Good morning all:

Weekly wisdom:

“The beauty of being retired is that the morning after the office party you don’t have to start looking for a new job.” ~ retired everyman djp

Actually, my favorite seasonal thought comes from (oft reviled) British comedian Bernard Manning (1930 ~ 2007); “I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.”

OK, Marcia made the coffee this morning and now that the first mug is finished its time to begin.

Yesterday – many of us sat in stunned silence as the horrific events in Connecticut unfolded and we realized that the small town of Newtown had its heart torn out.

For many of us the desire to reach out reaches a point where it became almost too painful. In that midst it was almost instantaneous that comments streamed from both the gun control advocates and pro gun lobbyists. The state of Mental Health services and the access to those services in America also “took it on the chin.” One area to discuss and given no discussion is also real and probably also needs to be placed “on the table.” Let me explain:

Backing up – Marcia and I met during our college years when we found ourselves in the same Clinical Psychology class – our senior year; it was a small class which met at the prof’s home. We then discovered that we both worked at a nearby, large, psychiatric facility comprising of a big campus with a dozen or so buildings and it was here that we found the time to occasionally grab a coffee together.

Marcia was in adjunctive therapy and worked with teenagers with varied backgrounds; everything from murder to extreme behaviors. I worked with the adult population. From brilliant young people who had slipped into acute forms of Schizophrenia (still have a scar from being whacked over my eye with a large, nightshift issue ‘D’ cell flashlight) to little old men who were a joy to be around. These latter had suffered from Schizophrenia and were placed into the facility by their families as they were unable to deal the resultant behaviors. Now, years later, the illness had pretty well burned itself out and since they had spent much of their lives in as an institutionalized resident they were unable to return to a world that had passed them by.

It was a different time and first-generation antipsychotic medications were just beginning to be administered. Some of the folk with acute Schizophrenia I dealt with had been ‘treated’ with pre-frontal lobotomy surgeries and displayed the resultant total lack of affect, and the scars of their surgery. I regularly assisted with electro-convulsive therapies. This was 45-years ago and yes, it was a different time. Institutionalization was quickly sought out as a way to ‘manage’.

Within ten years there was a dramatic shift in mental health treatment modalities.

In a very short span of time the pendulum shifted from an older middle-ages model of institutionalization to the emergence of patient’s rights and a resultant swing of the pendulum. And if it’s one thing America is good at its extreme swings of the pendulum.

We moved away from ‘burying’ people deep within large brick structures to making it almost impossible to provide treatment should an individual not want to participate. Even though a middle-ground – the group home – was set up these had their own problems, not the least of it being placement of these facilities. The result being that we’ve moved from a society being oblivious of this population in need to seeing these folk wander about streets, living under viaducts or in camps along our rivers, and in extreme cases occasionally snapping and acting out.

It might be time to seek some middle ground as we interpret “patient’s rights”. And bring the pendulum back to a more central position; especially a middle ground which skews the input away from the legal to the medical.

In the meantime, please pray for the families whose lives have come unglued.

A first – directly after this is posted I’ll head on out. The plan is to take Vaioleti to the Dollar Store. She has raided her piggy bank and with the solid sum of $3.00 is planning to buy mom, dad, and brother a gift. Then it’s back to our place to wrap and have lunch. Now, how cool is that!

Fini – Happy birthday to Jeanne Z (tomorrow). Then, not an Animal Planet event, but this week there were moments where it would have been difficult to go into our back yard due to the thousand or so sparrows which gathered there. They left two days ago for warmer climes.

As the Hanukkah season finishes up I know that Marin and Dinah enjoyed its message and season. Make it a great week and appreciate the gift of life and family.

Cheers,
Dirk

From the Archives
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Morning all:

This morning I got a little bit of a late start on my post. Mostly this is due to the fact that it is officially the coldest morning we have experienced since summer – 18 degrees., and I found it awfully difficult to throw the down comforter aside, However, here I am, and even the smell of a mug of great coffee sitting next to me is warming me up. We are also promised two to three inches of snow – another first since last season. It’s a good thing that this is the weekend since it will paralyze the city.

Our panic stricken population will now completely stop their Christmas shopping frenzy cold in it’s tracks. In its place they will, without hesitation, stand for hours in lines patiently waiting for their flu shots, and then storm through the grocery stores emptying the shelves of any and all bread and milk products. By the way, just how closely are we related to lemmings, cows, or horses?

Talking about getting into the spirit of the season. Last Sunday evening I was doing my two-mile jaunt in our neighborhood’s other quadrant. They had it organized so that every street, on both sides, had candle luminaries placed every three feet along the sidewalks. This went on street after street and was absolutely spectacular. I raced home; got Marcia out of her television induced stupor and placed her in the car so we could drive around. We did this with our headlights off for about fifteen minutes. Wow!

This weekend we are starting off the Christmas season in earnest. At 1:30 this afternoon we’ll be downtown for an official ‘high tea’, complete with scones, proper marmalades, and off course, ‘clotted’ butter. We’ll then wander around looking at the decorations and take a horse-drawn wagon ride. This evening we’ll have the company Christmas dinner at the Cincinnatian Hotel where we’ll spend the night. This place is our only boutique hotel and keeps on winning one award after another. After breakfast/brunch it’s off to home where we can start preparations for our annual neighborhood holiday dinner down the street. I think Marcia said something about us doing desert and wine. Well, if that doesn’t get me into the mood I don’t know what will.

Have a great week,

Cheers,

Dirk

One Response to “The season got gobsmacked”
  1. Pieter pastoor Says:

    Write what you said here to your paper it should be an editorial – spot on