New Beginnings, Past Reflections
I begin my new job tomorrow in a really tall building. I have spiffy new clothes and two Starbucks gift cards that I got for my birthday.
I'm excited. Life is good.
This new job is exactly what I was looking for. After ten years of working in direct social services, in substance abuse treatment centers, with the homeless population, I was getting burned out. Big time. Besides, the money wasn't very good.
Last night, I was thinking about some of the more challenging cases I've come across in the past ten years.
Wow. We humans can really mess things up. Big time.
Here are some of the really freaky cases I've had (to use a clinical term). Of course, the names have been changed, but I swear, I'm not making this up.
"Neptune" was a single 32-year old Native American female who was mandated by the criminal justice system to complete a 58-day inpatient stay at a substance abuse treatment center as part of reducing her incarceration. She had four children all by different fathers. It turns out that two of the children were fathered by her own two brothers. She had named one son "Coyote" and her daughter "Elvis." After about two weeks, she opted to go back to prison instead of remaining in treatment.
"Barry" was a 41 year old African American transgendered female diagnosed with AIDS, neuro-syphilis, schizo-affective disorder and bi-polar disorder. Barry lived in subsidized housing but would spend all her money on manicures and nails. Barry weighed about 80 pounds but would get extremely violent. I was finally able to have her involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility from which Barry escaped when it was about minus 10 outside. Barry wandered the streets for a few days which resulted in severe frostbite on her hands. She refused treatment until the tips of her fingers began to fall off and gangrene set in. Six digits had to be amputated which, I suppose, reduced the cost of manicures and nails. I don't know what happened to Barry because I left the agency.
"Dan" was a 32 year old white male who was completing a 58-day stay in the same substance abuse treatment facility as Neptune. During the family therapy weekend (that's when the patients' family members get to come for the weekend and tell the patients how horrible they've been -- loads of fun for everyone) Dan found out that his wife, with whom he'd had three children was actually his aunt! It turns out Dan's grandfather had had an affair with the next-door neighbor. The child that resulted from the affair became Dan's childhood sweetheart and who he ended up marrying. (So I guess that makes his wife his "half aunt" actually). Anyway, he was really freaked out about it and so was the family. He settled down once he realized that a half-aunt was no closer in relation than a first cousin. Queue up the banjo soundtrack, anyway.
"Ward" was a 38 year old white male in the same treatment center. Ward had a strange sexual proclivity as he was obsessed with eating women's hair. Yes. That's right. He got his goodies by eating women's hair. (Partial cannibalism). He didn't complete treatment.
"Sarah" was a 26 year old white female in a different treatment center. She was alcoholic, addicted to crack cocaine, and severely anorexic. Her body had been so messed up by the substance abuse and eating disorders that she was too far gone for any hope of physical recovery. She died of heart failure during treatment.
So, those are just a few of the most memorable cases I've encountered in the past.
Needless to say, there's a lot of healing that needs to be done in this world of ours. Mostly, I blame George Bush.