Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jamais Vu

Most people are accustomed with the term"déjà vu," which is the feeling or sensation that an unfamiliar/novel experience has been experienced before in the past. Many people, however, are not familiar with its opposite, "jamais vu", which is the feeling that something that should be familiar is actually unfamiliar. According to Wikipedia:
Jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before...Jamais vu is most commonly experienced when a person momentarily does not recognise a word, person, or place that he or she already knows...
I only bring this up because I have been experiencing this lately!

 Or am I just losing my brain cells?

Incident 1: I have an opal necklace that I frequently wear (Jeremy bought it for me as a graduation present). A couple weeks ago, a coworker admired the necklace,and asked if it was opal. I hesitated, because suddenly, I was no longer sure it was an opal. Part of me rationally knew that it HAD to be, but it just seemed....wrong. I kept thinking opal sounded like the wrong stone, and every time I said or thought of the word, it generated an image of a fake pearl. For days afterwards, I tried to recall exactly what the name of the stone was, even though my brain kept screaming, It's OPAL you moron!!!

Incident 2: My favorite news anchor is Shepard Smith. Although I don't get to listen to his program that often (it conflicts with my work schedule), he has been my favorite news anchor for several years now. During the aftermath of the recent Boston terrorist attack, I was listening to the news in my car, and the news reporter stated, "And now we take you to Shepard Smith, who is in Boston..." Suddenly, "Smith" sounded incredibly mistaken. In that moment, I had the feeling that his last name HAD to be something else, because it couldn't be "Smith."

Incident 3: I was in the car (again), listening to the radio. The song "Bittersweet Symphony" came on, and that's when this jamais vu crap hit me again. I was mentally snagged on the word "bittersweet." This time, it actually was a good feeling though. I was turning the word around in my head, marveling over the simplicity of it, and wondering why the English language didn't jam other contradictory words together, like "darkbright" or "nearfar."

This feeling has hit me several times even prior to these incidences (which I believe is the case for many people). I remember several years ago, when I had been up writing an essay for hours, I suddenly started to doubt the spelling of the word "the." In that moment, I was convinced I was misspelling it. I also recall a couple times repeating a word out loud over and over and OVER until the word lost its meaning and I started to doubt whether the word even existed. Wikipedia describes this as "brain fatigue".
Well, one word that I will never find unfamiliar is the word "mattress." I plan on collapsing on it.......right now.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Aggressive Patients

Two evenings ago, I was going to write about Monday, but I decided to wait a little bit because I didn't want to push Jodi's post down too soon. Especially considering her house is being devoured by vicious wood-eating beasts.

SO...Monday. I was running a Training & Education group ("D" group, our lowest functioning patients), and Otis was there. He was decompensating badly. Of course the eye brow plucking, breath holding, and intense staring were present, but this was FAR worse. Otis was staring at me with his fists clenched so tightly, they were trembling. His face was turning bright red, and he was seething. He was shaking, saying over and over, "I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you....." Then he got up and stood right by me, trembling and posturing himself as if he were going to hit me. But he appeared as if he were trying to stop himself. His muscles were tense and he appeared SO tortured...I have never seen anything like it. I am thinking, Holy shit, he wants to take me DOWN.

This is probably the first time in my job that I actually felt in danger of physical harm. I knew, without any doubt, that Otis could physically attack me at any moment. And much to my dismay, the two patients that I am certain would instantly defend me against such an attack were not present that day in the group (one of them is Mr. Scorpion, who was still on the inpatient side). I gazed around, in an attempt to quickly identify my allies. To my right was Thelma*, cradling her rag doll. Next to her was Lucy, mumbling to herself and applying her lipstick all over her face. Straight ahead was Polly, sitting there calmly with a serene smile on her face, one hand casually draped over her walker. And next to HER was Andrew, who was rambling non-stop about how "the fertilized female wasp enters the fig through the SCION" blah blah blah...This wasn't looking so good.

My mind was racing, but I kept my voice calm, and I said, "Otis,are you okay?" He didn't answer, except to murmur rapidly under his breath. I said, "I can tell you are really struggling with something right now, and I'm so sorry you are going through this....I want you to go out on the patio and try to relax for a little bit." He glared at me, then appeared to be experiencing some internal battle. He flung open the group room door, charged out the room, slammed the door so violently the wall shook, and yelled some curse words.

The moment he left the room, I felt a surge of relief, and I left too (now that I had access to the exit), so I could let my supervisor know what was going on. I was hoping he could be walked over to A&R and assessed for inpatient hospitalization (since he so obviously wasn't taking his meds). I grabbed my cellphone on the way back to the group room, because I had decided to completely blow off my training & ed exercise, and just play some music. My nerves were a little rattled, and the D group loves listening to Oldies (Thelma's favorite song in the world is "I Only Have Eyes for You", which reminds her of her deceased husband).

This is when things got even more bizarre. While I am in group, I happen to see my coworker through the window out in the parking lot looking distressed. I see Otis out there, but he is minding his own business now. There is an ambulance worker with my coworker. Then I see our outpatient RN running out there. What is going on?

It turns out, while my supervisor, the O/P clerk and RN were trying to figure out what to do with Otis, my coworker (I'll call her "C") was physically attacked by a different patient. Apparently, this patient stormed out of C's group, and C followed her to the parking lot to make sure she was okay (we have to check on the safety of all of our patients before they go). When C got to the parking lot, the patient charged her like a bull, and kicked her several times. For no reason. What is so strange is we all know this patient well, and she is typically friendly, cooperative, and cheerful. I was stunned.

What followed was a freakin' fiasco. The patient flew into a rage, and nobody could even approach her. The cops were called, and much of the staff was out there. Meanwhile, all the groups had let out, and the vans had shown up to take the patients home, but we couldn't let the patients out of the building because the patient was freaking out right outside the patio door, so they were all crowding the halls. Even the patients who had driven their own vehicles could not be let out, because of the safety risks. During all this, my job was to guard the back door, to make sure none of the patients slipped out into the parking lot. Otis, who I had temporarily forgotten about, suddenly reappears, trying to push his way out. GREAT. Now I have to tell the guy who wanted to kill me ten minutes ago that he can't leave the building. When I told him though, he surprised me. He grinned and gave me two thumbs up. Umm...okay.

The vans had to be relocated, and the patients had to be escorted out past the gym, through a side door, and filed out by the swimming pool. After the outpatient wing was cleared out, I banged on the bathroom doors, shouting, "Anyone else still in here?" A voice pipes up,"I'm in here!" It was Margo, our CLUMSY, toothless patient who wears a Santa Claus shirt all months of the year. As I walk her out past the pool, I tell her, "I swear Margo, if you fall in this pool, you will never hear the end of it from me." She just laughed.

Eventually, the assaultive patient went inpatient (Unit 3). As far as Otis, he got discharged from our program.We found out that he has not taken his meds for a while now. He needs to be moved to a board and care, where his meds will be administered by staff. I guess he will be moving soon. Once he is med-compliant, he will be able to readmit into our program.

I am really bummed about this. I want Otis to come back soon. I know that sounds strange, but...I feel his actions on Monday were admirable. I had a flashback of a worksheet Otis filled out his first couple days here.The question was, "What bothers you the most?" Otis wrote down, "men who hit women." Now I feel like I understand why he wrote that. On Monday, there was a dark part of him that REALLY wanted to hurt me...but he fought that side of himself with all the strength he could muster. I admire Otis because on Monday, in his own way, he did what he could to protect me from himself.

*All names have been changed

Monday, April 22, 2013

House Munchers

We have termites! 

That exclamation mark is there to signify my dismay, not excitement, in case there was any question about that. 

We discovered them a few days ago.  Trin had tiny pot marks on her bathroom ceiling that were almost unnoticeable, but recently, a small tube of debris trickled down from one of the holes.  She smacked it with her shoe, and when it hit the floor, termites came running out.  She was thrilled about the discovery because she's a weird child who loves to study bugs, but I--on the other hand--not so thrilled.

After consulting an exterminator friend and watching some YouTube videos, I think we're going to try to take care of the problem ourselves.  But it's a huge undertaking, and there are quite a few risks, so we'll see.   It's not like the little suckers are going to digest our entire house tonight; we still have time to think about what we want to do. 

In other non-eusocial-insect-related news, we're going camping this weekend!  It was a complete spur of the moment decision, although since it's still five days away, I guess it's not that impromptu.  But basically we were at La Casita for lunch yesterday, and we ran into a whole bunch of people from the dojo.  They insisted that we go camping with them this Saturday.  There's somewhere around twenty-five of us going!  All of the kids are going to play paintball, so that should be a blast.  It's just an over-nighter, but I am SO excited.  The group we're going with is very lively and fun, and after the last few months of cold weather, I am more than ready to do something outside.

Oh, I bought a new rabbit on Saturday to keep Pumpkin company, but she somehow broke her leg.  She seems okay, but she only hops on three legs now.  The kids named her Jiggly Puff. 

Am I the only one who's growing super-fond of Otis??  I think Shan should do a whole series just about him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tell Your Voices to Stop Talking about Me

Jodi told me I have to post something (guess I have been slacking). Well....fine then!

My week has been such...drudgery. I am studying for this stupid test, and it is so BORING. Seriously, I would rather stare at the spiderweb on my ceiling (damn, I really need to get rid of that) than study. I have been trying to stick to this 14 week study plan, but I fell off the wagon while my sister-in-law was staying with us.

Last weekend, I took "Practice Test C', and scored poorly. I was supposed to score at least a 125, and I only scored a 113. I sent my results to "PsychPrep" for feedback, with the hope that a 113 wasn't that bad. This is the response I got: "Many students with such a score rebound well on D. However, when students score below 115 on Practice Test C, we strongly recommend the weekend workshop home study program (9 CDs, over 175 on-line questions, PowerPoint handouts)....the investment of $325 is very worthwhile." So now what I'm asking myself is: Do I really need to buy this, or is PsychPrep just trying to make more $$$? Do you know how many new outfits I could buy with $325?!

Work continues to be...unpredictable. We have a new patient who (during group) sits rigidly in his chair with a fixed stare, and he holds his breath. The first few days, I didn't say anything about him holding his breath, because I wanted him to get acclimated to outpatient before I started confronting him. Now, when he holds his breath, I say, "Otis*, you're holding your breath again." He exhales loudly and GASPS, "No I'm not." Otis also pulls out his eyebrow hairs. Yesterday, Otis got into an argument with another patient (the one who thinks he was stung by a giant scorpion woman), so he plucked some of his eyebrow hairs out and flung them at Scorpion guy (Mr.Scorpion did not like this, and responded by threateningly showing Otis his gang tattoo).

One more thing about Otis: His auditory hallucinations talk about me. I know this makes me sound like I'M paranoid and should be admitted, but I KNOW that his voices are talking about me. When I'm running his group, Otis looks at me intently, then his gaze goes inward (you can tell he is responding to internal stimuli), and he starts smiling or giggling as his gaze lands on me again. I wonder what his voices are saying? Or do I even want to know? This is what I hope they are saying: "Wow, what a remarkable and clever therapist she is....we are learning SUCH FABULOUS coping strategies right now." Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case.

Sadly, Mr. Scorpion had to be admitted inpatient today. His ex attacked him last night in the form of a giant scorpion. He retaliated by hitting her with his"private parts" and then he felt a scorpion tail protruding from his chest. I feel SO bad for him, because this is so real to him. He hasn't had to go inpatient since September of last year,and he is in bad shape right now. I'm going to visit him over on Unit 3 tomorrow.

*Name has been changed

P.S.The Boston and Texas tragedies are greatly occupying my mind. I wrote this post, in part, to get my mind on something else for a while. I do wonder, however, how my friend Kristyn is handling the West, Texas tragedy (which is in her neck of the woods).

Hope all is well Kristyn.

Friday, April 12, 2013

And So it Begins

Yesterday Trinity turned 13.  I can barely believe it.  I'm not old enough to have a teenager.  Okay, maybe I'm old enough to have a teenager.  But I shouldn't be.  It's not right.  Not even a little. 

Age sucks.

Ironically my own twin has already dealt with this era of life twice now, so this is nothing new for her.  But it's new for me.  Somehow being a mom of little kids makes you feel like you're still young yourself.  But being a mother to a teenager immediately thrusts you into the world of the "old" and "uncool."

I don't care.  I'm still cool, damn it. 

I just can't believe that my little girl is a teen.  I'm experiencing all of the clichés right now; the "where did the time go"s and "it all passed in a blink of an eye"s. 

It was just yesterday that I had one of these:

Now I have one of these:

Except for this was taken at the beginning of the year, so she's actually taller now.  And more "teenagery"-looking. 

We went out to dinner last night in a mini-celebration of Trin's 13th birthday, but Trin is having her actual birthday party tomorrow night.  It's going to be a slumber party again, so we'll have seven giggly girls running around all over the place.  I'm letting Elijah have his friend Lino spend the night too, that way he will leave the girls alone and not end up getting tied to a chair like last year. 

On the plus side, if I'm stuck getting old, I'm glad I get to go through the process with awesome kids.


Oh my gosh, I'd kill to have just one hour of them back at this age again.  Here's one of my all-time favorite pictures of Trin:

I swear she didn't shove that screw driver in an electric socket.  It just looks like she did.  Okay, last one....

Happy Birthday to my [not so] little girl.

World's End

I have to post about this because it's pretty cool. 

You may have noticed a new blog recently added to the blogroll called, "A Beginning, an End, and All that Lies Inbetween."  The author of the blog, J. Hewitt, began a series some time ago called "World's End"--or, as known in the twittersphere, #WorldsEnd.  Here's what it's all about.

I was drawn in by this project from the moment I discovered it, for three big reasons: 1) I think it's creative as all get-out, 2) I love reading different spins on one topic--it's fascinating to hear all of the different "voices" and perspectives, and 3) I love dystopian literature.

I also find it amazingly awesome that a writer would use his own personal blog as a platform to display other's work.  He even goes as far as to include an author's bio for each story published.

So of course, I had to get in on it.  From my understanding, J (as I have dubbed him) had already accepted submissions and had enough material to publish a new story every two days for about a month, but I still decided to write a story.  He read it, loved it, and the rest is history.

I'm not sure when mine will be featured, but I imagine it will be some time since I was late getting in the game.  Until then, I am thoroughly enjoying following his series.  Check it out (side-margin)'s pretty addicting.  So far "Serenity" has been my all-time favorite.  One of the more recent ones, "Last Laugh" contained a few grammatical errors and some repetition of words that left me feeling a little underwhelmed...until I discovered that J. had decided to take a break from the "grown up" stories to feature one written by a talented Jr. High kid in a small group he runs.  Now I'm pretty impressed by the story.  This kid's got insane talent if he's already writing at this level.

I decided to write a sequel to my story just for the fun of it.  Ironically I love the sequel possibly more than the original, but most likely I won't submit it to the #WorldsEnd project.  I don't want to push my luck. 

Now I need to get my head out of the end-of-the-world gutter and get back to working on my Dot manuscript.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Unit 3

I had to go to a funeral today in Tumbleweed (Jodi was there too), and I really REALLY hate funerals, so I don't want to write about it.

This week was exhausting (my sister in law is staying with us for a couple weeks), but work was actually really good. Somehow I managed to catch up with all my treatment plans, and we had a great potluck on Friday. Actually, my department has the most amazing potlucks. It is such a critical element of working in our department, I'm surprised that "bringing yummy potluck dishes" isn't explicitly stated as part of the job criteria to be employed there.

I DID have a family session on Unit 3 that started a little awkwardly. Just for a little background, Unit 3 is our most acute unit, and houses the patients who are either actively psychotic, or they are such a threat to themselves/others that they require extra monitoring. It is not uncommon for me to walk onto this unit and see a female patient running around topless, another patient singing at the top of his lungs, and yet another patient asking me if I could go find his missing kidney. Rarely do I have to facilitate family meetings on this unit because the patients usually aren't oriented enough to participate.

This meeting was with a 20 year old Schizophrenic and his parents.When I walked the parents onto the unit, they were immediately approached by a polite and attractive male. He addressed them confidently, shaking their hands, saying, "Hi! I'm Dr.Johnson. I'm sure you have many concerns. What's going on?" Immediately their faces lit up, and they started rapidly disclosing background information about their son. I'm tapping on the mom's shoulder and trying to make eye contact with them as I'm frantically shaking my head. Finally I tugged at the mom's sleeve.She looked at me,and I quietly said,"He's NOT a doctor." She looked confused for a second, and then she spotted the hospital wristband on the man's arm."Ohhhh," she said, as she slowly backed away. Guess you have to get used to Unit 3.

Other than that, the rest of the workweek went well. I still have patients who think they were stung by a "giant scorpion woman" back in 1985, or that the government planted a fax machine in their butt. But that is all pretty typical. I am really fond of the patients.They have a beautiful, childlike demeanor to them, and they always make me smile.

Tomorrow, we are going to Tumbleweed to visit my parents for a belated Easter celebration. The best part? My Dad always buys me Cadbury Eggs!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hide the Tape

While talking about my "Oh no, I have to spend money" dilemma, I completely forgot to mention what little angels my students have been this week.  On the morning of April 1st, one of my students asked if they were allowed to prank me.  Being a good sport, I said, "Sure, bring it on.  As long as it doesn't involve glue."  I ate those words later. 

First I attempted to get a drink of water from my sports bottle, but nothing came out.  It turned out that there was a piece of tape over the nozzle.  Later I tried to get a drink of water from my fountain (my classroom has its own drinking fountain), and it sprayed all over me.  That would be because the kids put a piece of tape over the spout.  After that the counseling department called, but when I grabbed the receiver, it was stuck.  It had been taped down to the base.  Once I got it unstuck and began talking into the phone, the secretary told me it was muffled--she couldn't hear me.  I examined the phone to discover that, over the speaker, there was (you guessed it) a piece of tape.

Throughout the day, I also discovered my microwave and my refrigerator had been taped shut.

To their credit, the kids did ask me permission first.  And they did abide by my rule of "no glue."  But I have learned now that when kids ask me for permission to pull pranks, my answer should be a resounding hell no.  Or I at least need to stock up on tape, cuz I'm running low. 

In somewhat related news, a parent of a struggling student decided to sit and observe my class during 1st and 2nd period today.  I was actually looking forward to it, because this is my best class, and I was doing a creative lesson.  Now you would think that students would be on their best behavior when another adult is in the room.  But that would be a NO.  Halfway through the period, one of my students shouted out, "Mrs. P., for April Fools I convinced my mom I had knocked up some chick.  She was MAD!"  I think the parent's jaw just about hit the floor.  I mean, this isn't a high school class.  My students are 12 and 13 years old. And we weren't even talking about April Fool's.  We were talking about bibliographies.  It's like he stored this one little tidbit in his head for the explicit purpose of pulling it out at an opportune time. 

Once the shock wore off from that, a student, who was researching facts from different resources laying on his table, blurted out, "Mrs. P., is URANUS really the name of a planet??"  I said, "Yes, it is, but it's not pronounced 'your'--um--hey, who wants to talk about Pluto?  Let's talk about Pluto!" 

The final straw was during student presentations.  A group of four students came up to share out their research and put their bibliography sentence strips on the board.  One student was wearing a giant paper diaper (which was disturbing in of itself) on account of "dress like a baby" day.  While his group was sharing, he took a yellow marker and, before I could contemplate what he was up to, he colored his crotch yellow.  I said "Chase!  WHY?!"  He said he was trying to be an 'accurate' baby and then turned around, showing the class the brown blob he had colored on his ass.  I told him that I was officially going to require therapy for the rest of the week.

And this is my best class.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Best Problem Ever

I have a very short amount of time to spend a large chunk of cash.  Okay, let me back up a bit.  A new statute was enacted through my district stating that all clubs on campus MUST spend at least 80% of the money they raised throughout the year; we can only have a roll-over of 20%.  Okay, no big deal.  I knew about this new statute several months ago, and I knew I hadn't spent quite enough money, so I put together a trip to Hooves and Paws Animal Rescue and spent a good $300-and-some on the school bus.  When I did my final budget last month, I checked to make sure we had spent enough money, and we were good. 

But then this afternoon, I received an e-mail saying that Builders Club still needs to spend $2400.  AND we only have one month to spend it.  Holy geez. 

What happened is the new statute was retro acted; they did the roll-over math for the last several years, starting from a time period in which I wasn't even running the club.  All of those unused funds--a little here and a little there--added up to this exorbitant amount that I am now responsible for spending.
I have never been told that I MUST spend money before, and I'm reeling with the possibilities.  But it's so much harder to decide what to do with it than one would think.  The problem is it's too much money to use on a ginormous pizza party or do anything local.  But it's not enough money to do something really big, like a trip to Disneyland or the Grand Canyon (haha).  We're not allowed to donate any of it to charity--the money must be spent on students--but we are allowed to donate to other clubs on campus.  I've decided to give $1000 to ASB, because they're really struggling financially and are on the brink of cancelling Memory Day for the eighth graders.  But that leaves $1,400 for me to spend. 

I've looked into several different options now, and none of them are panning out.  I thought about renting out the local skate center, but even if I paid for all of my students' skate rentals and threw in free pizza and ice-cream, we're still not coming close to spending enough money.  It was the first time in my life I actually uttered the words, "Damn it, why does everything have to be so reasonably priced?!"  Plus it would be sort of a pain to organize in such a small time frame.  I considered buying all of the kids club t-shirts, but the club isn't going to exist next year (another story, but basically I'm bowing out), so it seems pointless to buy them a shirt broadcasting a club that won't exist.

I only have until this Thursday to decide how to spend the money because the club needs to approve of whatever idea I come up with by our next meeting, but I keep hitting a wall.  Help!! (That was directed to the universe, not anyone in particular). Maybe Party Limos to Gameworks?  Or Nacho Day for the whole school?  Or rent an elephant for a day?  (Do they do elephant rentals?). 

Off topic, but I feel a little bad for bumping Shan's post down so soon.  There's a possibility that I'm subconsciously trying to be a blog hog because I'm super self-absorbed.  But I actually think it's because we just started this blog.  It's like a new toy.  I'm sure I'll get used to it soon enough and return to my normal patterns of neglect.