bogey & ruby

bogey & ruby

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mean Girls

"Mummy, how come every girl I like is mean to me?"

"Did something happen today?"

"Well, this girl I like wanted a number bib. I couldn't reach them in the cupboard so I stood on a cone and it got squished."


"She said, "Really, Sean?", in a mean voice, with her arms crossed."

"Did you get it for her anyway?"

Looking sheepish, "Yes.".

"Good boy."

What's endearing about this is that the girl is a head taller than him. Personally, I might have told her she was being rude as I handed her the number bib but I'm not sure that would have made a difference.

How do we deal with mean girls (and boys for that matter)? I never really mastered the art back in the day. And even now, I'm more about modelling empathy than fighting back. In the meantime, I advised him to hang with the nice girls. Hopefully he'll figure that one out before another cone gets crushed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Year's Day

He died on New Year's Day
My friend
I'd known him
Half his life
In fits and spurts
And stops and starts
And ages in between
Long before
He lost his legs
I knew him when he ran
While I stood still
And watched him fade
Till he came back again
When illness
Took some more of him
I could have stayed but left
And never said goodbye to him
Which I deeply regret.
He had so many friends
My friend
And I was oh, but one
Who loved him more
Than I realized
And now too late, he's gone.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On The Road

It was a good day to see patients today, three of my favourites plus a new one who surprised us all. Sometimes it feels as though I'm the one getting the therapy.

Patient #1 : The sweetest man ever. Says I am like his daughter. He and his equally lovely wife are always worried that I may be starving/thirsty/tired. Each visit, they enquire if my son is better. This is because two months ago, I had to cut short our session when my son's school called me to tell me he was sick and could I pick him up ASAP. Last week, my patient tried to slip me a twenty ... "Pour votre fils.", he insisted. I declined, politely and firmly but ended up insulting him anyway. My son probably has more birthday and Christmas money languishing away in his savings account than my client has in his. We spent most of today's visit trying to sort out why he was having more pain in his leg. We started off by blaming the weather, always a convenient scapegoat in this climate, then I suggested it might be because he often forgets his walker when he's up and about, a sure sign that things are improving. After going through his exercises, we scheduled the next appointment and as I was heading to the door, I turned to find him right behind me, without the walker.

Patient #2 : A young man recovering from two devastating strokes, not a candidate for a rehab centre at the moment. It was a joint visit with the occupational therapist and her stagiaire. How I love team work! The client was asked what his goals were and he was adamant : "I want to walk." For more on walking, click here. We began our assessment with him in bed, and finished off in the kitchen as he took a few steps using the counter for support. Hurrah! Success from the start! Believe me, motivation doesn't always translate into goals met.

Patient #3 : A beautiful soul who turned 90 this past Saturday. During my lunch hour, I bought her a card with decoupage flowers on it because she loves flowers and her daughter keeps her supplied with fresh ones all year long so that her apartment is like a perpetual garden. She cried when she read the card and hugged me tight. For some reason she thinks I'm an angel and everytime I protest, she shushes me and half closing one eye, shakes a finger at me and tells me she knows these things. She goes to mass every opportunity and when she can't, someone brings mass to her. She's seen Jesus three times and was pushed once from behind by the devil while on vacation in the Caribbean. She prays for everyone she knows every single day, takes requests, and has been known to stir up a miracle or two. She says she's ready to die but Jesus won't have it so she's going to try a little reverse psychology by not asking him for a while. Her daughter left me a piece of birthday cake and I left her apartment balancing an enormous slice on a paper plate that she covered with a cocktail napkin. I drove around all afternoon with it on my passenger seat.

Patient #4: One of my absolute favourite clients ever. I have treated her on and off over the years following all sorts of joint replacements, flare ups of her rheumatoid arthritis and post hospitalizations. Each time the goal is the same : to access the 14 steps that hold her hostage on the second floor of the house she shares with her elderly mother. A lot has gone wrong since the last time I saw her and I honestly don't know if I'll be able to help her this time but I don't tell her this yet. As we stood side by side in front of the mirror in her room today, I noticed that for the first time since I've known her that she is shorter than me. She shook her head in disbelief. "I can't believe I'm 4'11!" I didn't correct her even though it's obvious that she's much less than 4'11". I know this because I'm 4'11" and the top of her reflection came up to my earlobe. "What does it matter anyway?", I asked. "Because tall people get more respect!" And we both burst out laughing.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Emulating Gandhi

"We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Or as I liked to boast in past dating profiles : "I strive to be truthful, to be kind, to be authentic." The choice of the word strive being deliberate, of course, as it lets me off the hook whenever I fail miserably. 

A couple of days ago, I called someone an asshole on a Facebook thread. It wasn't someone I knew personally; he was the friend of a friend, and, according to my friend, not a very nice person anyway. Nonetheless, I asked her permission to let him have it, and she gave it to me. It felt good at the time, to unleash my disdain and not have to worry about any face to face recrimination. But later on this week-end, as I reflected on the types of articles I had been posting following the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, about responsible freedom of speech, it began to bother me. I had accused him of being without empathy and compassion but hadn't my self-righteous nastiness amounted to the same thing? The truth is, I could have used kinder words to get my message across, or better yet, said nothing at all.

My days as an angry, ranting and raving union rep are long over, but sometimes I slip into old habits. Back then, I learned the hard way, that the people you want to change the most eventually stop listening. And there's the rub, people. We tend to expend the most amount of time and energy trying to convert people who won't be moved, at least not while we are being rude and belligerent.

Is it still worthwhile to speak up? Absolutely. But as a couple of manager friends often remind me, if you want to be heard, stay respectful, and come up with some practical solutions while you're at it.

I wrote to a journalist friend of mine, a confession of sorts, and asked him how he coped with the unpleasantness of it all. He suggested "that our concern over hurting these people is not a sentiment they waste on us." He also reassured me, to paraphrase, that I was loved regardless, by the good people, which I take to mean the people in my life who count the most.

But even as his words relieve my conscience, a nagging voice in my head and heart tells me I can do better in my striving -- to be truthful, kind and authentic, particularly in situations (like posting online) where it is easy to avoid accountability. Perhaps we all can for that matter.