Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Nursing student and the Mental Hospital

Anytime you work with the public, you run into many different types of people. The list of different personality traits could be long and varied: Some nice, some hateful, some weird, some impatient, some arrogant, and some that are totally out there...etc.
When you work in the medical profession, some of those personality traits are magnified when people are sick or in pain.

Most nursing student have to have some psychiatric training/courses before they can graduate.
When I went to nursing school, we did one semester of psych at both the state mental hospital and at a private mental hospital.

When I was in nursing school, it was quite the talk among the nursing students about their experiences at the state mental hospital. The stories usually involved the upper class "experienced" nursing students (those who had been to the state mental hospital) telling horror tales to the lower class "new" nursing students (those who had yet to go to the mental hospital).

Every first trip to the state mental hospital was always nerve wracking for the new nursing students. This was probably due to the exaggerated tales we had all heard prior to the trip.
The students were always driven the 30 or so minutes to the state mental hospital on a school bus. Once that bus turned onto the property, the first thing you noticed was the smell. There is really no describing the odor associated with the mental hospital. Let's just say that not only was it a potent smell but that particular odor always seemed to permeate everything. The first thing most students did once they got back home was to shower!

My first trip to the mental hospital is funny now to remember, but back then it was not so funny.
I was pretty nervous and wondered what it would be like. It was always well known that when it rained, the mental patients always got a "little nuttier". Not sure why that was except maybe because the patients couldn't do much physical activity and the rain forced everyone to be cooped up in small areas.
As my luck would go, it was raining the first day I went to the mental hospital.
Someone that worked at the hospital always gave the students a tour on their first day, to orient everyone.

Two very memorable things happened to me on that first tour.

First, as we were waiting to begin the tour, our group was lined up against one wall. Out of the blue this male patient came up to me and wrapped his arms around me for a "hug". Well, let me tell you that I was in a panic....the first thing you want to do when someone comes up and grabs you is to push. We had been warned to avoid most physical contact if we could help it and to use our "language skills" we had been "taught". Part of our grade was how well we used our communication skills. Trust me when I tell you that at that moment, I thought the "language skills" were highly overrated! Here I was trying to say junk like," I know you want to hug me but could you please let go." and I think I tried saying something equally as dumb as "I like you too but please step back so I can talk to you." My nursing instructor (who I might say at this juncture was not the brightest tool in the shed) just stood there and was NO assistance at all! I really think that she was as scared as we were because it was her first year teaching and first time for her at the mental hospital too.
After what seemed a LONG time to be in a "hug/head lock", the tour guide finally said in this gruff /loud voice: " JOHN, LET HER GO!" and "John" finally released me! Good 'ole plain lanuguage with a kick butt attitude worked for the tour guide. I managed to slow my heart and we gradually continued the tour.
The second thing that happened that day was pretty humorous and I swear true!
We had "circled around" the tour guide as she was imparting information. All of a sudden, this patient jumped in the middle of our circle, dropped his pants, and yelled "COCK-A-DOODLE- DO!!!"....all the while "strumming" his genitals like a guitar. The tour guide hardly batted an eye, called the patient by name , and said "we don't act this way in front of others" or something to that effect. The guy calmly pulled his pants up and went on his way. The tour guide then said something about the rain and increased "acting out" behavior and blithely continued her tour. It probably would have made a great "funniest home video " scene if someone could have taped all the students' faces....priceless!

During my time at the mental hospital, I had one patient that I had to "work" with. I had to tape our conversations so my instructor would be able to grade me. I wish I had some of those tapes now... I bet they are hilarious.

One of my last experiences with the mental hospital was a Christmas "field trip".
It was Christmas time and it was decided that it would be a good idea to take some of the non-violent patients to "shop" for Christmas presents.
( I think they had actually done this in the past with other nursing students, but I was a little nervous that our "not so bright" instructor was in charge of this little extravaganza. )
We "buddy up" with our patient and head off to the Hills Department store on our bus. (Hills was something similar to a Walmart or a Kmart store.)
A good number of the patients had "dressed up" for the occasion. This involved picking out clothes that had been donated by various organizations. Most had on many layers of clothes that didn't come close to matching. We got quite the weird looks from the other shoppers while we were there. It was interesting when the patient who thought he was Johnny Cash went up to the store clerk and asked her if she had any of "his" records. She didn't know what to say to that and "Johnny Cash" kept trying to explain to her who he was. He even gave her a little perfomance of Folsum Prison right there in Hills!
My instructor decided that she would "buddy up" with this one mentally retarded patient. She said she "felt sorry for him to be left behind". (He always made me really nervous because he was a BIG guy with not much mental ability...he also liked to do the hug thing.) He walked all around the store holding his old decrepit billfold saying repeatedly to anyone who would look at him, " It's a billfold ain't it?!
I was just happy that we made it through without anyone stripping their clothes off as many of the patients had little inhibitions about that.

When I think back to all the things we were exposed to in that mental hospital, I feel incredibly sorry for those poor patients and really appreciate the life I have now.

PS: I know my family would have cracked up at seeing me trying to "lead calisthentics" in the male dorm...This was the brilliant idea of my nursing instructor and it does make me smile now remembering that stupid idea! It was ridiculous and I couldn't help thinking while I was doing it, " Who is more crazy...them or ME?"

Monday, March 27, 2006

New Roof

Well, the new roof and new gutters have been installed and the exterminator has come for his visit. Only have one more outside treatment from the exterminator and the new sky light to be installed(once it comes in) and all will be done.
After 20 years, it was time to do those little jobs around the house. The contractors did a good job and the roof looks pretty good (If roofs can look good??)

Only had one minor(?) misshap and that was the roofer who shot a nail through his index fingernail. One trip to the ER later and he was fine. (We assume this from sign language because the only two workers who could speak English went to the ER, leaving only non English speaking workers here.)

I keep trying to get "excited" about having a new roof and no more ants but new roofs and exterminators rank right up there with buying new tires. Something you need but not the thrill you get when buying something like.....SHOES maybe or even new clothes!

Now that the new roof is on, it also makes it time to do the outside painting and other general chores that seem to get put on the back burner. (ie garage cleaning, closet cleaning, and inside painting too.)
Oh, well, just gives me plenty on my "TO DO LIST"!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Aunt Janis stories

I was reading a blog entry on J's Uncle Bobby's blog-(wish I knew how to highlight that for a link but haven't learned how to do that yet-look on my links area, he's listed there). He was talking about what some passengers do and how often he hears the same things.
It reminded me of the story of my Aunt Janis when she was taking public transportation in WVA.
Every morning my aunt would pay her money for the 25 minute bus ride "uptown".
About half way through the trip, the bus would pulled over and the driver would walk through the bus collecting tickets. Every morning when he came to my aunt, he would have to wait while she frantically looked for her ticket.
Now if this happened once in a while that would be different, but my aunt lost her ticket almost EVERYDAY! Finally, the bus driver got so tired of having to wait on her to "find" her ticket he came up with his solution to the problem. As my aunt paid for her ticket one morning, instead to handing it back to her, the bus driver said, "I'll just hold on to this for you." She never had another ticket when she rode the bus from that point on.

There are a few stories about my aunt during that time in her life. She was under some stress and always seemed to be rushing around or running late.
My dad used to occassionally drive her to the bus stop in the mornings. It sometimes became a Laurel and Hardy type affair for her to catch the bus. My dad would drive up behind the bus (that was already loading passengers at that stop) and tell my aunt to "Run!'
Some mornings they would do this at several stops because my aunt would never be fast enough to get all her stuff together and get out to the bus in time.
When they were coming up to one of the last bus stops before she missed the bus totally, Dad used to say, "Now this is your last chance...RUN!" They used to laugh about this years later.
No wonder the bus driver decided to keep her ticket...he saw this charade more than once, I'm sure.

One time my aunt got up at 4:00 AM by mistake and thought she was late for work. It was so quiet in the house, she decided that everyone had already gone to work and left her. She called a taxi to take her to the bus stop. While she was on the bus she realized it wasn't as busy as it normally should be. She finally realized that she was a little early for work when the coffee shop she usually frequented was not even opened yet. My mom and Dad got up that same morning and were worried when they couldn't find her in the house. It took a little time to figure out she had already left for work.

Another good Aunt story was when she asked the repairman to come out to fix her frozen water pipes. It was about 8 degrees outside and the repairman was in the garage working on the pipes (or it might have been the washer...facts may be a little different due to the author having more decades passing...please allow some poetic license here.)
Anyway, my aunt was rushing around to take my cousin to school and totally forgot that the poor man was working in the garage and LOCKED HIM IN. She LEFT to take my cousin to school and didn't return home for about 2 hours. When she got home, she heard this poor guy calling, "Lady....LADY....could you let me outta here???!!!" She was pretty darned embarrassed to have locked him in.

Well, I always enjoy my Aunt Janis stories because they always make me chuckle. I'm not making fun of her few lapses in remembering things because I have those same genes and already have a few "Tina stories" too. It must run in the family because there are a few "Mamaw stories" out there too!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!
Even though I am not Irish and not even a drinker, St. Paddy's Day has always had a special meaning for me because it was my dad's birthday. He would have been 73 years old today.
It's hard to believe that he has been gone for almost nine years now.

He used to be very proud of the fact that he was born on St. Patrick's Day. One year for his birthday I made him this gigantic flag with a big shamrock on it so he could run it up his flag pole. That flag was huge and I think he really liked the fact that I sewed it for him. He used to also decorate the house every year with big signs that said "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" and he would put up several shamrocks on the wall too. As he got older, he would just leave the signs up all year long. When he died in his sleep, those signs were right there on the wall above his bed. I miss him and all the unique personality traits he had. He really loved his grandsons and never missed an opportunity to see them or talk about them to anyone who would listen.

I am a big believer in "wearing the green" on St. Paddy's Day. I am always surprised how many people don't even remember it is St. Paddy's Day and also how many don't wear green. When the boys were younger, I always used to remind them to wear green shirts to school so they wouldn't get pinched. I was pleased today when I went to Walmart and saw quite a few people buying green shirts. I even saw some teenage boys buying the classic green t-shirts with the fake tuxedo fronts drawn on them. At least I won't be the only one wearing green!

St. Patricks' Day wouldn't be complete without a short joke: I saw two Irishmen passing a bar the other day..............Ok, it COULD happen.....

Anyway, today I will be wearing my green, remembering my dad, and wishing everyone a big Happy St. Patrick's Day! Be safe!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jammin' at the Parents House

Jeffrey was on spring break this week from Tech and it was great to have him home ( even if he spent most of the week at Tommy's & Becky's due to his work schedule.)

This past weekend, before Jeff returned to school, the boys were all here for a jam session. They are practicing for a performance at a friend's graduation party...also just enjoying playing music....any excuse works for them or no excuse at all is needed.

They have a great time together and I really enjoy getting to hear them play.
That is one of the main things I miss about the boys not living at home. They always had music playing around the house. It seemed that they weren't really happy without it playing ALL the time. They even had CD's going when they were in the shower!

Many times when they lived here, they would have impromptu jam sessions in the basement. Tom & I have spent many nights (and I mean late nights) going to bed with the boys rock'n in the basement. It never really bothered us much, nor did it usually keep us awake. I always preferred knowing that the boys were home vs. out and about to worry about them.

I am always amazed how long they can entertain themselves when they are together. This weekend they played for NINE hours.... pretty much nonstop. They play a wide variety of music even though they are pretty picky about what songs they like to play...partly because one of the group is a perfectionist, one likes a certain style of music, and one is pretty laid back and will play just about anything. Tom & I do suggest song choices but they never seem to take us up on our recommendations. After many years of suggesting certain song or bands, occassionally they will decide to give our requests a try. Usually they are pleasantly surprised that some of our ideas for song choices are not such bad ideas.

I am the non-music person in the I try to do my part and be the "recording for posterity" picture taker. Might I just say that sometimes this is met with extreme displeasure from the picture subjects? I restrained myself this weekend and didn't take one single picture. Tommy told me the last time I took pictures when they were in the basement: "Mom, I'm wearing the same JMU sweatshirt that I had on the last time you took pictures quit!"
Well, anyway, I like listening to them and like taking pictures of them.
I am definitely a proud parent when it comes to the musical abilities of my boys!
I reminded myself of my mom today when the exterminator that was here to give me an estimate on using his services, asked about the musical instruments he noticed in the basement. He asked several questions and then said that he played guitar too. That lead to a full out discussion on the boys and even a sample song being played for the poor guy. He acted like he was really enjoying the music but I thought later ...what else could he say when he was trying to get my business! That is where I am reminded of my mom...I always said she would talk to even a shoe salesman about her grandkids. (She kept some poor shoe salesman captive for several minutes one time going on and on about how wonderful they were and I was pretty embarrassed about that at the time!) Now I see how that happens sometimes!

Well, I will be looking forward to the next jam session...Michal said his fingers were pretty sore from the nine hour extravaganza. My neighbors will also be interested in the next session...I probably will have to bribe them with cookies to keep them happy! Nine hours is NINE HOURS no matter how good I think they are!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Beautiful Weather Today

The weather today was a giant improvement over the winter stuff we have had recently.
It makes me anxious to get outside and start working in the yard. I love being out puttering around the house and mowing the lawn. Still a little early to mow yet but everything is starting to turn greener and I noticed there are even a few daffodils blooming.

My neighbors have gotten used to me being the person doing the yard work. They used to look kinda surprised that one of the 3 guys or husband that live here or have lived here in the past were not the ones pushing that mower. I tell them that my two golf course "professional mowers" gave me lessons on how to mow. (That would be Michal and Jeffrey...NEVER Tommy! ) We actually were discussing the other day how Tommy tried to talked Jeffrey into mowing when Jeff was still way too young to be safe mowing. As soon as Michal and/or Jeffrey got old enough and safe enough to mow...that was it for Tommy's mowing days.

I think I mow a pretty good pattern and that my yard looks darn good considering that my dad would never "let a woman mow". He was definitely from the old school and really refused to allow us to do yard work when I was growing up. Flowers and weed pulling ...maybe, but mowing...never!

My husband was cautioning me today that it still was not time to get too excited about yard work yet because the weather is still unpredicatable and that it will probably freeze again. I know this but I am happy about getting out tomorrow and putting some mulch down. I'll just have to wait on that first mow day. Michal has my mower in the shop being tuned up and getting the blade sharpened. I may be dynamite with mowing but not so great on the blade. I ran over a metal brace at the end of last season and I'm sure the mechanic is cussing up a storm as he sharps that mower blade.
Here is to the beautiful weather today though. I'm sure when I am thick into the mow season I will read this post and say what was I thinking...this mowing is a pain in the behind because there seems to be no end to it!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

High School Talent Show

Last weekend was the "infamous" high school talent show(TS).

Our family has been involved with the TS since 1995. (Gosh, that seems like a long time ago when you actually write '95).

Tommy and his buddy Andy went to the show as sophmores that first year and just watched the "talent". They both had a great time as audience members and decided they should try their luck the next year. That was when we all became involved. Tommy and Andy picked their song, practiced, and attended rehearsals.

There were lots of nerves about that first TS performance for a couple of reasons:
Reason 1: The song selection. They had chosen the country ballad by Keith Whitley-"Don't Close your Eyes". ( Country had never been done at the TS before.)
Reason 2: It was their first time singing as a duet in front of a lot of people. (Even though it is only a high school talent show, this was and still is a BIG event at the school. It is usually a packed house of over a 1000 people all having paid $10 to get in!)
Reason 3: Most of the talent used recorded background music with the usual bands/accompanying singers. Tommy and Andy were going to play their acoustic guitars.
Reason 4: Tommy had fallen off the back of his broken down truck the day of the performance, and dislocated his shoulder. He was is a bit of pain holding his guitar.
Reason 5: Mom and Dad were just plain nervous... Dad because he wanted to make sure all the technical stuff worked and Mom because she is MOM.

Well, there was a slight glitch on stage when the stage crew couldn't get the microphones for the guitars to work for a few minutes. There sat Tommy and Andy, with their cowboy hats and guitars, waiting to start. Tommy couldn't stand the silence and started talking to the audience. He ad libbed for a few minutes (I know those of you that know Tommy can imagine this!)
In the end, all worked out great. The audience was stone silent while they performed and errupted in applause when they were done.
They ended up the TS winners and from then on, the TS was a big deal at our house.

Dad became the stage manager...he couldn't stand the technical parts not working and wanted to reduced the delay time between the acts. He even recruited Uncle Gary to come up every year and help with the show. Uncle Gary really enjoyed the show and commented that the high school in his home town had tried to do a talent show but they didn't have enough attendance...or maybe even enough talent! Over the years, I understand that there was an entertaining side show going on in the head sets between the family stage crew...Gary's comments being the source of many laughs.

Each year it was always a big deal to get a band ready to perform and to decide what song to sing. That next year saw Tommy and Andy recruiting Jeffrey to be in their band playing the bass. They were not that excited at first to use Jeffrey in their high school band but by default and circumstances, Jeffrey became their bass player. Talk about mother nerves that year....I was worried that "Little Jeffrey" ( in the sixth grade at the time) would get nervous and his older brother would never let him hear the end of it if a mistake was made. Actually, I think Jeffrey was pretty nervous about that too, but he came through like a champ! Again, a country song was played and again, they won in the band category!

Because the boys had won two years in a row, the director of the TS asked if they wanted to come back to compete in the "professional" group of the TS that next year. I think the director always enjoyed the boys singing but I think she really didn't want to lose the stage crew of Dad and Uncle Gary!

Tommy, Andy, and Jeffrey asked Uncle Gary (Uncle Santa Claus that year due to his gray beard!) to play the drums for their band. They really rocked the house that night with their BareNaked Ladies's(BNL) song "Brian Wilson." I was a very proud mom that night...they again won in the "professional" category.

When Jeffrey got into high school, he got a band together every year for the TS.
His first band "Silent Groove" played another BNL song,"Hello City" ....and they won too. It was a first for a band to use a stand up bass in the TS. Here's a mother's line coming up: Jeffrey was pretty awesome on that bass and even twirled it during the song. Tommy even thought it was pretty good that Jeff could actually sing and play the bass at the same time... (he informs me that this is pretty hard to do).

Every year the pressure was a little bit more because they were so successful and it became a big deal to not only perform but to win.
When Jeffrey was a junior and senior, his band was made up of his best buddies, (commonly known as the 4 amigos). They definitely had a wide range of musical likes and dislikes... the hardest part was usually deciding what to play! One member stated he would quit before he played Hootie and the Blow Fish! Their band was called "JBC Platter." It was a mystery what that stood for for the longest time... It finally was revealed that the JBC stood for "junior bacon cheeseburger platter"....they all had more than a few JBC meals at Wendy's during their high school years! I think they gave one of the best band performances in any TS their junior year when they played "All for You."
Other memorable performances were when Tommy and Jeffrey played with their high school spanish teacher, Senora Byers. They had been asked to perform while the judges were deliberating who the winners of the talent show should be. The trio came up with the name, "Inspected by 16". This name was decided on when they couldn't think of any other names for their group. Just as they were about to give up on the naming process...Senora Byers pulled a tag out of her pants pocket and it said "Inspected by 16" and thus a new name was agreed on!

This year Jeffrey and his friend Laura, played while the judges were deliberating. They had a good time and I think that this may be our last year with the TS....I have said this every year and am always proved wrong but I think maybe this year really was the last.

Tom as stage manager, Tommy as sound manager, Jeffrey as senior stage crew and Tina & Becky as official talent show audience members are probably retired now! Michal supported the group when his brothers were competing, but he really has stayed pretty clear of the most recent talent shows. We haven't known any of the kids in the talent shows for many years. This year was one of the first years I really noticed how some things never change. The class lip sync competitions are playing the same songs that the boys classes used when they were in high school...Tommy's class played "You gotta fight for your right to party" in their lip sync and not one but 2 classes used that song this year!

I still find it fun to watch... I especially love watching my boys play music!

I always call them my wasted talent in the basement boys...the talent show at least gets them out to play before an audience! I will miss the fun times we had at the TS but will always have fond memories.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Food Fight

I was just reading the news on the internet and ran across an article about a middle school eighth grade cafeteria food fight in the last 5 min. of a 25 minute lunch. The article said the school was charging the eight grade class activity fund $1,000 for cleanup of mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak and milk.
Evidently the mashed potatoes stuck to the ceiling.

A couple of thoughts come to mind:

Maybe the eighth graders were trying to tell school officials that the food stinks.
The schools already don't allow much time for eating....are they now going to reduce the time for lunch by 5 minutes?
Wonder how many parents complained that ,"It's not fair that my student be penalized when they didn't do anything wrong."?

If my sons were there, I know MY precious, well behaved sons would NEVER have participated....NOT!!!

Boy, am I glad my sons are grown!