Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Day The Gummi Bear Saved My Life

So, I went to see this nine year old boy to do some bereavement counseling. He had just lost his grama and was having a hard time. I was sitting next to him on the back porch when his dog came over to say hello. "I really want you to see my dog!" the boy said. "He's a full blooded wolf!!." Great! I thought. Well, I love dogs and wolves aren't that different I guess. So this wolf dog sits there staring at me about three feet away, checking me out while I tried to talk to his human. It was an odd experience because it was like this creature had glued his eyes to my face and I'm wondering what he's thinking. All the time I'm trying to talk to the boy, I'm trying to ignore the wolf dog, but it started getting really hard because you could see a little snarl start forming on the side of his mouth and then you could hear a little low growlly sound. I was afraid to look at him but I quietly said, "Is your dog going to bite me?" "Oh no, he's harmless. He loves everybody!" The next thing I knew the dog springs forward and starts licking my chest, tail wagging. After my heart rate started to recover I looked down to see him licking a gummi bear that was stuck to the front of my shirt. I guess he figured that any woman who walks into a strangers home with candy stuck to her boob can't be all that bad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Transforming into an angel

I got out of the car at twilight this morning. Nervous. More used to working with my heart than my hands. I went to help a dying patient with her morning routine and then I was told to help her get back in bed. I think this usually isn't a big deal for most people. In fact, I have a friend who can do this blindfolded with her hands tied behind her back. I usually sit back in awe of her ability to step in and do what is needed. Yes, M_____ you know who you are!!! When I came in the door this lady looked at me with eyes as big as saucers and she was breathing like a little baby bird. She looked at me and said, "You are my social worker. What are you doing here?" I said, don't think of me as your social worker. Today I'm your sister from another ward here to help you start your day. That seemed to help. As we moved through the routine I couldn't help but be amazed by how the body changes when we start the dying process. It's almost like the layers we build up start to dissolve and we become clear in more ways than one. At the end we were both staring into the bathroom mirror while she was brushing her hair. She set the brush down and looked at her hands. "I don't understand why my skin is so transparent and flaky. I don't like it." I looked at her and said, "You are transforming into an angel." As she looked back at me, a smile started to slowly spread across her face. "I like that answer." she said.

These are the moments in my job I live for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

People Need a Sense of Purpose

So I admitted this lady to the facility who weighs 460 pounds. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a big deal. In Utah it's very rare to find a place that will accept someone that large and it's unheard of to accept someone that size who has a diagnosis of depression. Apparently in my state, large people, people with a psych diagnosis and people with dementia are no longer welcome. The welcome mat is gone. Nursing homes are turning away these patients in droves because it's not worth the money to take care of them. A nursing home with a typical long term care patient on Medicaid gets reimbursed about 135.00 per day. Someone with dementia, someone who is morbidly obese and someone with a psych diagnosis (the usual Medicaid patient) requires a lot more care than some little petite lady with a broken hip who is there for a Medicare stay. The big difference is that the nursing home will get about 450.00 a day to take care of her.

Enough said about that!! Back to my lady friend who I will call Jean.

When the discharge planner at the hospital called me I asked how much she weighed. "How high does your scale go?" 400 pounds, I said. That's how much she weighs as luck would have it!! "Any behavior issues?" "None." So I said I'd take her.
Jean was one of the largest people I've ever seen. The first time I saw her I groaned on the inside thinking of the complaints I would hear from the CNAs. We soon discovered our scale wasn't big enough, so we had to go out and buy a new scale. Boy, this day wasn't going well!!!! At first she stayed in her room when she wasn't in therapy. I went by a couple of times that first week and encouraged her to come to the dining room and eat with the residents. Eventually she did and over time something amazing happened. Her whole countenance changed.
Today I stopped by her room and saw her busily working at her sewing machine. "Making another blanket I see." Yes, she was busy making and delivering blankets to the longterm residents. She had a big smile on her face as she showed me her latest creation. Earlier in the day I had seen her sitting in the lunchroom with a group of ladies talking and laughing. Here's basically what she said:

"Getting sick, going to the hospital and coming here is the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life. At home I was always alone. My husband is a long haul trucker so I don't see him much, and I was trapped inside my house because I was too big to go anywhere. I couldn't visit any of my friends from church because I couldn't do stairs and no one would ever come and see me and so I was really depressed. Coming here has opened my eyes to how much love people need and making these blankets is an expression of the love I feel inside. I have so much to give."

I have a dream. That someday people will be able to see beyond the number on the scale, beyond the diagnosis and really see the person on the inside. See their worth just like The Savior does. All people need love, care and a sense of purpose.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Finding Peace and Perspective in the Mountains

One of the best parts about losing weight, is being able to go hiking. To be able to see things that you wouldn't be able to see without huffing and puffing to get there. Today Kent and I did a 4 mile hike to Stewart Falls which is near Aspen Grove in Utah. When I go there I gain a real sense of peace. Like no matter what, you know that everything is ok when Heavenly Father makes scenary like this. I saw lots of families with young kids on the trail today. If I could do one thing over as a mother, it would be to take my kids hiking when they were little. I hope my kids will do better at teaching their kids to do more physical activity. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I forgot to add a picture of my dog Major. He is so cute .

Bee Friendly Garden

People ask me why I plant sunflowers. In addition to loving them, they make bees happy. The sunflower is a bees favorite food, (or so I have read). I think its true for these bees anyway.

The next picture is Japanese egglant. I have always had a weird relationship with eggplant. I love the plant itself because of the shape and texture, but I've never liked the taste. I keep growing it hoping that I'll find the perfect recipe someday. Well, I finally found it. I made BaBa Ganoosh. We roasted the eggplant for 40 minutes on the grill and then mixed in Tahini, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It looks like Hummus but tastes better.

The next picture is patty pan squash. I love this squash. It looks like an alien spaceship and it is great in stirfrys. The best part is that the squash bugs don't seem to like it.

The last picture is cantaloupe on a trellis. We had this gasebo that died over the winter. We left the canvas top out in the garage and some mice ate it. So this year we used the iron supports as supports for the cantaloupe and it is working great! I am using old nylons to support the melons as they hang down from the trellis.

That's it from my garden this week.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Learning about Love, Strength, Courage and Faith every day on the job

I had a neat experience at work this week. We have a lady in our nursing home that is late stage Muscular Dystrophy. It's really sad because she is so young (only about 40) and she is in bed most of the time. We had a IDT meeting Wednesday and she came. She has always impressed me because she has such a sweet personality. Every time I see her she smiles. Today she asked me to pray for her. I told her that we would all include her in our prayers but she wanted me to pray for her right at that moment. Her request was so unusual and so heartfelt that I couldn't say no. I asked everyone in the room if they had any objections. Everyone said they were fine with it so we all joined hands and prayed for her. I was the voice. The spirit was so strong I could hardly speak the words. I have carried that special spirit of that moment with me all week. I am going into my fifth year as a social worker and that is something I never expected would happen on the job but it is something I'll never forget.
People ask me how I can do my job. They think it would be so hard to be around sick people all day but I feel that what I do is a privilege. I am blown away by the strength and courage and sacrifice that I witness there everyday, like the man who comes and reads to this particular patient every night and leaves after she falls asleep. I learn about real love from these people every day. The other thing that this experience taught me is that I actually am glad(finally) (really) to be living in Utah. I don't think I would ever openly pray with my collegues anywhere else in the country and have everyone be ok with it.