The Midwest (Week 7 & 8)

This assignment is flying by! I seriously don’t know where the time is going.

I have found myself in uncharted territory. The car trouble that I recently encountered has become compounded by the fact that there are no parts available to fix it. I purchased this car in January to ensure that I would not be stranded on the highway during my journeys. Now, ironically, that is exactly how I find myself. My greatest question is: what do I do now? I am currently “limping” along. As long as I have >16 gallons of fuel, I don’t seem to have any trouble. The wonderful thing is that I am currently less than a mile from the facility, and even better, a nurse offered to loan me a bicycle. Better than that: the weather is beautiful and warm. However, I was advised by the mechanic that the warm temperatures will make my issue worse (boo!). I have an appointment at a dealership (30 miles away) on Thursday. They finally have a loaner available for me to drive (temporarily). The plan is to drive my car as far as I can, then have it towed the rest of the way to the dealership if necessary. I plan to be in limbo for a while. The next hurdle will be how to make arrangements to get it back to Texas.

I am excited to see how spring unfolds here. We continue to have freezing temperatures at night, but things are starting to bloom and turn green. Wookie continues to need a sweater every day. One of the resident’s daughters recently asked me what my favorite color was and I found myself a little stumped. I am not sure that I have one. She elaborated to say that she wanted to buy me some thread so that I could make Wookie another sweater. She showed up the next day with red yarn. It was perfect. He didn’t have a red sweater. The pattern is quick and easy to work so I had it completed within a few days. It seems to be his color! She was so happy to see him in it. Her mother (the resident) passed away this past week and she told me that Wookie’s visits to her room had been the greatest joy for her.

We met with a psychologist at the facility this past week. He was evaluating a resident, but we had some interesting conversations regarding pets in facilities. He is a big proponent of the Eden alternative. The Eden alternative is a philosophy that seeks to address the three plagues of nursing homes: loneliness, helplessness and boredom. It focuses on moving away from the institutional/medical model of care into a constructive culture of “home” where the residents direct their own lives. The concept involves several principles including changing the environment. Some of these facilities have removed anything and everything that appears institutional/medical in nature. They have even gone so far as to remove nurses stations. One of the principles of the concept is related to pets. When the psychologist saw Wookie, he was excited to know that this facility allowed his presence. He wanted to know if the facility had any other pets. His philosophy is the more pets, the better. I don’t disagree. Pets have long been recognized as being a positive force in the healing process. Dogs have a calming and therapeutic effect. They help people cope with emotional issues. They also offer physical contact with another living creature, something that is often missing in an elderly person’s life. The response from staff as well as residents is inspiring. I am hoping that this administrator considers bringing a permanent dog in after we leave.

My recruiter and I have begun actively seeking the next assignment. I am starting to think that I am ready to “Go big, or go home”. More to come soon (excited squeal!)……

Leave a Reply