Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Candy Man

A resident just popped in for a visit with a bag of candy, leaving four pieces on my desk. I thanked  and said something about having a sweet tooth.

"You have a sweet tooth, huh?" he asked, grinning.  As I nooded, his grin turned into a full mouth gaping smile that reminded me of last year's jack-o-lantern after the knife slipped and I had to cut his teeth off.  "Well I don't!" he roared. 

I love elders.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's True

You really do learn something new every day.

An 80-something year old man at the New Place just said his wife needed an appointment to see the "wig picker."  HUH?

Apparently he was referring to one of our staff doctors, as a quick google search showed me that "wig picker" is a slang term used in reference to a psychiatrist or psychologist. How is it possible I've never heard this??

Wig picker!!! HAHAHAHA! I am laughing even as I type it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clever Karma

I try to remain in a constant state of not only self-awareness, but also self-improvement, so I get a lot of daily motivation/ponderings/thoughts for which I have at some time or another signed up to receive via email. Many times when I have been struggling with something specific I will get the same message from multiple sources…or even more often (which I only realize later) I’m in a state of non-admission regarding a growth opportunity and the messages are persistent enough that I finally face it and stretch.

Lately I’ve had several thoughts of the day or messages regarding karma, which has given me reason to ponder its essence more fully and realize a definition identifiable in application to my life and where I am right now (and I don’t mean “where I am” as in sitting at the computer in Indiana, but rather where I am in my spiritual and personal growth.)

I’ve always had this nebulous notion of karma in a very general sense, such as when someone cuts me off on the highway and then I see them pulled over by a state trooper two miles later, I think “Ha! Karma!” And then there is my mind-association to the word karma itself, because as an all-things-Beatles junkie, I rarely can read or hear the word without John Lennon singing in my head.

So I’ve been thinking more about karma and what it means, how it is present in my life and why I should be in more awareness of it. I’m pretty sure this is why it slapped me right in the face yesterday afternoon. After all, that which is like unto itself is drawn.


I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reflecting on being a better me. That coupled with my recent reading of the book 29 Gifts has put me in a state of consciousness in which I try to keep an attitude of gratitude while looking for opportunities to express that gratitude through something giving and selfless (cue the choir of angels).

My act of generosity this day was to clean off the car parked beside me when I left work (it has been snowing bucket loads here this week). I went about this chore cheerfully and happily, and was feeling pretty good about my “secret gift” to this unknown recipient. That is, until I cleared the snow away enough to see the license plate and realize that I had just spent 15 minutes cleaning snow off the vehicle of an asshole. (choir of angels come to SCREEEEECHing halt).

I spent some time on the drive home mentally listing all the reasons in the world this person did NOT deserve a random act of kindness. Obviously, this thought pattern negated the entire exercise of giving.


As I pulled into my hometown, I had come to terms with my unpleasant thought process and knew that I should do something to make amends with (God, the Universe, Karma, Myself, the Asshole) for turning something that should have been so positive into a not-so-nice litany of unkind thoughts directed at the asshole. Enter Karma.

She was dressed warmly (it was still snowing) and carrying a backpack. We were both stopped by a train which had stopped on the tracks, but I was in my toasty warm Jeep and she was on foot in the cold. The train stopped and I could tell she was thinking about jumping it. Aha! My amends-making opportunity! I quickly rolled down the window and asked if she wanted a ride around the train because I was going to drive around it myself. “That would be great if you don’t mind,” she said somehow already seated beside me. “No problem,” said virtuous me. “I didn’t want to wait anymore, either.”

She commences into a breathless oration (can it still be considered an oration when the grammar is deplorable?) “Well, who knows how long you’d have to wait. Those engineers just stop on the tracks to talk anyway and don’t give a rip about anybody else trying to get someplace. You know that’s why that kid died last summer don’t you? Because the ambulance couldn’t get around the train! Why they’re allowed to do that I’ll never know. I’ve called the law on ‘em but it don’t do no good, they just sit there anyway and all I need to do is get to class. Can you believe they didn’t cancel class? That school only cancels if the county is a state of emergency. They don’t care one bit about us trying to figure out how to get there in crappy weather.”

I took a deep breath, not really knowing what to say to that litany of unkind words but thinking we needed a serious energy shift, I asked “What are you studying?”

“Ha. Well, I was studying Criminal Justice, but that was before I come to know there ain’t no justice in this country anyway. There ain’t no justice when a man can hold a gun to a baby’s head to git drugs and money from its mom and then not even get life. No way. I decided to change to Psychology, then I guess I can at least figure out why the guy held the gun to the baby’s head, because there ain’t nothing else you could do about it.”

My head was ready to explode and I was at a total loss of words, which was ok…because Karma wasn’t done yet. “Woa! You can’t turn right on red here! There’s cameras up there in them lights, the cops will come and find you if turn here. You don’t want the law around here coming for you, I can tell you that.”

Gratefully, we arrived at the school and I pulled in to drop her off. Her litany of unkind words continued all the way to the door…where she jumped out of the car without even saying thank you.

Karma, simply put, is the process of cause and effect.

I did some slapping…and got one back. Instant Karma indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

News from the Ridge

Mrs. Sunbather's husband died last week. They had been married for over 60 years and she is very, very sad, so I stopped by to visit and express my condolences.

The first thing I noticed when she answered the door is that it smelled smoky. The second thing I noticed after I walked in the door is that my eyes were watering and my throat was scratchy. The longer I sat there, the worse it got. I knew she didn't smoke and was starting to worry something might actually be on fire.  Finally I asked, "Mrs. Sunbather, do you smell smoke?"

She looked at me a minute and confessed. "It's me. I decided I wanted a cigarette today so I bought some a little bit ago." 

"Did it make you feel better?"

"No. That's why I smoked the whole pack."

88 years old and able to hotbox an entire pack of cigarettes in just a couple of hours. Impressive, to say the least!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My New Friend

It appears the New Place might just have a similar cast of characters as my beloved Rock Ridge. I'm still meeting people every day and most the time I have forgotten the person's name within the hour. Not today, though.

"I'm Bob," this ancient person said to me as he extended a hand more gnarled than an old sea captain.  "Bob! Well, I shouldn't forget that," I replied.

"You won't if you put an extra O in it," he deviously grinned.

Indeed I won't. Ever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Like Old Times

I'm at the New Place and just had the opportunity to meet a new resident who will be moving in after Thanksgiving.  I greeted her and introduced myself, to which she responded:  "My GOD you have big eyes!"   I love it.

 (Do I ???)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life Changes Like the Weather

Change is hard. Feeling feelings is hard.  I am tuned into such a damned happy frequency at like 110% of the time, that I hardly know what to do with myself when I'm sad. Or mad. Or anything besides happy. I've discovered, though, that happy can be a state of living...instead of a feeling...and it can most certainly co-exist with sad or mad or anything else. It's possible to be sad but at the same time know you have a very happy life, right?

Yeah, it was a tough summer.

I never mentioned on the blog that my Grammie lived at Rock Ridge for five of the years I worked there. Every morning, I walked straight into the dining room where she was eating breakfast and gave her a hug and a kiss and had a quick good morning chat. Not to start her day...but to start mine.  I popped into her apartment throughout the day to see how she was, make sure she didn't need anything, have her listen to my troubles. Sometimes she would even tell me how to solve work related issues without even knowing it. There isn't a grand enough word to describe this graceful, beautiful lady.

Grammie died on August 10, just 2 months and six days shy of turning 96. 

On August 20, I worked my last day at Rock Ridge after eight years.

The two events, in reality, were unrelated. But in the big the-universe-always-aligns-things-perfectly picture, it is divine.  Rock Ridge was bought on June 1.  By June 3, I knew it wasn't going to be a good value match. There are a lot of people with different philosphies on caring for our elders, and while I won't claim that other people are wrong and I am right, I simply can't work for a company who doesn't have the same philosophy as me.  I put a lot of love and energy and life into being an administrator of an assisted living. I am not a robot or a clone, and neither are the 52 people who live there. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, aunts, friends, people. They have had heartache and joys. They have lived full and valuable lives.  They are not "heads in beds." (I heard this term used by the new company as my heart simultaneously decided that I no longer belonged there.)  They are PEOPLE.

While my heart knew that I no longer could work at Rock Ridge and endorse what it was now representing, it also knew that as long as Grammie was there I could never leave.  The details are arduous, but suffice it to say the timing of everything was so impeccable, that in my eyes at least, it cannot be disputed that life works out just the way it's supposed to.

This in no way means that it wasn't hard or that it didn't hurt. That it STILL doesn't hurt.  Not just losing Grammie--which hurts even more than I could have imagined--but I also lost my daily interaction with all the folks at Rock Ridge. No more daily doses of overheard conversations from my office, the shared wisdom, the dining room drama, and no more daily doses of...Gladys.  (Gladys is still there and I visit her every week. She is doing great, though she broke her front tooth and looks like a 92-year-old hillbilly with red hair. It's adorable, but she is terribly self-conscious and is getting it fixed next week.) The anguish that has hung over me since Rock Ridge was sold and Grammie died is starting to lessen. I finally felt like writing about it. This is progress, but I still miss them so much.

I started a new job at a humongous continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in a neighboring town on September 7th.  On September 25, I finally ran my sub-5 marathon at the Roadrunner Marathon in Akron, Ohio. I talked to Grammie for the last four miles... and cried my eyes out at the finish.

Change is hard. No matter how much you think you are open to change or try to embrace is still hard, because with all change you experience a loss. Maybe it's the loss of a comfortable routine or maybe it's a person or maybe it's 52 people.  Doesn't matter. A loss is a loss, and it's OK to be sad about that...but we must also remember there is always so much to be happy about, too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Worth the Risk

I haven't had time to take the blog down yet, but I'm glad. Some things are worth risking discovery by the corporate compliance officer.

Sunday morning, WorkerBee went to the apartment of an 86-year-old male resident to assist him with his morning medication.  He came to the door naked, holding a pillow in front of himself.  The WorkerBee, on task, was not deterred and continued to enter the apartment to do the medication.  That's when she saw the naked lady.

It turns out this woman was a "church friend" and she was "visiting" our resident for the weekend.  WorkerBee was pretty freaked out. She stammered out something like "those aren't the kind of church friends I have," and called to report the "incident." 

Incident? I don't think so.  I say rock on, old people. Rock. On.

p.s.  We're up to 16,000 votes!! Please take a few seconds to click the vote button as many times as possible. The folks at the Ridge thank you! 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shameless Plea

Hello to anyone out there who still reads, and my regrets to you for not being able to share lately the daily humor and awesomeness that is my job.  Two things.

Rock Ridge has been sold to a new owner. I have had little time to even breathe, let alone post. Bigger company, more my guess is this blog will have to disappear for if anyone (Big Bro? You out there?) can tell me how to do that without losing all my past posts, I would be grateful.

Second---below is a message I've sent to all my professional contacts.  I'm asking for anyone out there with the means (Facebook, email, blogs, pony express, whatever) to share the link and help us get votes.  Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows how passionate I am about this topic. It's much bigger than me...I'm just trying to create an awareness.  I'm shooting for the moon and going to the top....who better than Oprah to help a girl out, right?  Without further ado...


It has long been my passion to preserve the wisdom of our elderly, so I took a leap and would like for you to help. My co-workers, a few residents, and I have made a video in an attempt to create an awareness about aging (Oprah has never had a show about elderhood!) Please help us spread the word and gather votes. There is no limit to the number of times you can vote!

Thank you for helping us spread the joys of elderhood!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Carrie, Defender of the Old

I've been really preoccupied lately with this notion that this nation needs some sort of Elder Advocacy program. Kind of like CASA, only for old people. They could be their advocate for lots of dealing with the cable company (this makes our residents crazy) or helping them get out of jury duty, but most importantly, they could advocate their healthcare.

Just this week we've had two residents go to the hospital with some type of chemical restraint used because of "behaviors exhibited" by the resident. In one case, the resident had a UTI (this makes old people act crazy), had fallen, and was given MORPHINE for the fall-related pain.  She threw her breakfast tray at the nurse.  Um, who wouldn't act crazy if they are 94 years old, on strong antibiotics, in as strange place and on freaking morphine???  Instead of considering any of that, the nurse called the doctor and got an order for a psychotropic med for "behaviors."  All without the resident's permission...because they deemed her unable to think rationally.  I'm pissed just writing about it.

Second example.  Another resident is also in the hospital because of a fall. She has dementia. She is in unfamiliar surroundings and she was frightened.  She kept pushing her call light. (apparently a lot...but who cares??)  The nurse called the doctor and got an order for Xanax for her nervousness.  When her daughter visited, the resident's eyes were glassed over and she was DROOLING!  No one had even notified (or ASKED) the daughter, who is the medical POA about the Xanax! Incredible!!!

Since there is no Elder Advocacy Program (yet), I made one up. Today, I advocated. I did not make any friends at the hospital, and I'll probably never get another referral from them.  But my old people are safe, warm, loved, and off unnecessary mind-altering drugs.

The End.