor). I was stressed already and said I needed to make a phone call. I started to call my husband, but before he could pick up, I hung up the phone and told the receptionist that they could keep the $15 I had paid towards the bill and that I would be back to see them on Friday when I got paid.

By this time I was visibly upset. I turned to go and she said, "Ms. B, just a minute." I held up a hand "talk to the hand" style, said, "I can't," and proceeded to leave the office. By the time I got to my car, I was hacking like I was going to throw up. My heart was racing and I was gasping for air. (DH thinks I was having a panic attack at this point...although he was at home with the kids.)

I probably should have gone to the hospital, but all I could think of was getting to work, because it was already past the 2 hrs prior to shift deadline in order to call in.

Parking really, really sucks where I work. I parked in a slightly "not approved" spot, but shoot, I wasn't going to walk up the long hill feeling the way I did. As I walked to my cottage, my eyes were swimming and I was walking...not weaving, but not in a straight line either.

The first shift nurse (LPN) was there and I asked her to take my blood pressure. She did and said, "just a minute" and went to get the RN. She came in and took my bp again and informed me that it was 212/110. This information did nothing for my racing heart and labored breathing. My lips had been going numb and were hard to move. Once or twice I remember sticking a finger or two into my mouth to separate my lips. My right hand was becoming hard to move.

More and more people started coming into the room. I remember calling my supervisor and telling her what was going on, saying, "I didn't want people to think I was a 'no-call, no-show'." HOW STUPID IS THAT? I was close to having a stroke and I was worried about how it would affect my job! The nurse asked if I wanted them to call and ambulance and I said I didn't think it was necessary. They arranged to have a co-worker take me to the hospital, as I had my family's only car with me. I was taken out to the car in a wheelchair, because the medical staff didn't want me walking.

Originally one of the nurses was going to take me, but when she asked someone to clock her out, the coordinator said that she would have to stay and clock out herself. So someone from 1st shift in the cottage in which I work took me. I babbled incessantly on the way to the ER, I suppose trying to keep myself together.

More to come tomorrow....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Impish Self

We moved recently from a small town about 17 miles away from where I work to the city where I work (only about 4 miles away from work). On the way to and from work I pass a pharmacy where their reader/sign says,

"Yes, we have the shingles vaccine!"

What is it about me that wants to sneak by some night and take down the word vaccine, so the sign would read,

"Yes, we have the shingles!"

*LOL* I'm so 'bad' sometimes!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mr. Snugglebutt - The Mighty Hunter

We have two cats - Mr. Snugglebutt and Mittens. (We also have a dog, Flower Power Rosie - aka Crackhead.) Mr. Snug we got from over by my husband's Mamaw's house. Flower is the grand-daughter of the first dog we had in Kentucky. Mittens is a cat left by one of our neighbors when they moved out - leaving about a dozen dogs and half as many cats. I figured out why Mittens adopted us ... she's expecting kittens (any minute now).

But I digress...

Mr. Snugglebutt is a superb mouser; what I didn't know is that he will take on just about anything.

Several weeks ago I was on the back porch when he came trotting up with a live small rabbit in his mouth. The rabbit was still struggling. I was horrified and, not thinking, I picked Snug up by the scruff of the neck and squeezed her jaws (gently but firmly) until he had to let the rabbit go. It then hopped off the porch and started running like c-r-a-z-y from a rare (and maybe first and only) time that Flower and Snug worked together for a common goal other than frustrating the begeezies out of each other.

Last night I was sitting in the bedroom with my 12 yr old DS1 and 6 yr old DD. We were watching an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, when we heard something THUD against the side of the house. We have a window a/c unit (that unfortunately has some space on the side). I say unfortunately, because it was apparently enough space for Snug to jump through (from the ground about 7-8' below...with a very much NOT alive squirrel in his mouth! I screamed, yelled "EWWW," and drew my feet up on the bed. My daughter buried her head in my side. My son yelped, "Cool," and ran to proclaim Snug's mighty feat to his father, making sure to mention the bloody entrails. *shudder*

I made DH deal w/the squirrel.

When DS1 gave the cat the name "Mr. Snugglebutt", I tried to persuade him to choose another, reasoning that "all the other neighborhood cats would snicker at him". I think Snug figured he had something to prove ... and I haven't noticed one neighbor cat messing with him! *lol*

Just another day in the country...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Give-a-Damn's BUSTED

Last night at work...*argh*

I work at a residential/teaching facility for adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. The client/residents are great (ok, for the most part). It's the administration and some of my co-workers that are driving me right over the edge.

Yesterday, we had 3 trips for residents going out at 3:00 (which is when the shift officially starts). One of the bigger bosses decided recently that everyone in our unit would clock in in one place. That's about 50 people or more clocking in at one clock in the space of 5 minutes. Naturally, my home is farthest from the time clock. So, we don't even get to the home until 5-10 minutes till 3. Then we have to do "shift communication". Then we have other ladies to transport to classes, etc. (That's another post right there.)

There were 6 staff scheduled for my side of the home. Five of them were going on trips at 3. That left one person to transport 4 ladies to classes. Of course, you can't leave them alone in the home, so we were "out of compliance". So, my co-workers going on the other trips, took a couple of the ladies, and brought one back who had a trip (and requires two people with her at all times outside). Then the supervisor calls and says to send a staff to the salon to relieve the person there so she could go cover in the swimming pool. I told her we didn't have anybody, because 5 of us were going out...(by this time we were already 5 minutes late).

Someone had told me that the trip I was going on had the form already picked up (another blessing from our big boss, that we have to walk to the administration building to pick up the trip forms - instead of having them in our home offices - what are these people thinking)??? So I take my lady out, partially to pick up the form, partially to make sure the R-TEC bus does not leave us because the 2-on-1 resident is also going to the same place. My charge requires a "gait belt" outdoors because she is unsteady on her feet. They special order diabetic shoes for her (she is not diabetic) at exhorbitant prices, in order to use up the money in her account. The shoes are too small for her - giving her ingrown toenails and red marks on the top of her feet. Anyway, she falls on the way down, skinning her elbow (no other injuries). So I have to call the nurse and my supervisor.

Then the bus driver did not even have my lady, "G" on his list and could not take her unless his dispatch called. So I had to call my supervisor again. "G" and I went to get the forms, including the one for the other resident. One bright spot of the day was that they 'allowed' me to pick up both forms even though I was not listed on the 2nd form. There was no way the trips would have gone off if "S's" staff had to bring her down. Oy! Ok, bright spot #2: the bus driver was extremely accommodating.

We were all pretty hot by the time all the trips were said and done.

The later, two of the staff on my side of the home 'disappeared' for about an hour. They did not, to my knowledge, let anyone know they were going, nor did they assign their clients to anyone (this is like one of the "HAVE TO's" that the DOJ (Department of Justice) and OIG (Office of the Inspector General) look for. So, I called the other side. A co-worker told me that they had been in there a while ago, but she did not know where they were at that time. So I called the supervisor, who said that "they did some baths on the other side of the home, then covered some breaks for me". Fine. I did not have a problem with them being gone for legitimate reasons.

I was, however, worried. Most of the residents are great. Some you do not want to meet outside in the dark with no other staff around, if you KWIM. (One resident, who within the last year, sexually assaulted a mailroom staff, has been calling one of my co-workers who was gone his "girlfriend".

Well, I was a little hot, and had written in the log that they were gone and we were informed by the supervisor that they had been off the floor at her request, but that their clients had not been re-assigned. Shortly after I went to break. While at break, I thought over the situation, and decided I would go in and re-write that page of the log, because the administration might take things the wrong way when really no harm had been done.

While I was out there, I strongly suspect that one of these ladies called the nurse (who was sitting across the picnic table from me at the smoking area), because she said "...and I bet I know who put her up to it." I knew they had seen the log.

I went back inside. They had taken the page off the log and when I walked out of the hallway, one of them folded the page over, and another one started tearing it up. I explained that I had been going to change the log, but that they really needed to let someone know they were going, log when they are going and make sure to assign their clients to someone. What if there had been a fire or tornado...or a drill? Getting 5 ladies in wheelchairs out of beds or recliners, covered up, taking two ladies (one of whom required two-on-one transport) outside or into the bathroom (depending on the emergency) takes a lot of co-ordinated effort.

Now, I always second guess myself. But I felt I was unfairly "shunned" after this event. These women are young enough to be my daughters. Maybe that's why they felt like they knew everything. Whom they assumed had put me up to this, is another older co-worker, and these two groups have always butted heads.

Anyway, the whole situation reduced me to tears for about the last two hours of the shift. My husband called, as he usually does, and I could hardly talk on the phone. For the clients who have g-tubes (for feeding) we have to tell the nurse how many times they urinate and how many bm's they have in a shift. I could hardly talk there. I went out the back door, so I wouldn't have to see my co-workers. I stood in the shadows on the far side of the building where the time clock was until "the two" co-workers clocked out and left.

One lady whom I have given rides to several times saw me and knew something was wrong. We happened to be parked in the same area of the annex lot and we walked out together, talking. I wanted to stop by the home to see if the log had been changed in actuality (for some reason, the log was "kept" from me the latter part of the shift *hmmm, imagine that*). It had. Third shift asked what was wrong. I told them - without mentioning names.

I had seriously considered going into my doctor this morning and asking her to give me a couple days off work. The trips are even more screwed up today than yesterday (and that boggles the mind!). There are 2 second-shift staff supposed to be on a trip from 11:00 - 12:30 (2-3 hours before our shift starts). Our newest transfer taking one of the male clients to a restaurant - and she has never worked with him before. A staff who will not be there today is listed on two separate trips in the evening at the same time. And they are apparently going to stuff 3 wheelchairs, an ambulatory man, and four staff on an R-TEC bus meant for no more than 2 wheelchairs and about 6 others.

Yeah right.

I know my perspective is terribly skewed on the subject of my job right now. If you made it this far, first of all, THANK YOU! Secondly, if you have a different p.o.v., or some constructive advice, I would be more than willing to receive it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

National Girls' Night Out

Ladies, are you single and don't want to sit at home on Valentine's Day?

Or maybe you're in a relationship and just need some time away from your "better half"?

National Girls' Night Out
is perfect for you! The movie "He's Just Not That Into You" opens that weekend and who better to go see this movie with than your BFFs? And an online after-party on February 16th (the following Monday) with prizes? TOO MUCH! *lol*

Now, for myself, I am married (and mostly happily so), but I know the value of time out with the girls. And, I work all that weekend, so I'm going to have to get creative about when to see the movie. And that's ok. So, if you've got scheduling conflicts like me, don't worry about it! NGNO is about stepping back from our everyday lives!

Ladies, let's do this one for US! I hope to "see" you there!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Have a Dream ... Too

This post is inspired by Selena's "Are You a Dreamer" entry at Blissfully Domestic.

I actually first read Selena's post last night, and I needed to put on my thinking cap for a while. At first my dreams didn't seem big enough. Then I thought ... our dreams are what we need as individuals to grow from where we are to a world where our dreams are realities.

So, onto my dreams:

I dream of a world where no children go to bed cold or hungry (including my own).

I dream of a world where 'common' sense and 'common' courtesy are the rule ... and not the exception.

I dream of a world where people who are 'different' are treated with respect and as equals.

I dream of a world where people actually take the time to stop and smell the roses.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pink-Haired Butterfly Princess

OK. So I subscribe to an email newsletter called "$5 Dinners".

OK. So today's post referenced a challenge on the "Motherload" blog called the "No-Spend Challenge".

What...MY family not spend money unnecessarily? Don't make me laugh. *cough* *cough* *sputter* *choke)

It's hard to say "no" on payday when we've done without...and I mean WITHOUT...for the previous several days.

But I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck. I am tired of renting a house from someone else. I am tired of barely being able to afford the copay for the doctor visit, and then NOT being able to afford the meds or referrals. I am tired of going to work and being the one that can't participate collections for people when a relative passes.

It's time to do something about it. So I am doing this challenge. And my family is coming along for the ride. Now I just have to tell them. *ROFL* Luckily my birthday is in October, so that's far enough away that they might feel like actually celebrating for/with me by then.

I think I've started making some changes already. My daughter's 6th birthday is Monday. I'm making her cake. After work, my rider and I went to the store and I had to get a bundt pan, but that can be said to be an investment, as it will last for just about ever. That was about $11. The doll was $6 (because it is an actual toy, not just the head and torso on a stick made for doll cakes). The cake mix was 88 cents. The frosting was $1.26 (I think); it was low-sugar because my hubby's Mamaw is diabetic and I'd like for her to be able to have a little nibble at the party. Decorations ran about $5.

I don't count the doll towards the cost of the cake, because it is really meant to be a toy. And, say for the sake of argument that the bundt pan "expired" after 10 uses, that would mean a per cake cost of $1.10. Add that to the other figures and the cake will cost about $8.24 when a comparable store-bought cake would probably be about $20.

And I DEFY any store to carry a pink-haired butterfly princess cake that is decorated with pink sparkly gel icing, and heart, Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen decorations!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Individual Meaning

The following is a quote I got in an email from

The life of the individual only has meaning insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is sacred that is to say, it is the supreme value to which all other values are subordinate.
Albert Einstein

This quote helps me feel better about some of the choices I've made in my life. For instance:

I have a Magna Cum Laude degree in Finance from a private college in Utah, and could have chosen a career path that brought me more "success" in the eyes of the world. And certainly near-empty cupboards and scrounging in the couch for gas money in the days before payday isn't the life of which I dreamed. But the job I have now is the most fulfilling I've ever had ... because I see the difference I'm making in the lives of other people every day I go into work.

The people with whom I work are adults with MR/DD (mental retardation and developmental disabilities). They also have a host of other medical and psychiatric issues. Neither they, nor I, will ever have a corner suite in the tallest office building in town. For some of the lower functioning residents, learning to place their silverware beside their plate (something most of us take for granted) is a monumental victory. The "higher functioning" residents learn impulse control and anger management. The goal for all of the residents is to be able to live outside the facility, independently or in a group home...but some will never do so. But that doesn't mean that their lives don't have meaning or that they are 2nd-class citizens.

One of the ladies with whom I work is 73 years old. She was "normal" until just over a year old, when a high fever caused her to start having seizures. That she has lived this long is nothing short of astounding. She laughs most of the day...full, throaty, head thrown back, face turning red guffaws. I don't laugh that much now ... and people consider I have the "better" life. My life is richer for knowing her. In fact, I want to be like her when I grow up. *LOL*

I'm not saying this to get "good for you" comments from other people or to say that I have chosen a "higher" path. I have chosen my path ... one that works for me. It takes all kinds of people and all types of paths to make society function.

I do have to get on a soapbox for a moment here about my work. The facility is one of the largest ICF's (intermediate care facilities) for the MR population in Kentucky. It is located on prime real estate in the center of town. The land was donated by a local businessman with the stipulation if the facility ever closed, the land would revert back to him. For years now, various governmental agencies have been finding numerous faults with the care practices at the facility ... mostly on the administrative end of things, but certainly some cases of shameful abuse has occurred. There was one article in the local paper in the time I've worked at the facility that had something nice to say about it (and I nearly fell out of my chair when I read it)!

But what most people seem to overlook is that by and large, the residents would not get better care elsewhere. We are being pressured to "herd 'em up and move 'em out", treating our residents as little better than cattle. These people are not units to be managed, they are human beings with dreams and aspirations, likes and dislikes ... the same as all us "normal" folk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

I was reading a posting on the Blissfully Domestic site, entitled: "Enjoying the Life You Design" by Nancy M. Sutherland. The first point she made was:

Have an attitude of gratitude- even when things are not going the way that you planned. (They rarely do.)

This quote really hit home for me. You see, I've been complaining a LOT about work lately. Granted, there has been a lot about which to complain. Administration that cares more about paperwork and how things look than about the residents' well-being and happiness, a new supervisor who has made me cry at work twice in the three weeks he's been there, rampant rumors about the facility closing.

But there is so much in my life for which I am able to be grateful...and I need to remember that more. So here is a little no particular order:

  1. My faith in God.
  2. My husband.
  3. My oldest son.
  4. My younger son.
  5. My daughter.
  6. My friends at work.
  7. My friends at church.
  8. The roof over our heads.
  9. A working heating system in the frigid winter.
  10. My ability to change and adapt.
  11. God's Food Pantry (the local food bank).
  12. My mother and brother.
  13. My in-laws.
  14. Each new day.
  15. The ladies (residents) at work.
I could go on...and on...and on! Maybe I can make this like a weekly thing...or make a meme out of it somehow so other folks can get in on the FUN! *lol*

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Random Thoughts on My Job

Well, had to smoke on the front porch was raining and the back porch doesn't have a roof. Anyway, apparently the front porch is good for generating ideas too.

Everyone is always touting "active treatment" at work. And I agree with the idea, up to a point. There are some folks who would, if left to their own devices, put residents in the bed or in front of the tv so they could be on their cell phones or whatever. (The ladies and gents living in my building are lower functioning than most of the people on the facility, many of them in wheelchairs, and for the most part stay where they're parked.

But I think the idea can go too far, too. They get up between 6 and 7 am, have breakfast and are in classes, work, therapy (whatever) by 9 am. After 3 hours, they come home for lunch and are gone at 1pm again until 4. Then they come home and we take them to the on-site "bank" and coffee shop...except for the residents with g-tubes, who don't get anything by mouth. Some homes, you can send one staff with 3-4 residents on such a "trip", because these residents can walk independently. In my home, it's 1:1 due to gait or wheelchair, or in one case 2:1. Yet, we get the same amount of staff as in other homes ... no more. *sigh*

We are also supposed to keep our residents "active" doing "age-appropriate" activities until supper, after supper until bath-time and after that until bedtime ... which they would put between 9 and 10 pm.


Anyhow, I know I'm not a physical therapist, but it occurred to me that there are many things we could do that could assist our residents (which in my case are ladies) to at least maintain range of motion and strength. For the ladies in wheelchairs, we could raise and lower their lower legs (individually or together), supporting them underneath.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this post.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year's Celebration - So-so New Year

Well, I had yesterday and today off, so it was a Happy New Year's celebration for me! *lol*

But I went to do the Thursday Thirteen meme today, and points to a goDaddy website for hosting. *sheesh* And I have to go back to work tomorrow. And after our little shift meeting on Tuesday at 10:45 pm, I decided that my primary resolution for 2009 is to GET A NEW JOB!

I work with mentally and physically challenged adults, specifically the "lower functioning" clients. There are seven ladies in my 'cottage'. Five of them are in wheelchairs. Five (not necessarily the same ones) are in "adult protective undergarments". Several of them can talk - but not in complete sentences usually.

My main problem right now is that the clients in other cottages, the "higher functioning" ones - those who can express themselves, who can walk, use the bathroom independently, refuse classes, medicines, etc. are the ones who seem to get all the privileges and get to enjoy the rights we are always being told the 'individuals' have. My ladies do not. Neither do similarly abled gentlemen residents. There is one, who is in a specialized wheelchair. On 2nd shift (my shift) he is supposed to be put in a chair that cranks up and supports his body to where he is standing. Would his life improve if he could stand on his own? No argument there. Problem is, he HATES it. Mention the word, let him catch a glimpse of the "stander" and he swears, spits, scratches himself ... and is upset for the rest of the evening. But we were told Tuesday that he DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to refuse, that a "team of experts" came up with this plan to improve his life.

This "team" of experts gain their knowledge of this man by reading about him in a notebook. If they're lucky, they may have a picture. If they are outstanding ... they have made the effort to come out and see him in person. NONE of them "KNOW" him. But their views and opinions of what is best for him and what he likes is crammed down his (and our) throat(s) every day.

It's not the experts, the ones apparently so knowledgable about this man (or any of the residents there, for that matter) that help this man feed himself. They don't try to explain to him over and over again why it is a good thing that he can still get on the toilet i/o tossed in a bed for a diaper change. "They" aren't the ones who clean up after the man after he vomits or wipes his forehead when he has a fever. And they would be the ones standing outside the burning cottage while the floor staff (including me) would be willingly risking our lives to get the residents out of a fire.

I should probably stop now. I'm getting upset. *sigh*