Thursday, April 29, 2010

Au secours!

Just deleted half a completed assessment!!! (insert your favourite expletive here)
And I can't even blame the computer, it was totally my fault.

Sorry for the slow posting week. I promise I'll be back at it, just as soon as I crawl out from under this giganormous pile of assessments.

(see you next year!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bipolar Breakthrough

A little more about this intake from yesterday.

Despite all the crying, the appointment went well. This woman has a lot going on, including being diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD. She seemed to have great insight when describing what she feels is problematic in her life, discussing symptoms, and acknowledging that she feels ready to get help.

Which is why I was surprised when an hour and a half in she says “it’s like I get these real highs, and then I just go so low. Does that have something to do with bipolar?”

Uh, yeah, I say. That pretty much sums it up. We discuss this a little bit more, and she says “you know, now I know what bipolar is. I was diagnosed over a year ago, and I didn’t know what it was. I will remember this as the day I learned what it was all about!” (cue crying episode #47)

WHAT? How is it you go a whole year with this diagnosis, and no one tells you what the bloody word even means? She received this diagnosis from her psychiatrist whom she’s been seeing for about 14 years!

Granted, her psych is a dinosaur who has announced his retirement about 3 times, but has yet to actually leave the building.

Here is a woman with a)great insight b)no cognitive issues c)lots of support d)a willingness to work with the mental health care system. It’s not as though she lacks the capacity to understand. Is this something that only happens to psych patients?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now I’M feeling drained!

I think the intake I just had beat the record for “number of times bursting into tears”. I wish I’d kept track so I could be sure.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some lighter fare for a friday

Since I'm getting all heavy handed and political here, I'd like to share this bit of medical insight from a client yesterday:

"My doctor says I have high cholesterol, but I eat a lot of yogurt, so I don't know what he's talking about!"

(yes, the same person who gave me this gem)

P.S. thanks SocialWrk24/7, btrflygal, Reinasecorpion, cbear71 for the add!

P.P.S. yes, I realize there is some evidence that yogurt can help lower your cholesterol, but the doctor is going by her blood work numbers.

Soapbox pt. 2

So I figured if I could blog about it, I could also do something more productive. Write a letter. This is what I have written to the premier:*

April 23, 2010

Dear Premier,

I was very encouraged when I heard the recent announcement of the changes being introduced to Ontario’s curriculum regarding sex education. I understand that this is a sensitive and therefore particularly challenging subject matter, and I felt that your plan did a good job reflecting the diverse experiences of children and families in Ontario. It was disappointing then when you decided to place these changes on hold.

I am the parent of a six year old who attends public school. As a mother, I have a great responsibility to impart my knowledge and values to my child, but I also recognize that she is constantly being influenced by other sources. Between sexist and homophobic messages in popular culture, hyper-sexualized images in the media, and often misguided information from her peers, I would like to trust that the education system is a place where she and other children can receive sound knowledge and resources. It is not helpful to her or the other students to continue using language in the classroom that is vague or non-inclusive.

I sincerely hope that the government of Ontario will proceed with the proposed changes to the elementary curriculum. Cultural attitudes and information available about sex and relationships are always changing, and the curriculum needs to keep pace. Our schools provide a safe environment for children to hear these messages.



Also, I tried to find some groups or articles supporting the change, but have come up short so far. I did find this informative comparison.

*feel free to copy/paste/share/plagirize!

Is that a soapbox? Let me at it!

So this is what I get for procrastinating on posting.

I kept meaning to blog something about how pleased I was with the government of Ontario’s new changes to the sex ed curriculum. It involved a new focus on teaching younger students the correct terms for their body parts including genitals, and using more inclusive language throughout the curriculum to recognize families and relationships outside the heterosexual norm. This would include not using terms like “mother and father” or “husband and wife” exclusively when talking about relationships and sex. It would also weave this information throughout the school curriculum to normalize it, instead of confining it to the giggling sessions of health class.

Apparently, this new curriculum has been posted on the government’s website for months, although I can’t find the link. It was formally announced this week, and drew the expected criticisms from social conservative and religious groups. At first, the premier defended the changes, but now he has backed down and “shelved” the curriculum until “further consultation with parents”.

Now, I have a lot to say about this but I’ll focus on one thing for now. It really irks me that social conservatives seem to have a strangle hold on the word “family”. The opposition to this plan is continually referred to in the media as “family values focused”, “pro-family” etc. as though there is only one definition of “family values” and anything else is amoral.

Look, just because we don’t all have a mommy and a daddy who got married in a church and then planned and had some babies and will stay together forever, doesn’t mean we don’t care for and love one another and comprise a FAMILY. And because of this, it means kids need to have a safe and well-informed environment to learn about sex and relationships.

Bear with me, I may have more on this later.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Case Study #1

A bit of a backgrounder on barf-bag guy.*

Dude was a hard rocker in his younger days. Played sports, partied hard. Drank a lot, used marijuana and coke. As an adult got a decent job driving a forklift, and enjoyed watched football with his drinking buddies. He’s a big guy who loves beer and greasy food. His parents both died fairly young of cancer, leaving him extremely broken, a feeling he drowned in about a weeks worth of tequila after the second funeral.

Eventually, he got married to a woman with a young daughter whom he loved like his own. A couple years in, his wife comes out as a lesbian and says that she and the daughter will be leaving.

This is just too much for him, and so he slits his wrists, getting himself an all-expenses-paid five day trip to the hospital. He comes home to find that his family has indeed left with most of the couples belongings, including several pets. They kindly left a pile of debt in their wake. So, here comes the second suicide attempt, the wrists again. Hospital stay, take 2.

Long story short, the guy lived, but did a number on his wrists, leaving him with limited feeling and movement in his hands. Years of sports and hard living have taken their toll too, resulting in bad knees, back, shoulder, and carrying around an extra 200 pounds or so. He wasn’t able to work after the separation and the suicide attempts due to his rapid decline of physical and mental health. So he winds up on welfare, then gets disability support, still hardly paying enough to look after himself in a healthy way.

He’s doing reasonably well now since he got a government subsidized apartment. He meets with his counselor, has a few friends, and is good with is money.

But this man is only 45, and looks at least 20 years older. He can now barely walk, is in all kinds of pain, has a myriad of GI problems (ick) and still deals with depression.

He’s a smart and nice guy with a good sense of humour, but I often feel at a loss of how to support him. How do I work with him to accept that he is basically like a senior citizen? That he may need some in-home care, a pass for the wheel chair bus, and some serious medical interventions?

Really, he knows all this. But he also does not want to give in, and has sort of resigned himself to suffering. I totally believe in a client’s right to self-determination, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch. I’m trained to cope with and offer support to people in all kinds of mental and emotional distress, with whatever social factors working against them. But physical deterioration? Out of my scope. We’re meeting with his GP this week, and I’m anxious to see how it goes.

*and no, he didn’t end up puking in my car. We had to pull over for him to get some air, but fortunately it didn’t get any grosser.

Monday, April 19, 2010


My intake is not gonna show. I'm calling it now.
She's scheduled for 2:00. Current time: 1:54.

Update as of 2:23: called it!


Since I have been sitting here at my desk for 2+ hours with my eyes clouding over, my head swimming, my palms sweating, and I am not getting ANYTHING done at work, I'm going to stick with posting the song that inspired this blog's title.

Gotta love Sharon, Lois, and Bram!

Friday, April 16, 2010

And watch the upholstery!

Community visit check list:

Sensible shoes with closed toe and flat soles? Check.

Comfortable clothes that can be stripped off and washed of all pet hair, lingering cigarette smoke and unidentified sticky substances IMMEDIATELY upon returning home? Check.

Hand sanitizer? Check.

Lint brush to remove endless tufts of cat hair from clothes and car seat? Check.

Bed bug spray? Check. (yes, apparently this exists and is supposed to protect me. Yeah right.)

Disinfecting wipes for hard surfaces in vehicle if transporting client? Check.

Well organized binder including notebook, client folders, pens and any standard forms client may need to sign? Check.

List of local resources for handy referrals? Check.

Contact information for supervisors, crisis line, and emergency responders? Check.

Business cards? Check.

Keys attached somewhere on my person with a karabiner? Check.

Left all valuables at home? Check.

Blackberry at the ready for any and all emergencies? Check.

Tim’s card for when self or client needs caffeine therapy? Check.

Purse securely locked in trunk? Check.

More hand sanitizer? Check.

Face masks left over from the H1N1 scare? Check.

Barf bags? BARF BAGS?!? Dude, get OUT OF MY CAR! You do NOT need to go to the drug store so badly that you can’t cancel your appointment when you’re HEAVING!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Got a pile o'problems

I was catching up on some old posting by one of her posts put me in mind of a story of one of my clients.

There seems to be a lot of talk about hoarding lately, recently brought into the spot light my such shows as

Friday, April 9, 2010


(woman I met with yesterday discussing being overweight)

“Well, see, when I was a kid I had three cortisone shots after [physical injury] and that stuff makes you really swell up. And it takes a long time to get out of your system. I still can’t figure out how to get it out of my system!

BTW, cortisone is an anti-inflammatory.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

bad news/good news

the bad: my computer was down and out for FOUR WHOLE DAYS, so i am way behind - in posting, and in actual work!

the good: i finally won something when i rolled up the rim today - a free coffee! woo-hoo!