The two Millicents

Names are so different in each generation. Alot of the children born today are named for movie stars and other celebrities; the Jennifers and Pamelas and Brittneys. My clientelle of the older ladies is peppered with Winnifreds and Lillians and Joyces. The Marys and Mays and Dorothys, the Annas and Mildreds and Bettys. Ethels and Frances and Gladys's. Not often you meet a young woman named Ethel these days.

As explained in other posts, my memory, although excellent, is a daisy-chain of associations. Sometime in my murky past I must have made the decision that names just are not worth the trouble to keep in my easily accessible memory. I never ever forget a name BUT can I call it to my lips on demand? No, of course not!

This is the story of two ladies both named Millicent. I met the first Millicent the very first day I worked for my employer. Her middle initial was "M." and her last name also started with M. I never forgot HER name as to me she was always the MMM lady. It made me chuckle.

She was not my regular client however she used to get on my list now and again when someone else was on holidays and I would have her for two or three weeks. The Case manager would warn me every single time how Millicent could be very ornery and not to take it personally.

No need! I never once had any experience with her other than pleasant interaction.
The worst thing that ever happened there to me was seeing a rat run across the room.
Not entirely a peaceful thing but not an isolated occurance either. Other places have rats too.

Millicent #2 I met last year. Her last name also started with an "M". My habit with ladies over the age of 60 is to address them as Miss or Mrs.. Each time I left Millicent #2's home she would smile sweetly at me and remind me her last name was NOT Miller. That would be the OTHER Millicents last name. I knew her last name was not Miller. I would remind myself every time I went in there but my lips invariably betrayed me.

"My dear, darling, my name is NOT Miller."

"Oh, Millicent I am so sorry. I cannot seem to say Millicent without the Miller after it."

"That's alright dear, just call me Millicent. Nevermind about my surname."

"Thank you Millicent. That is very gracious of you."


More about this tomorrow...


Baby it's COLD outside!

a few days off, the return to work is always slow. For me, at least.
This morning it was back to being the bad guy for a gentleman who would rather not see me ever, back to being the good girl for a very nice lady who can't quite remember who I am anyway, back to comforting those with recent losses and sustaining those who might otherwise be lost. Drama and comedy. The stuff of a life.

Yesterday I was so cold all I could think of to do was go to bed.
Today with a little exhertion I managed to remember to have a bath.
Bath and bed, my favourite themes.

After work I stopped at the Thrift shoppes to check out what people donated after Christmas.
Alot of times you can be very lucky and get some great buys on new items that were just not what Santa was asked for. Or perhaps someone was on the naughty list. tsk tsk

Entirely too much chocolate is coursing through my veins, sitting in my drawers, and stashed about the place. I give it 2 weeks before it is completely gone. Oh wait, not completely gone; my hips and belly will hold some.

To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way.
Pat Riley


Stats and Errors

Although I love mathematics and excel at all things formulatic I still am the Queen of the Absent-minded and require lists and calendars and alarms to miss my appointments and show up the wrong day, week or month. One of the best things about my Employer is the list they print for me every Schedule week with the names, dates, times and addresses of my clients. For Christmas it just says "not available."

Mayhem and merriment!
Stats and errors aren't confined to baseball.
Don't look at me! I am merely the hands. It's the brain thats in charge.
God help us.


I'm not confused, I'm just well-mixed. - Robert Frost ...


Merry Christmas and to all a good night

A fine Christmas was had in points west here. We managed to get through it without fights, drunkenness, or chronic overeating. A first for my clan!

Just when you think it is safe to celebrate:
One of our beloved dogs went into a diabetic crisis. She is an older dog of 13 years.
We have maintained her care with alot of help from the vets of this area.
Recently she has been thinner and more incontinent than usual. It was jarring to watch a 7 pound dog empty a water dish and still be looking to drink more.

We had to put her to sleep on Boxing day. It was a sad day.
I held her and hugged her in a blanket then handed her to my family.
Her beloved dad held onto her as she winked out into eternity.
The Vet was so kind. He gentled her passing by tranquilising her before the final needle.
That way we got a few minutes to hold her and say good-bye.

I can't think of a nicer thing he could have done.
She was a marvelous dog and a staunch companion.
My dear little apricot poodle you are sitting in heaven now with Mom.
Lick her face for me.


• "Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden , where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." ~ Milan Kundera


tra la la lally fa la la lally

Christmas time is here!
I know so from the number of flyers in my newspaper.
What a colossal waste of trees.

Little miss Rockcakes was on my mind as I drove past her home.
Service has been suspended indefinitly.
Perhaps something to do with her fierceness, I really do not know.

During her frequent reminiscences she would extoll the many virtues of her belated husband.
Or she would relate verbatim his extolling of her virtues.
He was a brave man at the very least.

We had a long laugh about her story of when he was going off to get the permit for their marriage. She told me that when he rang up to tell his relations he was off to get a license, they asked him if he was getting a dog or a radio.

Only in Britain :)

Little miss Rockcakes was on a tear last time I saw her. She said:
"If I had my eyesight NOONE would come in that door. Not even YOU!"

I was rather touched. Quite a compliment, backhanded though it was.
It was followed by"
"I don't give a TOSS I REFUSE TO SIGN! Tell them THAT at the Office!"


They think they have me but they will find out who has who."

I think she is in Check at the moment.
Hope it's not checkmate.

God Bless you Little miss Rockcakes.
Fire and all!

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act according with the dictates of reason.

Oscar Wilde


What the mind can believe...

What the mind can believe the body can achieve.
I am quite sure that is a bastardization of a perfectly sensible quote, but you get the idea.

The lady who looked me over and deemed me capable of giving her a bath was feeling rather nervous about getting down into the tub again. I told her we should at least try.
"I won't let you fall. You know I am strong."

Yes. I think you are good."

She needed to get up and move around a little. The first time she did not try very hard at all to get up. I purposely *over-assisted* her so that she felt herself launched rather than assisted.

"Oh my," I said. "You are alot stronger today."

She walked into the bathroom. She got undressed and into the tub alone with me standing by. I just poured jugs of water over her back for 15 minutes until she felt cleansed and then I drained out the water and put a thick warm towel around her.

I can't get out."

"Of course you can't. You just had a hot bath. We have to wait a few minutes."

Towelled, creamed and conversed about her increasing strength. THEN I said"
"Ok let me get behind you."

Into the tub I go too and stand behind her very low bench.
I reach down and hold the bottom of the towel.

You're not going to get me up with that little towel I am sitting on are you?"

"No not at all. You are going to stand up yourself. I am just here in case you need to sit down again. You just stand up and sit on the ledge of the tub a minute. Come on. 1-2-3 up.
OK! now just sit there and get your breath."

She had pushed herself up under her own strength.

We got her all settled back for her nap and then she told me.

he last two days it has taken two people to lift me out of the tub."

I had a call about it.

Do you lift her out of the tub?" (we are a no-lift worksite)

What the mind believes....

She believes so adamantly in my abilities she just does it.
My comment to my Supervisor was just to tell her other workers to go real slow.
She can do it. But she has to believe that *they* believe she can.
Or else she will lose faith in herself and them.

Faith, enthusiasm, and passionate intensity in general are substitutes for the self-confidence born of experience and the possession of skill. Where there is the necessary skill to move mountains there is no need for the faith that moves mountains.
Eric Hoffer

Would you like some Elk with that?

Oh Bill. He has this philosophy about telling tales.
If the person involved is dead now he will tell. If not, it remains a mystery.

Bill was around when the population of some of the little towns that now are cities or big suburbs of cities was under 300. Lots of land, few people.
Bill knew everyone. The Fire Chief, The Chief of Police, the Game Warden, the guy who sold liquor. Sometimes the same guy might have two titles. Back in those simpler times complicated things were made easier by such fortuitous circumstance.

It was tough times. Noone had any money, everyone had experienced a stinker year and to make things worse, the unthinkable happened.
The Liquor Store was robbed! The Police went out to investigate. The Insurance Inspector was summoned. It was a bad time to be losing money. But these were hearty folk unafraid of hard work or hard times. Every change of season they held a dance for everyone around. It was coming up the next week when Bill had a conversation with someone.

"How about the Dance on Friday Bill? Got anyone with a Still?"

"Nah struck out. Guess it will be another dry one."

"What about dinner? Anyone going to give over a pig or a cow"

"Nope. Noone can afford to."

"okay pass the word. Dance is on, dinner is provided, drinks on the house."

Suddenly his wife burst in with:

"BILL--- don't tell that story. Someone could get in trouble!"
Bill just shrugged with a snort.

"nah dont matter no more. He's dead."

"Who is dead?" I asked.
"The Police fellar, he was a Game Warden too. He helped the guy at the Liquor store load a truck up with booze. Then they went and shot an elk. It was a great dance."

I love Bill.
They just don't make 'em like that anymore.


Thieves respect property; they merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.
-- G. K. Chesterton (The Man Who Was Thursday, 1908)



Today I celebrate my birthday with a Psychiatric assessment.
Fun fun fun!
---and--- necessary.

I cannot tell behavioural changes within myself. Pharmaceuticals make it necessary to have someone watching my back. Brain meds are tricky.

So if I want to remain employable I must take meds.
If I want to continue to drive - ditto.

My favourite part is the Goddess side-effect.

I am *ME* + 30 pds.

A good effect is my newfound ability to sleep.
Because I now sleep, my thinking is clearer.

SO Happy Birthday to me~!
I passed my assessment. Sanity, tenuous sanity is mine.


"Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night."

William Blake : English poet, painter, engraver & mystic
William Blake (1757 - 1827)


"Oh and, she might have a chair in front of the door"

Good thing they warned me.
I still almost broke my neck.

You know your visit could go either way when there are things barracading doors and windows. This behaviour, although not UNcommon, seems to be routine with certain forms of dementia and memory loss. The client will know something is wrong but is not quite sure what that something is so they become somewhat paranoid. Some clients dont know who or why we are there while others are just fine with the whole thing.

I went in the kitchen where every cupboard was labelled.
Every drawer, every everything.
There had been a real effort to clarify the environment.
The home was sparser than it probably was a few years ago.
No extras anywhere.

I woke the client up. ( It is hard to want to do this on a cold winter morning. If I were a client I would not be wanting to get up in the cold dark winter mornings at 7:30)

I did not see the small stool she had put in her bedroom doorway.
Luckily I just stumbled.


Communication breakdown

What is it about certain days when things go from bad to worse?

I had a very nice client today whose wife seemed to think I was speaking Mongolian.
I did not understand her much either.
On top of it all the office sent a second person for 2 hours.
Two hours!!!
I am not sure what that was all about.

We arrived and our client's wife instructed us to shower him and get him ready for an outing.
Then she rolled the car up and wheeled him out and we were standing wondering what to do.

"We are not allowed to be alone in Client's homes." I said.

"My daughter's home." She replied.

"Do you want me to follow you?" I said.

After a 3 second pause she told me to get in.

Was she thinking we were going to stay and do house-cleaning?
Perhaps she had something in mind that I cannot quite figure out.
Mystery to me. I was booked there for 4 hours.

It all worked out fine (for me and the client) anyway.
Not so sure about the wife.

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.
--Helen Keller

Five in the Eye

This one goes in the *Sometimes nothing works* category.

A long time ago we had a gent with a severe brain injury on the client list.
He was paraplegic however he had tremendous upper body strength.
He had lost all sense of what was appropriate and was in a family setting with his older parents.
Then his Mother died and the bottom fell out.
Noone could handle him.
Call in the Community Nursing Team.

I had grave reservations about doing any sort of care on this man.
I wanted someone to watch my back, and there was noone.
So they sent someone else.
Then one day my number came up again and I refused to go.
"There IS noone else ."

"I am NOT going."

"Well, will you assist?"

"Yes I will assist. But at the first sign of trouble I am out."

This man lived way out in the outer boundaries of our territory.
A little farther and he would have been some other Health Region's task.
It was a 45 minute drive. I was on time, just barely, and there was noone there.
No other person for me to assist.

There was absolutely no way I was going in there alone so I sat in my car and waited.
30 minutes late someone showed up.
"You just got here too?"

"No I was on time. I have been waiting for you."

"Oh who are you?? I dont know you. I would have thought you would have gotten started in there at least."

"Absolutely not. I am here to assist YOU."

"WHAT? You probably know more about him than I do. You should have gone in and prepped him. I came here from an urgent call. blah blah blah (I stopped listening)

"I don't think so. I will assist you. Let's go in."
The other person was spitting bullets. Tough break for them. No way I was doing this.

We went in and the other person did the job with the worst possible grace. I assisted.
The client was getting more and more agitated.
Suddenly, (and without warning!) he swung up with his fist, and missed me by a hairs-breathe.

"I'm done."
I walked out to the outer room and told the family they had to go in and finish.
The other person came out and yelled for ten minutes about anything they could think of to yell about and then got in the car and drove off.

Since that day I had never seen anyone else take a swing, except for a few dementia souls who do not know any better. But: all that changed.

Someone had a horrid sleep the other night.
Someone threw all their covers off repeatedly and was as a result very cold.
Someone tried it on with the family before we got there.

"Not sure what kind of reception you are going to get. A very bad night."

A very bad morning also.
Every chance they got, they lashed out.
I had to FORCEFULLY hold the arm and hand so the other person did not get whacked.
When we had the person in the lift even then, the sling control was tried as a weapon.

It was very sad.

As we left there was an inch to walk by.
The person got us both on the way out.
I have a little bruise to match the other two where they got me during the *care*

Today was a different story, everything was wonderful.
You wouldn't even know yesterday was a possibility unless someone warned you.

Thankfully I had an awesome second person.
No attitude just work.
And high skills.
And good communication.
But it still did not help us dodge the lashing out.

Sometimes, nothing works.
"The mind is seldom quickened to very vigorous operations but by pain, or the dread of pain."
"The mind is seldom quickened to very vigorous operations but by pain, or the dread of pain."


"Something about you"

uh huh it was the blender Lady.

There is just something about you.."


You just don't listen. Take for example just now. I asked you to get my pajamas the flannel ones and you went right to the drawer and opened it when I clearly told you they were on the other bed."

You did?

And don't come any closer. There is just something about that colour red."

I am wearing a red knit set with a black and red vest.

You should never come to sick people wearing the colour red. It is just too much energy for us. I am a person who is strongly affected by colour."

What a surprise.

She delayed her eleborate procedures until the last possible moment when I no longer had time. Fooled her slightly this time. Snuck in early and made the &^$%$#@#@ pureed porridge and banana.

I had three or four other little helpful things told me.
One hour and a half she gets in the morning.
Even first thing up she makes me really wonder how the Medical System can justify her controlling measures. ----%^$$%#-----

Later I was with the very most senior of clients. Asked her about the red thing.

I was just about to compliment you on that. It is such a warm and beautiful colour."

I hugged her.


Maturity is not a matter of arteries, it's a matter of attitude.
--Randall D. Worley


The Sea and thee

Some old salty dog told me a tale about a battle between him and a greater force: The Sea

He was young and fit and very proud and was sitting up in Nootka Sound on deck on a warm day while the rest of the crew slept the afternoon away below. He was getting hot and the water was beckoning so he stripped off and dove in the water. It was cool and refreshing. He decided to swim around the boat and when he completed the circle he thought he might do it again.
Second time round he realised that they were not anchored just adrift and the lap around was a little more tiring. Time to get back on deck.

He looked for something to grab onto and realised he had not thought to lower a fender. The fenders were rope ladders he had made himself and they were all tucked neatly away on the deck. The sea was lapping cooly against him. He suddenly realised the effect of the cold water on his body; he was exhausted.

He had a few minutes of strength left but not more. He knew if he called out noone would hear him. He put every last ounce of determination into springing out of the water and grabbing onto the deck. With a sickening sinking feeling his arms betrayed him and he found himself back in the water. The boat was drifting farther away. The water was feeling colder.

He knew right then that if he did not make it the next time he would not be able to try again and he would most likely drown. He grabbed on again and missed again, but clung to the side of the boat. He willed himself up and crawled to the rail and got one arm over and then the other but could go no farther. For five or six minutes he was at the mercy of the Sea as the boat rolled with the tide. Finally he got one leg over and fell face down onto the deck.

It was such a hot day that the pitch between the planks was burning his skin but he could not move, not even one inch. He lay there for over an hour and then finally got enough strength to go below and get under a blanket.

The stripes on his front reminded him for quite a few weeks to choose his battles wisely.
He never again swam alone, but 60 years later he still has a deep respect for the Sea.


He that will learn to pray, let him go to the sea.
George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 1640

I'm 98 today -hurray- I'm 98 today!

A little poem sits on the tabletop of a very special Lady.
It was written by her 6 year old great-great grand daughter on the occaision of her 98th birthday.

o/~I'm 98 today --HURRAY!-- I'm 98 today
I'll laugh and sing and smile and dance
But perhaps I better not take the chance
I'm 98 today! ~\o

I met this Lady when she was 104.
104 sounds like a temperature to me never an age.
There were some centenarians in other places I had worked or visited but never had I met someone so advanced in age living in their own home. On their own. The woman was absolutely sparkling with the delight of knowing how amazing the whole thing was to me. Sparkling.

She is 107 now. One hundred and seven years old. Living in her own apartment. Alone.
Isn't that the very best thing you have read today?
I love it.


To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living. --Henry Frederic Amiel

A wee mishap

Sometimes my inner demons use my physical body and act out little situations quite out of my subconscious.

I seem to have trouble with food.
I have always said that I do whatever my clients need.
I never said I do it happily.
I am cheerful about things and can do most any task with a cheery attitude. That does not mean I am happy doing it. --again: syntax is everything
One of the things about my workplace that really annoys me is that highly skilled people can be sent to prepare food while someone who struggles is out there doing Palliative Care.
That is not supposed to happen anymore. It does.
One morning soon I will be pureeing organic something for Mrs. I will eat it later while someone else is doing the Pals.
It's first up so I should not be too pissy about it.

Thanks to the miracles of modern pharmacology I am almost always in a good mood.
You would be too if you had been adrenally burned out for a decade and now enjoy normal adrenilin levels. So *refreshing* to sleep at night.
I can do almost anything in daylight hours. The earlier the better.
If I have a stinker client at 6am I could care less.
At 4pm I might have a headieache about it.
At 8pm I would stew a tad.
At midnite I would most likely rant.

The Scribe was the first and best example of food fights.
He had decided to hate my very presence since the day I had an urgent call from the Office that lasted 20 minutes. I had not yet realised it at this point. I would walk in around 5pm and be told labouriously how to boil water and slice carrots etc etc
"Dont touch the custard. Maggie (another worker) makes the perfect english custard. My wife and I have been waiting for months for her to come. She was here this morning. It's beautiful. We can't wait to have it for dessert. Just warm up the soup. It's in the fridge. You can't miss it."

I missed it. After ten mins of stirring the pot and wondering what was wrong with the "soup" I had the insight to check the fridge again. yup. The soup was still in it's bowl awaiting me.
It was the custard I was warming up. I had even added milk to it. You never saw the contents of a pot whipped back on a plate so fast! I put it in the freezer so it might firm back up. Then I put it way at the back of the fridge and got the real soup warmed up. Rocket science you know.
Hah. I got out while the gettin was good.

A student had accompanied me at that time learning the ropes. The Scribe in his pompous glory had thrown her out after saying that it was all *too much* while waving his finger at me. I had called him for permission earlier but apparantly he forgot. I guess the drama of throwing her out was too much fun. After the custard debacle I got into my car where she was waiting and told her the story. Of course we laughed. I also told her I would not be going back there.

Last week I had the blender lady at noontime.
"Just puree some peas" she said. Did I know how to do that?
translation: can you do it exactly the way I want following the steps I desire in the order I dictate or do I have to come and sit in my wheelchair beside you barking out directions while telling you I cant hear.
yeah yeah I know how to do that.

First off the blender seal broke.
An omen.
I was lulled into a false sense of security while cooking them and thickening them.
I put them in her thermos and walked it into where she lies in state, a plastic cabinet serving as her everything drawers. The top drawer is pulled out for the thermos to sit in.
I put it in the drawer she pulled out.
She checked to see if the lid was loose enough for her to open.

Over went the drawer and pea soup went everywhere. It was like a outtake from the Exorcist.
*grrr* Made me late for my very important meeting and what's worse:
I went back there for a morning visit this week and as I brought the blenderized food over she said to me:
"Be careful of the drawer. One of those idiot girls that doesn't know anything knocked it over. Pea soup everywhere. Can you imagine?"

Yes I can.


"Memory feeds imagination." ~ Amy Tan (Joy Luck Club)


A little eavesdropping....

Ole Bill told me a very funny story this morning,
He was harkening back to the days on the Farm when winters were long and joyless and the nearest neighbour was 4 miles away.

"How did you find out the news Bill? Did you have a radio?"

Nah not back then."

"Did you get a newspaper?"

Are you kidding? Noone would deliver out in the middle of the prairie!"

"Well what did you do for news?"

Oh hell we used the phone."

"Was it a crank phone?"

Oh yeah we were one long and 4 short that was our ring. Whenever you wanted to know anything at all you just picked up the phone and listened. There was only one line north of Calgary and we all shared it.

I remember Aunt Lil was telling me about this old bachelor who liked to give her a call now and then. One night he called up to tell her about his hunting adventure.

It was the damnedest thing Lil. I shot the bugger one shot dead!
I walked on over to have me a look at it and it was the damnedest thing.
'The old boy looked just like he was taking a rest on his side. I looked him over and there wasn't a mark on 'im. That old Cougar was stone cold dead. I reckon that shot went clean up his ugly old asshole and out through his mouth .'

Aunt Lil said the next few seconds all she could hear on the line was the clicking of people hanging up in droves."

I laughed.
Different century - same human condition.
Nosey Parkers hear more than they would like.

Nan Mulhanney: I couldn't help overhearing because I was intentionally eavesdropping.
I'll Do Anything (1994))

Past time to go

What a sad thing it is when it is time to go yet all the signs are ignored.
Many times it will be a vascular dementia or an Alzheimers type dementia causing judgement errors. This is where the Medical system has to intervene. It is never done lightly.
Today I had two clients both in this circumstance.

The first client lives in one of the most desirable areas in our lovely resort area.
The home is a multi million dollar property. She knows this part.
She does not quite remember the difference between her Mother and herself or her husband and her father.
She at least has no desire to cook but she has a strong desire to wander up and down the road.
She shows effects from a vascular dementia (The underlying cause of vascular dementia is an interruption of blood flow to the brain.)
She is not quite a danger to herself yet neither is she safe. Shades of grey.

The second client lives in low-income housing sponsered by one of the local benevolent societies. She and her husband were among the first tenants there. Over a year ago I had the sad task of reporting finding her cooking brown sugar and wondering why it wouldnt thicken. She thought it was porridge. Then she had a terrible cough that would not go away and a great deal of incontinence. She was placed in Intermediate Care and at the very last moment she declined to go. This happened four times.

In the last month something has gone terribly awry. One Nurse arrived to find the client rubbing her arm. After some coaxing she got her to remove her robe and found half her back and arm completely raw. Noone knows quite what happened but the dressing is huge.
Then she left her stove on two nights in a row - the third day she put her hand on the burner.
Another dressing.

Pills untaken, fire risk.... she has to go this time.
She no longer can decline.
I wish she would have gone last year at the beginning of the great slide down.

Deterioration of kindness and consideration is the most insidious blight on our mental environment - when our rights as consumers overshadow our responsibilities to each other as human beings. - Roxanne Bielskis


I believe that the horrifying deterioration in the ethical conduct of people today stems from the mechanization and dehumanization of our lives - the disastrous by-product of the scientific and technical mentality. Nostra culpa. Man grows cold faster than the planet he inhabits.
Albert Einstein