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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

My recovery from a new hip

“Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.”
-- The Dali Lama

Is everybody listening (or reading and paying attention) out there? For years now people have thought I was weak and stupid because I gave second and third chances. It takes strength to believe people can change and if they don’t it does not make me a lesser person.

I know, I know. Here it is October and I’ve been lazing around like a bum, eating chocolates and watching junk T.V. -- NOT!

I was operated on at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 17 at St. Peters Hospital in Albany. Total left hip replacement. Woke up in a recovery room, might as well been the moon, as far as I was concerned; shifted to my dual occupant room and moved into my bed for 3 ½ days.

Oxygen in my nose, IV in my arm, and catheter in (well you know a private area). Well I promptly fell asleep. These crazy people got me out of bed that night, then seemed shocked when I answered that I would prefer to eat my supper (such as it was) in bed, thank you very much.

And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have rolled over to eat that meal. Hospital food is the same as it ever was, terrible. Cream of wheat cereal made with water? “Eat- Eat”, my food server would urge, at least they remembered to bring me tea, not coffee. (Most of the time)

On Tuesday they had me shuffling from the bed to the chair, and there I sat, with all my tubes and paraphernalia encircling me. Just wanting to crawl back to bed. Tuesday night my catheter was taken out, and I was in for it now; I had to walk to get to the toilet and pee. And pee was all it was, I was a walking flatulence machine.

Now, yes we all walked to the John, but only with help. And there lies the tale of my brief reputation as a wild and fearless woman. I got out of bed ALONE in the middle of Tuesday night to pee. And I was mighty proud of myself, you betcha. Well within seconds an army of uniformed personnel were banging on the door, I opened, they closed ranks around me and escorted me back to bed. My roommate concerned for my welfare had summoned help.

I took the lecture I was given, hung my head and promised never to do it again. And the story of my adventure spread, and most tiresome it was, I was introduced as “the woman” who went to the bathroom (gasp) alone in the middle of the night. We in a hospital will find entertainment anywhere.

Tuesday was a most busy day; the physical therapist and the occupational therapist both arrived. And we started immediately on a torturous trail to betterness. Tuesday exercises were in bed, but Wednesday and Thursday were spent walking the halls, practicing getting in and out of bed and learning how to put on my socks. (No, really -- learning how to put on my socks)

These whip cracking women came cheerfully bouncing through 2 to 3 times a day. It seemed as soon as one got done, another was waiting in the corridor. I was smelling pretty funky now, but was not allowed a shower, in point of fact there was no shower in our room. There was, however, a postage-sized scrap of cloth and an even smaller piece of soap with which I could make some kind of effort to rinse off, standing at a sink hanging on to a grab bar with one hand and wishing a third arm would magically appear. Wednesday night the IV came off, port was left in and oxygen disappeared. The multiple visits by staff went on through.

First blood test was at 4 a.m.; 5 a.m. came, infusions -- pills, finger pricks, blood pressure, temps and all manners of such goodies. Last administrations of the day were out at 2 in the morning. Here I had brought 3 books, a fancy night gown, all manner of cosmetics, and I was lucky to get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. My main occupation seemed to be putting a sock on and struggling in and out of bed, I did however buy a hip kit which still sits in its plastic bag in a corner of my bedroom. The other night the dog took a fancy to it and was tossing the complete set into the air and dragging it cheerfully around the room.

I left for home on Thursday afternoon with tons of instructions and feeling very, very shaky. I left with a new cane, a walker, and of course my $40 hip kit. We made a stop at C.V.S. for a $50 prescription and went home and there in lies another story.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was not a piece of cake and the PT was arriving at my house at 8 the following morning. I had a doctor’s appointment in two weeks and he wanted to see progress. I still was denied a shower, and oh, yes, we had to buy a funny contraption for the toilet to raise it a foot higher. I had left for the hospital at 4:30 Monday morning leaving a warm cozy pair of pajamas hanging behind the bathroom door, clean sheets on the bed, and a stocked cupboard of invalid food, plain cookies, crackers and soups and fruits. The soups, crackers and ginger ale being the best investments I ever made.

Next week I will write about my baby steps to recovery. At this point all looks good -- slow but steadily moving forward.

Job training, but few jobs

I would like to talk about our multiple job training programs in Schenectady. The young lady who types and sends this blog for me has just completed one, actually she finished early August. Here’s the scoop, she lives in Steinmetz with her 3-year-old son. And she wants to seriously make a better life for herself and her child. So she enrolled in a C.N.A. (Certified Nursing Assistant) program.

Before she was allowed to take the C.N.A. program, she had to take a six- week-long job readiness program. So after 12 weeks of training and schooling she finished with very good grades and wanted a job. However, she is still jobless. That’s right, without a job. Now all of these programs are state and federally funded. And everyone involved (except the students) get good salaries. There is even a job coach placed there to help find work for young graduates.

Only this young woman had an unfortunate job coach who has still to return her phone calls. C. would like to go on to become an L.P.N. but she is very discouraged at the moment.

Since I am spending a good deal of time lying down these days I decided to do some investigating. And no one I called who had finished various job training programs had work. There was one woman who had graduated in June for medical office work, who was placed, but no money here. She is working as an intern for the Kidney Foundation. But no money or wages are on the horizon yet.

So are these programs in existence only to keep the purveyor in good jobs? I sure would like to see some concrete stats concerning percentages of completed participants who are now working in their fields and have even the beginnings of a job. This is our tax monies and the idea was to help out-of-work folk re-train and find a job. Not to prop up an agency or school with positions and pleasing attendance numbers for programs which simply are not doing their job. A little accountability here please.

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”
-- Oscar Wilde

Cat gets the prize

My cat and dog have been life lines for me, showing me love and making me laugh. Last night we had a large piece of steak, which I could not bring myself to eat, so my husband was cutting it up for his spaghetti. “Give some to the guys on the floor,” I piped up; they were surrounding us, (we rarely have meat in this house) and drooling, “I guess so” my husband intoned, you could tell he really, really wanted that meat.

Well here’s the picture, hubby in the recliner, Wilbur (dog) seated at his feet, fat Ernie (cat) in the middle of the room. Me in bed watching. So, hubby is ripping a chunk off steak, dog’s mouth is open, he is positive this is for him, crippled Ernie, makes mental calculations, travels at warp speed across the room takes meat right out off the dog's mouth and retires to far corner to eat.

Dog, mean time, has no clue, really not a clue. He can’t figure this mystery out; he’s looking all over the floor trying to figure out where his treat is. Cat and I are laughing like 2 fools and hubby is busy breaking off a nice piece of steak which dog finally takes daintily out of his hand. Oh yes -- size ... Ernie, 11 lbs. 6 oz., Wilbur, 73 lbs.

Life goes on

And still life goes on; another shooting and death on the hill. A lot of unrest surfacing about downtown. I am just an observer and in some smaller ways a participant. As the weather turns we all draw a little closer to the fire, at least those of us lucky enough to have heat and these big 3 holidays begin to stare us in the face – Halloween, Thanksgiving and the multiple celebrations in December. Shorter days, longer darkness and the miseries that accompany poverty in the dark and cold.

What is the city doing to address this? There are no trickle down gifts from downtown. And there is Bow Tie -- putting millions into downtown Saratoga -- leather rocking chairs no less. New and unique upgrades in both vision and sound into these multiplex cinemas, and nothing mentioned about a cinema on the corner of Broadway and State in Schenectady that is in bad need of some basic maintenance.

What does this mean? I am not a prophet but I know this movie theater is underutilized and understaffed, and where’s Mexican Radio? Twice now it has shown interest in Downtown Schenectady, is it going the way of the Big House. Years ago the Big House said they would not answer questions from anyone as to when they were going to provide answers and commercial business to Schenectady. We as a city gave them incentives and money. It appears they simply took it and left. Someone I know left a great statement on Facebook, “the trouble with turning a corner is that if you turn enough of them, you wind up going in circles.”

I have watched three rebirths in this town all of which died. There must be a better way. As for now I sit here quietly and watch and wait, hoping just hoping for a rebirth that blossoms.

"Silence is the essential condition of happiness."
-- Heinrich Heine

Judy Atchinson is executive director of QUEST, a not-for-profit group in Hamilton Hill in Schenectady thathelps children who are considered at risk lead healthier, happier and more productive lives.

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October 18, 2012
5:03 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

An excellent pithy observation about job training. Placement numbers may be important, but retention and earnings are more accurate indicators of impact on people's lives. The prime indicator of total program effectiveness is the number of participants placed in jobs requiring the skills taught in the program.

Since the Feds let grants for training for IN DEMAND jobs, and SCCC and Capital Region Workforce Investment Boards captured a grant to train entry level health care workers, one would think successful graduates would be sought after and scooped up. Well, herein lies another facet of Ms. Atcheson's point about 'make work' projects for those ALREADY employed. IN DEMAND job data are based on fifteen year old Labor Department research. Finally, training modualls are also based on this fifteen year old data, and may not reflect current practices or technology.

So when REAL grads reach job search there is likely a disconnect between supply and demand.

One hopes the job coach is unable to return calls because they are out cultivating prospective employers, not sitting reading help wanted adds.

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