A journal of healing

June Island images

Summer is half over and so I thought I would post some images from an early trip to the 1000 Islands. But first, my doves. For the last couple of years, we have had doves nest in our porch eve. I love them. This year, they started in March and right up to June they had chicks after chicks. This is the second to last batch.

  They had two chicks, this time around and they got quite big.  I do not know how they all fit. But there was one more chick born after these two left the nest. Unfortunately, the new baby fell out of the nest and died at my feet. It was one of the many sad things that happened this summer.

Tradition has been for me to spend my birthday week in the Islands. We took Joe’s daughter with us this year. The water height was drastic. We have had the wettest summer and so I am not sure if the water has gone down much. Here are several examples of the water.

The first picture is last year and the second one this year.

    They put barrels on docks to keep them from floating away or breaking up from waves.   People build docks over their existing docks.

  

This is a picture of the spot where I normally go every afternoon to meditate. There is an old piece of a wood dock which normally is about a foot out of the water. I can walk to it on the rocks, which are also under the water.

My favorite activity up there is to take pictures of the wildlife, especially the herons. We saw a few in our travels like this dude who was sitting in a canal on the golf course we were on.

Or this nesting site. When we come back in August, this will be empty. The rocks are white because of all the bird poop.     

  We always find something new up there. This was an addition to someone’s cottage. Quite interesting.

In 2014, a landmark in TI Park burned to the ground. It was a tragic loss as it was such a step back into the olden days. It was an ice cream parlor, store and small restaurant. The building originally housed the fire department and in irony, it burned too. The fire was so intense and quick they could not get the trucks out. They have rebuilt and much to many who do not like it, we found it wonderful. The young couple who own it are charming and the food is great. They still have ice cream and they have added much to make the place a community center. The fire department is now located somewhere else and better.

  Now back to my birds.

   When we get there, it always seems like there are no animals. They seem to hide. By the third day, I have all sorts of animals around. There are tons of geese, which I love especially when they are babies.    

And I love my herons, who are more active at sunset.   Hard to see this one but in the middle there is one.   I like the fire of the sunset though the trees.

On the last day we were there, the geese came to say good bye. It is hard to see, but there is one goose on the rocks who died overnight. I do not know why and I did not go down to investigate. It was like loosing a friend. To me, it was an omen as I have never seen this  and why on this rock? All the years we have come up, and I have never seen a dead goose like this. And true to my omen, this summer has been very difficult for me. Last Thursday, and friend of mine died. He was in his early forties, married and his son is six. We all are in shock over his death. I dedicate this post to him.

The rain continued this summer, but I have heard the water is lower a bit. Three more weeks and we are back in the Islands. I cannot wait.

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Trapped

Last week, it was a beautiful Sunday and I sat out and enjoyed the sunshine and animals in my garden. I took a lot of pictures and it was my intent to post them this morning. I am not up to it. This morning is grey and humid with pending storms all day. It matches my feelings perfect. I have never been a person who stays depressed for long, but lately, I cannot get out my funk. And the cause is my job. Last week was bad news after bad news. It is so hard to be positive when you are trapped in an environment of … I am not sure if I have the word, but YUCK will do.

To start with, the building I worked in is filthy, suffocating and inadequate. We out grew it five years ago. It was a retail building with high ceilings. They added the second floor, and then added ventilation, which has not worked well since they put it in. It was 90 in some areas last week. Everyone has fans running. Because my office is not an office, but alcove that was sequestered off with cabinets, there is no air. NONE. I currently have four fans running in my office and I call it the wind tunnel. There are three small desk type fans and one floor fan. Within an hour of being in my office, I have a headache from the constant dust being blown in my face coupled with the mold that is everywhere.

The added air conditioner is located on the roof over one of the training rooms and it broke. It was leaking so bad that is was coming through the ceiling in the hallway upstairs. It has been like this all summer. The humidity coupled with the water dripping makes it like we work in a plastic bag. The training room was so hot, brand new orientees were getting sick in orientation last week. You have to yell in the room because we have a large fan in there and the broken air conditioning unit was cycling off and on every two minutes. We all have had hopes that this was not going to be forever because they, the Med Center and our Admin, where looking for a new building. They had a site and even drew up plans. I got to design the training facility. Well, that fell through and we were all told on Monday. It was going to cost too much and there was no money. The agency has already lost 1.2 million dollars for the first quarter.

Last week, I had a terrible thing happen to me. This building was not set up for the number of folks who work there. It was at one time a car showroom. Ten toilets total in the whole building. All but two are on opposite side of the building. Two of them are right by my “office.” EVERYONE now wants to use these two. When I first started, we only had five men in the building. Now there are many more and they have to use these two. And they think they are their private reading rooms. I had a situation where all of a sudden, I knew I was in need. I raced down to the private ones and they were both filled. So I had to “run” to the other side of the building. I cannot walk somedays let alone run. Well, I did not make it. I messed really bad all over the bathroom and myself. My medication makes me have a huge issue with explosive poop. I won’t share all the details but someone did come in and saw the mess, which I cleaned up. Even now I am so embarrassed and traumatized by this. Now I panic every time I have to go to the bathroom. You cannot believe how stressful this is.

Monday was the start of a fantastic new staff member on my team. She rounds out a position that was not replaced when I promoted the nurse in the Lead Preceptor position to Nurse Educator. The new Preceptor is wonderful and I have been fighting to get her in my department for eight months. Clinical wanted her under their rule. My boss finally won the battle but there is more to this. She was doing great for her first week. Then on Thursday night, I get a text from her that she has been in a car accident and was going to the hospital. I texted with her through the evening. She will be fine, but she was pretty banged up and sore the next two days. I am hoping she will not have on going problems since she hit her head and they said she has a concussion. She tried to work on Friday but was still dazed and dizzy.

On Tuesday, my boss was pissed because of an issue with a committee I co-lead. I felt betrayed because someone I felt close to had gone to her and complained about a situation and fueled this big mess. It was so not necessary. But I got the brunt of it and I was hurt this person did this.

We have this pompous ass who is our VP of Clinical. He thinks he is running the agency. He wants control of everything, especially education. I liked him when he first started under three years ago. But then he systematically got rid of people who have been with the agency a long time. One director who reported to him directly was termed after 31 years. He pushed for another director to be removed who had 42 years. She did something stupid and that was his ticket to remove her. He has ostracized me from whatever he can. I have been telling my boss about stuff he has done to the Education team since he began. Well, something came up and I do not know what, but there was this big initiative to make an allegiance between clinical, quality and education.

She told me that she finally saw how I have been treated and ostracized. I have only been complaining about it for the last three years. And since nothing ever was done about it, I pulled back and focused on my new responsibility of the Aide training program. Meanwhile, I was being left out from many committees and projects. There is way more to this but the result was this pact was drawn up by the administrators of the departments and had the attention of the CEO. Why now, I ask myself. Because I think the VP of clinical was trying to get rid of me. He wants in the worse way to put education under his darling quality director, who he just promoted last year. This is a whole other WTF situation. But something happened that I do not know what it was but my empathetic feelings are that he had a rope for me.

Well, nothing has changed except I did get my preceptor. So Thursday, my boss drafted this email that I had to send out that was sort of humiliating. It stated that Education needed to partner with people and that the directors that the email went to were to include Education in their projects. I had her change from using Jane to using Education as the team so it was not so personally humiliating. It makes me feel like the red-headed step child that the kids are being told to play nice with me. They don’t and they won’t. I am not a clinician and hence I KNOW NOTHING.

But I always had my Nurse Educator to rely on. The fact that most people differ to her used to bother me. It is so blatant because these people are the rudest, nastiest people ever. But she does know her stuff. We work fabulously together. I actually have the dream team now. Or should I say had. She resigned on Friday. Twenty-five years with the agency and she will be gone in October. She and her husband are moving out of the area to begin their dream careers as co-pastors of a small church. They both just completed their Masters in Divinity and I knew this was the plan…eventually.

To say I am screwed is not really the scope of the situation. The agency is screwed. She is the most knowledgeable person left in the agency. The VP of Clinical has pushed all the “old broads” out and so now, there is no one left with the history and clinical knowledge that she has. She started as an aid and was in the field for years. She had only been teaching for about a year when I started and only one class. We worked together to build the caliber of our training to the status that it has. She teaches now all the big clinical classes. She sits on a few committees. But two years ago, she headed up a major project about our EMR and medications. The VP of Clinical treated her (and me) like we were leapers. He demanded we do this, but then abdicated from the project and left us swinging… which totally frustrated my Educator to the point she was going to quit then. Then she heard through the grapevine that he told someone she was resistant to change and hard to work with. He had a rope for her too.  I knew it would expedite her finding a new job. Her loyalty to the agency was gone.

The depth of the impact of this is wiping me out. I do have a solution but it will impact everything I did on the aide program this past year. But not having the right educator in this role will impact the agency more. I am afraid they are not going to allow me to make this decision and that this may open up a new mess with the friggin VP demanding he rule education and he puts who he wants in there.

I am so done with all this. I love the work that I do. I hate the drama. I really do not like working in the Health field anymore. It is more than I can deal with. The stupidity of eliminating the old, seasoned people has truly bit them in the ass. There is only one seasoned nurse left. Last year, the VP told me he was gunning for her. She has 40 years there and he has pushed her so much, she is retiring at the end of the summer. But this past year, she has been out more than in because she has so much PTO. They have brought up these young people with no mentors to guide them and they are destroying the agency.

And…. Since the Med Center owns us, they have been putting more of their employees in place. The writing is on the wall that they will eventually absorb all the support departments. That won’t happen before I am out of there, however. But they are not going to invest in us or those departments. They are not going to bail us out of our building, even though they, the Med Center, are building everywhere in the area. Being stuck in that building is causing me physical issues.  If we keep losing so much money, I am not sure what the Med Center will do. They need us, but they could take over and run it much more efficiently.

It is time for me to go. It has been time for a long while. This was just a few of the things going on and this was just last week. There are a lot more issues, way more. My physical situation is not going to get better but I do not need to hasten my decline with the stress this is causing me. I know I want to keep working. I want to have a remote job that will include good health insurance. I have started the hunt. But the lack of insurance and losing the income right now has me trapped.

 

 

 

 

Fearless….again

  I am reblogging one of my own posts that someone recently sent back to me to remind me of my own words. I am struggling with so much lately. My health is not great as it seems that the PsA has done a lot of damage to my kidneys and guts. This past three years and especially this winter, was particularly bad for me. But, as the doctor said on  this past Friday, well at least it did not decline anymore according to my recent labs. As I sat in the garden this morning, I searched for words to console me. Then, in an attempt to clean up my email, I came across this:

Fearless

Posted on June 4, 2013

Once you step free from the limiting, linear straight jacket that narrowed the understanding of the vastness of your consciousness, everything seems to fall into place, (because it was always exactly as it was intended to be anyway, you just didn’t see it that way). There will be nothing to worry about, and no sadness to embrace; at the very least, you will be much less inclined to engage in that sort of thinking. – Rising Hawk

These words written by my friend are the key to living longer and happier. It is not the first time I have read or heard similar messages, but sometimes you can look at something and feel nothing. Other times it pulls you by the collar and slaps you soundly. This is how this hit me.

To release control, to allow your life to happen…such basic concepts and yet, not easily done for people who are frightened. I paused as I wrote the word frightened because it is word that evokes pity or distain, but it is the word I choose but not my intent. I have to advocate for those who are in or come from surroundings that to the outsider seem safe or harmless. These souls present to the world a false bravado while under their skins pulses the sense of fear. It is the walk of many, including me.

I am one who struggles daily with fear of what might be construed as silly to some. But that is what this is all about. Fear is as individual as the person containing it. I fight mightily to allow the control of my life to flow without my choking grip on it. It was making me sick and my body was tired from holding on so tight. For those who may seek some comfort in my writing, it is possibly to let go even if it is an inch at a time. Each forward release allows for more room to breathe and the body to function as it should.

How does one get to be enclosed in a box? It comes from so many sources. It is life. For some people, much like me, it comes from a dysfunctional and abusive life. I was sitting in a car this weekend listening to a school psychologist talking to another friend about children she has helped whose parents were abusive alcoholics. I sat and listened while my friend was so amazed and horrified with the stories as if they were just that, fiction. I wanted to chime in and share my personal story, but instead sat back and just listened. It was difficult and I actually felt some anger as the two of them talked about the children as statistical information.  I also felt some relief to know that this is not WHAT I am as this person in the car, but only my story. I had a sense of relief if nothing else.

I see and hear every day the barrage of negativity thrust upon us daily to keep us reigned in. We see and hear all the things we need to buy or obtain in order to be something that sadly we are lacking. It takes a strong will to turn away and not succumb to the temptation to secure a better car, house, body, clothes, and on and on. We force this standardization on our children to make them fit in and behave in an approved manner. Why is that we allow this fear and perpetuate this environment of control? This is a question that has been around forever. See the Allegory of the Cave by Socrates. We have survived as pack animals.

“No sadness to embrace…” I held those words in my thoughts all night. Embrace; what a strange concept to think we enjoy sadness. But we do. We love drama. We pay to see actors portraying life struggles because we can empathize and feel  our own sadness as a bonding emotion. Pathos. It what drama is all about. I have friends whose whole life is based on a miniseries of dramas. It is food for their lives. I am not exempt from this either and that is why those words struck me. I work in an environment where the drama level is fed daily. Most is simple confusion of an unorganized work flow. But they have been this way forever and I realize it is a culture that is embraced. They live for the confusion because it is an opportunity to emote and wring hands. They bond with each other in their complaining and strife. I see the same culture in my in-laws. They are passionate about the anguish produced from the simplest situation. It produces a slew of emails and phone calls until the event is secured or past. Then it stirs up the discussion and critic of the players involved, which is often another go around of scorn.

But the sadness I am referring to is the self-inflicted kind which I am truly guilty of. I have seen pictures of me where the sadness is evident in my eyes. People have commented on it as I do not hide my feelings well. NO, in truth, they cloak me like a neon sign. I have become aware of the origin of my sadness and I know in my head, that I cannot change what has happened. This is where I have come to the fork in the road so to speak. I can choose to “not engage in that sort of thinking…”

Can it be that simple? This is one of the life lessons that does not come with great directions on how to do something. I read, listen, and participate in learning as much as any seeker does. Is this not what we all really want, to not be sad and to be free from control? I figured out that no, actually not everyone does want that and will take you with them down the hole if you allow. And then there are some who see a secure and happy person and will go to great lengths to sap the life out of them. They are like a mosquito sucking the life blood of other’s because it is easier than obtaining it on their own. It takes great strength to disallow these creatures their feast. Our own minds can be a foe and a little fear can spiral out to become a monster of our own making. Fear is a companion that has been with me a long time. I am not going to sever the relationship overnight, but to travel on I must begin. This will be a long climb but one I must make……. alone.

This is horrendous. How the heck are you supposed to exercise and lose weight if you can’t move you knee? This discrimination has to stop.

Dances With Fat

knee surgeryOne of the most read and shared blog posts I’ve ever written is about fat people and our knees.  Today we’re going to look a a specific situation. An incredibly common question that I get is from someone who needs knee surgery but whose orthopedist has refused to perform the surgery unless and until the person loses weight.  This happens with other surgeries as well, but the one I hear about the most is knee surgery.

Sometimes the doctor suggests weight loss through diet and exercise.  I would point out that even if diet and exercise might lead to short term weight loss (and even if they could manage exercise on a knee that required replacement!) the most likely outcome, based on the research, is that they would end up heavier than they started within a few years, which begs the question: If you think that my size is…

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Being a hermit

I take such joy in things such as nature and the environment when it is beautiful. And I take such offense when it is not. I relish the joy emanating from small children and yet have no patience for the hedonistic tendencies of the twenty to thirty something age group. I can sit in peace and quiet all by myself for hours and cherish those times. I freak out now in crowds and with loud noises. I struggle with incongruences. I have no tolerance for lies. In truth, my patience level is very low; not that I had a lot to being with. Sometimes, many times, I just want to be left alone. This is when I love my garden the most.

Garden at night

I used to be a people person. I am not sure when I got to hermit level, but that is about where I am. I used to entertain every weekend with parties and picnics. It was nothing for me to host a dinner for twelve. In fact, if I did not have something planned for the weekend, I felt like something was terribly wrong. I used to do things also during the week at night. No more. I do not want to nor do I have the energy to do much after working all day. I am up at five and at work shortly after seven am. By eight pm, I am asleep in my chair, in my garden.

It took a long time for my husband to understand alone time. He felt we had to do everything together all the time. Now he gets it and has learned that he also needs time and space by himself. We do not enjoy the same activities after dinner. He is a TV watcher, I am a reader. He goes to his man cave and I go to the garden.

Even at work, I am isolated and by myself. My office is hidden and off the beaten path. People do come and visit because it is a nice office and I take the time to listen. I run fans all year long to block out the sound of anyone near me and to help muffle the talking in my office. Our building is such a piece of crap. It is dirty and stuffy and no windows open.  The ventilation system does not work well and in my area, it does not work at all. In winter I freeze, in summer I cook. Hence two of the four  fans have heat. We are supposedly building a new facility but that is a least two years off and I probably will be retired. Why I love my space is because I have a huge window. There are only ten windows for the whole building.  I have plants in my office. Most cannot grow anything in the building. But however nice my space is, by the end of the day, my head is stuffed up and aches. I long for being outside in the fresh air.

Full moon over garden

People keep saying that when I retire I will be bored. I do not think so. My tolerance for hustle and bustle is nil. I am a completely different person when I do not have a schedule and “must-dos” on my list. It is not my intention to just sit and rot when I retire. I have a list of things to do, like cleaning out the prolific amount of STUFF in this house. I want to go to the recreation center which has a series of exercise classes for people with arthritis. I have so many crafts that I have not touched in years. And I will be able to spend the time I want in my garden.

 

 

4th of July Liberties

 

I was born in America. I have never experienced anything but the freedoms we have here in this country. I do not know any better and so I take it for granted. I am disgusted by piss-poor politicians and can be vocal about my feelings. I am entitled. I take for granted the rights and liberties we have. But I am proud to be an American.

However, I hate the way we celebrate this holiday with fireworks. I personally love the display and the colors. But I hate the noise. It upsets my little Cookie.

Last night we were all sitting in the garden as is our ritual before bed. The dogs take a walk around the yard. We call it the perimeter check. And then we sit for a bit and meditate. There were a few little pops in the distance and Cookie was a bit nervous but still quiet. Then a neighbor set off a huge firework which exploded right over the garden. She panicked.

We ran inside and she took off for the bedroom. I had prepared for this and had the air conditioner and fans going. We crawled into bed and she crawled on top of me and shook. I finally calmed her down and she fell asleep next to me but in my arms. I thought we were ok when another one went off. She again crawled on top of my chest and buried her face in my arms. Finally they stopped and she fell asleep attached to me on my side.

I know everyone has the right to celebrate. I wish they would go back to making fireworks illegal in NY. There are enough displays that are set off by the municipalities to enjoy. I am sure tonight and the next night will be even worse for my little dogs. Browny does not seem to get upset by the noise. But he does get upset when Cookie is upset.

I wish I could teach them something I just learned. I am taking a class to become a Certified Trauma Professional. This class has taught me so much about PTSD and trauma. It is taught by Dr. Eric Gentry, who is an internationally recognized leader in the field of disaster and clinical traumatology.

He teaches that people cannot feel the effects of stress or trauma in a relaxed body. Seems so simple. But he explains in length how the human body is always reacting to triggers of some kind. People who have had extended periods of some form of trauma are in a hypervigilant mode all the time. There are chemical reactions in the brain and the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems go into over drive.  In short, our body is in control.

He explains that we need to be aware that this is always on in one degree or another. And we react by constricting our muscles all day. An example is when at the end of the day, you neck and shoulders are way up and hurt and you have no idea why. It is the constriction of the muscles that you held in a clench all day. We clench our muscles everywhere. It is one cause of leg cramps and back pain.

It is common now for people to understand the concept of just take a breath. Dr. Gentry talks about the power of just taking a breath. He talked about other methods for getting control. But the method I think is amazing and it works is called the pelvic floor relaxation. First you have to become aware of the muscles in you hip area. Do a few kegal exercises by squeezing the muscles that can stop you when you pee. Now just completely relax that area completely. Do that several times a day. Concentrate on those muscles being relaxed when something stressful is happening and you will find you won’t be as stressed.

The issue is that the effect only lasts for a very short time. This is something you have to do all the time. It only takes a second and no one knows you are doing it. Another method to use  is called the wet noodle. This is where you go absolutely limp in a chair for ten seconds. It is like a mini vacation. The effect of being in a relaxed body is how people are learning to deal with PTSD and every day stress.

I wish I could teach my little pup this. But for her, the only comfort is a dark quiet room and being held by her Mommer.

I know I am not the first one to turn 63 as I did two weeks ago. It should not be a big deal. But somehow, and I am not sure if it is the age or just the energy around these days, but it does seem harder and harder to get through the day. And it is not just me.

There is a HR manager who actually hired me. To look at her, you would think she was maybe early 60’s. She is small in stature and her still brown hair has never been dyed. She had eight children and 19 grandchildren. She has also been a ball of energy since I have known her.

But when I came back from vacation, she sat down at my desk with a heavy sigh. “You were missed,” she said. Heck, I was only gone three days. But we had a training class going through that was from hell. I thought there had been more issues, and there were. But that was not what she wanted to chat about.

She said, “I think it is time for me to retire.” I almost fell out of my chair. In truth, I did not expect it. She has been with the agency for over thirty-five years. We had just celebrated her birthday which marked 78 years. She has earned by all rights her retirement. But she works part time and has always said the job kept her going. I figured she would stay at least two more years.

She said she just did not have the patience to deal with stupidity any more. It was something I totally grasped and embraced. She was tired of seeing the repetitive efforts of our agency dealing with the same issues over and over with no better outcome. She said in general, she was tired of everything being a fight or lengthy discussion. She was also tired of the outcomes or consequences having no impact. She was tired of staff getting away with what they have been getting away with lately, like piss-poor documentation with no repercussions. I got exactly what she was saying. Management has an “everyone is a winner” attitude and coddles the clinical staff. But it is costing us dearly.

Earlier in the month, my dear friend and I had a similar conversation. She is one person who always looks to the good in people and is the very non-judgmental. But as we sat out in the garden chatting, she revealed her frustration with just getting through it all. She said she just does not have the patience for dealing with, (and I paraphrase), people.

I am right there with them both. I struggle with my impatience with the attitudes of people who seem to have no comprehension of way of things. Maybe it is that the way has changed and no one told me. I have no patience for those who are coming up who think they know everything and have no problem saying so. I listen to them at meetings coming up with things that have already been tried and failed. But they feel they are amazing and Einstein. They are rude and talk over people.  I really am turned off to their arrogance which they seem to drip with. I too struggle with the agency doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. And I am just tired.

They did a big injustice moving the retirement age up. I pity the next groups as I see them continuing to move the age of retirement up. It won’t matter as there won’t be any social security money anyways. There are a going to be a lot of folks in the next generations who will have a horrible time in their old age. They do not have clue about saving. Heck, they are still living at home until they are thirty.

What do I want truthfully? I would like to have an on-line flexible teaching job. I would like to have good health benefits that will continue with the treatment I am on. I already know that I will go to the recreation center which has wonderful programs for people with arthritis but the classes are for seniors and are in the morning. I know I am going to join the senior chorus that currently meets at 2pm. I have other plans for things but…. No can do now.

I need medical coverage. When I retire and go on Medicare, the drugs I am on that keep me going will not be covered. And Medicare is certainly not free. It costs my husband almost $300. 00 a month for it and his supplemental insurance. They take it right out of his social security monthly payment. NO choice. And the once a year, he hits the donut hole. The donut hole is now up to $4900.00 that you have to pay out of your own pocket annually. This is a whole other blog. But this is another reason why senior citizens are nasty and angry. We worked all our loves to get screwed by Medicare. My step-daughter who works on average 20 hours a week is on government insurance and she gets great coverage and it is FREE. That train ride will end soon.

Turning 63 and being close to retirement is like being on a diet in a bakery. Everything looks so wonderful and yet, you can’t have any. Am I turning into a curmudgeon? Absolutely.  But I am not alone. That gives me solace but it does not resolve my getting through it for at least the next two years. Some days I feel like I am being held hostage and have no choice about the direction of my life. I have to work and I have to work with the people I work with. And that gives me an attitude and I know it.