Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't jump! Good boy!

So sometime last week AM and I were out taking Dogface for a walk. He’s about 9 months old now and “maturing” but not fixed (yet) so he is sometimes aggressive with other dogs. We’re trying to better socialize him, so when we take him out we are always on the lookout for other dogs, so we can figure out the best course of action before he freaks out (there is a relevant, mental health part to this story. Trust me, I’m getting there).

We head down a neighbourhood street and hear another dog barking from somewhere. It’s pretty loud, but we can’t see where it’s coming from. All of a sudden, AM realizes there is a dog – some kind of basset hound or beagle maybe – ON THE ROOF of the house! An upstairs window was open, and the poor dog was barking its head off from the roof above the front porch. We look at each other, and I decide I should go knock on the door to let someone know that their dog got out on the roof.
As I approach the house, I see that there is a young adult couple sitting on the front steps.

“Ah, do you know that your dog is out on the roof?”
Nodding and laughing

“Is that okay? Does he go out there on his own?”
Yeah, wave and nod at me again. Still laughing. (at me? Because I don’t understand dogs natural affinity for heights, or in confusion wondering what this strange woman is talking about?)

“Aren’t you afraid that he will fall off?”
It’s okay, they say.

I left so confused. Now tell me where the mental health concern lies. Is the dog suicidal and/or trying to make some kind of threat to the other neighbourhood canines, or do these people need their heads checked?

The good news is, Dogface never noticed this roof dweller, saving us from at least one tricky doggie-social-interaction lesson.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sticky notes are also unacceptable

Note to self:

Do not write client's med lists on little scraps of paper. You WILL lose them!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Totally off topic post warning!

Car idling is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. But what bothers me even more is that I don’t feel I can do anything about it.

I was sitting in the car this morning in a parking lot between home visits. I had some time, so I was checking my messages and making notes.

A car pulled up beside me and a woman got out with a little dog. She seemed to be giving it a little rest stop on the lawn of this building. Fine. But she left her car running the whole time!

I got nosy and peered through the window and checked – there were no other people or animals in the car. Even if there were, it’s a beautiful sunny day out, so could be absolutely no need to keep the heat running. If she was concerned about the car getting too hot, she could have opened the windows. I don’t get it! She was out of the car at least 15 minutes.

I briefly considered confronting her when she came back to her car, but couldn’t figure out a way that it wouldn’t sound really rude – let’s face it, that’s not going to get me anywhere, even if it would be fun. I fantasized about hopping in her car and driving away, since she had so kindly left the keys for me – but I’m not really interested in incurring criminal charges while on the job.

I wrote her a note: Please do not idle your car. There is no reason for it.

I stuck it on the windshield, then drove away before she could come back.

I can only hope she will take it to heart, and not just discard it on the ground. But I wouldn’t put it past such a serious car-idler (idler? is this a word?) to be a little bug as well.

*we will return shortly with your regularly scheduled blog*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Closet Bettor

“Do you gamble?”

   “Yes, when things get really bad, those times when I’m hiding in the closet”

“How do you do that?”

   “Oh, I used to collect cards. I keep them in the closet.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Get Yourself Together Man!

So you know how sometimes someone will leave a message on your voicemail, and then fail to hang up the phone afterwards? Sometimes all you end up hearing is what television program they're watching, or the rumpled sound of being tossed into a pocket or purse. Sometimes however you are lucky enough to hear something a little more exciting! These calls seem to happen a lot when working in mental health.

Today’s such message goes like this:

(msg left by a client for a coworker on my voicemail, my comments in italics)
Hi Liz it’s Mr. Defective. I tried to call you earlier, but I couldn’t find your number (duh). I’m wondering if you could send me a taxi, I really don’t want to miss this appointment (he’s calling at 1:24 for a 1:00). If you could call me back that would be good.

(apparently this is where he thought the call ended)

…f**k, what is this shit?.........ah-choo!.........BURP…this is such shit, I was going to call before, but…ah-choo!............ah-choo!......ah-choo, ah-choo, ah-choooo!!!!!!

My co-worker is not here today, so I don’t even know if he made it in on Friday. I kindly forwarded the message to her ;)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welfare Goes Plastic

An interesting idea

Manitoba looks at debit cards for welfare recipients

It seems to me that the greatest advantage would be for the people who currently lose up to 25% of their cheque in fees to MoneyMart and the like.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hospital Record Gaffe

"Her psychiatrist in the committee is Dr. Mechanical"

Assuming that "committee" here is supposed to be "community". And I know the good doctor's proper name is not "Mechanical" (but I can't tell you what it really is, can I?)

Gotta hope this was the fault of some kind of dictation machine.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Case Study #2

Client histories never cease to be interesting and surprising. Although I know we should always view our clients as a “whole” person who is dealing with an illness, when you have only known a person while they are SICK it can be easy to forget that they also have/had a LIFE.

One client on my case load is a 50-ish man originally from Vietnam. In the time I have known him, he has been very stable but somewhat “low” functioning. He struggles with comprehension, insight, and ADL’s. On the other hand, he’s got incredible financial management skills, and exceptionally beautiful handwriting. He hasn’t been able to maintain employment for many years at this point, although we’re working on that.

In the late 70’s in Vietnam, he was a young man studying physics and math at university. I knew from his hospital records and his own reports that he and most of his family came to Canada in 1980, and he had to leave university without completing his degree. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia several years after immigrating, and eventually dealing with his illness contributed to the break-up of his marriage, and caused him to lose contact with his son.

Blame it on my youth, but I somehow never put it together that the time he talks about in Vietnam was just post-war. And he lived through whatever terrors that had brought. Obviously I don’t have any details, but this all came to mind when I was listening to a recent CBC Rewind broadcast about Vietnamese boat people. This was his experience too. I don’t know if he came on a boat or what, but I know he was sponsored by a Mennonite group, who were among the earliest supporters of the refugees.

Knowing this will not likely do much to change how I work with this person week after week. And I understand that this general knowledge doesn’t provide any insight as to his individual experience. But it does provide me with some new perspective when he talks about his past. And it’s a good reminder (for me) just to keep in mind that this guy has had struggles other than trying to keep his kitchen clean.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Closed-minded Co-worker

I got snappy with a co-worker this morning. We’ve had some donations in the office and as a “joke” he put a set of flower patterned sheets on a male managers desk. When it was figured out who did it, he started loudly proclaiming that it was a joke because “no man should have to sleep on flowered sheets” looking for collaboration from the rest of us. I shot back “where do you get these close-minded ideas?” Another female co-worker laughed and said “okay, I’m not the only one who was thinking that!”

This was a small occurrence, but he says sexist things like this a lot. And it gets on my nerves. A lot.

It’s not that he’s saying anything that would constitute harassment or whatever, but it is annoying. I especially don’t understand this kind of attitude in a social work setting.

It’s not that I can’t take a joke. I do have a sense of humour. I do! It’s the thoughtlessness behind these comments that gets me going “please, just SHUT UP!”

I could lay all kinds of “anti-oppression framework” or gendered analysis on this one, or I could talk about how in this line of work we all have to explore our own privileged and social location etc, etc.

But it's friday, and I don’t want to. Is it too much to ask for people to think before they speak and check their prejudice at the door?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Social Work Brain Fart

I had hopes of getting into the office today between client visits, but no such luck. WHY? I have to fit in an extra visit because I forgot to bring a client his meds on Tuesday.


Fortunately, I remembered yesterday and called him, and he hadn't run out yet.

*sigh* this is what happens when you rely on memory and don't check your calendar. You forget what Tuesday it is.

Off to the pharmacy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maybe I'm Not Such a Bad Influence

My six year old (blessedly) has learned to get up on her own on weekends. I can usually count on her entertaining herself for an hour or two before I need to get out of bed. So this Saturday when I awoke particularly late to a quiet house, I knew she must be really engrossed in something. My first thought was “what kind of mess am I going to walk into downstairs?”

I arrive in the living room to see that she has been setting up a “store”. She was very thoughtful and attentive to detail, setting up displays, keeping a little broom and dustpan for cleanup, making a sign for the store (“Baby Fiatt” which apparently is her creative spelling for “Baby Fit” as it was all her baby doll stuff) and getting out her toy cash register.

Next to the register, she had a little bowl to which she had taped a sign (I’ll spare you more creative spelling): Please help the homeless people.

When my sister came over later with my baby nephew, she was made to “shop” the store, and instructed to put her “change” in the bowl.