Building a System to Survive Sr. Tess – Synopsis – September 2004

Usually, I get a few words down and after a paragraph or two, I drift off with nothing to say, or become interested in something else, or am too tired to keep my eyes open. But at this point, we’re alert and determined to put something down in one of our journals. I’m having a real hard time with writing in the journals because I’m not remembering what we have thought of or have been through. There is a certain amount of aimlessness. It feels like we are just messing with the day. I don’t know how this occurred.

We brought some weekend work home. I have a new system. We begin to schedule carefully with a scheduler we created. I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am to have recorded work – both at work and on our blog. It goes with us no matter where we are – it contains my schedule and to-do lists in a nutshell.

We have been working on a consolidated list of all our work titles/responsibilities. These titles cover 14 areas of my work: Schedules, Discretionary, Clients, Annuals, Qnotes, Intake, Client files, Staff training, In-house meetings, CARF accreditation, Computer, Family support, State agencies, and Field research.

How many meetings do we have? Administration meeting, Safety meeting, Staff meeting, Client Annual meeting, Thinking Group, Staff training, Behavioral meeting, Annual preparation, Meetings with the State – training and accountability, Meetings with CARF – accreditation, Meeting with other professionals – legal, medical, financial, etc., and Ad-hoc meetings with our 24 clients, eleven staff, many families and one Administrator. There are zillions of things that aren’t getting done.

I got a new pedometer. We’re getting much better with distractions without smoking, but we are smoking in our dreams, We’ve also been over-snacking on food to help us get past the stress – it’s been a struggle.

We’ve been working on grounding. Like, we went out to the balcony and sat down for about 20-30 minutes. Being outside our apartment is hard. Kitties must have liked it too because they sat with us. We thought “Pour you another cup of coffee girl!”

We’re having much too much fun to settle down to do anything. We thought “Might be time to reinvest in a zoo pass.” Our most enjoyable thing is to studying through reading, writing and observations. We picked up some Brookfield, Illinois statistics and facts and other observations of where we live. In general, we find we are closer to single male wages, than female wages. We look toward the history of the area where we live.

One solution seems to be – becoming more aware of taking showers again. We also feel mellowed by giving our pets Missy and Chief long pets. It is clear, we have to make-up for the part where we sometimes get crabby – especially because we’re on Day #5 of being a non-smoker.

We talked to Dr. Marvin (Dr. M). We are not sure how things are going to get fixed yet in our lives, but we trust Dr. M. At least three parts were out. Casey is upset with our “off-time” because we are working at home. Ann seems to be a little stronger than last time, but she is depressed and down on both spirit and energy. At least it feels safer to be out – not as dangerous. Kate was so-so. it was kind of like business as normal, but she looks and sounds very tired. She could barely hold her head and body up, which is similar to Ann at this point. It seems, we’re on an edge.

We talked to Dr. M about work, the potential of getting a new job, relationships, and other stuff. We are also working with Dr. M on how we are going to survive Sr. Tess’s tormenting behaviors.

After the meeting with Dr. Marvin, we were able to update our schedule and complete the day proper.

We’ve been grouping our work by areas of responsibility. And for the first time in a long time we are able to see the progress we’ve made in the areas of annuals. And, we have finally completed some Qnotes.

Then someone thought, “Wouldn’t it be something to be working in the current month?”

We considered bringing home the 2004 State book from Sister Tess’s office. We thought, “We should do an extra six to eight hours a week to compensate for being so far behind.”  We found ourselves delighted in the dream of going into the February State survey being on-time and caught up.

“Yep, yep!” Let us progress this day! My mind is trying to balance itself out, but as a system it is like that little two-horsepower motor on back of a boat. It’s almost catching, but encourages you to keep pulling the cord.

We thought hopefully, “What an amazing life in that each morning, we faithfully have both granola and coffee awaiting us.”

Back at work, we are back to working our way into Sr Tess’s good graces … again.  Sister abruptly cut short the annual meeting of one of the clients due to a lack of patience or decorum.

She missed the first part of the meeting, and left again during our presentation of the goals, and then came back and jumped us to the conclusion in a rude and aggressive manner. I think it confused the parents and representatives from the State.

After the meeting, we went back to testing our list. We are beginning our 6th year at the Center.  Question is “How would we survive the same situation as our unemployed clients, if we were living as the clients do in government houses?” We think God bless them.

“Get over here girl!” As love-hungry as one of our clients is, and as tall and good-looking as one of the male clients is, our client held her composure and told him straight out “I’m not your girl! I don’t like to be bossed, and I’m a lady – not a girl!” Man oh man – I couldn’t have been more proud of her!

Then, we have a terrible shock to our system. We’ve run out of money in our bank account, and most likely there won’t be our usual Chinese dinner reward after Dr. Marvin’s.

Back at work, we were also surprised by Sr. Tess. She came in and sat herself down in one of my guest chairs. It has been like a gazillion years since she’s done that. And, what’s more she wasn’t there to yell at me. She was there to discuss a couple of client cases. That about bowled me over.

This is the first time in five months Sr. Tess has given me any indication that she might respect my opinion. Man oh man – I was so happy that she was there and was talking nice to me, that I could hardly contain ourselves. Although, on the outside I think we stayed safe and professionally distant.

Sister used to visit my office for this kind of talk about one, two, or even three times a day. I don’t know if it means I am out of confinement totally. We’re telling ourselves it’s probably not over yet. Between Sr. Tess and us, there are issues and trust barriers that need to be worked through, and then cemented by at least a little hope.

I think our friend; Rich has been correct in his advice. He said to maintain my professionalism and make sure I was working hard – AND we were NOT to give up, especially in regard to catching-up.

So we’ve been doing that. We are keeping our nose to the grindstone. I think she has given me some credit, in that, she allowed me a tiny amount of leeway I was inadvertently asking for. We did not overstep ourselves.

For example, without trust, each letter mailed or faxed out of the agency is given to Sister Tess to check.  We can’t explain the feeling of being trusted to ANY degree and allowed to work with her again. You can be sure I’ll carry on my load as efficiently as I can.

Then we fall into a dissociated Period – Taking a sudden vacation – needed Chinese food – needed to fly to China with V (Pennsylvania). We then took off a week on a necessary trip to China with a quick stop-over in France that lasted over a week. We didn’t want to come back.

In real time, we stayed dissociated for almost the same amount of time.

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