In my heart, I am a teacher, whether it be Qi Gong, wellness, or English and Humanities. In my heart, spirit, or body, I am not a slave and that is what I feel like during my hours in the dementia unit. Well, perhaps not actually a slave; I can walk out the door after pressing the code, walking past a cadre of sad residents and imperious supervisor, through the first floor and out to the air. Soon.
In order to leave I must find another job or series of jobs which will pay more than the poverty wage I currently earn. However, the position must allow me to communicate ideas, talk with others, use my intellect and feed my starving occupational soul. I am open to all possibilities; teaching is one of them. Actually, recently, I have experienced almost a visceral desire to teach college. And if a course runs, I will be doing that beginning May 26--Cultures and Values. I cannot wait!
Except when will I sleep those nights? I work with some exceptional people who hold two full time jobs and don't indulge in much sleep. So for two nights, I will be one of them, partially. I have learned that prior to work in the dementia unit, I was an academic dilettante, of sorts. Now, I can easily work the 40 hours plus. Bring on the classes, papers, ideas, and students. I am ready!
I want libraries, newspapers (as long as they remain), books, journals. I want to stand outside and talk with students and sip coffee, not dodge waterbuckets, human feces, and violent residents. I am tired of hiding in closets to use a cellphone (which will soon be turned off due to failure to pay the entire Verizon bill) and to justify going to the bathroom and advocating continually for basic civil rights.
Yes, it is time to leave; to earn enough money to eat regularly, keep electricity on and soothe Verizon. I want to be able to purchase a material good when needed; however, that is not possible, now. Most important, I want to earn enough to keep taking the medicines and supplements that strengthen immunity and perhaps keep cancer in the past tense. I cannot do so now.
So, what good comes of this? Why not quit and "jump into the great unknown," as some friends and others who are secure, advise. RENT. My job covers rent. Who will cover rent if I quit? Of course, if I am fired due to teaching a college course then I will be out with a sense of freedom and who knows what else? Will I be afraid, no. I have a hard time finding fear; I have been through much in my life. I do not find time for that emotion; clogs productivity.
What have I learned? That my intellect matters, that communicating ideas matters and that at age 58 I am tired of poverty. That I might like where I'm living (re Leonard Cohen) and want to attend concerts, films, go to NY culture--all that has taken a backseat since my new job. And that I might want to continue study.
Well, it is time to get ready for another week with the residents, some of with whom I have developed a real relationship. I learned that Alzheimer's or dementia (early to mid-stage, anyway) does not completely rob a person of thought, emotion, capacity to love, to enjoy or to experience grief or pain. I see how this institution tries hard to nurture but loses just as much in attention to endless regulations, creation of new paperwork, and patience gone awry from medical/activity staff so exhausted that the residents cannot always come first.
The absence from teaching allowed me to miss it. This job reconnected me with my passion for reading, for literature, ideas and feelings that I thought might be permanently gone. I am grateful. I am also grateful for family and friends who helped and understanding for those who tend to back away.
Yet, this is all part of life experience. Time to close this chapter, soon, and see what the next one will bring.
- New Jersey, United States
- Wellness encompasses mind-body-spirit. We cannot feel well if all three elements are not in harmony. Achieving wellness can be exhilarating and can open your life. I can assist you on your wellness quest. I offer the combination of graduate training in holistic healing, practical experience and commitment to an integrative approach—using conventional and complementary healing tools, caring, and compassion. Training includes a Masters degree in Holistic Health Studies from Georgian Court University, Cancer Guiding training with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and continuing Reiki and Medicinal Qi Gong study.