I’m Angry

I am not going to talk about access, disability or seniors today.  I am going to take a few minutes to clarify my anger.  I am beyond angry and that bothers me since it is exactly what Trump and his ilk want.  Keep us angry and it’s easier to divide us.  The shooting at the Quebec mosque shouldn’t surprise anybody but should sadden all of us. We have allowed our political masters to use a nationality to divide us by creating islamophobia.  Check the history of Germany in the 30’s and you will see a lot of comparisons.

I’m angry that the likes of Rona Ambrose can stand up in the House of Commons and make a plea for tolerance with such a straight face.  This is the same women who has been actively involved with a Canadian political party who built their base by spouting hate and demonizing certain philosophies for the past ten years.

I am angry that a major Canadian political party is even considering a leader like Kellie Leitch.  Here’s an educated women who hides her racist comments behind “Canadian values“.  I am 4th or 5th generation Canadian whose ancestors arrived in Canada to escape religious persecution in Europe.

I grew up being taught that Canadian values were tolerance, acceptance, compassion, diversity and above all caring.  How do you define, let alone test for, Canadian values?  In my mind this is nothing more than spreading the seeds of discontent and mistrust towards particular segments of our society.

I am angry over the term “terrorism” when describing a “hate crime”.  The deaths of 14 female victims of the Polytechnic massacre was classified as hate not terrorism although it did terrorize women.  Words are powerful and now is not the time to start playing semantics.  Words create imagery and imagery can create false understanding of words so let’s not let “hate” become “terrorism”.  That’s the nature of “fake news“. Continue reading “I’m Angry”

Being Your Own Media

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

It has been such a crazy week I am more inclined to withdraw than report on it.  However one does not generate much awareness by sitting in a corner mumbling.  In this new time of “post truth” and “alternative facts” (I can’t believe I can even say that) people have to be aware how insidious social media can be and check their facts.  People need to exercise their mind just as much as their biceps and fact checking is a good way to do that.

Much of my desire to withdraw is due to the level of fake news and the toxicity it’s having on the people around me.  This is why people need to be more responsible and part of being responsible is to verify your knowledge level.  A bit of common sense is needed…

Look at it this way, if I were to lend you my car so you could get to Campbell River and back but half way there you ran out of gas because I said I thought it was full when you asked, is it my fault I was wrong.  Hopefully one would verify how much gas by maybe topping it up before you took off.  Social media is kind of like that.  Just because someone says something or posts some “really cool” picture on Facebook does not mean it’s true.

That doesn’t mean anyone with a personal agenda or questionable ideology (that’s what Facebook is for) can’t use social media but social media, like any form of communication, has certain rules.  One of the basics I grew up with was an individuals responsibility to verify information.  In the days of talking that might have meant something as simple as “what did you mean by that” or “where did you hear that from”.  Get into the habit of not just accepting.  The second lesson I learned really early was to raise awareness with references and substantive sources.  So it is best I write rather than binge on Taboo…so for today I will be somebodies media and to be clear I am NOT a journalist although I have had my own column in the Alderlea Magazine now defunct.  So I repeat right now I am playing media…

bethenewsFor those of you that have been following my adventures to access an assisted living apartment well caller 3, and 4 made their presence known.  Caller 3 was an in-home assessment done by a nice fellow, an Occupational Therapist who was close to my age.  I introduce him to more adaptive aids and techniques I have developed over a life time of trial and error to the point where his visit was more of an in-service than a client assessment.  He recognized the foolishness of using criteria to assess an “able-bodied” senior experiencing age related decompensation with someone whose life was build around developing adaptive techniques.  How many stairs I can do before I become short of breath or has the weight load of your grocery shopping changed in the last six months?  Those are not exactly the criteria someone in a wheelchair worries about. Continue reading “Being Your Own Media”

Still Marching…

I am extremely concerned over the events that lead up to yesterday’s Women’s March and disgusted over the need for it.  I thought my days of participating in civil rights marches were over but I was wrong.  I can’t quit now and watch all that I fought for disappear.  This March is not just about women, it’s about protecting the civil rights of everyone.

America has elected a president, one of the most powerful positions in the world, who will say, do or denigrate whoever he deigns to at that moment to advance his ego.  I say his ego because he has been very light on policy except to undo all the “damage” he states the Democrats have wreaked since Obama’s Presidency.  America elected a President whose platform is based on how great he believes himself to be.  Asked many times on the campaign trail about his platforms the best he seemed to be able to do was reassure everybody they don’t need to worry because he’s so great.

My breaking point, mind you I was stretched pretty taut by that point, was his denigration of a disabled reporter.  Yet so many people initially ignored this.  I got so pissed off my own family were prepared to disown me for making that big of an issue at the time.  It now appears that many more were watching than I realized and yet there are still deniers.

newsawarenessI made a brief mention of the incident on one of the Facebook pages I am connected to only to receive an immediate backlash.  I have no idea who this Tom Palmer is however as someone who worked as a therapist for almost fifteen years I recognize the syntax he is creating.  When a simple comment regarding a single action can be seen as “you jump on this post sewing your venom like rabid cats. first off with terry and the disabled reporter mocking facts before you come on and look like you’re still stuck in the quagmire of lies surrounding that incident“.  I don’t respond to those people because they are like Trump, total denial and blinders to actual facts.  I have spend close to fifty years as a disability activist and I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back at the expense of every rights advancement that has been made in my community, the disabled.

My experience has been comment’s like that are based more on a rigid ideology than fact and anything one says to this type of person is just going to feed the narcissistic nature they share with the new President.  When someone can take an innocuous comment and turn it into “sewing your venom like a rabid cat” they are not looking for discussion, they are in search of verbal dominance at any costs.  Can’t waste my time on that. Continue reading “Still Marching…”

Are We Talking..

I’m in that hurry up and wait stage of dealing with a government bureaucracy.  The sun is trying to shine and it has certainly warmed up.  Has been raining buckets (as I write that two of the local high school kids on their way home in shorts…how wimpy am I) but not to bad today.  So while I sit here waiting for my request to percolate its way through a  filter of god knows how many vacant positions before anybody actually makes a decision it’s time to put some words paper.

This grey misty weather condition can have a depressive effect on a wide variety of individuals.  Some days it gets to me but not today.  I find the moments of sunshine breaking through the clouds is uplifting but I also dumped a big anger this morning, one I had been carrying around for a long time and it felt good.

gainpainRegardless of how well today worked out for me (or has been working out, the day isn’t over) the are many who are just beginning their first major rollercoaster decent of the year.  Between the depressing weather, the inauguration on Friday and, the thousands of little things that make life what it is, you need to remember the #LetsTalk day Jan 25.

Depression is not a weakness, depression is a communication, a non-verbal one but communication all the same.  Many of us don’t know how to talk that way.

I worked in an environment for fifteen years where we spend a lot of time discussing “getting in touch with your feelings”.  That was psychiatry in Calgary.  My job was to understand feelings while looking for meaning in them.  To many it later became “psycho-babble” but to my peers it was communication. Continue reading “Are We Talking..”

Fear and Loathing…

“Fear is the mind killer…” Frank Herbert (Dune)

I came into the new year feeling a bit more rejuvenated having made the decision to look at the opportunities of “assisted living“.  It wasn’t an easy decision but the reality is I will be 67 this year and, like it or not, I’m a senior.  Accepting my age while recognizing the speed with which decrepitude is lapping over my body means I may have to give up a bit of independence but hell life is a trade off right.

That decrepitude I can handle but the slow erosion of confidence was harder to deal with.  That transfer into my car or the jump momentum from the ground to my wheelchair is becoming more difficult and that erodes the confidence level.  Those same issues are the high risk times for falls.  In my desire to think proactively and avoid potential hospitalization moments I would feel safer knowing there were some supports close by.  I am probably even more tuned into this at this particular moment having watched an ambulance just haul one of my neighbours off to the hospital.

thoughtsI spend last week putting some deep thought (and research) into assisted living apartments.  I quickly discovered that the private sector was out of my price range.  At the risk of repeating myself, $3000 a month seemed to be the average cost out there but that covered almost everything, meals, house cleaning, close emergency medical backup, some laundry service for my bedding plus the suite.  The suite has a kitchenette but not a full oven, no big deal to me but again $3000 is beyond my budget.  That appears to be the starting point for private services.

The buildings with subsidize suites directed any interested parties to the Island Health “Assisted Living” website.  As a life-time “professional patient” I know some of these things take time so I had to set some wheels in motion.  It took me 54 weeks to access the promised government assistance to cover half the cost of a $6500 wheelchair so I understand the need for perseverance.

I met all of the criteria (I thought), had identified a potential facility in Duncan and made the call to the 1-877 line.  I received an amazingly quick response from caller number one who took some basic information from me before telling me she would put caller 2 in touch with me.  Three days later I received a call from the Occupational Therapist (caller number 2) who wanted to book some time for a home assessment.  Fine, moving much faster than I thought it would.  She came by that afternoon.

Pleasant enough lady.  Semi-retired Occupational Therapist who does the occasional assessment for Island Health.  After a quick assessment, pretty straight forward.  I gave her a quick demonstration of how I transfer in and out of my chair.  Showed her I get in and out of the shower, again explaining how all of these things contribute to a “falling” risk and part of my rational for assisted living was risk mitigation. Continue reading “Fear and Loathing…”

Starting the Story Anew…

“Until you make the subconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” – Carl G. Jung

The snow has just started so the earlier week stocking up proved valuable.  However on the positive side, snow on Vancouver Island generally means it will warm up and I have had my fill of the cold weather.  My obsession with having the news on in the background paid off so I made sure to stock up after seeing the 7 day forecast.  I don’t go out when it snows so this type of weather provides me with the time to reflect on my own thoughts.  So the more it snows the more time I have to return to the substance of the opening Carl Jung quote.

I entered this new year with two main goals.  One, find some form of assisted living arrangement and two, do something about my low grade depression that doesn’t involve more prescriptions.  I figured I’ve been dragging this depression around for almost 30 years so why start more pills.  Both of these goals are important and both will need careful planning but moving is external so I will focus on a place to live first.

Dealing with depression is internal so I can do some self assessments while I’m organizing a move.  I worked in psychiatry for twenty years so I think I know how to work through that.  Unfortunately I was in a situation for many, many years where “psycho-babble” was frowned upon and any discussion regarding feelings was considered bunk so when I left the profession I left emotional expression.

For me independence is almost a religious experience and to surrender any of it is like a Catholic giving up confession but I recognize the necessity.  Acceptance of moving into an assisted living environment was a big step for me.  That acceptance has economic, physical and emotional impacts so I need to set the ground work myself.  One of the contributing factors to this decision was my recent hospitalization.  If living in an apartment community where there are supports will keep me out of hospital, all the better.  So imagine my disappointment when the feds/provinces failed to reach a new health agreement last month.

Provincial governments across the country lost out on an additional $11.5 billion meant to target mental health and homecare (much neglected areas) but the provinces didn’t like having terms dictated.  I don’t know about you but I was raised in a world where if your bargaining with someone then everybody has input until a compromise is reached.  Instead we seem to be drifting further apart.  Whatever happened to the centrist nature of Canada? Continue reading “Starting the Story Anew…”