Friday, February 4, 2011
A Day in the Life
Thursday February 3, 2011
8:30am – park a block away from first appointment and check messages on office phone and cell phone. Remarkably few, possibly due to yesterday being a “snow day”.
9:00 – pull up to client’s building for first appointment. He’s a big guy (with severe back, neck and knee problems) who struggles to get in my little car, but we make it. We head off to check out a new grocery store, a figure out a route for him to take the bus there on his own next time.
9:45 – take same client to coffee shop for a caffeine fix and quick chat about plans for next week’s meeting.
9:59 – return to client’s building, help him load his groceries in.
10:00 – back in the car, call the pharmacy to see if next client’s prescriptions can be made ready for pick up. Ah, crap – there are no more refills. The pharmacy offers to fax a request to the doctor’s office, and I call the client. He swears that he did see this doctor in the past few months (can’t remember exactly when, but…) and forgot to ask about those prescriptions.
10:10 – Call the pharmacy back, they say it might take awhile. Call the client again, tell him it might take awhile and is it okay if I drop his meds off this afternoon. Yes, that will be fine.
10:20 – Eat my lunch in the car trying to ignore the fact that it’s -10 Celsius outside but I’m dressed in several layers so that’s okay. Relish the fact that I have a few minutes to listen to Q on the radio.
10:45 – Head downtown to start searching for a parking spot.
11:00 – Find parking, dash across the street to the church to set up for the Outreach lunch program. My co-facilitator has beat me there, as have several of the clients, even though we don’t officially open until 11:30, but hey, it’s still -10 out!
11:30 – Serve chili, chips, and veggies to familiar faces, and some new ones. The attendees are mostly male, 40+ and kinda rough around the edges. They make loud conversation about politics, people they know, their plans if they won the lottery, and “the way things used to be”. They’re a good natured lot, and the lunch tends to run a lot more smoothly than its breakfast counterpart at the other church. Breakfast gets a bigger crowd, and there is sometimes “trouble”.
12:30 – start tidying up as people leave. Spend some time supporting an elderly couple whose son lives out east and was recently diagnosed with bipolar. They’re frustrated that “the system” out there isn’t giving him the support he needs, and they wish they could do more to help. They went to visit him last fall when he was in the hospital, but the motel was expensive, and it’s hard for them to travel.
1:08 – I realize that I’m late for my next appointment, and try to call but get the answering machine. The outgoing message wishes me a “happy new year” and remarks about the date 01/11/11 for several minutes before cutting me off, so I don’t get to leave a message.
1:15 – I arrive to my “happy new year” client’s building, but there’s no answer when I buzz the intercom. I wait inside the front door for several minutes then try again. I call her phone, and the answering machine seems to work this time so I leave a message asking her to call and reschedule.
1:30 – Back in the car, I drive to the neighbourhood of my next appointment, and park across the street to check messages again. One marked “urgent” from a new client whom I have met only twice telling me that he found a room to rent and is no longer living in the shelter, and he’ll call me later to set up an appointment, because he doesn’t have a phone. Another from a current “high needs” client crying and upset because she’s lost all her ID. This could be pressing, but I know if I call her back it’s possible I’ll get stuck on the phone for a long time so it will have to wait for a more opportune moment.
1:40 – I check my email and notice a message from a client I did an intake with a couple weeks ago. He let’s me know that his housing arrangements “didn’t work out” and he, his wife, and their two children are now in the family shelter. He sounds pretty desperate for help and is planning to rent a truck to go sleep in. I remember him as extremely depressed, anxious, and suicidal. I email him back quickly to ask if it would be okay for me to refer him on to our outreach program which can meet him right away.
1:55 – I call my 3:00 to see if we’re still on because he often cancels. He has schizophrenia, and is also going through cancer treatment so he’s not always in the best of shape to meet. He asks if I can come earlier than planned and I say we’ll see.
2:00 – I check in with my next client. It’s dark in her apartment as the balcony door is blocked by the snow and she never opens her curtains. She finally let her dad know that her cat died, so he’s not worried any more about why she’s acting out of sorts. She missed her psychiatrist appointment last week because she’s scared that if her taxi runs out of gas it’s winter and she’ll be stranded in the snow. She’s scared that no one will save her. I try to understand, and try to support as best I can.
2:30 – Back in the car, call Mr. 3:00 and let him know I can come now. He wants to go to the grocery store and has his list ready.
2:35 – I pick him up, and off we go.
2:50 – I’m getting a grocery cart while my client starts his shopping inside. An older gentleman is trying to light his cigarette with a burnt out lighter, and I suggest to him that he’s probably not allowed to smoke in here and needs to go outside. He asks me for a match, but I don’t have one. He goes back to trying the lighter.
3:45 – Groceries are done, and after a stop at the post office I take my client home. We make arrangements to meet next week if he feels up to it.
3:50 – In the car I call the pharmacy from this morning and learn they finally got the refills, they didn’t think they would cause this doc has said no before. I call my client to update him, message my boss to update her about the changes to my schedule/location (for safety purposes, understand) and head off to the pharmacy.
4:05 – At the pharmacy we commiserate for a minute, and they tell me my client called them about 20 times today, anxious about his medication. They’ve known him for years, since he was homeless down the street from their store, long before I came around. They want to know does he also need his foot cream, I call, he doesn’t, I take the bag of pills (these have got to be worth $$$ on the street!) and zip over to his place.
4:20 – I get there (just in time) hand over the drugs and apologize that I won’t be able to stay and chat. I’ll call you tomorrow to schedule a check-in appointment, okay?
4:30 – I finish my day on time somehow, and call home to let them know I’m on the way.