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*