Monday, December 17, 2007


Sorry, I have been neglecting you. While on blog furlough I: worked several day shifts, tore out the carpet in my house, moved tons of furniture around, and played with two wiggly, smelly, noisy boys. The carpet goes in on Thursday. Then my life can return to normal(ish). We STILL have no christmas tree. How smelly is that? Part of my hesitation is logistical; how to get a christmas tree from the lot to our townhouse with a small red sedan and just me? Part of it is temporal; WHEN to get a christmas tree from the lot to our townhouse? Brent comes in 5 days. I think we'll just wait.
'Tis the season for waiting, anyways; it is advent.
I love advent: all that anticipation, and worship, and mulling over advent lent, only happier. Some church traditions fast for advent as well as for lent. I usually 'fast' something that tends to monopolize my time or attention every lent season, like television, or chocolate. Anyways, I love advent. I love christmas, too.

Do you remember my aneurism patient? The 30 year old woman who puked and puked and puked, and who had a three and four year old child, and whose case hit close to home for me? Today I found out that she lived! All of us who cared for her had little hope for her survival, but we discovered today that she had neurosurgery, stayed in ICU for awhile, and is now back at our hospital in the medical ward, re-learning how to walk and feed herself and use her right will be a long road for her, but there will be a road. Oh, I am overjoyed. I think I may go visit her the next time I get a chance.

I also have this interesting case to present to you, and to ask your opinion about. One of our regular patients is someone we take to New West for dialysis three times a week. He is an elderly man, with metastasized cancer, kidney failure, several infections, etc. His health is not good. He lives in a 30 foot camper at a trailer park, with his granddaughter who is in her early twenties. Several weeks ago he was driving his scooter home from the grocery store and was hit by a vehicle, which broke 3 vertebrae in his back, and broke one of his hips. He was hospitalized for two weeks, during which time his camper burned to the ground and all his belongings with it (his granddaughter escaped, I don't know if she was not at home or if she just managed to get out). Talk about life kicking the shit out of you when you are down. He now owns one pair of track pants, one track jacket (mismatched), one t-shirt, one pair of underwear, and a small blue bag with his wallet, a Louis L'mour book, and a few other personal belongings that he always carts with him to and from dialysis.
We were all shocked when we heard about his misfortune. He is sick, he is cranky, he is demanding, but we all like him on his good days, and we all care about his wellbeing. One of my coworkers took it upon herself to start up a clothing donation bin in our station for this guy, and opened up an account for donations at our local bank, hoping to replace some of his clothing, meagre furniture, and even possibly find him a trailer to live in. She contacted the local papers and got the word out there. Awesome! When she went to the hospital and told him we were doing this for him, he cried like a baby.
She decided to take things a step further (cynicism rant: this woman LOVES attention) and contacted CTV and Global news in hopes they would broadcast his story and garner more funds (and attention...ooooh, I am aweful....), and THEN....
The RCMP called. Our patient is a convicted felon, out on permanent, life parole. CTV won't touch the story now (haha attention seeker! HA HA!), Global won't touch it, and that is that.
I'm enormously curious to find out what our old guy DID that landed him (presumably) in Kent for life. Generally that involves someone dying, but you CAN be a convicted felon for something as 'little' as tax evasion. Somehow I don't think it was tax evasion. It is kind of shivery to discover that one has been in fairly regular, close personal contact with a felon. Funny how normal felons are (I say this with a certain amount of truth, and a certain amount of sarcasm, since I believe so strongly that all people are capable of all horrible crimes, given a certain set of circumstances and/or lack of life skills or coping mechanisms).
I'm enormously astounded at the attitude of my coworkers after they found out the news. Without exception, in the minds of the people I work with, he was taken out of the category of "good" and placed in the category of "bad." Bad doesn't deserve handouts, nor trailers, nor trust funds. Bad, apparantly, can live in the halfway house until he dies, with only one pair of underwear to his name. None of us knows what he 'did.' (Quite a few were thinking child which case i can see the attitude sitting better with me...but none of us has ANY idea). Not only that, but he presumably spent a good stint in maximum security prison, incarcerated for his deed(s), and is now out on parole and dying a painful and loooong and crappy death. Has he not been punished already? Must he be destitute to pay (again) for his crimes? It was astonishing to me to watch how rapidly people's eyes changed when they heard the news. They went cold and hard, and 'knowing.' We 'know' humanity is weak, and raw, and dirty, and selfish, and capable of all manner of deceit and crime. We patch up the dirty, raw, and selfish all the time, and believing in the better half of humanity gets tenuous.
But does he really deserve to be homeless? Unclothed? Devoid of dignity?
Who am I? How am I so different that I can place myself in the "good" box, and him in the "bad," and therefore absolve myself of all personal responsibility for his welfare and dignity? Am I not weak, raw, dirty, selfish, and capable of all manner of deceit?
I must say, most days I am proud to walk among the people I work with, but today I was ashamed.


Tonya said...

I think, once you walk with Christ, you see people through His eyes more and more (at least we should!). Plus, you see yourself in relationship to Christ - a sinner, loved anyway. Right? So, you are just seeing this man the way Christ sees him - a sinner, loved anyway. We are all full of sin. Even the teeniest, tiniest sin separates us from God. So, my "teeny, tiny" sin is just the same as that man's "big" sin. Glad to know that you still see this man the way Christ does - as someone who needs love and hope. I will pray that you can show him Christ's love and give him Christ's hope.

nancy said...

He has paid his debt to society regardless of what the crime was. He needs society's forgiveness and mercy. With the challenges he now faces in life he needs all the help he can get. Is the attention seeker still willing to organize help? Forgiveness 70x7. Thats disgusting that the news people are only interested in unmessy stories.

tamie, the tamie said...

You said it, Mel. You absolutely said it. Your story utterly broke my heart. Shit. One might say that your coworkers need more transforming than the old grouchy felon. And who knows about the newspeople, if they can be saved at all. But maybe we all need pretty much the same amount of transforming.

It's also an extremely interesting example of one person's vice (the woman wanting attention) having unexpected and really negative consequences.

Roboseyo said...

hey there dear friend. wow. what a story! you should write it as a short story: there are so many elements pushing up against each other to spill out so many funny ambiguities of human nature.

yeah. I realize myself sometimes how I'm only two steps sideways from being THAT guy instead of THIS guy (the one I am, and rather like). How many unpredictable events, or wrong choices, lead to that kind of cause-and-effect? Accepting one invitation to the wrong party, saying yes instead of no to that last tequila shot, pushing back instead of backing down. . . such a small gap between the so-called best and the so-called worst of us.

Sometimes I think the only difference is that the "best" of us have our ugliest parts hidden in the invisible spots, or the socially acceptable spots while the "worst" of us have them out where they can be seen.

I'd rather be around someone who starts swinging when you do something he doesn't like, than someone who spreads poisonous gossip -- with the anger-management guy, you at least know where you stand.

tamie, the tamie said...

yeah rob, i hear ya. there was this guy in my writing class, who really had his heart on his sleeve. but not in a sappy way. he was a blue-collar, fast-temper irish type. he got really pissed off about people's stories sometimes, and so i trusted him.

i've been feeling sad about this guy, mel. i really don't know how you cope with seeing so much human suffering.

Asheya said...

How frustrating and sad. We have such a "deserving" mentality in our society, but forget that none of us even deserve the next breath we take; it is all a gift. I've been struck again lately by the story of the two thieves on either side of Jesus on the cross - how one looked at Jesus with hope and recognition and the other did not. And that not even Jesus could force the one who rejected him to accept him. And that the same applied to the Pharisees and the rich man who turned away sad. It is so frustrating to not be able to make people see how wrong they are, how much they need Jesus, how little we all deserve.

And yet I can identify with this attitude of "he's only getting what he deserves." My husband's grandpa, who has pretty much been a nasty person to his family his whole life, with far reaching consequences, is dying of cancer, and when we visited him it was so hard for me to find any place of love in my heart for him, knowing the impact he's had on his family. Yet I know and believe that God loves him even though he's rejected God and harmed those he should have cared for. Sigh. And so this is now an opportunity for God to reveal to me the hardness of my own heart, and an opportunity for me to repent and become more like Jesus.

But it is so difficult to practice what I preach.