Monday, January 21, 2008

Total Aggravation

I got accepted into a 55b/c program which basically means that I may be able to get a (real) State job with accommodations. The shrink (who is well acquainted with more than drugging people to death and is actually keeping track of what is happening with my traumatic brain injury (from a car accident); and who is familiar with the program) tells me this is my best bet for getting employment after being out of work for four years due to my car accident. I don't just want any old job where the chances are high that the salary will be not enough for me to live on and that I will get fired. I can't multi-task at all anymore. I wasn't really good at it but now any ability I had to multi-task is totally dead. I want a job coach to assist me during the first couple of months or so at the State job which I haven't gotten yet. This has been my plan since I first heard about this 55b/c program.

(VESID is OVR in other places but in New York State it is called VESID).

I told the VESID "counselor" (third in less than three years) this. Apparently, the paperwork, my suppos-ed Individualized Employment Plan-- which took a couple years in the making because I had refused to go to their favored agency connected with the sheltered workshop for job coaching services-- requires a specific job goal. Fine. A couple of months ago, I rattled off several job choices so that way just maybe I could finally get to the agency of my choice to arrange for job coaching.

I finally got to meet with the job handler who then would assist me in helping me find a job. Again, I repeated myself by telling her that I want to get a job with the State via the 55b/c program. (She has never heard of said program). Again, the suppos-ed Individualized Employment Plan requires a specific job to fill in the blank. "Working for the State" is not adequate. The job handler changes the job goal from "animal care technician" to a state job title. This requires the VESID "counselor" to rewrite the I.E.P. but I don't care about that.

During the meeting with the job handler, I learn that VESID approved my request for job trials. A job trial means I would get to follow someone on a job for a couple of hours to see if I could possibly stand doing a job like that one. I am approved for 15 hours. 5 for the job handler to set up a few. 10 for me to actually shadow people on several jobs. I tell the job handler very clearly that I had asked for this and that I want this. This was in December. Okay.

Now it is January. The job handler assumes the role of a nag. She calls me with a lead for a full-time job in the newspaper-- one that would require extensive multi-tasking but no matter. Note full-time. (My plan has been to start part-time to see if my fatigue level will allow me to work up to full-time. I can do this at the State with accommodations under the 55b/c program. (My aunt is the one who is actually helping me regain some stamina because the professionals do not understand how freaking tired I am from the brain injury. I am glad that my aunt is working with me on this because no one else is). I am a bit aggravated but that's okay. I decide to go to the Job Service place which is part of unemployment because they will re-vamp my resume for free. The job handler is nagging me to go there to look for work.

Now it is several days and a weekend later. I am leaving for my appointment with the shrink. I get a letter in the mail from the job handler. It is an advert for a "job fair" listing several full-time positions with an agency and a note advising me to attend said job fair if I am interested in any of these jobs. (The jobs happen to be in direct care with people living in group homes and I cannot lift due to my spinal injuries {car accident}. All of these things are documented in my records which both VESID and the job handler have. But no matter. The job fair ended shortly before the postman came with the letter.

This is January. There is no longer any talk of job trials. There is no acknowledgment by the job handler that I am endeavoring to get a State job at which time a job coach might be useful. I go see the shrink after the mail comes. I determine that I am going to call the 55b/c program people to find out if there is anything I can do to help them get me a State job. The shrink says they are just supposed to find me one and I don't really have to do anything except wait. An acquaintance who had gotten accepted for 55b/c last year in fact was offered a job some time later without having to do anything. Still, I think that sending them a new fancy resume and talking to them on the phone might be a good idea.

VESID's whole focus is to get me working ASAP and it doesn't matter about what is best for me. And VESID in the region where I live is the worst one in this state.

I would tell VESID and the job handler to bugger off except that if I quit VESID, the delayed review of my disability would then take place. I can't afford to lose disability right now unless I am working and able to maintain the full-time thing. My mate is totally obsessed with money and thinks I should have magically gone back to who I was before my car accident several years ago so there is that. My good friend keeps pushing me to get jobs at various places where I know I just can't do it. (For example-- a bilingual staff at a telephone hotline for tax help. Problem. I can write Spanish better than I can read it and read it far better than I can speak it. My voice is too soft to be effective on the phone, I can't multi-task, and people who speak Spanish tell me they cannot understand me and I am butchering their language). My primary care doctor thinks I should have gone back to work full-time two weeks after my car accident and the last two times I saw him, I got a bit angry when he asked me, "So, where are you working now?"

I have determined my course of action and I am taking steps toward my goal. I even have a plan B in case the 55b/c program can't come up with a state job for me in the three years allotted for this before I would have to apply again.

I feel like the people around me (except for my aunt and the shrink) are all nagging me to hurry up, go to work full-time and forget about what I want to do. Additionally, the people around me (except for my aunt and the shrink) are acting as if I am nuts and they are the sane ones. My fatigue is real. I am not a faker or a poser. The last several years have been really really taxing to say the least. I now have sleep apnea (I love my c-pap machine and before that, I felt like I was sleepwalking through life) and supposedly I now have "hypertensive heart disease, undifferentiated, without hypertension" (a gift from the pc doc and I may have to go on a cholesterol-lowering drug if the diet hasn't done enough. I've had untreated high cholesterol for seven years now because my good cholesterol is really really high. After awhile, the good cholesterol can stop being as effective and then a script has to be given). I have the fibro-related aches and pains which I treat with exercise. The brain fatigue which I treat with extra sleep. The cognitive difficulties which I keep doing the computer exercises for. And a bunch of people who are nagging me who I keep trying to ignore. Because trying to explain to them my Plan A and Plan B hasn't worked.

If there is anything that I am not perceiving here, please tell me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Soliloquy 1/20/07

There is a drive in me to find people to connect with. Yet somehow my efforts are often futile. I am the unconnected, the untouchable one in a society that shuns the atypical. And yet what choice is there? It is between finding something to connect with, if not someone; and sitting in a rusted broken down automobile staring at the railroad tracks knowing that the freight trains just aren't fast enough. Oh tragic despair! Of what is the stuff of neurology that leads me to this place where
even the loners dare not go? I who was once so full of promise watch as my dreams slowly turn to dust.

As my dreams dwindle, obesity takes over and balloons obscenely-- trapping me in folds of putrid flesh-- until I am unrecognizable. Diets failed. Lifestyle changes failed miserably. This is who I am today. I define myself by numbers on a scale. Society defines me by my non-existent paycheck.

When I was working, I had arrived several times but I hated it. Now that I am not working, I no longer have teary outbursts or meltdowns. I am old and my body is falling apart. "So where are you working now?" Fuck you. Thanks for still believing in me when I don't believe in myself.

And fuck you. And fuck you too. The stupid VESID morons told me lies. They strung me along for three years. Three VESID "counselors." The cunt I used to smoke pot with when we were co-workers. The man with a handshake like a dead fish. The new one with no discernible personality. All of you left me to rot. And I let you do it. That is my largest failure.

My get up and go and my AC-shun Ac-shun drum drum A-C-T drum drum I-O-N were casualties of sheared neuronic pathways and synapses which no longer have any electrical charge. "Get out of bed," my elderly aunt tells me over the telephone wire. "Get dressed." I do. I just keep forcing myself. Any alternative is worse.

Waiting. Waiting until I feel well. Waiting until I feel well enough to. Waiting until I feel. Waiting until. Doesn't work. I know this as truth from my past. I remember.

And so I get up. Get dressed. Spend time on the computer. Take care of the dog, cats, frogs, fish. Blog about my reluctance to do housework and my severe procrastination. And then I force myself to do something. Anything. Sweep the floors. Pick up. Move things around. Spent too easily, I sleep. Get up again. Force myself to do more. Buy the newspaper. Look for a part-time job that I might be able to stand doing. Call the 55b/c personnel office to ask what I can do to expedite the getting of a state job.

Perhaps dreaming isn't so elusive after all. Hope is not dead entirely. I lean over, adjusting the ankle braces against my white athletic socks. I breathe. And I begin the task at hand. Building my life anew.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Drunken Principal Principles 1/12/07

An Indiana school principal, Scott Syverson, was stopped on December 22, 2007 by an officer. Dr. Syverson was drunk. The police officer was told to use his discretion, so he elected to have the principal driven home rather than arresting him. A prosecutor later fixed that by filing charges. The principal is currently on administrative leave until sometime in February when the school board will meet.

Of note particularly is this letter written by Lorrie Bjornstad about what could have happened:
but didn't. Well, it did happen to her daughter. Although Principal Scott Syverson was not the cause of her daughter's traumatic brain injury, he could have been. The driver who did was also intoxicated and also drove that way after a party celebrating the beginning of Christmas/Winter vacation.

(The school board member who had hosted the party that Dr. Syverson attended has said that he did not appear to be impaired upon leaving her home-- self-serving interest? perhaps. The official trouble was that he and two other buddies had gone on to a pub and stayed there for two more hours. Regardless of where he was when his blood alcohol level rose above what is allowed by the State of Indiana, the point remains. Dude was drunk. Dude could have gifted Lorrie Bjorstad's daughter with her t.b.i.)

Dr. Scott Syverson should suffer the consequences of his actions legally; and professionally depending upon the policies of the school board. Additionally, he should be required to get treatment before resuming any duties at any school in the state in any capacity. There should be no extra punishment or no lesser punishment than that afforded to anyone else caught driving drunk.

Having the "disease" of alcoholism or any other addiction-- sorry disease concept fans. I am an old diehard who maintains that it is a condition-- should not be used to excuse bad behavior, period. I fully support Drug Court because there are specific stringent requirements which must be met there and participants have a real chance of turning their lives around. I hope that the principal winds up in a drug court program after serving some jail time and I hope that his being a prominent public figure in his town will not interfere with any consequences of his actions.

Active addiction sucks. Having to live with a traumatic brain injury also sucks.

It's "nice" I suppose that some students are circulating a petition in support of their principal. My sympathies are not with the principal. My sympathies lie with every victim of every driver who has gotten behind the wheel of any transport vehicle while drunk or high or both. Some of us live. Some of us die. Some of us live and our lives and brains are forever changed.

sapphoq healing t.b.i.