Location: Oregon, United States

Saturday, November 18, 2006

William. Work. Paul's mom.

William had his first infusion yesterday and everything went fine. There was a chance that he would experience an allergic reaction, but he didn't. He was sleepy afterward and rested for the remainder of the afternoon. The doctor came in to touch base with us during the infusion - I thoroughly enjoy this physician, he has a great sense of humor and is compassionate as we struggle through our choices. He said that, because of the last bloodwork that came back, it looks like William is not doing well on the 3rd medication we had tried as his white blood cell count is down. So we are backing off of that medication, and being very thankful that we have the IV treatment to try next.

Work is pretty darn fun. I have met more permanently drunk people than I've known in my entire life. The other day, my co-worker and I were walking down the streets of Tigard with six homeless people, three of whom were literally staggering drunk, while the other three had just finished their morning beer. It was 9:30 a.m. As I get to know these people, I am struck with their humanity, their kindness, and their sense of humor. My job is to identify the people that are mentally ill, build trust and relationship, and plug them into services that will address their illness when they are ready. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. In the meantime, I get to do what I call "therapeutic shooting the bull", which is the equivalent of "therapeutic hanging out" with youth, as I get to know their stories. And such stories...

I am also starting to do youth outreach for HomePlate. I've contacted the schools in the area and will be meeting with school counselors and speaking to health classes. This has been an interesting process, as people take a LONG time to return calls around here - about two weeks, in fact. In Minnesota, if it took that long, you knew they had lost your number or were blowing you off. But here, it is normal. So I get my shorts in a bundle and they call back like everything is fine and I have to re-group. Weird. And I get such mixed responses. Some people are all gung-ho about it and can hardly wait to set me up to come in, others are so rushed I feel guilty for even trying to talk to them, and still others are clueless. One counselor left me a voicemail that said, "Why don't you send us your brochure? That would probably be the best way to go about it. We don't have many homeless students in our school." But I have access to the number of identified homeless students are in that school. (Key word: identified. My numbers don't include the ones that haven't said anything yet. In fact, if this counselor is any indicator of how safe it is to self-disclose homelessness, I wouldn't be outing myself either.) I can't wait to call her back and gently, kindly, set her straight.

Paul's mom and got a good report after her MRI this Thursday. The tumor has shrunk slightly so she can take a break from radiation treatments and back off a couple of her other medications. She will continue to take seizure meds, a stronger dose of chemo pills, and get regular blood workMRIs done. Overall, this is good news, although she will most likely be nauseous and tired from the chemo. She is dealing with everything very well, the hardest thing being losing her independence - no small thing, as she is one competent lady. Go Anita!


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