Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Should Shut Up Sometimes

Last week I had to consult my boss about a situation. He was in a bad mood, kind of glowery and all, so I decided that changing the subject as soon as possible would be a fantastic idea. I noticed that where the polo pony/alligator usually goes, there was a weird insignia. It looked like the top half of a stick man attached to some kind of structure, but since I couldn't tell, I questioned him about it.

Me:"What is that? Is that supposed to be a person?"
F: "Maybe. I don't know, I just wear what my wife buys."
Me:"I think it's a person. I think he's sitting in something."
F: "It looks like a funny shaped E."
Me: "Or a bucket. Or a boat."
F: "Or maybe it's just a symbol."
Me (very adamantly): "No, it's an ill-formed boat."

So it was just an innocent conversation, just something to distract him from general moodiness. You need to know my id and my superego talk to me. Sometimes they argue back and forth, but that hasn't happened in a while. I'm glad they aren't as talkative as they used to be, because working in the mental health field puts a spin on the normality of it. Superego had something to say about it the next day.

I'm driving along, listening to the radio, minding my own business, when superego starts shrieking at me.
Me: What are you talking about?
Me: Why are you yelling? I just pointed out that he had a little man in a boat on his shirt.
Me: Oh my God, I told F-bomb he had a clitoris on his shirt.

Luckily we are understaffed, so my job is safe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Was Tagged in September. I'll Try to be Less Pathetic Next Time.

Total number of books owned: I have books on my bookshelves, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, in boxes, and several shelves of books still at my parents' house. I estimate I have roughly a fuckload of books.

Last book bought: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I originally went to the store to buy Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but I got...distracted.

Last book read: Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise. The sad part is it took me two or three months to get through it. Normally a book of its size would take 2 or 3 days, but school got in the way. Let my life be a cautionary tale to you young folks, so you may learn never to put education first.

Five books that mean a lot to you:

Where the Wild Things Are

This is my all time favorite book. I love the illustrations, the minimal wordage, the tone, and the message that no matter how bad I can be I will always be loved. It gives me warm fuzzies every time. Interestingly, I don't own it. Never have. Every time I buy a copy I give it away.

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies)

I read passages of this book to my mom during our last trip to the Mayo Clinic. She had symptoms that indicated she could have cancer, and we both needed something funny. I read so long my voice gave out, but it was worth her laughter.

The Prophet

This is one of those books that made me feel a little different after I read it, as if something inside of me woke up. The trouble here is that my ex-boyfriend gave it to me. Even worse is that he wrote in it. Bastitch.

The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (1953)

My mom taught me to cook when I was pretty young. She started me on easy stuff like brownies from a box mix, but most of my intermediate education came from this bad girl. The drawings at the beginning of each chapter scream 1950s values, though the editor missed the one where the SON is helping his mother cook, which was a sure way to turn your little boy gay. I believe I read it cover to cover, and I consulted it constantly in Decembers when I was nearly manic about baking cookies. Good times.

Little House in the Big Woods

Every time my mother was pregnant and chose Karen as the girl name option, she had a son. When she changed the option to Laura, I came to be. My namesake is Laura Ingalls Wilder, for my eighth birthday I received the whole set of her books. She was once the inspiration for a Halloween costume. Of the books, this is my favorite and most frequently revisited. Plus, Garth Williams illustrated a lot of the books I read growing up, so this reading this book feels like going home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Strange Condition

Tuesday brought the tragic news that my most successful patient was decompensating. He had gone off his meds, lost his job, and was spiraling into psychosis. I felt awful, defeated, and sad. A wise woman once told me: "Man up, you cry-baby pussy. Things are only going to get worse." I soon learned just how wise she is.

Yesterday I rather surprisingly learned that one of my patients had died. Disbelief gave way to tears, and I spent the next forty minutes curled up in the corner of an empty office. I can feel the loss, it is raw and true and powerful, but it is almost wholly unfathomable, even to me. It is hard to explain a loss of a relationship that is so hard to explain to begin with. When a patient accepts services, I (ideally) get to know their hopes and their pasts, I deal with their doctors and pharmacists and families. I learn some of their secrets, and they hide vast facets of their lives from me. I know them better than some family members, but there's a twist of one-sidedness: my patients are supposed to be able to trust me, but they never really know me, because true involvement could affect the professional, clinical relationship. So what is a patient supposed to mean to me? Are they projects for the psychiatrically-inclined? Friends held at arm's length? Clients that I know way too well? I don't know. I know that my patient was old and didn't take care of her medical or mental conditions; she was sweet at heart with a stubborn streak; it took months to build rapport with her, and when I did, I found that beneath a blunted affect and a dirty, fetid exterior was a quietly funny woman who had more problems than karma should allow.

I saw her about thirteen days ago, she was feisty and made me laugh. When I took her home, I waited for her to tell me "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," or "Stay out of trouble," before she slowly tottered off to her asshole husband and much-loved, flea-bitten dog (her baby, as she told me many times). I had no reason to believe it was the last time I would ever see her. She was in my calendar for weeks to come, she was part of my routine. If I saw her written in, it was obviously Every Other Thursday. Now she's a series of eraser marks.

I spent Wednesday mired in a numb, hollow kind of feeling. I don't know if this is how case managers usually feel, or if this is how I should feel. Without preconceptions to guide my grief, I suppose it is a sincere kind of mourning. I can't say I will miss providing her services (mostly 'cause of the smell), but I miss her.