Monthly Archives: September 2007

“Thank you for taking the time…”

In contrast to last week, I am happy to report that no one has died yet since my last post.  Hooray for living!

On Wednesday I learned how to feed seniors.  On Thursday I fed my first senior resident.  It was so simple and easy.  Plus I got to have a little one on one time with the person I was feeding.  It takes time to feed someone because you can’t rush swallowing and stuff.

My Mom visited later that day to drop off some button up shirts, a pair of jeans (’cause I got a hole in one pair and my underwear from hopping my backyard fence.  Not cool.) and a winter jacket (I wish I had my pea-coat).  We caught up a little and then she left.  It was Courtney’s birthday that day and so we celebrated with faux-alcohol punch and later her mom came by and we went out to Crabby Joe’s.  I bought her a Bailey’s martini and we had appetizers.  When we got home we had PC Cheesecake Carousel and homemade chocolate cake.  So good! Then we all went to bed at midnight.

A few notable things happened today:

1. My resident ate quite a bit of her breakfast.  Yay.  But she didn’t eat any of her lunch.  I tried to get her to eat but she wouldn’t have any of it.  She loves her beverages though.  Especially milk and tea, the latter of which I learned from a PSW.  She didn’t eat much of her lunch because she was depressed over the fact that she lost her job (?) which struck me as really odd.  So I spent an hour and a half with her talking about stuff and explaining that things were free and that she didn’t need to give the PSWs, me, or the servers any money.  I learned that she liked to go for walks, so we tried to go out but it was too cold.  I bundled her up with 3 blankets but we’ll just have to go out on a later day. 

Her daughter is a member of the government, and she has a picture of her daughter with Jean Chrétien and also a personal letter from Adrienne Clarkson for her 90th birthday.  How cool is that? I learned after from Derek that every citizen of Canada gets a letter from the PM, the Governor General of Canada and other prominent members of the government for their 90th and 100th birthdays.  That’s something to look forward to.

2. The resident that likes to say “Die die die” a lot decided to latch herself onto me after she got passed off by the secretary.  I tried to get her back to her room with no success.  I ended up just leaving her in the middle of the hall because I couldn’t do anything with her without having her wail, get angry or say “die die die”.  She likes to repeat the last word of her sentence and also use 3 letter words.  That’s what I learned from her ramblings.  Later on in the day I noticed that she was more docile.  She and another resident were just standing by the nursing cart.  I swear they were up to no good.  I think I’ll call them Double Trouble (it’s kind of a lame name, but I’ll think of a better one later). 

3. The male half of DT decided to urinate on the floor by the lounge today but he tucked it back in as soon as he saw me.  But the damage was done and the floor was covered.  The poor PSWs had to clean it up.  That job is totally not glamorous.

4. I got to know another resident today by talking with her for half an hour.  I fixed her bed (I guess there’s something to be said for working at HHC) and she was so thankful.  All I did was press a button.  I have more influence in people’s lives than I think.

All in all it was an eventful day but a work-filled one nonetheless.  Did you know that a PSW needs a minimum Grade 10 education and a college course in PSW training to be a PSW (as well as interpersonal skills of course)? You can get paid $20 for that job.  Makes me think about my future.  They’re in high demand and it’s only going to get higher because of the baby boomers.

Our group is going to TO for the weekend to go check out some art galleries and go work at the Fall University Fair.  Look for the Katima-shirts on Sunday!

P.S. The subject was said to me by the 1st and 4th notable events today.  I’m liking my job more and more.


Let it die

It’s been a week or so, I’m well aware of the time frame of how long ago it was since I last typed in this blog.

My week was pretty interesting.  I started work at Woodingford Lodge.  Woodingford Lodge is a long-term care facility for the elderly.  Kind of appropriate considering my past experience with seniors (HHC, playing the piano for retirement homes), and I wanted to see what it was like to work on the other side of the fence (in my case it would be actually using the products I sold on the people I sold them to). 

How did I get this placement? We had interviews with 3 volunteer placements of our choice.  I chose Woodingford, the school, and a day-care for seniors.  The interviews went really well (as usual since I love one-on-one interviews) and the school and the lodge wanted me, but I had more experience with the elderly, so I was picked to do the lodge.  In the end it works out for the better because I’m gunning for a school placement in Montréal and I’ll be able to get the most use out of my French as well as work in a school that’s going to have a lot of people in it.

The first day at the Lodge (I think I’m going to call it that for now on.  All of my jobs get short forms.  HHC, BR, Cali’s, Shoppers, etc.) began on Monday at 8:30.  I re-introduced myself to the supervisor and I was off to the Cherryhill Dining Room.  The layout of the Lodge is like a square.  One half of the square is Cherryhill, the other side is Oakdale.  They are mirrors of each other with a courtyard in the centre of the square. 

I entered the Cherryhill dining room and was seated at a table with 4 seniors.  One of them was being fed with a spoon like a baby.  Two of them were eating their food normally, and a woman was eating her food with her hands.  I sat there saying very little, taking it all in with a small smile glued to my face.  The PSWs (Personal Social Worker) were busy but made time to talk to me a little bit to make me a bit more comfortable, but I still felt awkward.

My job that day was to shadow a PSW and get the flow of the building and just to get orientated with everything.  At 9:30 there was a spa going on, so I helped wheel someone down to the spa so they could get their nails done.  For the rest of the morning I helped out a guy who is a physiotherpist aide.  I walked around with him and actually got to see products that were in HHC being used on people (wrap weights and resistance bands).  This was a great way to introduce myself to most of residents. 

I helped clean and serve with lunch, which wasn’t as awkward as breakfast.  I still felt out of place and I didn’t know when they were done with their meals or beverages, but at least I wasn’t just sitting there feeling foolish.  I learned that it was a resident’s birthday that day.  We served carrot cake and sang Happy Birthday.

After lunch was done, there was bingo in the activiation room.  I helped get the residents in the room, helped set up their cards, helped them mark their cards, cleared their cards, clairified the numbers that were being called, and helped clean up.  There was a girl who came in to call out numbers.  She liked to go off on tangents but she mostly kept on track.  We played 2 games and everything went well.  

For the rest of the day I talked with the residents a little and got to know the staff.  Before I even got to know any of the staff, I had a reputation somehow for being able to use a computer.  The first question that came out of their mouths “Are you good with computers? Because blah blah blah doesn’t work and I don’t know how to…” I then learned that their system is run on Windows Professional 2000, a really crappy OS for businesses.  So I’m expecting to fix quite a few problems in the future.

Tuesday had a more exciting morning with a hymn sing after breakfast.  I sat in on it and sang songs.  I’ve been singing more recently since I’ve been apart of Katimavik and I love it.  The songs ranged from hyms to more contemporary songs.  The seniors seemed to enjoy it, even if some of them fell asleep.  I’m hoping to perform there soon, maybe next week.

Following the hymn sing there was a craft being done in the activiation room.  We made apple center pieces for fall.  Basically it was two pieces of felt shaped like apples glued together with a pipe cleaner to make it stand in a vase.  It went on until 12.  It was a bit painful because the seniors didn’t feel to easy with me just yet (it was only my second day after all) so the craft felt like it was dragging on forever.  I spent the rest of my day getting to know a resident better.  I felt much better afterwards because it finally felt like I was starting to fit in a little instead of being this kid who is going to be showing up every day cleaning plates and helping people with activities.

Wednesday was an easy but a bit peculiar day.  It started at breakfast.  I was working in the Oakdale dining room cleaning and serving as usual, and I had a conversation with an elderly woman.  The details of the conversation were a bit odd.  They involved me settling for a nice young girl, not a beautiful old woman like herself.  Needless to say I was quite perplexed (I didn’t say anything about Jeff but I assured her that I was not going to settle down with her or anything) and I forgot about it throughout the day until the physiotherpist aide brought it up with me before lunch.  Apparently this woman has a case of dementia where she thinks that any young man that speaks with her (or in my case, is spoken to) is going to marry her and take her away from the home and drain her of all her money.  There was one incident where she barricaded her door in fear that a male volunteer was going to do just that (which he had no intention of doing of course).  So I learned to avoid that woman at all costs in order to avoid another episode happening. 

After learning that tidbit of information, I started to become more aware of the other residents problems and behaviors.  There is a woman in Cherryhill who wails like a police siren.  I believe there is another woman (or perhaps it is the same one) who wanders up and down the halls and will latch on to you (literally), look at you and just say over and over again, “Die die die die…”.  So creepy. 

One of my housemates was telling me that at her job she got to look at all of the patient’s files and learn everything about them.  I wonder if I will get to do the same thing.  I don’t know if I would be interested in doing that because a file is so personal, but I suppose that it is the home’s right to know about the conditions of their patients, so it makes sense.  For the rest of the day I sat around and listened to Sean Macdonald sing songs and entertain the folks.

Thursday was uneventful.  Friday however, was pretty busy.  In the morning I decorated the Lodge in fall-tastic colours, corn stalks and bales of hay.  I helped out with lunch and as I was cleaning up there was a delay in the time frame of when everyone could leave because a resident had passed on during lunch.  I didn’t know her that well, but it was still sad.  It finally hit me when I saw a woman walk by the activation room with flowers as we were playing Euchre.  After Euchre, I spent some one-on-one time with a resident for the rest of the day.  We talked about Peterborough, the birds, the zoo, and other things that came to mind.  She was a really nice lady and a caring soul.  I went home that day feeling good that I had started to get to know one of the residents.

Today started out a bit sad.  I walked into the Cherryhill dining room as usual and I was taken aside and informed that the resident that I had spent one-on-one time with on Friday had passed away.  She passed away in her sleep.  It sucks because I was actually starting to get to know her and now I cannot anymore.  The rest of the day was fun.  We played bingo (I got to call out numbers.  Woo!) and sat outside in the front because it was beautiful out.

When I got home from work I called my Aunt who works in Sick Kids in Toronto to learn how to deal with death and palliative care.  She told me that the people that are in that care are already in pain and you’re making them more comfortable so that they pass away without as much pain.  For example, if a kid gets in a car crash and gets sent to the hospital and they keep him alive, then great.  But if in a month they realize that can’t do anything for him and he gets the plug pulled on him, then why did you bring him back to life? Sometimes it’s just better to let them die in order to stop their suffering.  

Dying is another journey, not an end.


Let’s try a new change

Sept. 5th:

At 6:45 PM I was in the Toronto Pearson Airport Terminal 1, wandering around with my bags and a guitar, looking for an orange circle with a green line underneath.  After 5 minutes of searching, I saw some luggage tags that looked just like mine and a group of people sitting down, waiting for something.  I knew I was in the right place after a man named Yan introduced himself and welcomed me to Katimavik.

I sat down, made my introductions to people, and waited for 7 o’clock to arrive.  When the rest of the group arrived, we went down to the bus stop, loaded our things into the bus and we travelled for 2 hours to Fingal, specifically to a Christian Centre.  Just to give an idea of what makes up a group, there are 5 guys and 7 girls per group.  There is 3 groups at the Mass Orientation (Mass O) camp at Fingal.  Therefore there are 33 Katimavik participants.

While on the bus, I made friends with a girl sitting next to me named Katie.  We totally clicked, talking about anything and everything for the whole bus ride.  I think that we were the only ones who constantly talked.  She knew about Chrono Trigger and Harvest Moon and other nerdy SNES things too, which we both found really strange.  We shared stories about where w are from (she’s from a tiny town in a prairie province in Alberta.) and also about crazy times during the summer.  The fog was rolling in as we drove into Fingal and was extremely thick when we got to our destination.

 We got off the bus and sorted out what we were going to keep in the rooms and what we were not and then we went to our respective rooms for sleep.  The rooms were divided into 4 per same-sex people.  I watched Harold and Kumar go to White Castle with a bunch of guys and then went to bed.

Sept. 6th:

Wake up call was at 8, but I was awake at 6:30 (Jeff, you would be so proud) and I got to know one of my roommates named William.  He’s pretty cool.  He worked as a farm hand in the Prairies (funny how I make friends with prairie folk the easiest) and he’s in the group headed for London (I think?).

I got to know my group (Go Ingersoll! Woo!) at breakfast that morning.  No one was really awake so it was kind of weird.  We just ate our cereal in silence and said very little, but we got friendlier as the day went on and by the end of camp we were quite a solid unit.

* Figures that it’s been a week since these things have happened, so I’m just going to write about the stuff that I remember as this blog trucks on.  Sorry!

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 10:40 AM.

Right now, it is so quiet in the house.  Everyone is either reading, chilling on the couch, or on the computer (or Palm Pilot in my case).  We moved into our house on Sunday afternoon.  The house is so awesome.  It’s a 2 floor house with a basement that has a washer AND a dryer in it.  Our backyard is huge! Twice the size of mine, which is fantastic.  The bedrooms are split into the 4 guys in one room, the girls in 2 rooms (3 in one, 4 in the other), Derrick our project manager has his own room.  There are 2 bathrooms in the house, one of them has a walk in shower stall, the other is just a tub with a curtain.  All of the doors are fireproofed because there was a fire in the house 2 years ago and they had to do hardcore renovations to fix it.  as a result, we now have this awesome fantastic new house. 

Stuff we’ve done so far:

We’ve set up house rules, gone on a scavenger hunt, went shopping (attempted to go twice at a 24 hour Foodland but the first time it wasn’t open.  Turns out it’s only a 24 hour store on the weekdays.  Very effective, no?) and today we are getting our memberships for the community center across the street from us.  We have also met the mayor of Ingersoll, chatted with 3 guys and 1 girl about piercings and tattoos (and also been creeped out by one of the 3 guys), talked about embarrassing stories, and that’s just from being here for 3 days.

I just thought of an awesome idea for this blog.  I’m gonna have a post about each person in this house.  Kinda like a spotlight thing that they do on Lucky Star (an anime I watched before I left.  Hilarious!) So expect to see that at some point. 

I’m really happy I’m doing this.  Our group is so awesome! Everyone is getting along really well and we haven’t gotten on each others nerves that much yet.  We have had our spats though.  For example, there are 3 francophones in our group and sometimes they get frustrated when we forget that we have to speak a bit slower and more concise to make sure they understand.  Not only that, one member of our group is a bit odd.  He needs to have a bit more time to himself.  But other than that, things are great. 

I love you and miss you guys, but I haven’t had much time to think about missing people very much.  There’s always something to do here.  I love it! Plus I think lunch is on so I better get going.  Expect to see more posts soon!


Zero Hour

Today’s the day I leave for Katimavik. For the first five days I won’t be in Ingersoll because there has to be orientation camp with 2 other groups in Fingal, which is a little south of London. We’re staying in a Christian Centre *insert joke here*.

I can’t believe that I get to leave today. It’s kinda surreal. Everyone is settled into their University/College lives again (or froshing it up) and I’m about to embark on an adventure to a little country town. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but who isn’t? Meeting new people, wondering if I packed too much, wondering if I packed too little, pissed that my PC won’t let me burn my songs onto my computer properly (stupid Real Player), sad that I don’t get to see anyone as often as I like now, but relieved that there is at least a way to contact people. My emotions are running the whole gamut here.

Anyway, I’m gonna stop typing. I’m getting a weird pressure on the left side frontal area of my brain, and I think it’s from the post. One can only assume.

I’ll be writing in a paper blog as well as on here when I get the chance. So keep checking back and there will be something new soon.


The beginning of the end

This is my new blog, but it’ll be updated pretty sporadically due to Katimavik.

For those that don’t know (because I didn’t post it in my LJ) I’m departing for Katimavik on Sept. 5th. I don’t know what kind of volunteer work I’ll be doing just yet, but I will post about it when I get the chance to. I’ll stay in each destination for 3 months:

1. Ingersol, ON. A rural area east of London. Think John Deere hats, farming, plaid shirts and cow tipping.

2. Montreal, QC. Potentially downtown, but probably in a suburb. I’m super excited for this part. Get to brush up on my french franglish.

3. Stonewall, MB. A little north of Winterpeg Winnipeg. This will probably be nature related in some way.

I’ll come back on June 5th and life will be full of sunshine and puppies. I will have spoardic internet access as there are 10 other people living with me, so you’ll have to bear with me (no problems with that since I hardly updated this summer anyway). Katimavik will give me the chance I need to see if Social Work is really the career I want right now. If not, then I’ll take up music.

Enough about the impending doom that is being a volunteer for the Canadian Government, onto other things. I finished work at Home Health Care on Wednesday and I’m happy to say that even though it was a great summer job and learning experience, I will not go back and work with the elderly. Not my cup of tea. I’m still working at Banana Republic until Tuesday. When I come back from Katimavik I plan on heading back there because it is so much fun. Making people look good and feel good about themselves as well as not having the pressure of commission makes that job so enjoyable and fun. So much that it doesn’t even feel like work.

On Monday Jeff’s coming down to visit me one last time before I leave for Katimavik. From the 15th to the 26th of August him and I went on vacation in St. John’s, Halifax, Capstick (a hamlet in the most northern tip of Nova Scotia), PEI, Montreal and Ottawa. It was a great vacation. Jeff has all of the photos, but they should be uploaded tommorow when he gets here.

In St. John’s we stayed in a University dorm (after we had trouble finding it). We ate at a Pizza Delight (NEVER AGAIN!) and we got our food an hour after we ordered it. There was some new guy in the kitchen who didn’t know what he was doing along with a party of thirty who had ordered food before us. All we ordered was a medium pizza and bread sticks with donair sauce (Never get donair sauce. It smells faintly like ranch sauce, but it tastes like sugar. And it looks like… well… (Partially NWS) this, pretty much.) We got extra cans of pop for our trouble. I wanted my stuff for free but I decided against fighting for it.

After that incident, we drove to Halifax and stayed for 2 days in the University dorm there and another day (or two, I can’t remember) in a hotel. We walked around, tried some of the local restaurants which were pretty decent, went to a few cafés, checked out the waterfront (it was the busking festival that week), went to casino (I put in $10 at the slot machine and won $25, Jeff put in $20 and got nothing. MUHAHAHA! But then I felt bad so I gave Jeff the $20 I won), and we checked out some apartments and houses in case we ever wanted to move down there.

I don’t know what it is about Halifax, but everyone smiles at you as you walk by them. Defintely not the same here where everyone scowls and/or checks you out. At least they do it with a smile. Also they don’t have liscence plates on the front of their cars, which makes them look so much better. The bus system seems to be way more effective than Windsor’s. Everytime Jeff and I walked outside a bus would pass by. A downside about Halifax would have to be the parking. You need a permit for EVERYTHING parking related. There is no such thing as Pizza Pizza down there. Everything is either a Pizza Delight or a Subway. Not as many Tim Horton’s either. Dartmouth is across the river from Halifax (you can take a ferry or a bridge, both are relatively fast and cheap). Dartmouth is to Mississauga as Halifax is to Toronto (only both are smaller than their counterparts). Overall, Halifax would be a sweet place to move to once I get my future straightened out.

After spending 4 days in Halifax we ventured up north to Capstick. Capstick is a hamlet with approx. 30 people in it (or so we felt… turns out it inhabits 575 people according to wikipedia). It’s in the middle of nowhere and there’s no cell phone reception unless you drive 20 minutes south. Jeff’s friend built a shed to stay in for sleeping. There’s pictures of that to come later. There was a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean and a very steep cliff. We got to know a man who is apart of the founding family. He fished for a living ever since he was 14. That is all he has ever known. His wife died a year ago, but he has his offspring to keep him company. He’s retired from fishing now and he spends his days walking with his wife’s dog, watching satelite tv and reading books like Farley Mowat and Linda Green (I asked him if he’s read the Owl Family and Never Cry Wolf, and he has. My guess is that he can only read up to a grade 6 level. But he seems to be leading a rich and adventurous life, so that’s good. Anyway, Jeff and I stayed for 2 days and then we drove (and took 2 ferries) to PEI. Jeff had never been to PEI so it was nice. We stayed at a hotel (OMGWTFBBQ HOT WATER!) and chilled out the night before heading to Montreal.

At Montreal we stayed at a Best Western by the Airport and it was THE BEST BEST WESTERN EVAR!!1!!11!1!. We went down to the bar ’cause we wanted an excuse to wear our dressy clothing (which we had brought with us and never worn), so we put it on for an hour, went down to the bar, had 2 expensive and crappily made Cosmos, and then drove to a McDonald’s, which was an adventure in itself because the roads all intersected and went underneath the highway and when we were driving we thought we were on the right side and then we’d see McDonald’s on the opposite side of the highway (fuck) so we’d have to go through it all again. Finally we got it right and all was well. 2 gay well dressed men eating at a McDonald’s. Almost reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Marge gets the family into the country club (or something like that) and at the end of the episode Marge decides against joining and they end up eating at the Krusty Burger all dressed up and the server/cleaner guy says (in his squeaky acne infested way), “Did you guys just come from the Prom?”. It was like that. Without the guy talking, of course.

The final night we stayed in Ottawa with Jeff’s friend Melanie and her boyfriend Graham. During our time there, we were going to pick Melanie up from work, so to kill time we walked up and down Wellington street and walked into random shops. One of these shops was a Steinway store! Wee! So I played a used upright (but very nice sounding) Pearl River piano (Yamaha makes them). I played Emm Gryner’s Blackwinged Bird (everyone I play it for loves it. Thanks for writing an awesome song Mrs. Gryner.) and also tried out a stripped down grand (we’re talking nothing on it, just wood, steel, and hammers. So raw.) and I liked the Pearl River one better. More centered sound (of course, since it’s put together), tinier (good for an apartment) but the higher keys were a little weak for me. Almost like someone had smashed their hands on it repeatedly when they were a child and they thought they were making music. Whatever, it was still a nice piano.

We hung out with Melanie and her boyfriend for the night, watched hilarious comedians on youtube then went home the next day. Since then I’ve helped Dan move into his condo. It’s a good thing too because now the parental units won’t be breathing down his neck all the time. He can finally have his own space and do whatever he wants. Hooray.

Other than that, life’s been pretty good. Overall this summer has not been terrible. Had a great job at BR and a well paying job at HHC, parties with BR people, parties with people at Cali’s, a great vacation with Jeffrey, got to bond with my parental units, and made a bunch of new friends.

Looking forward to next summer, I’m going to do the following:

– Take singing, alto sax, guitar, or dancing lessons, and possibly get my Grade 8 piano.

– Work out and gain an upper body (which I may be able to do at Katimavik).

– Improve on fashion more (which I have since I’ve worked at BR. I’ve became quite knowledgeable on stuff for men and women).

– Learn sign language and improve french (I’ll be able to improve my french at Katimavik).

– Post more in this blog (if I get off my lazy ass and do it).

– Find out what I want to do with my future career-wise. Music or Social Work? Or maybe something completely different all together?

– Visit friends in other towns more (I’m talking to you, Windsor/London/Sudbury/Ottawa/Cambridge people!).

A huge photo post is to come before Wednesday with photos from the vacation and other random things. Still trying to transfer my posts from my LJ, but I’m having a hard time saving my XML onto my computer. Anyone know how to work that out?

P.S. Good luck with school everyone! I miss posting my schedule and finding out who I share classes with and all that fun stuff. Ah well. Next year perhaps.