Thursday, December 2, 2010

I need a maid...and other things

I absolutely CANNOT keep up with housework, laundry, shopping, bill-paying, and working so one of my early New Year's resolutions is to engage the services of a part-time maid or cleaning service. (If the punctuation in the previous sentence is not correct, sue me.) I may have to sell a kidney to accomplish it, but I think it will be worth it. (I mean, after the post-op pain subsided. Oh wait, I could be on DRUGS!)

How and when did we all become so busy? I remember (vaguely and fondly) when I used to be able to read for pleasure, watch television, play video games, quilt, go bowling, whatever...and my house was reasonably clean. Now I live in constant fear that the environmental health services is going to condemn my house. I don't even cook much anymore because the three of us (TWOPM, Tink, and I) are seldom there at the same time. The only reason I will turn on the oven for just myself is for a baked potato, but I don't often think of it an hour before I'm hungry.

As I was sitting here contemplating engaging the services of a maid, I realized that I would probably work myself into an absolute frenzy before she arrived just so I would not be embarrassed by my filthy house. TWOPM says that is a "typically female response." I have instructed TWOPM and Tink to set the house on fire (with me in it) if I should die before a) I clean it, or b) I get a maid.

I would love to simplify my life; any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hitting the head on the nail

I've not been very festive the past few Christmases, but I thought I would make an attempt this year. Last year my mother-in-law was in intensive care (she subsequently died on January 10th) and so Christmas was a low-key affair (okay, non-existent) at our house. It seems that my 20 year old daughter is still young enough to want decorations, etc. at Christmas time. Anyway, I thought this year I would do better. I went into the attic and hauled down boxes and boxes of decorations (most of them sad and bedraggled) and our artificial Christmas tree. If you are familiar with Jeff Foxworthy, you know the expression "You might be a redneck if...." As we were putting up the tree, TWOPM (The World's Only Perfect Man) said, "You might be a redneck if your Christmas tree is held together with baling wire and duct tape" (and ours is; we must be the consummate rednecks). On my last trip into the attic, I rummaged around looking for the tree skirt. I straightened up rather quickly and SMACK! I drove one of the nails from the new roof directly into the top of my head. Don't worry; my tetanus shots are up-to-date, and it didn't penetrate the skull. It was, however, enough to make me say, "Bah humbug!" once again. Hope your decorating is uneventful!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yesterday I spent a great morning/early afternoon with my sisters and my brother. I have tried and tried, without success, to think of a group of people with whom I have a better time. I never laugh so hard and so long as when I am with them. I can almost see the air around us; it is diamond-like in its brilliance and sharpness, and the repartee is breath-taking! I am more a spectator of the repartee, but at least I can follow it and appreciate it. "Outsiders" are usually bewildered.

My sisters and I walked over some of the land our mother is in the process of buying. I don't know why a woman of her mature years needs to sink most of her money in a parcel of land, but it's her money so she can do as she pleases. I know that it will become my brother's property at some point, and I am glad for him. I just hope he can pay the taxes on land that will not be producing any kind of income. I don't think this land is good for anything other than a housing development, but the area has no industry which could support such a development. Retail space? Forget about it!

I have had four and a half days off work, and I am ready to go back. I know that by the end of the workday tomorrow I will be tired, harried, and harassed. But today I am well-rested, optimistic, and cheerful!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rosetta Stoned

One of the perks of working for a state university is that I have the opportunity to use Rosetta Stone, a language learning tool. There is a waiting list, and there are certain requirements in order to be able to continue using it. For instance, if *someone* deems that you are "not on schedule to complete the required hours," a user can be summarily inactivated. This happened to yours truly two weeks ago. There was no warning, no chance to explain, bargain, beg, etc.

Two days after deactivation I received an email from the university's Rosetta Stone administrator stating that my name had come up on the waiting list for Rosetta Stone Spanish. The administrator wanted to know if I would be interested. I immediately sent off a reply that I had been inactivated but that I was very much interested in continuing my Spanish lessons. I stated that I had been looking forward to the Thanksgiving break as a chance to put in some intense language-learning time (time which would have put me over the 12 hour per semester minimum). I received an email stating that I would be activated immediately by clicking on a link and following instructions.

I dutifully clicked on said link and followed instructions TO THE LETTER. I did note, however, that the user name I was assigned was different from the one I had used before. I just figured that one was not allowed to keep the same user name once one had suffered the ignominy of being deactivated (inactivated?). I immediately plunged into a lesson, knowing that the Rosetta Stone Nazi was watching and ready to purge me for the slightest indiscretion.

After I had logged a couple of hours (I am my mother's slowest child), I noticed that some of the words were NOT as I had learned them and the pronunciation was different. I discovered that I was studying Spanish (Spain) and not the Spanish (Latin America) in which I had invested so-o-o-0 many hours. I sent an email to aforementioned Nazi. I knew I had not made the mistake, but I offered myself up as a sacrificial lamb by stating that apparently I had "clicked on the wrong button." I asked if there was any way I could receive credit for the time and effort invested. She replied that she didn't know that I was a "reactivation" and that no, unfortunately, I would not receive any credit for work done in the past. Really? The part of the email where I said "I was recently inactivated" didn't give you a clue? In her defense, she did apologize for having placed me in the Spanish (Spain) course. She said that I would not receive my certificate for the work unless I started all over, but that if I felt I had mastered the material I could move to the next level. I am way too linear to move on without my certificate. So while everyone else is watching football, shopping, or decorating the house, I am slaving away at my Rosetta Stone Spanish.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be ye thankful...

Today I'm especially grateful for the things I usually take for granted. I would love to have new flooring in my house, but Larry (a patient) lives in a tent in some woods just off a major thoroughfare near the clinic. His campsite has been ransacked on several occasions and anything of any value whatsever was stolen. When he leaves his home (the campsite), he has to carry everything with him. Larry suffers from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and some days it is a major accomplishment for him just to breathe effectively. It would be difficult enough for him to move himself from point A to point B. It is extremely difficult for him to carry himself and his belongings. Larry has no car, no bicycle, no money. I worry about him, especially with winter coming on. How will he stay warm enough? Will he be able to stave off pneumonia? I'm concerned that he might not make it through the winter. Larry is one year younger than I.

I am thankful for the warm, secure house in which I live.

Today (and indeed all weekend) I will eat too much. The last patient I saw on Tuesday reported that she and her family do not have food for the rest of the week. She has uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and not having the proper foods can send her into a diabetic crisis that could result in death. Also, there is a 9 month old child in the household who appears thin and undernourished for her age. None of those chubby cheeks and pinchable rolls on this little girl. This is not atypical for the population our clinic serves. The need is so great, and the resources are so few.

I am thankful for the plentiful, nutritious food I enjoy every day.

Many of the patients we serve are all alone. They have no family, and their only friends are the ones they make while living in the homeless shelter. These are tenuous and transient relationships at best. Unfortunately, the shelter only houses them for a period of six weeks; after that, they are back on the streets. If they are lucky, they might get a campsite where Larry lives. Many of these patients have been abandoned by their families because the families are unable or unwilling to cope with the patients' lifestyle choices and/or mental illness.

I am thankful for a loving family. Each, most, some (sorry Bragger, I don't know how to do the strikethrough) of them is/are supportive, and I know that if I faced trouble I could count on them (individually and collectively).

I am thankful for the clothes I have and the washer and dryer I use to keep them clean. How do you keep clean when you are homeless or living in a shelter? I am thankful for the shoes on my feet (where else would they be?). Many of our patients must wear whatever shoes are given to them, and I've seen the blisters and foot ulcers to prove it.

I am thankful for the car I drive (when it's working!) and that I don't have to try to navigate a bewildering (for me) bus system. (Some of our patients spend 3 hours or more on the bus just to get to the clinic).

I am thankful that I live in the United States of America and that I have the freedom that Americans enjoy. I am thankful for all our military and law enforcement personnel who help to insure that our freedoms continue. Thank you, Sweet Girl!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pet of many

One of my pet peeves is being touched by someone who is not a member of my family (and there are some family members whose touch I can't tolerate) or my very small circle of friends. It just creeps me out! So, what is the new staff member like? She's very touchy-feely (feelie?). She puts her arm around my waist whenever she's near enough, and she blows kisses at me when she arrives and when she leaves. No, she's not into an alternate lifestyle, and she is not attracted to me. She is from a very passionate and demonstrative which I do not share. She makes me very uncomfortable, but I don't know how to tell her without being churlish (don't you love that word?).

There will be many more pet peeves to follow in future posts; I'm just warning you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Okay, okay--I never said I was obsessive about blogging. Is it really so bad to go a full year (and then some) between posts?

Since I last blogged I have changed jobs, applied to graduate school, begun graduate school, and dropped out of graduate school. I can't figure out why I couldn't be successful at school AND work 60 hours a week. I guess it's a lot easier to go without sleep when one is 20 years old (which I am not!).

I now work at a clinic for the indigent, homeless, and/or uninsured. When I first started we were housed in an old single-wide trailer on the campus of a shelter for the homeless. There were two exam rooms cluttered with broken furniture, boxes of old charts, and useless donations from people who assuaged their consciences by dropping off expired or unwanted supplies. Oh, and the ever-present roaches--some dead, but most of them were living and scurrying about. Some days the heating/cooling system worked; some days it didn't. When it rained, water ran down the walls and accumulated on the floor in one corner. The plumbing was usually reliable, but sometimes the whole place stank of raw sewage. The patients came in droves and waited stoically until each one was seen, sent to the local emergency room, or turned away because the nurse practitioner was too exhausted to be able to render safe, effective care. No matter how long they had to wait, they were almost always grateful for whatever service we could offer.

A collection of churches and other agencies underwrote a campaign to raise money for new corporate offices and included our clinic as part of the fund-raising campaign. We have been featured on the TV (a couple of times) and in magazines and newspapers (several times). There is a whole political slant to this part of the story, and I won't say anymore.

Now we have moved into a beautiful, new clinic with working sinks and toilets and no roaches. With the current state of the economy (and due to the news coverage), we have been inundated with people who were formerly middle class but who now face medical problems without benefit of jobs or medical insurance coverage. Sometimes they cry because of "how far they have fallen." Some of our long-time patients don't come anymore. Are they overwhelmed by the gorgeous new clinic? Do they feel undeserving? I don't know, but I miss them. Health care professionals who would not give us the time of day when we were in the old location are now offering to volunteer by the dozens. I guess they only want to render care in safe, clean, and socially-acceptable environments. Whatever.

We have a medical director (a local physician) who volunteers with us every other week. Sometimes he brings medical students with him. Last summer he had a young man "shadowing" him. This young man is a junior at a major state university; he is interested in becoming a physician, so he arranged to "shadow" Dr. C to find out if this was the profession for him. K (the young man) was very compassionate, sensitive, and non-judgmental about our clientele. When the summer was over he approached me and asked what the clinic needed that he could supply. I told him that D (the clinical manager) and I were buying toilet paper and paper towels with our own money because there was no budget for it. K went back to the university and organized a supplies drive with his pre-med club. To date he has delivered two carloads of toilet paper, paper towels, and antiseptic wipes. Today he told me that he will probably have another load by Christmas. I won't have to buy toilet paper or paper towels for about six months. Yea, K! Thank you for being a leader and all-around great young man.

Sorry for the long, rambling post. It's just an odd assortment of things on my mind today!