Snapshots of Life

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Did you say LEGALIZE DRUGS???

Who would have thunk? A professor and classroom full of students at one of the most conservative universities in the United States, and maybe the whole world, a school rated dead last in the annual list of party schools, advocating a major change in drug policy in America. The change - to decriminalize and legalize illicit drugs in this country! The one hour news story was compelling, the argument so logical. The discussion was baffling, the students so convincing. The feeling oh so wrong!

Monday, September 18, 2006

What am I doing?

Do you ever just wonder what in the world you are doing? So far my internship at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital has gone really well. I am currently working in a program called Home Based Primary Care. It is a comprehensive program to help veterans who are unable to make it in to the hospital to receive services. That means that we as social workers go out to the home and do psychosocial assessments and other clinical interventions. It has been fun to talk with these old-timers and hear some of their stories. I like working with the elderly. It has been especially interesting to see some of the relationships between husband and wife. One old grandma was holding her husband's hand and would pat his face as he talked. They indicated that their relationship was their greatest strength. I've been so impressed by the devotion of some of these elderly ladies caring for their husbands. There is just something cool about a mature love that has been tested and proved through the ups and downs of life. It seems so much less superficial than young love can be. Another couple argued and degraded one another. It seems that pattern has been going on for 61 years! What a tragedy that they have seemingly never discovered the experience the other couple has.

Well, that was somewhat of a cheesy tangent I hadn't planned on. Today I went on a follow-up visit with one of our patients who recently lost his wife. It is so sad to talk to some of these guys and hear them tell me that they feel worthless and hopeless. I am learning more than ever before how difficult it must be to grow old and lose your health, memory, and loved ones. Anyway, this poor veteran who has served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam was in my judgement extremely close to taking his own life. I tried to ask all the questions I've been trained to ask and do the right things, but I was thinking to myself, "what have I gotten myself into." In this profession you expect that these situations will come, but when they do the frightening responsibility weighs heavy. After consultation with my supervisor I feel better. I think we have done everything we can to protect his safety. Fortunately, later in the day I called him and he "contracted for safety" as we say in the profession. It is a heartbreaker I tell you - and one I hope I don't encounter very often.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

An exercise in empathy

Today was the first day of school. I am taking a class on substance abuse. In an effort to engender empathy in us students for those who have abused substances and are working to overcome their addictions, we have received an assignment to abstain from consuming a substance of our choice for the length of the semester. This substance has to be something that will be challenging for us personally to give up - something that will tempt us to "relapse". In the past students have usually given up things like soda, candy, sweets, ice cream, salt, caffeine, etc. I have been thinking about what I should give up. I really want it to be an insightful experience for me so I want to choose wisely. I am leaning toward soda. I don't drink a ton, but I do drink at least a little everyday because we always have it in the fridge. I definitely have a sweet tooth, especially after meals, and a little "pop" as we Utahns say, always fulfills that craving. If not soda my next choice would be sweets, but I'm afraid that would be too hard through the Holidays. What would you give up?