Epistle One…or, My & Mary’s Life.

I haven’t posted much of late. My brains been to busy other places. My seventeen year old son, my new time-consuming job, and running a home and… I’m too tired to write. Things start each morning at seven o’clock and by the time it quiets down at nine thirty this little black duck is ready for sleep not writing. But if I was to write another Leesis Ponders posts it would be a reflection on what is going on in my world right now. As I just wrote to Mary.

Mary is ten years older than me. We are very good friends and have been for about eighteen years. Our back grounds and thus external appearances are very different but our essence is harmonious. We established a friendship pretty much from the time we met and though there’s been absences and increasing km’s between us, nevertheless she is one of my closest friends and I adore her.

We are writing to each other. This is a new way of connecting for us. The phone has always been Mary’s choice and now I get my choice (eighteen years later :). And I saw that my letter to her was what I’d talk about in a post and so with the magic of copy and paste here it is with the only adjustment being the removal of my son’s name.

If people like it I’ll continue and with Mary’s permission I’ll post her letters too with her different live to me. A journal if you like of what a fifty year old and sixty year old women…one gay single woman, one divorced single mother of five kids very early on who are all out now solidly settled into their own lives. Oh and Mary and I are both single…not what either of us once dreamed of.  

the writer

Hey Mary

Yes I am very well and things are gentle right now…the way I like it. Many changes for your tribe! You must be pleased to have Lisa closer. And a new grandchild…you prolific Catholics :).

Mr 17 is asleep in bed. He went to Soundwave yesterday. In case you don’t know Soundwave is a massive heavy metal concert that sells out in 25 seconds…literally…and it happens once a year with the best bands from the world playing. It is heavy metal fans nirvana :). Not my thing but Mr seventeen loves it.

I think it’s a pretty cool outlet for rebels with no way to express their rage. Mr 17 loves political metal and the really awesome musicians. He loves drumming heavy metal because its much more complicated, much faster and thus both more challenging whilst offering more chances for creativity. He came home last night at 2 am (went with his best friend and parents) absolutely exhausted but with a permanent sleepy smile on his face and extremely peaceful which is rare for Mr 17 at this current time. They do this form of dancing that’s incredibly frenzied and wild but also joyous. The coolest thing is that despite the communities image of heavy metal fans they are amazingly supportive of each other, use peer group pressure to force out anyone who starts acting like an idiot and all are completely focused on the music and dancing.

He has opted out of doing his HSC and is doing his year twelve certificate. So he’s doing double music , english and legal studies.  He’s decided to get a part-time job and is still contemplating a move to Melbourne next year though none of the logistics have been worked out yet. He’s going through a very intense stage right now. I think partly he’s angry at ‘society’ and its priorities but also a bit scared of the changes that are rapidly approaching his life. Not that he will admit any fear. Oh now lordy lord!! I’m not thrilled by him dropping HSC but  after questioning his reasons for a while I told him I’d support him whatever he chose. So that’s that.

Work is great. I’m permanent now and totally underpaid but love the job. The people I work with are ethically spot on and as such a joy to work with despite all the drama’s of some burnt out support workers, budgetary constraints, and the wonderful world of people’s opinions.

So I’m a case worker for thirteen folk ranging in age from forty to seventy, eleven of which live in our group homes and the other two live in their own homes. I have four with acquired brain injuries, three with downs-syndrome, one with cerebral palsy and blind etc etc. They are all different, all unique and my job is to plan and implement clinical and holistic care for them that allow them to achieve whatever they want. And plan how they will achieve what they want.

I have two young men of forty living in a house together (in divided areas as they hate each other) who both received brain injuries (ABI) in intoxicated road accident. Both around twenty years ago. When I met them four months ago in one of our supported houses I was stunned that the house was grubby, the staff grumpy and burnt out and the lads spending most of their time lying on their beds. Not to mention one of them though wheelchair bound had seriously assaulted a staff member on three different occasions and punched several holes on the walls.  

Four months later I am proud to say I have sir one doing hydrotherapy exercise twice a week…(he needs to lose weight or he’ll be a physical mess in five years time), have organised a sex worker for him and he is talking about getting a job and maybe learning to walk again. Given what we are learning about the brains adaptability none of these things are out of the question. Sir two is more complicated. His speech is harder to understand and he was one angry aggressive hostile bugger when I met him. Part of the reason the staff were so burnt out. I was lucky enough to witness one of Sir two’s outbursts early on and was able to identify that he was having panic attacks and going into the fight/flight…fight for him because flights impossible when your wheelchair bound. So off I went to the psychiatrists and with a little chemical help he has at least stopped punching things and people because the staff understand its a panic attack not sir two being a bastard. Plus I’ve written long protocols on communicating with people with ABIs and being constantly anxious. He’s still spends too much time on his bed and ther’s many issues but things are better.

These guys have been living in this house for ten years doing nothing but being angry. In two years from now I’m hoping they will have achieved their goals and be making up new ones. Oh, and I also got a neuropsychologist flown up from Melbourne to do a cognitive assessment. Do you know these guys haven’t had even a brain scan since their accident at 16 and 21. I was horrified. And that’s what’s so good about working with this group of people. When I pointed out this had to be done if we were to focus our interventions and education successfully they authorised me to get it fixed.

Of course then I have Sir three. He is about 39, has fairly large intellectual deficits due to a one-off seizure at the age of two. He is non-verbal but understands simple communication and is gorgeous…loving, excitable laughing happy. When with a one to one staff member.  He lives in a group home and when home doesn’t get the one to one time he so constantly requires (funding impossibility) so then he rampages and hits punches throws fridges etc..etc…etc until he’s exhausted  and goes to bed. Up until now he has been managed, or rather not managed on a large doses of antipsychotic medication including Chlorpromazine, a drug not used in psych much any more but used extensively in disabilities it appears and has horrendous side effects and then they give him extra dose’ of this stuff when he loses the plot and constantly document that it has absolutely no effect though he is riddled with side effects. Fortunately I have the job of ‘fixing’ all this though the challenges are immense. Wish me luck :)!

So my job is all that stuff and an excessive but necessary amount of documentation to have a legal record of what I do. I work out of an office second story which sits above our reception and day centre Arcadia. I also have some Registered Nurse responsibilities. So each day I also try to go to the day centre and have some laughs with the amazing range of day clients that come in (and big hugs). I hate getting out of bed every morning and am earning less than I did when I was a year one registered Psychiatric Nurse but I enjoy the job and most of my colleges immensely. Finally found what I wanted.

So I work Monday to Friday, come home to chores feed us mother him, play with the dog pull some weeds and crash into bed. Weekends are washing and bigger cleaning and reading, thinking and writing. I don’t go out at all really though I’d like to. I’ve been thinking of either joining the poker club or, funnily enough a choir. Problem with the choir thing is that I’m a bit worried they’ll all be a bit too straight for me :).  Anyway finances permitting I’m hoping to do something purely pleasurable in community with others. This year. Actually next month Mr 17 has agreed to come and try sailing with me one weekend. I get motion sickness and I’m a bit scared of water…or rather that which lives under it but I am looking forward to trying something new with Mr 17.

There’s another book that I haven’t got the title for that is apparently a ‘must read’ for anyone travelling to India and this comes recommended from many. I’ll  let you know when I get the title.

Well that’s about it for now. Hope you enjoy my ramblings and are having a gorgeous Sunday…I love Sundays!

Love Leesa

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