"What does that mean? I am palliative?"

"Kaeb, they tell me I am palliative. What does that mean? I am palliative?"

I find these sorts of conversations difficult.
Why don't the Doctors and Social Workers and Hospice personnel get these things done before I come in. I do not mind so much as it hurts me to think a person has to ask their Nursing staff something they should know.

Do you know what I answer to that question?
I say:
"It means you are human, we are all palliative."

--- *


Terminal Sedation Fails

Having an opinion is my right.
Expressing it on the job is not.
Free will and Doctor's orders supercede my right to say what is on my mind.

I had the unpleasant task of visiting a home where sedation was reaching the terminal stage. It is a long very long death process. Perhaps this person will not die handily in weeks or months, but they are indeed on that short road.
The client and the family are pleasant. The situation is not.

I left the home wondering why the Nurses notes insisted he was dying imminently.
That is not what I saw.
The next visit I had a call to warn me like a head's up that my client was at death's door.
They are??? I asked incredulously.
What had happened there to push the client from stable decline to tenuous grasp on life? What indeed.

I entered and was rather surprised to see how pale and hot the client was.
Morphine tends to do that in high dosages.
I am not the Doctor. What do I know?

I took a good look at the client's skin and nails... everything was the same as the prior visit. Just the sedation was increased dramatically. Naturally there had been no fluid intake nor food for 2 days. Still, the client looked medicated beyond an appropriate level but not at death's door unless dehydration and starvation opened it and pushed from behind.

Leaving the home I was struggling with my thoughts.
These are competant intelligent people with educated family members.
It is not my call.

I entered the home again this week.
The family looked happier. The client was awake and aware and eating an egg.
"We cut out the extra medications. We decided it was going to result in a tragedy."

Thank God.
Thank God.
Thank GOD!!!!

Perhaps the client has a year, perhaps a month...
but at least the client will go when God calls.
And not before.



Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

After a strange conversation largely featuring feelings and emotions not concerning me at all, I am perplexed as to why.....

Is it not in my lot to have people tell me the whole truths?
Perhaps not.

Some people have the capacity to hurt you deeply because you trust them implicitly.
I conclude I should not trust anyone.

* ----------



Nursing? Who does Nursing?
Let's make dumplings!

I did just that today in the home of my dear client, the gourmet cook.
She was struggling to make a soup but only because she could not stand at the stove for long, and sitting she could not reach the pots. Enter Kaeb!

Melt some butter, some whole lotta butter (1/2 cup or so) and then add about 1 to 1/4 cups white flour. Once it starts to look like dough add some boiling water to the desired consistency, and 1 tsp salt and sugar each. Form into tbspn sized balls and drop into boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drop into cold water to set. Add to soup as desired.

Damn it was good!

------ *


The Graceful Farmer

There is no reason to think this man was a farmer, although he has very broad hands that have obviously seen much work in their time. He is elderly and at the end of his days. He is succumbing to a cancer not to olde age although in less than 5 years he would make his hundredth year. He lays abed comfortably, clean and shaved and catheterised for the sake of convenience and consciousness.

His longtime wife, although a fair number of years younger, is looking tired and old today. She wants a peaceful death for him and it seems likely to occur in the next 48 hours. He is in and out of the death-beckoning slumbers and when his eyes open the pupils are more dilated than not. He takes in his surroundings, looks for his wife and then relaxes. It is a good death process. No pain and just the way and manner he chose.

The telephone is ringing constantly.
No sooner do they hang up than another call comes in.
The word is clearly out. The Farmer is ready to reap that final bounty.

His wife holds the telephone and smiles gently into the room.
"Honey, it's Dick and Jane from Winnipeg calling."

He is completely out of it.
She walks to his side and speaks firmly.
"Honey, Dick and Jane to say hello to you."

She tells the caller that he likely cannot answer back but he certainly can hear and understand them. She puts the phone to his ear.

A moment later I hear his voice.
"Why Dick, Jane, thank you for calling. I am not so bad."

There is a pause, and then he says it again:
"Not so bad at all."

Then he closes his eyes and goes back to the slumbering.

Isn't that just so gracious?
The farmer used some of his last breath to elegantly assure friends he is going to be fine in any world.

Bless you Sir.
What a class act.

--------------- *

The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

Call me Chicken Little, or at least chicken, but I thought a piece of the sky hit me on the way to work today. I suppose life goes on even with a Stephen Harper-headed government; although you will note I do not use the word conservative.
Harper is a Conservative in the same way Campbell is a Liberal. They are when and if it suits them.

Minority governments can be good. It is too bad the Bloc holds those 30 seats yet.

I voted therefor I feel I did my best to help effect change.
I am sorry Paul Martin is stepping down as leader of the Liberal party.
It is completely understandable after all that man endured.
I am sorry to see him go.

---------------- *

The Change in Farming

There is a wonderful CBC feature on this very topic that has almost nothing to do with what I wish to say, but is incredibly worth a listen.
( THAT version of this topic, "The Change in Farming", by Adam Goddard, won the 1999 Prix Italia for Best Cultural Radio Documentary of the Year and the Premios Ondas International Radio award in Spain.)

Oh to heck with it-- let's talk about THAT version first.
I heard this on *Out Front* back in '99 I guess. Possibly it was later and a re-broadcast, but it impacted me tremendously. I was delighted that Adam Goddard took the time to listen to his Grandfather's stories, let alone record them. He was just as interested in the musical tone of his Grandfather's voice, perhaps moreso, than the content of what he was saying. It is a stunning piece and a repository copy sits at http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/pages/archive01.html

It reminds me of the things I hear at work all the time.
It reminds me of the Farmer I recently met who will soon be meeting God.

Go listen to Henry.
We can talk about the other change(s) in farming another time.
This one is for you, Henry.

* ---------------------


19:22 hours.... Conservative Minority Predicted


My BC includes NDP

As I voted today, I noticed all around me in the centre many other familiar faces of Medical professionals and para-professionals. My BC is braver than other provinces when change is in order. We don't go small.

I pray my BC voted in NDP members of parliament.

Please God.

------ *

"Was that Mom I just heard?"

It was a quick too quick start to my day.
At my last client, I had to use a key to get in.
She is rather deaf and very pleasant although her world is one of varying stages of confusion. Her dog was barking at me from another room where she had it penned in. The dog had her leash on so I decided to take her out for a quickie.

When we returned, my client greeted us with:
"Was that Mom I just heard?"
She looked hopeful.

"I don't know', I said.

I went about my tasks and looked her over from the sideview.
She was still in her housecoat late in the day.
Her hair had been washed and set by her morning Home-maker.
Her eyes were orbited by dark circles.
I was wondering why I could not see her smile which is the usual way she greets me.

I looked in her fridge and spotted a Copenhagen.
"Hey, want some tea and one of these tasty delights?" I asked.
(distract, distract, distract...)

We sat and sipped tea as she took her pain pills and she wolfed down her Copenhagen.

"Sooo," I ventured, "Did your Mother ever live here on the Island?"

"No, wait, maybe, wait... hmm I am not sure, no, I don't think so... hmm well..." She fussed about this for 2 or 3 minutes.

Then she told me about the two girls who came in the morning.
The Home-maker and "that other girl."

I have no idea who this other girl is but you know there *IS* no other girl. There is one girl who comes in the morning to assist her to get up and washed and dressed and so on.

This is the second week where she has alluded to this second girl who accompanies (call her Alice.,..) Alice.

I let it go.
It is a good thing it wasn't one or two of my co-workers visiting her today. She is already on red alert as far as placement goes.
I do not happen to believe she needs to go just yet, hopefully never.

Maybe she did hear her Mom.
Maybe she is dying.
Maybe she is failing.

Who knows?
Not me. That's for sure.

----- *

Did you vote today?

If not GET OUT THERE and do so.
And if you are reading this after the polls close and you chose not to vote, I don't want to hear any whining or complaining about politicians from you.


-- *


Decision Canada

---dum dum dum---

It's polling day tomorrow, Monday, January 23rd, 2006, and for the first time in decades our election will actually be exciting.

Federally I have favoured the Liberals in the past as I have strong beliefs in social policies. This time I am voting NDP. The Liberal party has been in power for too long and there are many things needing cleansing. I do not blame Paul Martin our Prime Minister. I pity him for inheriting such a mess from Chretien.

Stephen Harper scares me.
He is so glib these days.
He said something amazing the other day on National television that went by the wayside. Noone queried him.

Harper said: "I am not a career Politician. One day I will move on to something else."
Okay, that scares me. What on earth compelled him to run for Leadership of the Conservative Party? Because he can? Lord knows that works for our Provincial Premier. Harper strikes me as yet another who will dismantle what Canada has in solid resource-driven Government corporations and appoint friends to run new ones.

Gordon Campbell has no problem at all with diddling figures to demonise his predecessors and fake out the people while he gives our Province away. The sickening part of this way of business is that a very very few upper level types make big money but the bottom tier of the pyramid, the workers, the citizenry of the Province lose their jobs and get them back without benefits and with huge pay decreases. Looks good for the year in question. They sell everything to their friends and their friends of friends all the while badmouthing their political opposites for corruption. Very droll indeed.

Gordon Campbell is a blight on the landscape but he is NOTHING compared to Harper.

Tomorrow, if you value Canada vote for the NDP.
The Liberals need a rest but God help us if we get Harper with a majority.
It will be a long horrible 4 years and we will have inflation and worse.

I want a leader who IS a political animal.
And in 4 years, or less, I am hoping the Liberal party gets it together again.

----------- *

The Odd man in #10

When do you overlook and when do you confront odd behaviours?

My new neighbour continues to behave in strange ways.
Today I came home and he was parked lengthwise in my sideways parking spot but he was standing outside his car gazing up at my bedroom. Too weird!

The moment he saw my car enter he walked to his driver's side and got it and started his car. He pulled out and drove out.

I dinno... I am thinking I will call my management company and ask if they did a criminal records search and if not perhaps we should make that effort.

I would rather stay out of his consciencousness as he is a very odd man at the very least. Who gives the finger to people in public that they don't know? He does. Who hides in the side parking lot and watches people pick up their mail: he does.
And who was on the rood of second building when I came home the other day: he was.

Quelle bizarre.

He better not make this personal.
I will not be happy if he does.
Not at all.



Where are your manners?

You feel snuffly and unwell.
For some reason known only to your (stupid self-serving) self, you go to a restaurant. As you sit drinking your coffee and pecking at your meal, you repeatedly cough and sneeze, turning your head as you do so.

You continue on to a food store and use those dirty hands of yours to touch produce, the cart and other things.

The rest of us do not want your germs.

Oh wait: too late-- you already gave them to us.
At the very least learn to cough into your elbow, not the air behind you, and WASH YOUR HANDS or carry sanitizer.

Where are your manners?
The same place your(s and the rest of ours) health will be.



The Necromancer Prophet

In keeping with this gloomy season and relentless dreariness, I am casting my mind back to a time when I met someone who spoke and sang about the demons in my own mind.
Everything I fretted over, every 3am of the soul was there in Michael Gira.

Perhaps it is just the time of year; perhaps it is my age:
It seems very glum and dull these days.
It has rained for over 35 days.
Could be more now. I have not had the heart to check.

I heard that in Canada, one in 6 people lives in Toronto.
One in 6! No wonder they think so highly of themselves.
According to the CBC half their population was born elsewhere.
It would not surprise me to learn our population here has similar demographics.
More, more, more.
Go home already.
What? This is your home?
No way: this is MINE MINE MINE!

As Paradise disappears under asphalt and vinyl it seems only the very rich can afford it here. We are becoming beggars in our own palace. The majority of Canadians seem to be very spoiled and self-centred. Sure we give to charity and donate to Tsunami relief and such but when it comes to future planning we just don't do it as a Nation.
We all want everything NOW.
As the forests get felled, and the fish disappear, now the resource of note is water.
There is an Indian band near Port Alberni who want to get into the bulk water sales business. They are sad because they can no longer make $ from trees and salmon. Is getting into the water business really the answer?
Everyone, even our First Nations, are looking for the almighty $.

Have I ever blogged about Michael Gira?
He made an indelible impression on me in Redding, England.
He was playing with his band of the time,
The Swans.<

Michael was wearing a necromancers cap ala Merlin of Excalibur.
(that's Nicol.. NOT Michael)
He had presence, cap notwithstanding, but when he spoke he intoned doom.
His lyrics were dark and deep. That terrible beauty again.
His message was the dying earth.
He was very powerful; that deep voice of sorrows.
He was speaking with some music industry types who were trying to pigeonhole him, and instead they came away shaking their heads to dispel the implanted cobwebs.
Michael saw the future. The unprettiness of all this consumption.
The wastelands we are leaving our children's unborn who may never be.
That was over ten years ago. Possibly 12!
Where are you now Michael? Have you found hope?

Actually I know where he is, digitally anyway.
He has his own wipipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Gira
Hilariously, it is in the category Pysch Folk Musicians.
yeah thats him.

There are lots of posts about him on gothtronic
He is the sort of person cults revolve around.
There is a cool review of Angels of Light on the creemonline website.
The writer sees what I saw in Redding so long ago.


"Now I've Got Nothing To Look At
And I've Got No Pain To Deny
And I've Got No Body To Bleed For
And I've Got No Sun To Pull Down From The Sky
But I'm Saved, Yeah I'm Saved
And I Don't Understand It, I'm Saved
If Mercy Were To Hold Me Closely
And Hide Me In Her Place Of No Pain
The Angels Would Throw Down The Water
They Cried From One Hundred Million Eyes
And I Have A Feeling That's Growing
Somewhere Behind My Sleeping Mind
Yeah I'm Saved, I'm Saved
Yeah I Don't Know Why, But I'm Saved
When Sunlight Falls On Your Shoulder
You Look Like A Creature From Heaven
You're Holy When You Open Your Eyes
And Look Up Inside That Sheltering Sky
And You're An Angel, I'll Never Betray You
But I'll Always Be A Lonely Child
Yeah Still I'm Saved
I'm Saved
Yeah I Don't Deserve It
But I'm Saved
" swans... Saved

(still my favourite, there is a mote of hope in there I think)


Nothing to say

Even I am amazed by this.

I have nothing to say.

Enjoy the silence.



The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

My friend Eric sent me a badge.
He told me to print it out and use it as ID for everything.
I think I might.
Here it is.


"You know... the Genital box"

Palliative client.
Wife in home is very clear in her directives.
Wife is very much in charge of all Staff entering her home.
Wife took to me and my style instantly. Kindred spirits. We understand each other.

After finishing some care the client had a bleed or two.
Passing clots can be messy business and I knew that when I left if she saw that she would panic so I showed her what it looked like and *voila* another clot. I cleaned it in front of her and then we left the client to speak in the kitchen.
Believe it or not we were discussing Mass.

"Father Juan comes every Sunday and does Mass for us at the bedside."
"Thats really great" I said. "I am reduced to watching them on Television."
"Ah do you watch Channel 237?"
"No no. I just have the basics."

She looked at me and smiled.
"You know what you need? A genital box. It brings in all the stations."

It took her a moment or five to realise what she had said.
This is an extremely devout woman.
My eyes were popping, I was trying so hard not to laugh.
She caught it and said: "Well of course after all that type of care I am thinking about genitals!"

I couldn't answer the roar came out of my mouth.
The two of us laughed til we cried and then I left.

She gave me a hug.
hee hee


"Where did the Others go?"

The "Others". The sound of that phrase puts me in mind of some '60's low-fi sci-fi film where Villagers wreak terror on unwitting visitors who stay too long or stray from the Inn. The "Others".

The ohsoveryconfusedeverydaynow Lady of my list was already up and dressed when I arrived early in the morning.
"You're up early!"
"No. I got up hours ago. I am not sure how I got here. I wonder if the Others are around."

They were not.
There are no Others.

"What would you like to eat with these medicines?"
"OH I will just have whatever the "Others" are having."

They are not having anything that I know of.

"Did you sleep well last night?"
"I am not sure how the "Others" slept but I did all right."

"Who was here?" I asked.
"You know.... the "Others"."

Nope I don't but okay.

"Where did the "Others" go?"
"What others are these" I said unhelpfully.
"How would I know?" She answered just right back at me.

Be obscure clearly.
She has a Master's in it.



Stretching myself into different shapes

The biggest stretch for me is the one between waking and sleeping.
I feel that huge fall from infinity into self and it is a long hard one.
Another kind of stretch awaits me at work some days, when I see names on my list, or certain addresses, and know that I am going to be bent a little.
I had a pretzel today.

Many people consider me chatty but in fact I only like to control what is said in my presence. I hate noise. I hate television. I especially hate it when I have to pay attention to something or someone for hours on end. It hurts my (stupid) head.
This is the #1 reason I chose to work one on one. Being in Hospital is too much stimilus for me. Facilities are the same. Too much of everything and everyone and no chance to flee. no thanks.

Today my stretch was being in the company of a client for hour(s) in which chat chat talk talk banter banter. Oooo the agony. Every single second was filled with this talking. Perhaps it was the whack to the head that made it hurt more.

but OW!


What do you do when you enter someone's private space and there is dirt everywhere?
What do you do when the place the person cleans themselves is filthy?
What do you do? Especially when you are privy to information that tells you this person may not fully understand the environment is unhealthy.

For many of my co-workers the answer to that is: You pretend not to see.
I took 45 minutes and did a mini clean-up.
My client said: "You're a little workaholic. You did more in that time than anyone has ever done here before. But you know I realise you are not a maid. I just don't seem to get around to it."

Yes people have the right to choose.
Yes people can choose to live in a manner which may be unhealthy.
If I have some time, even a little bit of time, I can do it.

One day someone may be doing it for me.
I hope they dont let me mire in filth.


Strange intrusion

Living in Paradise can be rougher than you might think.
There are always those who are jealous; always those who want what you have, and even people who will decide you are a bad person based on such things.

My little house is in an area where no rentals are allowed.
This is to deter those who come for the never-ending vacations.
It is already difficult being a tourist destination.
The tourists are our bread and butter.
My area has an association and we are all members. You cannot buy in here and rent it out. Well, not legally anyway. Last year we were asked to make an exception for someone who had "an excellent track record of stable long-term tenants."

Our new neighbour has been here two months.
Every time he sees me, whether I am with a client on the road, or walking with friends, or pulling out of my driveway, he gives me the third digit salute.
It is very odd.

Now I was at my kitchen sink looking out and yes, again, Mr. Finger cruises by slowly with his hand out the window. I do not know what on earth possesses someone to behave so badly. They say he has a wife. I wonder if she is chained to the bed or what? Another neighbour tells me he shouted at her for being in the crosswalk that he walked to cross in. Another was yelled at for parking in front of the mailbox, while he was getting his mail.

Stable longterm tenant.
Oh great.


Let us not confuse stability with stagnation.
--Mary Jean LeTendre


Stupidhead return-eth


I was in this woman's home today.
She was grumbling about not being able to bend over or even to lean down to check the contents of her refrigerator. Of course I checked them for her.

What are the odds that as I stood up, she opened the freezer door.
It hit me so hard I fell backwards, dropping all the bags of rotted food from her veggie drawers. Stupidhead.

My focus is so complete at work I can block those things.
It is not the first time something has happened and I have no felt it at the time.
I have a baby egg on my head and one heck of a headache.



make this head whap # 3005