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27 February 2011


Our cat Rosie loves licking ice cubes. Every time one of us opens the freezer, she runs to the kitchen wanting her ice cube.

15 February 2011

Happy St Maro's Day!

I have never liked Valentine's Day. When I was little it was always a source of childhood angst if you didn't get as many cards as you gave out, or if you forgot someone! When I was older and single, it just reminded me of my singleness and how very obviously "something was wrong with you if you are on your own!" And even after meeting and marrying the love of my life, V Day just seems like emotional blackmail and overpriced consumerism. So we boycott it. Long ago and far away, my friends Jenn Dietrich and Reade Holtslander were clever enough to discover that there was another Catholic saint who shares the same feast day, Feb 14. But he NEVER gets any press. He was a monk in the 4th century, living in Syria, and a contemporary and friend of St. John Chrysostom (who wrote "The Dark Night of the Soul")
Sooo unfair. So instead of buying each other ridiculously priced dead flowers or chocolate, we wish each other a Happy St. Maro's Day, and keep loving each other just like any other day.
Happy St. Maro's Day to everyone!

Barb and Rob

09 February 2011

Mental Health Rotation

This is an example of the sinks available in the washrooms of the Mental Health unit I am working in. Notice anything unusual? The shapes are smooth and practically impossible to rip out. This is a concrete reminder to me of how some mentally ill folks may see everything as a weapon of self harm or destruction. And the nifty plumbing doesn't give them that opportunity. So far on this rotation, I have seen patients who are psychotic, depressed and suicidal, manic and dancing uncontrollably, and drugged and intoxicated. The saddest, though are those with borderline personality disorders. It is usually seeded by horrific and despicable forms of child abuse. These patients (usually women) then seem to lose their grip on reality, relationships and consequence. Usually to release their emotional pain, they will self harm. This often involves cutting themselves in great gashes that may require up to 100 stitches. They are at high risk of suicide or harm to others, and are likely never to recover. How can someone doom a child to this? I find it quite disturbing, and prayer provoking.
I am also learning the difference between sad, bad, mad and SICK. Just because someone is a nasty/lazy/promiscuous/morose/manipulative person does not make them mentally ill.
Another major lesson from this rotation is the nature of standing in the path of a patient and attempting to intervene in their experience of an illness. When a mental health patient is heaping verbal abuse or making it difficult to do the normal hospital shuffle, very often it is like a sick infant vomiting on your shoes. Being the target of either of these projectiles make you feel and think unpleasant things. And both of them can't be helped, as it is the result of being sick. So you can't take any of it personally, and just go wash your shoes/attitude off. No use wallowing in it, or carrying any of it home.

01 February 2011

Queensland gets a kick while it's Down

Cyclone Yasi is supposed to make landfall on Thursday around Cairns area (2 days of hard driving North). By the time it hits land it may be a Category 5 storm with winds up to 280km/hr. The entire hospital population has been evacuated to Brisbane by the army. Everyone who could get out, has. The story is here:

This is not even a month since the Southeast floods. Perth is on fire, NSW is flooded, Victoria was flooded and is now on fire as well. If it wasn't for Oprah's recent visit, there may be no tourism industry left!