Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I started the Bayerische socks, and well...they were hard. Such tiny stitches and so many cables. It was too much. I am going to frog what I'd knitted and make these instead. Although, I have a couple end-of-rotation tests a week from Friday, so knitting may have to take a backseat for the next week or two.

I've really been enjoying the time I have been able to spend with various community organizations these past few weeks. Last Thursday, I made house calls with a hospice nurse. Monday, I spent the day in group therapy at an inpatient substance abuse recovery center - a very interesting experience. The individuals in the group I sat in on were very honest and direct about their past drug use and their intentions re: sobriety. The counsellor asked the group to share stories about positive and negative interactions with providers in various health care settings. It was very interesting to hear their experiences - some of the members had presented to the ER intoxicated and suicidal and were told to go home and return when they were sober. Everyone had different stories, but they all expressed a desire to be treated in a respectful and nonjudgmental way by healthcare providers. It was eye-opening and a little sad. We also watched a film by the Amen group. The video was kind of hokey - this psychiatrist talking about how drug abuse decreases brain activity (as evidenced by SPECT images), but the group loved it. This video basically told them that they all had varying degrees of brain damage, but should they stop using and adopt some healthy lifestyles, they could reverse some of the damage they'd done. They all wanted that imaging done to see how damaged their individual brains were. Interesting.

Today I spent the morning at Opportunity Village. This organization provides services to 500+ clients with mental retardation throughout the state of Iowa, and over 100 individuals with MR actually live on the main campus. They've got some serious efficiency and organization going on over there. Everyone works (if you're physically able) - you build latches, put together the little instruction/screws/bolts packets that come with storm doors, shred and recycle mountains of paper, start seedlings and maintain plant nurseries. It was a little shocking to walk into a big warehouse and see 100+ people with Down Syndrome or other intellectual disabilities sitting down doing assembly line type stuff. Don't get me wrong - this was no sweatshop; the management were liberal with the snack and bathroom breaks. And the clients all seemed pretty happy. I sat in on some music therapy, sensory integration therapy, physical therapy. This place is pretty impressive.

Okay - off to study. You know, I'd started to take for granted how nice it was to live in a house without neighbors above or below. I'm living above an Australian video game junkie, and judging from the volume at which he plays his games (at all hours of the day and night), I am pretty sure he's hearing impaired. I miss home.

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