Monday, October 08, 2007

Some Days

A yellow Ticonderoga Number 2 pencil, used up except for the last three inches, the eraser worn down to a mere nubbin, shallow indentations indicating the damage done by teeth gripping it when it was newer, longer. The lead almost flat, slightly rounded, shiny, barely seen.

That last dried out, hardened curve of crust, leftover on the pizza platter.

A coffee mug, with an inch of icy cold coffee left in the bottom, the creamy tan liquid decorated with little swirls of curdling creamer.

A Fair Ground, empty except for overflowing garbage bins, and small twirling wind dervishes filled with bits of paper and leaves blowing against deserted buildings, lingering in the air is the faint scent of sawdust, petroleum, and stale elephant ears.

Drained, worn out, used up, lost.

* * * * * * *


There are some days when I feel as if I am introduced to the worst of humanity, and if I let it, I can become quite distressed over it.

I experienced several last week, on Monday, a phone call came, and a story was related to me, which had me in tears. Not because of the current chapter unfolding, but because I could foretell the end of the story. I predict a very unpleasant ending to a woman's life. Tears slipped from my eyes, after I hung up the phone. But, I also knew I had to let my sadness go, because then, and now, I know there is nothing I can do for a poor sick, demented woman, married to the villain of a horror story. In fact there will probably never be a point in time when I will be able to do anything for her. I do not know her name, or where she lives. I do know she is isolated from the world, with only an uncaring selfish husband to fill it, there will be no one willing to report her eventual maltreatment to Adult Protective Services, that too, made me sad, just plain sad.

Another dreg of humanity popped into my life on Thursday. The local Adult Protective Service Investigator (I am going to call him APSI from now on to save on typing...yep I am lazy), telephoned in the early morning hours. The day before ASPI had made a visit to the home of an elderly woman, a woman who is basically...just old, worn out, and ill...unable to independently care for herself anymore. She recently moved in with her son and his family. Her daughter-in-law is her caregiver.

Sounds nice doesn't it? Her family is looking after her, that's the way it is supposed to be, right?

Wrong!

The daughter-in-law isn't caring for her mother-in-law, she is full of uncaring. She is full of anger that she must give up some of her precious time to assist a frail elderly woman with her bathing. Not much else, just bathing. APSI referred the family to me, with the hope I could arrange some in-home care services for the woman, hoping I could find the funding to 'save' this woman from her family, by bringing in an outsider to help her two days a week with a bath.

I took the referral, and made contact with the daughter-in-law. As I said, I do sometimes feel as if I deal with the bottom feeders of our world. Daughter-in-law is one of those dregs, with not even the basics of common decency inhabiting her soul.

After a garbled 30 minute conversation with Daughter-in-law, and a five minute conversation with Mother-in-law. "What did I do?", Mother-in-law weakly wailed. "I try not to cause any extra work. I try to make them breakfast every morning, and I can make my own bed. Will you come visit me?" I decided then and there, I would move this family to the top of the wait list. Attempt to get services for Mother-in-law as soon as I possibly could.

I then made a follow-up call to ASPI, thanking him for bringing (insert dripping sarcasm here) oh-so-wonderful Daughter-in-law into my day. I repeated much of the distasteful conversation Daughter-in-law and I had exchanged. In the end letting him know, that I had pulled out the stops, and there would be services provided by the end of next week. He thanked me, and we both breathed easier. Why? Because, we know Mother-in-law will be safe as long as there is an outsider visiting the home on a regular basis (a bath aid), and when things go badly, (as we both know they will), that outside visitor will be able to report it to ASPI, and Mother-in-law will be placed in a nursing home. To me that is saddest thing of all, she doesn't want to live out her final days in a nursing home, but to experience a peaceful, quality life, she will be better off in one.

ASPI and I shared several conversations over the course of the week, (I do believe my weeks follow a theme), I had made three separate reports of potential abuses to him. One luckily turned out to be nothing, just an attempt by a disgruntled family member to cause some trouble. One will be resolved, and one waits, and waits for the worst to happen before ASPI will be able to step in.

By the end of the day on Thursday, I think we had spoken five separate times. ASPI'S last phone call to me was a joking request for some psychiatric care for himself. I told him I could arrange it only if he shared the shrink-time with me. We were both disillusioned and disheartened, and yet, full of relief, happier than we had been only a few hours before. We accomplished what sometimes seems like the impossible. We will have eased the life of at least one of our fellow human beings. That doesn't happen a lot.

* * * * * * *

Now, looking back over last week, I can be thankful I do what I do.

I am thankful for ASPI, I am thankful to have the federal funding at my fingertips to be able to make a difference in Mother-in-law's life. I am thankful the week ended on a positive note. So was ASPI. I am thankful, we can work together, I am thankful we could collaborate to improve a life quickly, and relatively pain free, at least relatively pain free for one elderly woman. I am thankful that I get the opportunity to work with people like ASPI, I am thankful for all of the wonderful people I work with/beside. The majority of people I work with, or collaborate with, do the jobs they do, because they love them, because they just plain care. Sometimes I think that in itself is a rarity in our world.

So many phone calls from people in need, only some of them am I able to help. So many phone calls from people who think they are in need, yet really, they need very little, they seem to have some obscene sense of entitlement, the world owes them something. Yet, they have done nothing to make the world a better place. So many phone calls from people who just need an objective listening ear, a new perspective on the life they are living. So many phone calls from people who have no where to turn, no resources, no family or friends willing to offer them aid. So many phone calls that wear me out, wear me down until I only feel I am a shadow of myself.

* * * * * * *

All it takes though, is one home visit, and that beautiful moment when I can say, "You qualify for services, you qualify for funding, tell me your most urgent need." The flash of relief and joy that illuminates the faces of those I serve. Those moments are the best of the best.

* * * * * * *

Yet, I still feel worn out, as if I am fading, only a shadow of myself. I know it isn't my work. I know it isn't all the people I speak with. It is just...just...me...not getting to the end of this divorce business. It is me, procrastinating, letting my fears take control, instead of breathing through them. It is me, just me, wearing myself out.

* * * * * * *

Sigh...the hugest...most humongous of sighs.

I need a hug...I need a vacation...a long, long vacation...I need downtime...I need time away from me.

* * * * * * *


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

*gives you a tight warm long hug*...hope this helps!.....Neil

deb said...

I have a spare bedroom if you like, there's just not much peace and quiet around here. Sending you a hug.

Sunny Delight said...

Neil,
Thank you, all hugs help, even those that are from a distance. Hope you are well.

deb,
Be careful, I may take you up on that offer...I have always wanted to visit Canada :)