Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Some poems…

Posted: May 22, 2018 in Life

The beauty marks around her lips

Remind me of a constellation

When she smiles like moonlight

Romantic, thoughtful words

Mean nothing to her

She’s made of stone

A perfectly chisled masterpiece

An Aztec goddess

Poised above the altar

Ready to cut out your heart

Offering you to the sun

A human sacrifice

For your belief

In unicorns and rainbows

She holds your

Excised heart

In her upheld hand

As it flutters

To silent stillness

And the last of life’s

Blood flows in crimson

Trails down her arm

Through her well-manicured fingers

She smiles like moonlight

The beauty marks around her lips

Remind me of a constellation.

2018

I’m tired

I’m bored

I’m lonely

I’m alone

She says too much

Has happened

To go back.

What happened

Exactly?

Her damaged brain

Created the negative

Happening

I tried to make

Her happy

I tried to love

Her

While she

Devalued

Her idea of me.

My reality

Isn’t what

She expected?

I’m not wealthy?

I’m not stable?

As she stands

In her glass house

With her stable

Instability

Faking her strength

Burying any hint

Of vulnerability.

2018

The Invisible, Shrinking Woman

Wheels turn

Reels spring to life

With the extinct

Sound of film clicking

Through the projector

Images flicker

In the darkness

Onto the stark

White, silver screen

The dialogue,

Long pauses of awkward

Silence

When the characters

Meet again and again

By telephone

The scenes are devoid

Of color

Words flat, monotone

So blank

Like a catatonic stare

Yet suspended

Like oily pools

Of brackish water

She looks through her

Like a pane of

Cleanly cracked glass

Only seeing the flaws

Not the invisible woman

Enveloped and chipped,

Shrinking in pulverized

Shards,

Swept away

By the winds

Of boredom

Alone

As she returns

From glass sheen

To microscopic

Grains of sand

Once created

By he powerful

Voltage of

Lightning

To be ground

Back to the place

Of her creation…

Crescendo

Crashing, symphonic

Drums

She rises like a castle,

Fortified and strong.

The End

Roll credits…

The projector sputters

To a slow stop.

The theater goes black…

2018

Fake

The wig, the eyelashes,

The tan

The sentiment,

The responsibility,

The weekend trips…

Trying to make me believe

I’m paranoid.

“I love you” through clenched teeth

Kisses with stiff, rigid lips.

Jowly frowns

As I search

Her eyes for something real

Something that disappeared

When the weekend trips started

Along with intimacy

And time together

Lies to make me seem

Crazy.

I’m not jealous,

I saw her picture.

So she has money

So she works two jobs

So she squeezes you in sometimes

So she bought you a car

So she’s your ‘friend’

I know by your lack

Of concern for my spare time

That my gut is probably

Right

Take the straight jacket

You’ve fitted around my

Suspicious mind

To tie up your own

Insanity

You said you used

To be a horrible person

I hope you’ve convinced

Yourself

Because people have noticed the

Condescending tone

When you talk to me.

Better run back to your

400 pounder, the workaholic,

The adolescent experiment, and

The drunken home run hitter.

Never talk down to someone

Who is above, but unaware of

Their position.

Look in the mirror

Pull off the fake hair.

Wash off the make-up

And spray tan

Who the fuck are you?

I’ve never stopped

Being me.

2018

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Posted: January 17, 2018 in Life

https://poets.media/in-search-of-poetrys-revival?_ga=2.125028810.118327611.1516112096-1204776885.1515876330

Causing Static

Posted: January 13, 2018 in Life

https://psyche.media/living-with-bipolar-disorder-3

Art

Posted: January 9, 2018 in Life

I have Bipolar Disorder. I am a nurse. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a mess.

Nursing is not like it used to be. Not at all. I chose long term care as my discipline because I genuinely like old people. The issue is, these days, nursing is not about caring for people, it’s about money. It’s an industry, a business, and no matter how much you actually care, how good your clinical skills may be, the most important aspect of an individual patient is not whether their kids came to visit, or their fear and pain when they are dying, but what kind of payor source they have. They are a number. A dollar amount. And today’s “new” nurses, they have no sense of work ethic, will call out 15 minutes before their shift starts, treat the patients without respect, just draw a paycheck. Work double shift after double shift to pure exhaustion for the money, not because they care. And the patients suffer. Yes, there is a nurse there. But it becomes quantity over quality.

I am not that nurse. I was recently let go from my previous job because I could not understand why a new admission to the facility was being treated as a VIP. I had to make this person a priority over my other patients, NOT because she was the family member of staff, or a celebrity, but because she had really good insurance and had a history of being lawsuit happy. I was expected to prioritize this person over the other patients assigned to me, the Holocaust survivor, the World War 2 veteran, and the school principal. This obese, demanding, young, narcotic seeking patient I was asked to prioritize over others. I did my work as I usually do for every new admission, I stayed 2 hours after my shift was over to make sure all of her paperwork was correct and because I didn’t kiss this patient’s ass…I received a call at home the next day dismissing me from a job I had grown to love.

I just don’t get it. And when you have bipolar disorder, magnify the intensity of the emotions you feel when you lose a job 1000 Times. Devastated, defeated, scared shitless. self worth and self confidence, gone. You analyze and over analyze until your head hurts, and you truly believe you’re absolutely a failure at a profession you chose because you actually care about people. Now I did not mistreat this patient in any way, in fact, I developed a rapport with her immediately, she was an art teacher and I am an artist. She wanted to see my work and I spent time with her discussing art. What I didn’t do was anything different than what I would do for any one of my patients. I didn’t spend my shift catering to this VIP. I catered and cared for ALL of my patients as if they were ALL VIPs, as I did every day of my 30 year career. And I was let go from my job. As my co workers stood around and refused to help me finish the admission paperwork which of course was extensive. The facility is not computerized so I had to hand write at least 25 pages of medication and treatment orders. As I’m doing this my coworker is dragging a demented patient down the hallway backward in her wheelchair as the elderly woman is screaming in distress while the nurse is telling her to “shut the fuck up!” All on camera, in front of the shift supervisor, and she still has her job. I’m confused, disappointed, discouraged. Bipolar disorder does not effect my clinical skills, the way I treat my patients, only my interactions with coworkers and administration because I believe in caring for each patient as an individual, not just a number or a dollar amount.

So here I am now, about to be out in the streets, working night shift against the advice of my physician, with a nursing agency, staffing facilities I do not know, with patients I do not know, trying not to care, but it’s hard to not be who I am, and it’s a struggle to just do my “eight and the gate” for a paycheck. Having no set schedule and no routine. I keep going, trying, pushing as life throws me hurdle after hurdle with a disorder that most of my family and friends negate, believing I’m just lazy, a slacker, a loser, a drama queen…they refuse to acknowledge that I have a disability. Others, mostly my friends who suffer from similar disorders are very understanding and supportive. And my best friend has gone above and beyond to support me in this chaotic time in my life. I’m proud to call her my friend and after 46 years of friendship, my sister. I love you robin!

And so I’m determined to overcome this rough spot in my life and I am truly humbled and grateful for all those who have stepped up, sat with me while I cried and wanted to give up, those who understand ‘ long term care politics’ and know the turnover statistics (61% for LPNs) in skilled nursing facilities and that unwarranted termination has become commonplace…I’m not alone, it’s rampant. I guess I just feel it more intensely than most and take it to heart, then beat myself up for feeling like a failure. This too shall pass! And again thank you all for your understanding, love and support!

When I was a teenager, my great-grandmother began to succumb to the effects of, most likely, vascular dementia. She could no longer be left alone or care for herself. No one in our family, although try as they may, could deal with her care, especially the incontinence. She was always a strong, wise, opinionated woman, with a raw, “in your face” sense of humor. To watch that slowly fade away was heartbreaking for our entire family.

It was during this period of time when I realized my path and my career choice. I wanted to be a nurse in long term care and care for the elderly. I started out applying for dietary positions in area nursing homes because I only had food service experience at that time. One day, a receptionist in a nursing home at which I was applying suggested I apply for a position as a nursing assistant. Of course, I had no formal training, but back in the late 1980’s, things were different than they are today. Now you have to attend classes to be a Certified Nursing Assistant, back then, 6 weeks on the job training and then take the written test for your certification in the state of New Jersey.

I remember my very first day as a nursing assistant in training. It was not exactly like I imagined it to be. No old folks playing checkers and bingo in their rocking chairs. These were very ill people who couldn’t speak, walk, eat, or use the bathroom. I went home that day and cried to my mother. I told her I just couldn’t do it. Entirely too sad for me. But Mom said, “You’re so good with Granny, go back and give it a chance.” So I did, and 3 years later, I became a licensed practical nurse, encouraged by another nursing assistant who was becoming a nurse as well. I attended nursing school while still working full time as a nursing assistant, and graduated 3rd in my class. Now I’ve been an LPN in long term care, sub-acute rehabilitation, dementia care, and transitional care for 26 years.

My journey has not been an easy one. I have been told I am a free spirit who puts their patients and families first. I am a bit quirky and unconventional at times. Different from most nurses I would say, but after hopping from job to job for the majority of my nursing career, nursing has not been so good to me. I shouldn’t say nursing itself. I LOVE being a nurse. I love the simplicity of a smile or a thank you from a patient or family member as my reward. Every facility I ever worked in for long periods of time, I was always well-liked by mostly everyone, especially patients and families. Administration, however, their scrutiny became beyond belief at times where i was concerned. My clinical skills as a nurse were never in question, but I would be disciplined for stupid things like, cursing, smoking, gossiping, and once for saying the onions they were serving for lunch smelled old and stale, like an armpit. Never anything nursing related. Then, in 2006, one of the nursing directors I worked with, who had beef with me for some reason, and referred to me to my face once, as I was staying for a double shift to help her out with staffing, as a “fuck up”, turned me in to the board of nursing. Not for a life threatening medication error, not for diverting narcotics, but for taking a picture of a resident on my very first ever camera phone and texting it to one of my co-workers because we thought the little lady was “cute”. It didn’t become an issue until a year later. I realize now that this nursing director reported my to the board of nursing, not because she gave a shit about the resident, because I stood up for myself when she asked me to resign from my 3-11 supervisor position because I was “depressed”. I reported that to the corporate human resources department, citing the American’s with Disabilities Act. Depression is a disability. I suppose it pissed her off and she reported me to the board.

Although I have gotten jobs since the disciplinary action, mostly through friends who are nurse managers, the rules and policies of facilities are constantly changing. Today, when a facility does your background check and runs your nursing license, the “tag” shows up and they won’t hire you. Convicted felons can get jobs but i can’t. What’s wrong with this picture? I’ve been punished quite enough for this “tag” on my license. $2,500.00 fine and three out of pocket classes on ethics, boundaries, and abuse. Who knew a simple diversional activity for a demented, agitated patient who was a fall risk would turn into such an ordeal! Now, in retrospect, I remember meeting with investigators from the Office of the Attorney general and being scared out of my wits. I should have gotten an attorney for myself but couldn’t afford one at that time. I realize now that the nursing director who reported me was being retaliative because I questioned her authority by calling corporate human resources. I’ve heard from various sources, the nursing community in long term care is rather small in South Jersey, that the nursing director who asked me to resign no longer practices nursing for “mental health” reasons. I think her credibility should be questioned. Recently, I wrote to the board of nursing requesting the disciplinary action be expunged from my permanent record because I can’t find employment in the profession that i love so much. A potential employer sees a “tag” on your license, no matter how good you are at what you do, or how many glowing letters of recommendation you may present, they are going to judge you based on that disciplinary action, no matter how petty. Basically, that nursing director who reported me to the nursing board has “blacklisted” me, preventing me from being gainfully employed in a career for which I was apparently destined. It all began with helping my family to care for my great-grandmother. R.I.P. Johanna Rach 1898-1988. You were my inspiration…

 

 

 

 

 

My Bipolar Life

Posted: November 21, 2015 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

I believe it all began when i was about thirteen. My parents were too busy caught up in their own mental illnesses to realize there was even a problem. Actually, maybe it started when I was even younger, because in elementary school, I excelled academically but never made the honor roll because of negative marks on the behavior portion of my report card. “N”-needs improvement or “U”-unsatisfactory in “shows self-control” with comments from teachers like “extremely talkative but very bright.” Yes, that’s where it probably began. Today I would’ve been sent to the child study team for evaluation and probably get a recommendation that I get put on Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD. This was the beginning, I suppose, of this rough road that I’ve been stumbling along for over 40 years.
I can’t exactly blame my parents for how my life is unfolding today. I can blame genetics and heredity. Mom is bipolar and Dad was major depression and alcoholism. Like I had a shot in hell to avoid mental illness. Mom and Dad’s illnesses fed off of one another for years, even after they divorced. Lucky me, being the oldest, I pretty much witnessed the dysfunction from its
inception. Granted, my father died from prostate cancer but I blame it on the depression and alcoholism first and foremost. He just didn’t give a shit about anything anymore and didn’t get treatment for his prostate cancer which IS treatable in the early stages. It’s so much easier to tell people he died from cancer rather than depression and alcoholism. He was quite a tortured soul. I know he’s at peace now-free from the physical pain of cancer, and most importantly, free from the emotional pain.
This bipolar thing I’ve been dealing with for the past six years, it’s not pretty. I was finally properly diagnosed in 2009. In retrospect, every fucked up thing that’s ever happened in my life, well, all “text book” bipolar disorder. I’ve pretty much lost every nursing job I’ve ever had for “misconduct” not related to my clinical skills, but for my behavior. Mostly my mouth when I’m on a “high”, there is no filter. Or when confronted or criticized, I go from 0-60 in a nano second, my emotions take over. What my brain thinks logically doesn’t come out of my mouth correctly. Not a clear thought, only fragments of jumbled words. I’ve never reacted violently towards anyone. I’m an imploder not an exploder. I cry when I’m sad, angry, or happy. I can’t have a successful relationship, the longest being a whole whopping five and a half years. A record for me. I blame my poor choices in partners for the relationship failure as well. I don’t see the potential red flags because I’m too manic and euphoric in the beginning of every relationship. I can also be very moody. not everyone is equipped to handle me and my disorder and because of my poor choices, my significant others had disorders of their own, too. Toxicity at it’s finest.
So, here I am, almost fifty years old. No house of my own, three months behind on my rent, a car that is dying a slow death, no power steering and the head gasket’s blown, looking for a nursing job, full time with health benefits so I can afford my medications and psychiatric visits, being turned down halfway through the hiring process four times because of a really dumb thing in 2006 when I was neither diagnosed with bipolar disorder nor properly treated with medications. I got a disciplinary action on my nursing license for “professional misconduct”. I took a picture of a resident on my cell phone and texted it to another employee who thought that the lady was “cute”. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. I sometimes wonder why I haven’t given up yet. I have involuntary facial movements from my medication so now I’m taking another medication for that and it’s making me feel like shit. I’m going through menopause on top of everything else. I make art that collects dust. I write books of poetry no one buys or even reads. I’m never taken seriously. This disorder has totally dehumanized me. I’m stigmatized and my cries for help go unnoticed. Left to fend for myself. I don’t want to throw in the towel, so to speak, and collect disability. I’m not disabled, I’m misunderstood. Bipolar disorder does not define me. I don’t want to be a pariah because of this stupid diagnosis. I’ve been in denial since my proper diagnosis in 2009. So are my friends and family. It seems like it was easier to “come out” as a lesbian than to “come out” as bipolar. I hate to admit I can’t do this on my own. I hate that I always feel like a victim. I hate that I become immobilized and incapacitated at times. It IS a disease like any other disease, insidious as it may be. But it’s my reality and at times, my curse. Somehow, someway I’m going to gather up the strength I need to see my way out of this darkness and become human again.