Running On Fumes

I have just finished week 7 of the COVID19 life-style and I’m starting to run on fumes. The fight is draining out of me. I feel like I’m trapped on a carousel of an ever changing cycle of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, five stages of grief. However just as you think you have worked through one, a new tragedy shows up and you start all over again. I’ve gone through my denial, been a little angry about it (knowing so much of this was avoidable), and just as you are about to move into the bargaining stage, bang another tragedy comes along and you are back at denial.

A small part of history, she published her work on this in 1969 but if you Google “Five stages…” you come up with an assortment of topics. They all follow the same premise but use different content as a filler. For example, “The Five Stages of Change” identify “precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance” instead of Kübler-Ross’s original “denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance”. Different words, same process. Did I need to include this little historical tidbit, probably not but I look for distractions these days.

I am exhausted by all of these “false promises” (do you really believe that if the Kenney government were sincere over their revised promise to doctors they would continue to force Alberta Medical Association into a court battle in the middle of a health crisis). I’m tired of these moments of shock when another tragedy arises but, mostly, I’m tired of the artificial narratives being poured out like Jim Jones cool-aid by governments that profess to have the best interest of all citizens at heart.

This “artificial” shock by Premiers over the appalling situation at the Residence Herron senior residence just sickens me. The fact that these political leaders could “feign” such a reaction to a problem they have devised tears any faith I have in the compassion of Canadians. These same governments have been stripping away supports to our most vulnerable for well over 20 years leaving us with seniors care services that look more like a third world immigrant holding camp than a compassionate centre of care worthy of the architects that designed what we enjoy today, CANADA. The situation was atrocious, the political reaction was a lesson in professional yoyo spinning and nothing more than “vote bait”. I’ve seen better bait on the Saturday morning television show “Canadian Fisherman”.

And like any good fisherman provincial governments have been “gutting” seniors care for the past twenty-five year. I’ve been aware of that, I’ve been paying attention. To the rest of you, why did it take a health pandemic to get your attention? I have often said “your complacency is killing me” but I never realized just how much truth that statement would bare.

It wasn’t a surprise when twenty couples were given eviction notices from their previously subsidized units at a Retirement Concept Assisted Living Centre in North Vancouver four years ago. Wexford Creek, a seniors facility in Nanaimo had been owned by the Edmonton group “Good Samaritan Society” was forced to sell resulting in almost 110 layoff notices. The Good Samaritan states they hadn’t had an increase in provincial funding in eight years so had to sell to a private company before they went broke. So these provincial governments feigning surprise just doesn’t cut it, they have been busy dismantling seniors services for years and sadly few have paid attention.

It was no surprise when Vegreville Alberta gave 52 employees their lay-off notices from a privately run seniors supported living centre and then offered to hire them back at a much reduced wage. This did not keep Premier Kenney from “phasing” out the Alberta Office of the Seniors Advocate four months ago so this feigned surprise is about as genuine as a set of hemorrhoids on an Oak tree. There are too many examples to really get into and it says a lot about out current society when it takes a pandemic of this magnitude to get people to open their eyes.

Most people I know put more research time into a new car than they do over what the facility they are trusting their parents care too. I had to point out to my own family who actually owns the facility my mother is in. It is a very nice assisted living facility but the company on the brochure is actually owned by a twice removed insurance company that trades on the TSE and makes a mint off of senior living. And governments are eating this up as their way of downloading costs onto the for profit sector.

The early days of this pandemic I did nothing but respond to calls from various disabled individuals whose morning care-giver hadn’t shown up to get them dressed, out of bed and into their wheelchairs. Others whose regular day programs had shut down for the duration of the pandemic but had given the client no warning. When I contacted the Ministry responsible for these things I received the traditional bureaucratic run around “well that service is contracted out, call the agency”. No, I pay tax dollars and expect some form of accountability for those dollars, I am not here to do your job. This pandemic has just reenforce my own belief that the disabled are more of an after thought than a priority in todays society.

Over a year ago I raise my concerns with the City of Calgary for shutting down the “Voluntary Vulnerable Persons Registry”. The registry was a major tool in knowing where the most vulnerable were in the community. The answer, “the registry was no longer economically viable”. What is a life worth and what role do the disabled have in today’s society?

A single individual in a grey toned landscape with the words "Never wanted pease in my life as I do now.  Like, I am so over things that complicate my life.  I want a complete peace of mind".  Caption below picture reads "Just embers left"
Just embers left

The COVID19 related death of Ariis Knight is a testament to how little value or understanding there is. When a “policy” over rules common sense we are in trouble. When a non-verbal 40 year old cerebral palsy survivor is refused the right to have the only person there (her sister) who could act as her “voice” turned away is this really a world worth living in anymore. People have lived in their little silo’s for so long believing everything is being taken care of, well then we are just a herd of sheeple. And we have a whole political system that is growing like a patch of weeds based on our own complacency. Well not my complacency, I’m just the guy nobody wants to listen to, accepting the truth I highlight would mean moving out of their bubbles of comfort.

How much comfort do you think the population of Residence Heron enjoyed? Like I said I am running on fumes these days. I feel like the embers of that camp fire we just roasted our marshmallows over. The last few wafts of that cedar smell is refreshing and relaxing but the fire is dying. I am surrounded by kindling, I’m just not sure I have the energy to gather any more kindling and I have been unable to generate any real interest in anyone to help carry the load. The world is going to look very different after COVID19 but I have used up most of my energy pushing for change after the last epidemic, polio. I’m not sure I have the energy to reignite a new fire…


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