Saturday, July 28, 2007

Anyone out there?

I know at least two people read my blog. Does anyone else read it besides Kay and Sue?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Where had she been?

When I worked on a VA Alzheimer's unit, there was one woman there. I'm not sure she had Alzheimer's or some strange type of mental illness, but she had been in this condition for a long time. She was ambulatory but wouldn't speak. She seemed to understand directions. I had known her for several years and had never heard a peep out of her. She had been a nurse during, I believe, the Korean War. She was sitting in the solarium day room and I heard her say, "I know a good nurse when I see one and there aren't any around here." I alerted the others and one of the doctors came in with a recorder and sat with her for several hours. Her voice was very weak and raspy from not using it for so long and she was a little hard to understand at first. She spoke about being an Army nurse and other aspects of her life. She talked about things that had happened on that unit and mentioned some things she felt the nurses had done wrong. Then she quit talking and, as far as I know, never did it again. It about blows my mind every time I think about it. Where had she been and where did she go?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The eyes of the "unloveables"

Today was our church service at a local mental health care center. While Carl was speaking, I was looking at each person sitting there. All were listening carefully and respectfully. Because I also go there weekly to do a "Bible study", I know them all pretty well.
I saw in their eyes a soul and spirit that God had placed there. A spirit which has been beaten up by mental illness and the stigma that goes with it. In spite of that, most of them are friendly and as happy as they probably can be anywhere. I know that a lot of them had been basically turned away by their families because of years of mental illness, behavior problems, drugs, or alcohol. Many do have family members who are in contact. Many have schizophrenia or bipolar diagnoses and have probably been sick most of their lives. There are a few elderly but most are probably under 60, many in their 30s or 40s.

I was thinking... "who loves these people?" I do. They trust me and treat me very well. Some of the staff love them. Some have worked there for many years and consider the residents their own special family. Others can't take it for very long but it's just as well that they move on. It is a difficult place to work. Every staff member has to know all the behavior modifications for each resident, if there is a problem. Who else loves them? God, for sure. For some reason he allowed them to be affected by mental illness. Why, I don't know. But whenever someone treats them kindly, he is treating God's creation kindly, and He gets the glory.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Momma in a rowboat

When I was in junior high, my Mom had 3 or 4 heart attacks before they could get her to a doctor. She spent several weeks in a hospital in a town about 80 miles from us. While she was there she started hemorrhaging. The choices were to do a hysterectomy and chance her not surviving because of her heart, or let her bleed to death. She did fine with the surgery. When she came home she was bedbound. Our small town was only a couple of miles from the convergence of two rivers. It was expected that both rivers would crest at the same time and possibly flood our area. My brother and his family lived on a farm on the other side of one of the rivers. We drove my mother to the near side of the river and she was loaded on a rowboat and taken across the river where my brother got her and took her to his house. First of all, my mother couldn't swim and had never been in a rowboat on a river that was at flood stage (who has?). She was pretty helpless also. I don't remember ever feeling so forlorn as I did while standing there watching her cross that river (this sentence makes me feel a little weepy). I recall that night when the flood was predicted to happen. We lived a mile or two from the other river but I swore I could hear water lapping on the side of our house. As it turned out, one river crested before the other and only some land in the immediate area was flooded.

The doctors didn't think my Mom would survive that heart condition but she managed to do very well until age 95. We always leave God out of the equation, don't we?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Snake extinguisher

Years ago I worked as activities director on an Alzheimer's closed unit in a nursing home located pretty much on a prairie. The unit had a solarium with a door which led to an outside fenced yard. One morning I was glancing through the casual notes the nurses sometimes made. The latest entry said "Little rattlesnake found in solarium. Please note: fire extinguisher does not extinguish snakes."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Assisted-Suicide Advocates Target Mentally Ill

Can you believe this? I have been thinking about such a possibility for a long time, with all the talk about the "burden" on the taxpayers caused by the aging "Baby Boomers". I was thinking, now our govenment will allow all the old and damaged people to be "helped".

Jacob Appel, who teaches at Brown University in Providence, R.I., wrote in the May-June issue of the Hastings Center Report that the arguments used to defend assisted suicide for the terminally ill can be applied "in many cases of purely psychological disease," including "repeated bouts of severe depression."

For the full article go to July 10th and look for the title as it is at the top of this posting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was tagged to write seven things about myself. I can't tag any other bloggers because I only know one and she's the one who tagged me.

1. I know how to snap a banana in half without a knife.
2. I am an overthinker, which usually gets me more frustration than information.
3. I don't actually hate anyone or anything except sin, satan and those who rape and kill little children.
4. I love my daughters and husband and actually also like them. Also my grandchildren and sons-in-law. There are no duplicates among them.
5. I tolerate bad cat behavior much more than I ever tolerated bad child behavior. Ask my daughters.
6. I have a special calling from God to love old people, disabled people, mentally ill people. I love Downs Syndrome people.
7. I hate housework, am a clutterer, and would much rather sit around and contemplate ideas. I do have lots of books on organizing but I can't find them.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Mr. Henderson

When I was a child, I spent hours playing checkers under a tree with an old man who lived in our trailer park. He later moved to an apartment on Main Street in the little town where we lived. I left town after graduation. While I was home on a visit, Grandpa Henderson died. I was in his upstairs apartment with his son just before the funeral. His son was looking out the window towards the only stoplight intersection in the town. Suddenly he ran out of the apartment. I left, wondering what was going on. At the funeral some people came in dressed in shorts and T-shirts. I was upset that they would attend a funeral dressed so casually. I later learned that some of Mr. H's grandchildren were stopped at the stoplight and his son saw them and drove after them to tell them about their grandfather. I always wonder about the timing of their arrival at that stoplight. It has always bothered me to think maybe they were not planning to stop and see their grandfather. I loved that old guy! I never knew either of my grandfathers.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sensory Stimulation Repost

Years ago when I worked at a nursing home as an activity director, I decided to use a picture to provoke a conversation for a group activity. It was the picture of the blacksmith shoeing a horse underneath a tree. One of the ladies had extreme memory loss (we didn't know about Alzheimer's disease then). She could answer questions sometimes but she couldn't remember what she did 10 minutes before. You know the story. Anyway, several of the residents commented on the memories the picture provoked. One lady told about how her father was a blacksmith but he didn't go out of business when cars became so popular. He just learned to work on them and did very well. Mrs. B., the lady with the memory loss, who hardly knew her name anymore, began to speak in her weak, not used very much voice, and recited the entire poem The Village Blacksmith, word for word. Needless to say we all had tears streaming down our faces. After that recitation, she became quiet and re-entered her little world. It is one of the grandest memories I have.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thoughts Stuck in My Brain

I want to share some of my feelings about the elderly, nursing homes, compassion, and the fear of dying. It is hard to find a kindred soul who totally understands my love and compassion for old people (yes, I can use the word "old", it's in the dictionary). I feel our society has relegated our elderly to the trash bin, so to speak. That does seem surprising due to the fact that many of our leaders and potential leaders in our country are over 50 or even 60. That used to be considered old. But I am talking about the ones who are past that, those who are hindered in some way physically, socially or mentally. I feel there is some real discrimination in our society.