Thursday, July 31, 2008

the sock fiasco

I've been seriously evaluating my clothing situation. For example, I decided I could keep, get this, 28 pairs of socks. 14 of the ankle socks I were to work in the summer, and 14 of the socks I wear in the winter. I still managed to put 10+ pairs of socks in the donations for work bucket. AND, I remembered that I have fuzzy socks (at least 5 pairs) I packed up when winter ended. I can't believe that I had upwards of 4o pairs of socks in the house. Except, it's more like 50, because I still have a giant pile of unmatched socks which I am hoping to find mates for (then I can donate them, I have my 28 pairs of keeping socks, which seems excessive, but possibly necessary considering half are summer socks I probably won't wear in the winter).

Then there was the underwear. I mean, having a lot of underwear is very common among females, but did a seriously need 20 pairs of them? I kept 15ish, put 3 or 4 in donations for work and threw away at least 5 pairs. Life is weird. I really need to do the washing more often, because there is NO way I should have that many pairs of underwear! And yet, somehow I never feel as though I have enough...

Of course, there were also the shirts. I have at least 10 tank tops with thick straps, 5 or 6 with spaghetti straps and numerous t-shirts. And this is just my summer clothes of course. My winter clothes, well, we won't even go there. Most of them are packed. Some are hanging to dry waiting to be packed though. And the worst part is, I wear almost everything. If I don't wear it, chances are I've already given it to work. I did find more to get rid of, but wow.

It's really giving me a lot to think about, because I am NOT a person who likes clothes. If I could live in jeans and a hoody all the time I would (I LOVE MY JOB). When I'm at home invariably I'm in pajamas or sweat pants. I'm really not big on shopping, in fact, I quite dislike it, and yet I have SO many clothes! I'm really thinking I probably need to cut back further. I feel so much lighter without all this stuff. I don't know if the feeling will last, considering I'm moving to a smaller apartment, but it feels good right now.

i haven't even started telling you about my shoes...

purging - the good kind

Along with packing, comes purging; it's awesome. I'm getting rid of SO MUCH STUFF. Because I'm not in a huge hurry, I'm being picky about what goes where, but I'm definitely, definitely cutting back. I can't even begin to explain how good it feels. You probably don't care about this, but it's my life right now.

For starters, there's the stuff I'm giving to work. That's old summer clothes, some winter jackets for the basement, a bunch of socks (more on that later), practical stuff. Then, there's the stuff for the thrift store. Things: spare christmas stocking, cassette tapes etc... I'm also giving them some of my less practical clothes like a fancy dress I wore to my grade 10 Christmas banquet back when I still did gymnastics and was about 10 sizes smaller. Then there's the recycling, and finally, the garbage. And it's sickening how much garbage roommate and I are finding. She's contributing to all the other piles too of course.

Our caretaker informed me today that as our "decision" to move out or not must be made tomorrow, she is starting showing our apartment on Friday. Thankfully roommate and I had today off (a rare thing to occur at the same time) and were already cleaning when I found this news out. We are SO not impressed. Our apartment = disaster zone. Seriously, it's like something exploded. The purging helps with the cleaning. If it's gone, I don't have to clean it, pack it, or find a place for it. And it just feels SO good.

I even managed to get rid of a garbage bag and a half of stuffed animals. Half are going to the thrift store, the other half to the garbage can. This was a big step for me. I've sort of been clinging to those. Of course, I still have quite a few, but it's a start.

The plan for tomorrow is that I'm going to sleep ALL day (I start nights tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!). Roommate will wake me up when she comes home, and we'll get chinese food and CLEAN! Half the thrift store stuff is already in the car, and she can help me car the rest of the work and thrift store stuff. Even if I don't drop it off till Friday, at least it won't be in the house anymore!!!

I haven't even started on the storage locker yet....

box hunt (it's like a fox hunt but better)

I still don't know if I got the apartment I applied for on Thursday. I know they contacted my employer, but other then that, nothing. No matter what though, it's time to start packing! Which means, box hunting!

I remember moving when I was 5 and driving around with my mother and sister looking for boxes. I really don't recall it being hard. They were there waiting for us in the entrance of the liquor mart and the IGA. Not so in today's day and age. Would you believe we went to a Price Chopper, a Sobeys, 2 Liquor Marts and 2 Safeways just to get a car full of boxes? And we got almost all of them at the last Safeway. I am SO not impressed. Oh, and we went to Costco as well. I forgot.

All this was made possible due to the fact that I had my pastor's car. Thank goodness. I feel like we traversed half the city (although we certainly didn't) on our seemingly futile search. Now however, the entire front hallway is FULL of banana boxes, which we have to have moved by Friday because our caretaker is showing our apartment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

detox , it's not like the movies!

I've spent the past six evening shifts working in our chemical withdrawal unit. Technically that's not supposed to happen, but because I'm not a permanent staff until August 10th, they can do what they want with me. And honestly, it's all good. When I worked that double on Saturday I got my adrenaline rushes and everything was good again. It's actually been pretty good spending so much time in detox because I'm able to get to know people on a much deeper level then when I rotate through there, something which I find really valuable. I actually wouldn't mind having a job that was strictly detox, just not yet. I enjoy doing intakes, I enjoy the one on one time I get to spend with people, I enjoy the relative calm. That being said, I miss out on my favourite things, which are van patrol and hanging out with the homeless. Detox clients come from all walks of life, and while some of them are homeless, most of them aren't.

I don't know how much I've written about detox, but here's the scoop. Detox is a 10 day program. It's NOT a treatment program. It's supervised chemical withdrawal. It's also not a medical unit. All clients must be medically cleared by a doctor, have all their prescriptions detailed by the doctor and bring them all with them. We keep their meds, and make sure they take them at the right time, and that no one OD's on them.

Basically, detox is a place to sleep and go to a lot of twelve step meetings (AA, CA, NA). Most clients come in and sleep for the first 3 days at least! It's not like those movies, where you see people moaning and groaning and puking over the sides of their beds. People do get nauseous, and their is pain involved, but most people aren't that dramatic. Some clients get the shakes, but other then that... and I've seen only one seizure thus far.

People are coming off everything under the sun. Well, not everything. Not heroin. We accept people on methadone, but we don't do heroin withdrawal, that's dangerous! But we do alcohol, crack, cocaine, non beverage alcohols, sniff, prescription drugs, crystal meth (although most don't make it coming of crystal meth).

My role is counselor, laundress, dishwasher, advocate, voice of reason, mediator, intake counselor, med giver outer, reassurer, information provider, referral source, and many other things. I love just getting to sit and talk with people. About whatever. Their addiction, their kids, their housing situation, their hopes, their fears, whatever... I can provide them with support and with referalls to our resources and community resources because detox is only a 10 day program.

Ideally, a person going to detox would go detox, treatment program, transition housing and support, own accomidations and own employment... of course, it doesn't work that way, but that's a post for another time.

light as a feather, stiff as a board

For those of you who are my age or a bit older, you probably remember that after the movie the craft came out, people used to try and do the "game" "light as a feather, stiff as a board". Well, an IPDA I had a little while ago reminded me of that, at least the stiff as a board part.

So, in IPDA we do breathing checks every 15 minutes and then wake ups every two hours. It's our death prevention plan. One of the reasons for having a drunk tank is to supervise people coming down off drugs and alcohol and keep them safe. That means checking breathing and rousability.

When I went to wake this IPDA up, I started by banging out the door and shouting their name. No response, fine, that often happens. Open the door and shout, nothing. Shake the person at the hips with my foot, nothing. Kick their feet and shout, nothing. So I get my coworker and he "observes" (makes sure I don't get killed) while I pinch the persons shoulders, nothing. I pinch harder with both hands while shouting, still nothing. Finally I make a fist and rub the persons sternum, still nothing. I rub AS HARD AS A CAN (which is quite hard I do think), nothing. Now consider this, that is a very painful thing to have done. I can inflict pain on myself by rubbing my sternum far less hard with my knuckles (try it, you'll see). My coworker tries the same things; no response.

So, I phone an ambulance (we get to dial direct and skip 911, which is awesome). Emergency services though seems to have this delusion that I can be in two places at once. We phone them at least once every two days, maybe more like once a day, there can't be that many operators, and yet they never seem to realize that if I'm on the phone with them, I'm not with the person because we don't have a cordless phone. I guess they're following a script though... oh well. Anyway, they ask me a million questions so they can fill out their form. And some of them are SO dumb. Bah.

me: "Hi, I'm calling about a person I can't wake up, even with a hard sternal rub, they're breathing okay, but we can't get any sort of response" them: "are they consious?". "are they breathing". Then we have to go through a process of steps which I have to yell to a coworker because our radios aren't working (but that's a different ramble).

Anyway, EMS responds much faster to this then to my stabbing incident on the weekend, and try the same things I have. The fire fighters say they've never seen anything like it (i believe one was a paramedic), then though, the guy tries to put some sort of air way in, and my IPDA's teeth are clenched, apparently, this isn't normal at all, and he lets me no descretly "their faking"... Vitals are all normal, and paramedic dude is getting some sort of painful stimulus response. When the ambulance gets there, they realize the persons faking it too. So they sit them up, person stays sitting up and the paramedic says "if you were unconsious that would be impossible. Get up, and stop it, we'll take you to the hospital.

So they take them to the bench, walking I might add. The IPDA is still really...odd though. Second one in recent history I've had who plays sick and then doesn't want hospital. It's hard to figure out. Most people want the hospital. They beg us to send them for non existant complaints.

I think this particular IPDA was tripping on something weird and was still high. Becuase seriously, it was odd. When I tried to roll them on their back to assess breath they stayed completely stiff. It was the total opposite of an unconsious IPDA who normally is limp. This person was literally stiff as a board...

van patrol!!!

Okay, first of all, I have to say that most of the girls working the streets around my area don't wear boots like that, but that's besides the point I suppose.

Saturday evening/night I worked a double, and it was AWESOME! I got to take a paramedic student out on van patrol (just us, cause we were short staffed) and talk to her about the streets, and addictions, and prostitution and homelessness and it was awesome. Basically we were supposed to just hand out condoms and stuff (through the window) but we wound up stumbling across what we thought was a stabbing!

So anyway, because it was just us two girls, one of them not staff, when we first saw the guy on the street we didn't stop. I thought he was drunk and crying and didn't see any blood. Going back the other way though, some girls flagged us down. And when I say girls, I mean these kids were under 18, out in a BAD area at 2:00AM. So we stopped, and when they said he'd been stabbed we put on gloves and decided to see what was up.

I was right, the guy was pretty heavily intoxicated. At first he wouldn't let the student see his eye, eventually she looked and it didn't look too bad. At first he told us he was 12, and since he was covering his whole face with his shirt it was hard to guess an age. At that point I turned that van back on and radioed base to phone 911 again (the girls said they had). I probably should have radioed when we stopped in the first place though...oops. Anyway, being intoxicated, the story kept changing. Eventually though I got a birth date and name... the guy was 20! I told our student though; maybe he was feeling 12. He was beat up and crying on the street after all.

It took 15+ minutes for any response from emergency services. I was NOT impressed. I mean fine, it's Saturday night, it's busy, but when 911 was called we said a 12 year old had been stabbed...12! Anyway, three cop cars, a fire truck, an ambulance and 2 medical supervisors show up. Talk about over kill. I mean I guess it's a bad neighbourhood, but it made me feel kind of weird that we just hopped out of our van, but the ambulance couldn't come with out police. I feel kind of...reckless? But I didn't feel unsafe...

Anyway, guy should be just fine. All the blood turned out to be from the punches he got in, and his eye was likely just punches. My guess is if he wasn't intoxicated he wouldn't have been so worried about it. It'll probably be black, but that's about it.

So today my supervisor pulls me aside to talk about the incident. "I saw on the report you went a stabbing...". He mentioned that need to get radios that don't need van power to run (YES), and said I did a good job, but I also felt like I was being reprimanded for taking unnecessary risks. I don't know though, I'm not convinced it was a bad situation. There were two of us, and we both felt safe. There were four other girls there, and two across the street. There was no sign of the people who'd done the beating, and there wasn't five minutes before that when we went the other direction. 911 had already been called, and so I kind of expected a quicker response!! I don't know... I do get scared of things, I really do, I'm not reckless, I have limits, I just felt like I was within them. Maybe it's a "you had to be there" type of situation.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Warehousing the homeless part three

Wet housing. My city needs more of it. Or well, it needs more supervised wet housing. Specifically set up to house the "unhousable". I'm not saying it's a long term fix or anything, but it's the beginning of a solution. Skid row hotels, and skuzzy rooming houses do not count in my books, and most of my clients are kicked out of them anyway! We need a safe place though, a safe place for people to escape from hell.

I do get mad a my clients sometimes, but I just have to take a step back once again, and really look. Living on the streets is not "fun". People may be choosing to use their money in a way I wouldn't, but they're not having "fun" with it. The people I work with are hurting. Judging them isn't going to help. Some of the women have been assaulted both sexually and physically time and time again. They don't report it, and even if they did, it never seems to do much good. There's never enough evidence, or witnesses or the client isn't sober enough to file a report etc...

I'm not a visual person. It takes me forever to learn to tell people apart (especially men). But for the past little while I've been trying to really open my eyes. And the truth is, even beyond the emotional scars, these people are scared. Their bodies are marked time and time again. And of course, I'm only looking at their arms, and their face. Clients show me their stab wounds so nonchalantly, battle scars, but what are they fighting? Sometimes, it seems to me like everyone is fighting everyone, including themselves. Sometimes the worst physical injuries are the ones from falling while intoxicated. Sometimes it's people's insides that start to fall apart.

Enough about that though. My point is, wet housing won't encourage people to drink and use drugs. Far from it. I would argue that wet housing will actually discourage drug and alcohol use because it gives people dignity and something to call their own. A place, to BE.

mood swings and me

Every now and again I have a crazy weird mood swing. Not often, not once a month, maybe once or twice a year? It really depends. Before therapy and well, becoming not a teenager I used to be permanently this way, a mood swing was what happened when I was the "normal" I am now. Anyway, today seems to be mood swing day. I can only do self care, take deep breaths, and hope it swings back the other way soon.

When I'm in this mood I'm in, I'm impulsive, agitated, and well, I have a habit of hurting the people I love the most. Last time I wound up getting in a week long fight with best friend. This time, well, let's just say my day has not been...good. I was not my usual caring, compassionate self at work. Went straight from work to street ministry where I extremely impulsively took a man's sniff from him and dumped it on the street; and made best friend help. I was not understanding with one of our guests who is very mentally ill, or with the one who is quite rude to me. And now I'm at home. Rather ashamed of myself, but biting my tongue and posting here to keep from emailing anyone because my emails tend to get me in trouble when I'm feeling like this (ie cause week long fight with best friend).

I am going to be compassionate with myself. I deserve it. I work a hard job, and going from work to street ministry is NOT the best thing (thankfully with my night job starting I won't be doing it any more). There's a lot of change happening in my life right now, and I'm stressed about my sermon for Sunday (well, for the next three Sundays). So, my sermon is in my head. Right now, it's just going to have to stay there I think, unless I suddenly become inspired, because I really need to relax tonight. Maybe write some more about homelessness, and philosophy, tell some GOOD client stories, we'll see, we'll see.

writers block

I had an awesome night last night. I had a couple clients just really open up. It was hard to hear in some cases; hearing dealers talk about the young people, mothers, pregnant women they've sold to. But it was good. Good for them especially.

Now I'm lying here in a sunbeam having writers block. I need a sermon for Sunday. I've already picked out my scripture; way ahead of time, so I need to preach about that. Weeds among wheat. I just can't think of anything all that exciting or meaningful or new to say. Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll stick with plain and simple. I dunno... writers block.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Apartment Hunting

So in amongst my fight to end homelessness, poverty, oppression and the reign of "the man", I'm apartment hunting, and panicking. Actually, I want to scream, because now it's real. ARGH! I wish that helped more.

Anyway, I'm looking at two places (or three, i think) tomorrow. Bestest bud, who is truly amazing and wonderful, made a bazillion phone calls for me today and was able to set up some appointments for me. I hate phoning people, and as such was incredibly grateful. I fell in love with one. It's only 15$ out of my price range... 2 bedrooms (I want an office), and looks really nice, and is in the area I want. I'm going to see it tomorrow, and if I like it, will apply on the spot. And honestly, it wouldn't have to be all that great to make me happy. And, it comes with curtains, which is great for a person who sleeps all day and works all night.

So, thus, I'm freaking out. I want to go there NOW. I want to have this over and done with. I want to KNOW. Plus, I may have to move sooner then I planned, as if I really like this one, it's for August 1st as opposed to September 1st, and I have to hope roommate, who I'm waiting up for, is going to be gone by September 1st (she's going to grad school, not being evicted by the way). If this is the case, things will move very fast, and well, yeah... I'll have to start...packing (gulp). I'll pick one day to move all the big stuff, but as I'm taking a full month to move, it'll be easy to move the little stuff piece by piece... oh my goodness, how I want this.

So, if you pray, please pray for me. I'm lying here, freaking out, and just wishing 1:30 tomorrow would COME already!!!

and so it ends

So I finally watched the episode of NCIS where Kate dies. I have to admit, I'm REALLY glad I found out she was going to die before I saw it. I'm also glad I sucked it up and watched it. It is just a TV show after all. I can be weird sometimes.

Had a good day off. Grocery shopping, sleeping in, hanging out with friends. Can't ask for much more! And another day off tomorrow!!! I have stuff to do, like write a sermon, but it should be nice all the same.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Warehousing the homeless Part Two

"At least you can give them a bit of respite from hell...let them have a glimpse of a better way. Connect and show them that even though they're in pain, they can have a better life." - antiswer

Thanks to the people who commented on my first post about warehousing the homeless. It gave me a lot to thing about - which is good. I really like what antiswer said, because it really is how I think. Sometimes I get really frustrated, but generally, that's how I feel. I feel like we're doing something valuable, even though society may not understand.

This has been my philosophy of things for a while, and it's what keeps me sane as a social worker - and a person.

I am only person. As one person, I can only do as much as I can do. However, when I am nice to people, care about people, and empower people, it does make a difference. Empowered people, people who've been treated with respect, and people who are loved, often turn around and do nice things to other people. They begin to make a difference in other peoples lives. And so you see, that's how it works. It works like a web, it starts with me, but I can only begin to imagine the changes that may eventually take place because of the actions of one person. I believe it is possible to change the world, I also believe that I may never see it. And I think, that I'm okay with that.

one more post before "bed time"

Sleep and I are having another battle. Unfortunately, I seem to be losing. I finally have time to sleep. My schedule has evened out, even before my permanent position starts. A week and a half of evenings, and then nights for all eternity. So anyway, you'd think this would be awesome for my sleep patterns. No, instead, I'm not sleeping! This from the girl who has basically spent the last three months asleep.

I'm quite frustrated about it, but trying not to be because I know that will only make my sleep worse. It's a falling asleep thing, but it's also a staying asleep thing, and a nightmare thing. Yesterday I had a dream about Brittney Spears, how freaky is that! Especially considering I don't listen to her music, or really give a care. I also dreamed Kiwi were on sale for 23 cents each... that wasn't a nightmare though! But, that is not that point.

The point is. I'm scared to turn off the computer and go to sleep tonight. Last night I probably read for two hours, even though I yawned my way through work, was too tired to blog, too tired to shower, too tired to eat etc... I got into bed, and then just couldn't sleep. The night before that was worse, and I didn't get to sleep till sunrise. I was lucky enough to catch a nap after church/before work. Day before that I'm convinced I only slept for an hour or two total, it was our girls night, but still, I'm usually a good sleeper! It's sleeping too much that's my problem!

But, alas, I know how I can help myself, I should probably just get off my butt and do it. More exercise, less coffee, and taking those little blue pills (that aren't Viagra) when I'm having a hard time with sleep. I really will write a post about sleeping pills one of these days! Just not tonight.

the end.

Girl's night on the town

I had an AWESOME girl's night this weekend. Street Ministry was canceled, so best friend and I were faced with an empty Friday night. A rarity in our lives. What to do, what to do. Best friend and one of our friends decided they'd plan a girls night/morning and surprise me and another of our friends. And boy, was I surprised! But, it was great!

First, we headed off to the casino. Being the only one in the car from my city (the rest are from way far away), I was trying to give directions to an unknown location (it's interesting, you should try it). We did get there. I really don't spend a lot of time in casinos, in fact, I've only ever been to one once. However, it turns out the casino has a really cheap buffet that actually tastes good! I was quite impressed by the presence of the salad bar and by the awesome potatoes (and you have to understand, I don't normally like potatoes).

After eating far too much, we "explored" the casino. Turns out, casinos are pretty much as boring as I thought they were, but it is quite amusing to watch people play slot machines. We may have been a little too loud and groupy though as we got a couple looks from security. Finally we decided to play a nickel slot and ran through five dollars in oh, under 5 minutes. SO not worth it. I truly don't understand what people see slot machines. Black Jack and Poker I can understand, but not slots.

After the casino came bowling, and then back to best friend's place for drinks. I only had one, but it was SO yummy. Blue Raspberry drink mix and rum blended with berry mix and ice. SO good. Then came perhaps the best part of the evening. A light saber battle on the boulevard. We're perhaps lucky we didn't get picked up for disturbing the piece, but we tried to be quiet, and we were in a more awake part of town. Our light sabers lit up and had sound effects and every thing. We wanted to have a shaving cream fight, but decided we needed to wait on that until we were more awake. Then a movie, and off to bed.

The next morning, best friend cooked an awesome pancake breakfast and then it was off again. This time for canoeing. Anyone can tell you that I was totally scared of canoeing and then wound up having an awesome time. Our river doesn't look nearly as nice as the river in the picture, but it was still pretty.

After the boat ride we lay in the grass, shopped and played dutch blitz until it was time for me to go to work once again. All in all, and awesome way to spend my day!

Good News!

I mentioned I had awesome news. And I do! I got hired for a permanent night job!!! My awesome cover letter must have done the trick (lol). Actually, I'm pretty sure I was just next on the list.

Anyway, the job's only a point six, but I'm sure I'll be able to pick up extra shifts, and as long as I pick up a couple each pay period I'll be doing awesome. Even a couple a month would be okay. I'm super happy. My mom said "well, that's a start". Silly mothers. I know they're a little disappointed that I don't have a "real" social work job, but I LIKE my job, and to me, that's what matters, especially at this point in my life where I don't have a lot of financial responsibilities. I'll apply for a full time position if it comes up, but at this point I'm not too worried. Things will work out, and it'll be nice to have the option of only working three shifts in a week if I want to!

(and so ends this news report on Erin's life).


I had a kind of freaky day at work today. I really wish we had proper debrief! It just seems sort of...expected... that we won't have issues with the stuff that happens there, and I just don't get that. However, with some of the newer staff, I'm feeling able to form a bond so that maybe some of that debrief can take place, just informally, amongst ourselves. Because, maybe it takes place informally amongst the others, and I just don't fit in yet.

Anyway, not long before shift change one of my detox clients had a really bad seizure. At first I didn't know what was going on, I thought she was just joking around. She started gasping for air and stiffening and falling over. One of the other clients caught her. Mr. nice guy and I ran over to her and the three of us lowered her to the ground where she continued to seize. She started vomit a little, so we quickly got her on her side. Not a long seizure, but then a long period of unconsciousness with no rousability and odd twitches/eye movements. As she started coming out of it, Mr. nice guy left to check on the status of the ambulance and I stayed with her.

The client started coming around, but was behaving oddly. After getting no verbal response, I took her hands and asked her to squeeze them. The client squeezed, but instead of just squeezing she kept trying to put them in her mouth, and she was STRONG. I called for Mr. nice guy and he helped me wrestle myself away from her. Anyway, first response took a looooong time to get there, and my client was freakishly altered. No sense of where she was, how she got there, and asking very strange questions. Her voice was different and so were her mannerisms. Firefighters arrived, and did all her vitals and stuff, and then we waited, and waited, and waited for the paramedics. A consious female, even a very altered one, just doesn't take priority.

My client was SO altered though. And just odd. Every time a guy walked near us, she FREAKED out. She grabbed me really hard one time and freaked me out too. And she was freaking out all the other clients, because they wanted reassurance she was okay, and she didn't know who they were. She told me that the one man "had beat everyone up" (nope) and another had been kicking her purse (nope). She still didn't know where she lived, or where she was or anything like that. Strong denial about having a seizure.

Finally paramedics came and she was able to walk out with them. She wanted me to go the hospital with her, and I was quite sad that I couldn't. It's hard when you're with someone through something like that, and even though they have no clue who you are, they realize that you're someone safe and then you have to leave them. She'll be okay though. The paramedics were nice, and she's a white well groomed female.

But yeah, after that, shift change was over and it was time to go home. I thanked mr. nice guy for saving me from being eaten, but that was it, he didn't seem to want to talk, and one of my favourite staff just said, yeah, people have a post seizure period of alterdness. But, it freaked me out! I'm okay now, but yeah, it would have been really nice for someone to acknowledge that it had been a bit traumatic for me! Maybe I need to speak up more. Or maybe everyone at work is just so used to it now they don't even thinking about it. I mean, I've seen a few seizures already and I've only been there 3 months.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I haven't disappeared. I've been busy though. I have much to say, and in fact, I have some awesome news. Had a great girls day too. However, after midnight lightsaber battles, whiny detox clients and piloting a canoe down the river, I'm going to bed!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Warehousing the homeless

I've decided, that our shelter, is not an emergency shelter at all, it's a warehouse. And it's starting to make me mad. I'm quite outspoken about my madness too, because it really is bothering me.

See here's the thing. To me, an emergency shelter is a place where people stay when they're down on their luck, when they've exhausted all options, when they need a place to revamp and get back on their feet. It's not a place where people live for 10+ years. That to me is something different. We need a place for that as well, but an emergency shelter isn't it.

I feel that we are in fact enabling people. Because we allow people in various states of intoxication into our shelter, they are able to use as much as they want and know they always have a safe place to come "home" to. This is good in theory. It's an accepting place, keeps people off the streets, out of traffic, and from freezing to death. In reality though, it means that people can spend all their welfare money on drugs and alcohol and not having to worry about food and housing.

That being said, in our shelter there are some people whose minds have been so destroyed by substances that I'm not sure they really understand the possibility of change. My heart aches that they have to sleep on a mat on the floor each night - if they make it that far. There are also people not that much older than me, who see no reason to change, and they are definitely capable of changing. It would be HARD work, and no doubt there would be slips, but they could do it. I'm always surprised that they don't see this, or see any reason to change "well all my friends are doing it". I get it, and I don't.

So my thought is, maybe we need housing for some of these people - particularly the old ones. Housing where they had a room, but meals provided, as well as some cleaning and stuff (while teaching life skills). Housing it was hard to get kicked out of, but didn't allow drugs and stuff on the premises (but did allow non violent intoxication). Get them out of the shelter, give them a place to call their own etc... But is that then enabling? Is what we do now just as enabling though? And less dignified?

This is just my first post about this, there will be more, it's an issue that's constantly on my mind as I look out at the shelter night after night.

Day Off

Here you have one very happy social worker. Why is this social worker so happy you ask? The answer, "it's her day off". Technically speaking, yesterday was my day off to, but I tend to spend the entire first day sleeping, and the second day enjoying my rested state.

Yesterday I slept, went out for breakfast with best friend, slept, went for a meeting with pastor, slept, went out for gelati with the intrepid one, and then slept then a talk with bestest bud before I passed out for the night. All in all, a good day though! I haven't been sleeping well lately, up every hour, so I took one of my lovely yet despised doctor prescribed sleeping pills, which is supposed to help me stay asleep once I fall asleep. It worked. I had a glorious 15 hours of sleep (although I did wake up a few times during the later half of that), and now feel rested and human again (it would take me at least an entire blog entry to process how I feel about those pills).

Today, I woke up to discover my shower wasn't working properly. There didn't seem to be any hot water no matter how hard I tried - living in an apartment that doesn't happen often. So I washed my hair in the sink (which mysteriously had hot water) and went out. Out you say? Out where? I went out for coffee with my old library from when I was a little kid. It was awesome.

I recently ran into her at a suicide intervention course. She's a marriage and family therapist now. She actually went to school with the therapist I saw when doing my social work degree. Anyway, she's awesome. It was really cool to run into her again. I went to story time every single week when I was a preschooler, and lots of them were done by her. I also took swimming lessons with her kids, and did the summer reading program every year (I love books). It was great to catch up with her, but also great to meet a "grownup" who thinks about things so much the way I do. I feel like she understands me, and understands my issues with certain policies and realties. It's great.

Now i'm just having some chill time and then off to a church meeting at which we're planning a community outreach event. I'm planning to ride my bike, even though it's a bit of a ways. Was planning on dinner with bestest bud, but plans changed, and honestly, my stomach is not feeling great from all the weird eating I did while working nights.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

false promises

I'm getting sick of the police telling our IPDA's things they know aren't true. It makes dealing with them a lot harder, because they blame us when their expectations aren't met.

For example: Blankets. We do no provide blankets for our shelter let alone our IPDAs. Even if we don't talk about how much extra laundry that would be and the time and expense associated with that, we can't give them blankets. We need to be able to check if they're breathing every 15 minutes. If they were covered with a blanket, that would be pretty hard. Plus, many of our IPDA's try to hurt/kill themselves. We can't give them another tool. They already have to have all strings, belts, hairties, earings etc removed.

Next example: You'll be in out in time for work. Well no, you probably won't be. Especially if you work at 6AM and you were brought in at 3PM. Policy (it might even be law) specifies you must be kept for 4 hours unless you're transfered to ambulance, police or a responsible adult, and we do that very rarely. Even then, if you're not sober after 4 hours we're not releasing you. We have the right to keep you up to 24. We wouldn't do that, but we could. If you're still drunk after 12 hours we're probably calling non emerg ambulance to assess you and transport you because there's probably something else going on. One time, a guy went balistic on me and threw the phone across the room when he found out he was 3 hours late for work. I only kept him 6 hours, and he was sober when I let him out, but WOW.

Last example (for today): Water. I hate it when the police people that we'll bring them water. Because we might, but we definitely don't have to, and it's our judgement, not the cop's that matters. If my IPDA ss freaking out, I'm not opening the door to give them water! One of my coworkers got bowled over by an IPDA when he did that, and I'm just not comfortable with that. I will give water to the regulars, or quiet, well behaved IPDA's. I will also give water closer to the end of their time. NOT in the first hour or two. I just don't feel it's safe. I also give water to people who've taken E, they're usually all lovey dovey anyway, and that stuff dehydrates you like crazy - so I read, I've never tried it. I also only give out water when there's time. If I'm really busy, too bad. People complain that it's a basic human right, and it is. But, so is safety. If we had more staff, maybe. And I ALWAYS give water on discharge.

We had a rookie cop in this week. I told him what's what. It was funny. He looked younger then me, and trust me, I look YOUNG. I told him a bunch of stuff he shouldn't do, and I definitely told him not to make false promises!

grumpy tuesday

I had a grumpy Tuesday morning which started with a bad Monday night. It made me more aware then ever about how my mood affects clients. Interesting...

Anyway, Monday started off well, woke up at six, went to a friend's house for a youth retreat planning meeting, went out for ice cream! Went to work... Basically as soon as I got to work I felt sick. But, I went out on van patrol anyway. Half way through I stopped for some advil. By the end though I was just like "crap", how am I going to survive the night. I was soooo nauseous. One of our staff went home sick Sunday night, so I'm thinking "crap" maybe I have what she has/had.

I go down to IPDA (and I eat something, in case it's a "i had ice cream for breakfast" thing). Things are going fine down there, I do a discharge, and then I get five intakes in a row. Five. and not just in a row. I did five intakes in 25 minutes. Which is a lot. I was also interupted by some cops in police windbreakers looking for some guy who we haven't had contact with in four years. They told the other cops they "took priority". Maybe they did, but it meant I had to close everything I was doing and access a different part of the badly set up computer database. I didn't do any paper work till I was done with the intakes. Which has it's ups and it's downs. I almost passed out - I was dizzy, and begged one of the other staff to clean my cell from my discharge (yay for teamwork).

So I finish my turn in IPDA. Great. I tell my supervisor how sick I'm feeling and he orders me to take a break. I get distracted. I get reordered to take a break. So I sit down and eat and drink. One of the shelter cleaners (client) comes and asks for garbage bags, there's two other staff by the garbage bags. Neither of them do anything, but niether do I. SO one of our other staff comes in, client asks for garbage bags again. Staff get them, he thanks him, looks directly at me and says "cause all some staff do around here is sit on their arses". So I tell him he can't talk to me like that and he ignores me.

Fine, whatever. I'm annoyed, because this guy is well educated and not intoxicated, and he meant what he said. Some of our clients would say it in fun, or while drunk, I can deal with that, but not this. Especially when he has no idea that I'm dizzy or that i've been forced to sit down by my supervisor. So I mention it to my supervisor. He gets all defensive of me, and takes the client into the office for a little "chat". The client tells my supervisor that I'm the most patronizing staff member ever. Interesting. I'm not patronizing, I'm NICE. There is a BIG difference, and most people really appreciate it. I will have to watch myself though.

But, I was definitely in a bad mood, sick, tired, insulted, and now concerned about being called patronizing and a little annoyed that my supervisor did that. Oh, and I got reminded that people are only allowed one cup of coffee, so I had to work hard to enforce that. Everybody was swearing at me. It was a bad day. Oh, and it was raining. But I can't help wondering if the fact that I was in a bad mood to start with contributed to everyone's being mad at me. I mean, normally the clients in the coffee line do not swear at me. It just doesn't happen. I know my mood rubs off on clients, and so does my attitude. That happens with all the staff, and I see it on a regular basis. Even while intoxicated, people generally tend to respond better to people who treat them with respect (although it's a lot harder then).

When I was doing practicum only 2 days a week, it was a lot easier to curb my emotions while I was there and be happy all the time. Now that I'm working five days a week it's very different. I find that I'm having to work harder at it, and that I experience a greater range of moods over that time in general anyway. It's something I'm going to watch, reflect on, and see what happens.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Friday (or was it Saturday) night.

So I'm in IPDA (the drunk tank). And it's a Friday (or was it Saturday) night, and it's crazy busy. The police are sitting outside like vultures waiting for us to discharge someone. One comes out the door and in they bounce. IPDA full, IPDA accepting, IPDA full, IPDA accepting etc... There are of course the usual bangers and screamers, the regulars, the "kid" high on E, and the new and different ones. It's Friday (or was it Saturday) night.

We had a woman in from a bachlorette party, never been in the drunk tank before, and just crazy emotional. Alcohol does different things to do different people, many people are quite angry, but she was sobbing and crying and begging us to help her. It was honestly one of the hardest things I've ever had to listen to down there. Anger is so much easier for me to deflect then anguished pleas for help. Anyway, she was kicking her door, crying, screaming, begging etc... and she WOULDN'T go to sleep! I rarely let people out if they haven't slept. But, the police didn't give her a mat, they had to carry her in basically it said on her form, so she was understandably cold. I finally gave in, despite my coworkers complaints of "oh she's just a jerk" and threw a mat in her cell. This puts me at risk, but I'm a softey, what can I say.

Anyway, it's getting close to 9 hours and she's slept some, so I'm ready to discharge her. She's finally calmed down or so I think. And then the screaming and begging starts up again. I'm like "what the heck"? So I investigate, she tells me she's having an asthma attack, and her breathing really is quite screwed up. She has no inhalers in her belongings, and she's not calming down to my verbal reassurances. So, I call an ambulance (yay for direct dial bipassing 911), and then go into her cell to assess her and try and calm her down.

For someone who called me every name in the book that night, she latches onto me like glue and I can't leave, even to waive down the amublance. I tried to stick half my body out the door and she freaked. I'm trying to get her to stop talking and work on breathing instead, so I'm trying to babble so she can't get a word in, but at least use calming words, not random stuff. Nothing's helping and she just keeps begging and pleading with me to help her. I'm usually pretty good at calming people down, but not this, not this at all.

So firefighters get there. Take her vitals etc... she won't let me let go of her, so now I'm trapped in a cell behind two firefighters and their equipment. Can't get out to get her info for them (yay for radios). They put her on oxygen and she "starts" calming down... sort of. Paramedics get there. Thank goodness. Super nice paramedic. I really need to write a thank you card. She was awesome. Turns out, my IPDA is having an anxiety attack (which makes total sense). It takes me and the nice paramedic a LONG time, but we get her calmed down. She's breathing fine, her lungs sound fine. The paramedics are going to leave and I'll discharge her when we all discover, her ankle is broken/sprained and very swollen. So she winds up getting an ambulance ride to the hospital after all, probably freaking out all the way. Poor woman.

So that took up half an hour when I should have been doing discharges. Because I was trapped, and because we really are supposed to stay with them while the paramedics are there. It's just that we were short staffed, and yeah, usually they take them right away, not so much figuring things out. Oh, and did I mention the paramedics left ALL their garbage around for me to clean up? Oh well. I really do want to send a thank you note to the one who was so awesome... I just have to figure out how!

condradictions and cover letters

Dear *Boss*,

I love my job. I’m not sure quite why I love it, considering I spend a lot of time cleaning, doing laundry and washing dishes, but I do. The people who frequent *work* are special. Each one has a unique story, and even though at first glance it’s easy to lump them all together, it’s fascinating to begin to see the differences. At *work* I have the opportunity to share in people’s lives in a meaningful way. Many of the people who stay in our shelter consider this place to be their home, and I am so blessed to be a part of creating that sense of community and safety.

I wish there was no need for my job. Homelessness, poverty, addiction, intoxication, and brokenness invade my sights, smells, and hearing on a regular basis. People should not have to live in a cramped and crowded space, warehoused behind the scenes because society has forgotten about them. Women should not feel the need to work the streets, accepting rides from strangers in vans, because they’re so intoxicated they can’t find their shoes or remember how to get home. Men should not sleep on cold cement, guarded from the elements by only the clothes on their back; and they shouldn’t feel it’s all they have left. Hopelessness, fatigue, and depression are all prevalent on my emotional radar.

And yet, I do believe there is hope, and I believe that *our organization*, and I, am a part of providing it. While shelter mats, cells and dorms aren’t necessarily the best solution to a massive problem, they are a start of a solution and that’s something; something which challenges the mores of society and popular culture. Tucked away off the strip is a counter cultural revolution; a place where people are treated with unconditional positive regard no matter where life has sent them. I want to be a part of that revolution. Please consider me for the .6 crisis worker position posted this July.


*Still Dreaming* BSW/RSW

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I'm frustrated by homelessness, intoxication, addiction etc... but mostly be homelessness. I have a firmer grasp and understanding of the other two.

I was sitting on the fence at street ministry (literally, not metaphorically), watching as people enjoyed our barbecue, and I just felt this overwhelming weight on top of me, and this great frustration. It's hard to explain. No an "oh my goodness I can't do this" type weight, more of an "wow, this is stupid". And sort of a massive frustration with the people we were serving.

I have to tell you, I'm the first to be empathetic and over protective of my clients. I care about them (both individually and more so collectively) a lot. But, sometimes I get MAD at them (both individually and collectively). I get mad at them for taking another drink, I get mad at them for being dirty, I get mad at them for blaming other people for their problems. And yet, I see the bigger picture, and realize that nobody grows up dreaming of being homeless.

I don't know. I just know that working among the homeless challenges my views of homelessness which were already challenged by my work among the homeless. I realize that makes absolutely no sense. Let me try and explain. Society has views of homelessness. I grew up having different views because of my father's job, and my jobs etc... Now, those views are getting challenged as well. The more time I spend, the more complicated things seem to be!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I have been watching WAY to much of this show. It's kind of...taking over my life? No, in all reality, this is how I like to watch TV, and probably the worst way I can watch TV. I am a very intense person. This I know. So, watching TV one series at a time, can be very "intense". I get very drawn into the show and it can actually affect me emotionally. So why do I do this? Well, because I'm a very intense person and waiting a full week for the next episode is really hard. It helps sometimes to find out what's going to happen, but I just discovered they're killing my favourite character in 3 episodes. I will survive, but I am NOT happy, and NOT looking forward to it! I keep reminding myself though, that they've killed off/gotten rid of LOTS of my favourites on ER and I suvived (had to stop watching that show in season eight though...tooooo intense).
What this post was going to be about though was my nightmares. People in the past have tried to blame my nightmares on the TV shows I watch (crime and medical dramas). I tend to agree with them, but then my nightmares will just seem so random that I don't really see how they're related to crime or medical dramas at all!
Like last night, I guess this could be related to NCIS considering it was a crime dream, but it certainly wasn't anything that happened in the show recently, I created this crime all on my own! Basically, it takes place on a ferry or boat of sometime (fine, I suppose there's a Navy tie in). Something about lots of really nice fancy cars, and lots of people who want to kill each other over the cars. Basically, I get to be a hero, but sneaking up to the eighteenth floor, taking a little ferry that's somehow attached to the big boat, and driving away from the ship all without the guys with the cars noticing. Where do I get to go? Not law enforcement, no that's the person in the other little boat. I go to the newspaper! Cause what we want on our crime scene is the press? Anyway the mystery somehow gets solved by having the side of the boat come down onto dry land (side, not front), and being stormed by SWAT, but not before I procesed many different ways of solving this and was freaking terrified. I suppose, the whole "crime fighting" thing could all tie in with my recent choice of TV. Perhaps I'll have to watch something...smiley...before bed tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

quest for self

I dunno if this picture will work or not... stupid computer.
Anyway, as part of my ongoing quest to become comfortable in my own presence I took myself out tonight all by myself. I went for a walk, got gelati and then went on a swing till I got motion sick (which in my case, takes less then five minutes). It was nice. I'm not great at spending time with myself, but certainly better then I was a year ago and I find that encouraging. I may be shy, but I am DEFINITELY an extrovert!
One of my friends suggested today that some of my problems with my coworkers may be that I'm too shy. She actually started by suggesting that I talk to much and that turns them off. Because really, I talk A LOT. Look how much I write! But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I can actually be really hard to get to know. The staff I have the hardest time with are staff who intimidate me. And because they intimidate me, I don't really talk to them and I don't respond really well to them. Interesting...
Then of course she pointed out that people are probably threatened by me. I'm knew, and yet I'm good at what I do. One of my supervisors has suggested this to me as well. I don't like to think that. I don't feel like I should threaten them, but in a way, I can see there point. But still, social workers aren't scary! Really, we're not!

it's a brutal cycle

I'm having a hard time empathizing with people who come into detox who really aren't interested in breaking the cycle of addiction. I mean I get it, and I don't. Of course, the first question you're probably asking while reading this is "well why are they in detox if they don't want to get clean?" That at least, I can explain.

At work we definitely work towards harm reduction. And I'm all for that. I really am, and that's the thing with detox; harm reduction. We encourage some of our regulars (or any/all of them) to come into detox to give their bodies a 10 day break for the realities of their addictions and street life. The get a bed to sleep in, nutrious food, milk and their meds on time each day. At any given time we have a couple of our regulars in their doing this. And some of them do move on to periods of sobriety. I haven't been there long enough to know if we've ever seen anyone do a complete one eighty and wide up a working individual with an apartment, phone, and cable.

Now a lot of our regulars are older, and have been doing this for a long time. Many of them have brains which either started out damaged (FASD, PDD, etc...) or have been damaged through use of drugs, alcohol and solvents. Drinking hairspray has long lasting consequences! I have a fairly easy time empathizing with them. Whatever their initial reasons for winding up on the street were, they've lived a hard life, and I really feel for them. I feel like we need to protect them.

But then, we have some younger people, people my age and a little bit older. People with SO much potential. Their brains haven't yet been destroyed, they're literate and able to function (in some cases at least), but they have no desire to stop the drugs and get off the streets. That, I have a hard time with. I just don't get it. How can you WANT to live on a mat, on the floor, sniff solvents, and wind up passed out in random places. One guy came in because he badly hurt himself while high/drunk/out of it, and was in danger of losing his leg from an infection. Once his leg was better, off he went. Harm reduction though. He's pretty sure he's going to stop injecting things and stick with sniffing and drinking.

Thinking about it in terms of the stages of changes helps. This guy is in precontemplation, and that's okay. People go through precontemplation before they go through other stages. It's the way it works. And there are things we can use with precontemplation. I've been using a lot of motivational interviewing in cases like this, latching onto people's ambivilence, reflecting back the bad things about use (but not neglecting the good things), providing information, and having an unwavering belief that the person can change (which reminds me, I should post about that). It's the empathy I have a hard time with. And I'm not sure it's going to get any easier...

life map

It's 5PM and it's my morning. I'm sitting on the couch drinking bad coffee from my portable french press because there's no coffee filters. Yet somehow, I am content.

I've been thinking, about how life doesn't come with a map. I've often said that there can be more then one right answer in any given situation, and I think this is true with my situation now. Applying for jobs and staying at my job are both "right" answers. It's impossible to know which one will be better. And very honestly, right now, I'm just going to stick with what I have now. I have a lot of other stuff going on in my life right now, I don't want to take any other risks, pathetic as that seems.

I had a dream last night about there being a vacancy in an awesome apartment down the street from me. A dream real enough I had to really think about it this morning to decide if it was real. It wasn't though, unfortunately. I had another dream about owning a car. This dream wasn't quite as real, although it was a fairly nice car!

I had a great phone conversation with a friend today. I love laughing, and somehow despite the fact that we were talking about some pretty serious stuff, there was a lot of laughter. I love friends I can laugh with. I also talked to bestest bud, it's her birthday; my present to her was NOT singing the birthday song. I actually do have something for her, I just have to go pick it up.

I had a bad day at work yesterday, but best friend came and met me and we walked home together. She lives on the way to my place so I only had 10 minutes or so to walk on my own of an almost 50minute walk. The walk and talk was really good (as was the iced cap she brought me). I've been eating too much fast food and it felt nice to just walk.

Life has ups and downs. And sometimes I get into these moods where everything feels like a down, but right now, sunshine, friends, coffee, and curling up with my blanket seem to be able to pull me out of it pretty quickly.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Still won't let me add a picture...

I just looked online at some job stuff. There's two jobs available in Assertive Community Treatment. One at the location I did my practicum at, one at the other one. Oh how much I want those jobs. Either of them, I'd go for support worker or service coordinator. I'm qualified for both of them, but really only have enough experience for support worker, except I did a practicum there learning all about being a service coordinator. So, I don't know whether or not I want to apply. I mean, it can't hurt, right?

Here's why not though. I told my current job I'd be there at least a year, I like my current job, I'm building repore with staff and clients, I fit in etc... But, if I went back to the old PACT office, I'd already have a repore with staff and clients, and a longer relationship with them then I had with the clients I see now. It'd stop being a conflict of interest for my volunteer position too as I don't see nearly as many. Getting into PACT would have me doing government work, and I could do it for a long time. It'd look great on my MSW applications. And getting a service coordinator, it's be a "real" social work job and I'd actually make enough money to afford a car - which I would need for the position anyway. Which is unfortunate, I hate driving, I don't want to by a car.

I shouldn't have looked. I should have just left well enough alone. I'm happy now. Why change things? Why mess with something that works? I would like to work in assertive community treatment though. But I'm scared if I go back things won't look quite as rosey.

It's a small world

Blogger is being stupid and not letting me add a picture. Either that, or it's firefox. It could definitely be firefox, I've been having problems with it all day. In any case, here is a completely new ethical concern I never even thought about until it happened.

I recently did an intake for someone I knew. Only, I didn't realize I knew them till partway through the intake. How is this possible you say? I only knew them through an internet message board and msn. I'd seen pictures, but it was quarter to midnight and dark in the shelter where I went and got her to bring her to the intake room. So the thing is, I'm pretty open on this website, and so was she, and so we both know lots of deep, deep stuff about each other never expecting that we'd meet... and we met. awkward much?

And I was a bit unprofessional... sigh. Things we think of in retrospect. I recognized her and she didn't recognize me. It was late, she was very nervous, etc... And so I told her I knew her and where from, I was hoping it would help her nervousness, to know someone, you know? I totally shouldn't have done that... just kept it anonymous.

I reassured her that anything I knew about her from our past relationship I would keep out of our professional contact. My intake doesn't reflect anything she didn't say... I hope. Sometimes it's hard to keep those things out... I'll try and pass off her file each time I'm in detox. Maybe I should have passed off her intake once I realized it too, but I was the only one back there (nights), and it felt okay at the time. It's not like we were all that close on the internet, we hadn't talked at all in probably over a year. More like just a mutual message board knowledge of each other.

But, it also makes me feel kind of vulnerable. Because she knows tons of stuff about me that I would NOT want getting to the staff at work. I've barred my soul on that website. Not recently, but in the past.

The internet really changes things. It changes the way we think of friends, the way we think of relationships. It changes the way I think of conflict of interest situations. It also makes stop and think, and realize that I need to narrow this down for myself. My city's big, but not that big, when does my knowing someone become a conflict of interest? I've had the file of someone I played with when I was 6 and 7 at my dad's drop in center... That didn't seem like a conflict of interest to me, and I don't think it was, but this?

These are times when I regret taking a job that's not explicitly a social work job. No social work supervision. And really, the supervision sucks. Not enough debrief, not enough feedback, not enough time to talk ethics... and honestly, ethics just doesn't seem to be on the mind of most of these people. alas.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

ethics part one

I think I've mentioned this before. I work and volunteer in the same area of town with the same population. I always knew it would be a challenge, but now it's getting really confusing. Maybe it's a horrible idea, but I'm just not sure I can give up my volunteer work.

Today's case study. I recently dealt with my first seizure at work. People seize all the time. They're coming off and on a bazillion different drugs (both prescription and non) and many of them do have seizure disorders. I will see this a lot, it just so happened that this was the first time. The guy had two five minute long seizures. That's a lot, and long. Anyway, a family member of his was watching, saw the whole thing and was upset. I didn't have long to talk to her, because I was going out on van patrol and had to document and do other stuff. I made sure she was okay, told her she could come talk to us, but really, didn't have a lot of time for her... and I felt bad.

Of course I tell my best friend about my experience. I need to debrief the situation cause the paramedics were kind of cruel and there was a lot of intensity to the situation. The people in the shelter are sort of like a family in many cases.

Then comes street ministry. I have an opportunity to sit down and have a long chat with this family member. A much more in-depth one then I had the chance to at work. It's a great conversation.

Now, here's the ethical part. My best friend is also a team leader at Street Ministry. We generally tell each other - and the rest of the team in debrief - most of what the clients say. We keep each other updated etc... So, I tell her about our conversation. It's only natural. Then PHIA comes up, and the privacy act. I mean, she talked about it on our street ministry property, but I witnessed it on work property. See how it starts to get confusing? It's not like I told my friend the name of the person who had the seizure, she doesn't even know the last name of the women I was talking to. And the fact of the matter is, I've known her far longer at street ministry then at work, but we only started to have a deeper relationship after I started working.
So I'm going to puzzle this one out. There are many more situations, which I'll get to. Writing helps me sort things out in my head. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'll be doing some reading and some advice seeking in the near future.

Friday, July 4, 2008

happy :)

I had a great day at work last night (or is that a great night at work this morning), I never know. There were some hard parts, and a scary part, but really it was great.

I love working the night shift. The staff on nights are fun to be around, and they get their work done without taking things to over seriously. We laugh and joke and interact as a team - so important, and so different then some of the other shifts. It was also a quiet night for the most part, so we were able to have time to get things done well without feeling rushed.

It was also a good night because I saw a client that I hadn't seen in probably 6 months. She's someone I've known since my first summer job when I was 16. At that time she had custody of her kids, lived with her husband, and while she wasn't doing amazing, she was doing okay. Since then, things have gone down hill. Lost her kids, had her next child apprehended at birth, was using all sorts of drugs, prostituting, keeping odd company who was likely prostituting her, sniffing etc... I'd see her when I was out doing street patrols, or at street ministry, and she just looked like death. She's HIV positive, probably not on meds, not taking care of herself etc...

I really though she was dead. I really did. And then today she randomly walks into the drop in for soup at 7AM...sniff rag in hand, hand infront of nose, but in she walked. And she's ALIVE, and she's looking better then she has in forever. I told her about the street ministry bbq tonight (which reminds me, I have to post about my ethical issues), and I'm hoping she comes so that we'll have the chance to talk. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Van patrol was also good tonight. We didn't have too much people interaction, but we saw a raccoon, I've never seen one before, we watched it for a little bit. I was surprised to see one in city center. I had a really great talk with the other staff I was with, which was really nice. Plus, I decided that since the raccoon was the highlight of the night, I would write it on our trip log. So at 01:48 we had contact with "raccoon" on "a street" and provided the service "observation". Whoever codes that for stats should have a good laugh!

I love going to sleep with a smile on my face!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh Canada!

Canada Day was July 1st. I worked days, so I really didn't have the energy to write anything fun. So today, you get to learn all sorts of crazy fun facts you don't actually care about relating to Canada, the place I live, and the place I love (how corny is that). But truly, I can't see myself ever living anywhere else!

  • With 9,971,000 square kilometers of area, Canada is the second largest country in the world, behind Russia.
  • The glove for baseball was invented in Canada in 1883.
  • With only 3 people per sq. km, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world.
  • With 243,000 kms of shore, Canada has the longest coastline in the world.
  • Canada also has the smallest jail of the world in Rodney, Ontario. It covers area of 24.3 sq. mtrs (about 270 sq ft).
  • Canada has the highest quality of life in the world, as per the United Nations Human Development Index.
  • Toronto is the largest city of Canada. It’s home to more than 5 million people and its dwellers are known to hold more university educations than any country in the world.
  • Canada economy is the ninth biggest economy of the world.
  • Opposing the popular opinion, Canada doesn’t own the North Pole. Indeed, the North Pole is not owned by any country.
  • Santa Claus is believed to be from Canada.
  • Canada is the eighth biggest trader in the world. Amidst all producers of natural gas, copper, zinc, nickel, aluminum, and gold in the world, Canada comes in the top five.
  • Many great inventions, like basketball, the electric light bulb, the electric range, the electron microscope, standard time, the television, the telephone, and the zipper, took birth in Canada.
  • Canada is also known to be the fifth largest energy producer; it provides electricity to the U.S. too.
  • Canada has the highest tertiary education enrolment in the world.
So there you have it (source). Silly facts about Canada.

For real though. I love living here. I love public health care and low population density. That being said, I live in one of the most densely populated areas in Canada. I love our democratic structure. I even, like snow, although don't tell me that when it's -40!

Happy Birthday Canada!

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood (and if you're my neighbour you won't bug me)

It is a gorgeous day out today. I woke up, slowly and painfully - but I did it, and went out for breakfast with my pastor. It was soooo nice outside! Not too hot, not too windy, not too cold. Ahhh I love it. Where am I now? Oh, that would inside by the air conditioner, lol.

Why am I inside on such a gorgeous day? Well, because I don't have a yard or a tent. That's right, a tent. I plan on going back to sleep in about an hour. I work nights tonight, and I really just want to sleep right now. If I had it my way I would sleep later this evening, but little sister turns eighteen today, so I have to head over to my parents place for dinner and presents and such.

Really, what I should be doing this afternoon is writing my sermon for church on Sunday. And I will, it's just so comfortable right here...under my blanket...with my teddy bear :)

I love gorgeous days. Even when I'm inside they put a smile on my face. When it rains, I never quite get that joy of curling up with a good book. Rain bothers me. But this, this is weather I can totally live with. I love God's sunshine!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

guess what, it's another post about...sleep!!!

I'm exhausted. work today was CRAZY. It showed me why social workers burn out. Because honestly, if it was like that every single day, I would burn out very quickly. Work yesterday was very busy too. Silly Canada Day making people drink! There is also the fact that I worked days both those days... I hate working days. They're completely and totally evil. My body just does not work in the right way for me to actively participate in a job that starts at 7:30 in the morning.

I can't even begin to explain how frustrated I am with one of the staff at work. She told me off in front of a client and a trainee today. She was right, but it wasn't something that was that desperately important that she didn't to stop what she was doing and get mad at me. And I didn't respond. I should have. I should have told her later. That if she had an issue with my work she needed to talk to me in private. Really though, it was just that what I was doing was bothering her, because she's a control freak. Then she was really rude to a client, and that bugged me waaaaaaaay more (I think). Part of me is still really just plain made at her for being a jerk to me.

I dunno. Being over tired today certainly did not help the situation any. Last night, because of Canada Day, there were lots of people partying and my neighbourhood was really loud. It kept me up waaaaay past when I needed to be asleep. And so, I was sleepy. And that, is my story.

p.s. My registration came through and I am now officially a Registered Social Worker!!!