Street Clinic Surrey it was a needle exchange and a clinic for testing for HIV. I am not quite sure how I landed this job all I remember is my friend Colleen who was a bit of a rebel to say the least called me and wanted to know if I would like to job share with her at his street clinic. Well I thought sure, but I had to do an interview with her boss, Mr. Jim who was much more of a rebel than Colleen. He was a radical which didn’t matter to me, to each his own. Different strokes for different folks, that is all I can say at this point in time. He had a mouth on him like a street urchin, now that is a derogatory comment but that is what I have to describe it the best. He could also turn on his charm and be ever so eloquent. I did well in the interview since they called me a few minutes after I got home and asked if I wanted to start on Monday. I was willing to do so. I was on my own as Colleen didn’t work on Mondays’ and then on Tuesday I got a call from the boss Mr. Jim saying, could you come in again today, Colleen had quit and now I was the main person. There I was a full-time nurse in a clinic where I had no idea what I was doing. There was a person in the needle exchange who handed out clean needles to those who used cocaine or heroin and we also provided the paraphernalia, such a bleach, alcohol swabs, and encouraged the individuals to return the used needles here and also not to share. Well some of them were model users which is a bit of a oxy contradiction to say the least since using illegal substance was not a great way to stay healthy or lead a somewhat productive life. But these people had so many issues that that didn’t enter into the equation of their life.
I did everything there, the clinic was set up sort of by Colleen, so I had a head start, but I didn’t have any training in doing testing for Sexually transmitted diseases on the street folk, so I was going to be sent to the Vancouver General Hospital to be trained by the clinic experts there. This was actually quite an experience, it was a two-week program that was hands-on and then there was a group of actors and actresses who were playing clients so actually got to do the mock tests on real individuals. This was a little weird though, everyone stood around and watched as one of us did it on an actor. We had to do quite a long interview on everyone that came into the clinic to be tested for HIV or an STD. They had to qualify. There were males and females, lesbians and gay men. There were transgender and transsexuals as well. There is still a big scare with the aids virus, but it has “died” down a little, you don’t hear the same panic as there was years ago, but this may have to do with the fact that there are better drugs to help slow down the disease and people are getting educated earlier for prevention. Many of the people who came in who were female were choosing to have relationships with women, as they thought this would be safer for the spread of aids/HIV.
There was a time when I was working there I thought it was the best job in the world. I loved the clientele and the staff was pretty good group too. I know they did not appreciate me being a Christian but that wasn’t my problem.
There are a few incidents that stand out in my mind and will tell you a few of them here. Part of the agreement to work in this job meant I had to work one to six pm daily and on Thursdays, it was one to eight pm. These were great hours. I could do all my housework and odd jobs and then go to work. There was one evening that all us girls were working, Karol, Darlene and myself. And near the end of the evening, a businessman came in and donated a few quilts for the homeless that came into the drop-in center. One of the quilts was a very e expensive down quilt and one of the ladies thought oh could I switch one of my ordinary quilts for the down quilt well I was in charge at night and, so I thought well so long as you bring It in first. So, the exchange was made and the next day the episode was told to the Big Boss and he was very upset with us that we would do such a thing and the staff member had to return the quilt and put the donated one back. I was always a little confused on why this was such a big deal but those that things that make you go mmmm! mmmm! Another time after the cameras were installed around the property that someone was overdosing in the yard and so one of the Front Room staff came over to get me to help revive him. I started with doing CPR and little did I know that my tiny posterior was in full view of the camera in Mr. Big Boss’s office. I did manage to revive this male but when he came too he looked me square in the eyes and said? Why did you do that? I wanted to die. I just smiled and nodded and at that moment the ambulance arrived and whisked him off to the Surrey Emergency. It wasn’t two or three hours later who should show up in the front room but the very male I had performed CPR on about two or three hours ago was back “Home”.
Another situation I ponder over is a young man about 35 or 36 wandered into the front office and asked Bonnie, the receptionist if he could speak to me, he was referred to me for marriage counseling. Well when Bonnie peered around the corner she smiled to thinking Marilyn doesn’t offer marriage counseling, but he insisted that he was referred to me. It was the correct name and everything. My only credentials currently was a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. Well, I was married but that does not give one license to practice this service. I was totally upfront with him from the beginning. He also was wanting to read the bible, so I did have mine in the office. I agreed to see him and listen to him and help him with guidance over an 8-week duration. He was quite happy with the arrangement, so he came to see me every Wednesday for 8 weeks then he disappeared not to be seen again for about 6 months and then he walked back into the office and asked to speak to me again. He shared how his marriage was now going and that he thanked me for the support. Never did see him again. The Lord does work in mysterious ways!
So, the job at the Street Clinic was a variety of many tasks. I truly enjoyed the job until Boundary Health decided it would take over and the nurses from that unit would be in charge. I was out of a job but that was just fine I moved to the General Hospital.
Working with the Elderly
Come share adult day center this was a great project for the elderly to get out of their homes and give the families a break from the ones who had mild to moderate Alzheimer disease. I was the nurse who would go out into the homes and do home/ family assessments on the elderly person who was now in a wheelchair or had some form of dementia. Some of the people
in a wheelchair came to the Come Share once a week for a bath by one of the healthcare workers and there would be a program for the others as well of entertainment and music.
What is the meaning of dementia?
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. What are some of the early signs of dementia?
Although the early signs vary, common early symptoms of dementia include:
• memory problems, particularly remembering recent events.
• increasing confusion.
• reduced concentration.
• personality or behavior changes.
• apathy and withdrawal or depression.
• loss of ability to do everyday tasks.\
Dementia is a very big part of the world stage today. There seems to be more and more since the populations seem to be living longer and longer. I personally don’t have anyone in my family have actual Alzheimer’s’ disease but if you do count aging dementia then I did have a lovely and gracious Auntie Grace. We, my husband I sold our home in Langley town and moved into her home in Vancouver to help with her care. This was quite a large task, one that no one will have any idea what it took from our personal lives. Many who looked on were very critical and judgemental of what we were doing for my aunt. This is a lady, the sister of my father, who had no family left, Her daughter had past away in 1979, and her husband past away three years previous. She lasted a long time considering he was her entire life. She waited on him hand and foot, quite literally. It got so
• severe she would call 911 several times a week and also would sound her house alarm. So it came to the stage where she needed some help. I had some connections so contacted the doctors and nurses in the Vancouver area that would offer assessments and care. As time went on she was enrolled in a day program at VGH where she would go two days a week. The chain of events was such that the day she went to the first day she was able to be placed in the Broadway care facility. The transition was amazing. She was so okay with the move. She had a care aide, Lana, she had connected with when she was attending the Stat center. She continued to take her out on regular basis She would take her shopping and out for lunch once or twice a week. There were other days of the week I would take her shopping at the Bay. She loved to go to the jewelry department and just look at the bling and glitter. She had a lot of it in her wardrobe and in her jewelry box. There is always a curiosity of where it went because when she passed away there was hardly any in her box. I gave what was left to my niece Kaitlyn. Not sure if she appreciated the gesture or not. Anyways that isn’t the issue at hand it is dementia and how it affected our family. When we did move into the house I found it necessary to find a job much closer to the house since I would go to see aunt Grace every day after work, first had my supper. She looked forward to me coming. She usually was finished her supper but sometimes not and I would sit with her and then go up to her room. When we visited we would sing two lines of many songs. We would laugh and tell each other stories of our past.
She, of course, had many more stories to share. She told her brother my dad and her sister Margaret. She didn’t realize she had passed away. Sometimes it didn’t seem worth telling her actually the truth just to skirt around it since she kept asking the same question over and over.
The one thing also about the truth is becomes scrambled with age and so long as we give a sensible answer it does prove to be quite respectful of the individual. The worst thing in my estimation is to tell the person with dementia “you keep asking the same question, or I told you the answer, or why can’t you remember.” How would you like to be in this situation? Put yourself in someone else’s ’shoes.
So as you see the explanation of Alzheimer’s and dementia give s you a little idea what I dealt with when we visited Aunt Grace.
It wasn’t easy but it makes you think that someday we all may be in this very same situation where we don’t know who we are where we are or even why we are here so we need to be respectful of others and kind to them too. It may be us someday.