Thursday, September 28, 2006

Personal space

For someone who used to be very anti-blogging, I'd like to note that this is my fiftieth post and I've been at it almost a year. I think a little "eating of words" is in order. Ahem.

Having said that, I'll move right along to today's rant. Personal space. This is a tricky one as it is different for each person, dependent on their experience, upbringing, culture, customs, or any other number of issues. I work as a social worker and I am constantly confronted by people who use space in all sorts of different ways. Some take up waaaaay too much. Others seem insecure to even take an extra millimetre. Some expect you to take more, others expect you to shut the hell up. It's amazing that so many of us can click. Connect on that intimate level. Find others who share our space perspective. Or just not care about the fact that others' space ideas are different from our own.

This morning I had to go for a blood test and a urine culture (that's a whole other story.. urine culture containers are NOT female friendly! I feel like I need a bath). I was not allowed to eat before this test so by the time it was done, I was famished. In line for breakfast, I someone behind me in line was leaning on my chair. By the time I looked around they were gone, but I have to say that is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It is one thing for someone who knows you very well to do that, but I get very offended when strangers do it. It's like an extension of me and I really resent that people don't respect that. I have never actually mustered up enough courage to say something when I find people doing that. Instead I revert back to the evil look. That's my thing. I've got that evil look mastered. Except for the "having it work" part. It often works, but not always. Is this a pet peeve of anyone else? Are you vocal about it? What do you do? Is it wrong to expect people to see that as personal space and to stay away?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Ok, well maybe that's a little harsh, but I'm in a bad mood today. No reason, just a general "everything sucks" mood. I have not heard back from the news program that was going to do my story on the inaccessible condo. I have called and emailed and the woman who initially contacted me is not returning my calls. I think that's really unprofessional. And I'm pissed off. In my last message, I said I just wanted to know if the story was going ahead or not, that was all. No response.

Work has gotten better, but I feel a bit burned out. And that pisses me off.

Things are not going all that badly, but lately I just seem to notice the negative side of everything and THAT pisses me off. I piss me off. Last weekend I bought some Halloween candy and I didn't enjoy it... that may have started the pissy ball rolling. I'm not even PMSing, so I can't even blame that. I wonder if there's a post MSing condition?


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Anyone want to make a million dollars??

Okay, well maybe not a million, but I think there is an untapped market here that would be very fruitful! You've heard me gripe about this before, and I thought it only fitting that since I just posted about winter coats, I follow that with a post about winter gloves!

I have yet to find the perfect pair of winter gloves. That is the understatement of the century. I go through gloves pretty quickly, or I make due with cold, wet, clammy hands. As a wheelchair user in a particularly cold, wet and snowy climate, I am appalled to find that there seems to be no such thing as "Canadian winter" wheelchair gloves. I did a search for winter wheelchair gloves and I found these things made in Britain that were probably great for British winters, but may only suffice here on a cold, rainy fall day. I am talking wet, slushy, thick snow that coats your hands as fast as it coats your wheels. Wheeling even a block in such condition is impossible. Okay, well it's possible, but frostbite is not fun, folks. When your gloves are cold and soaked through wet, you cannot wait until they dry to wheel the rest of the way. All you can do is wheel a few feet and wait until the painful tingling in your fingertips stops and you can feel again for another few feet.

I really would like to find someone who would be able to make these wonder gloves. Here are the requirements:

1. COMPLETELY WATERPROOF. Rubbery sounds good, except it impinges on requirement #2...
2. NON-LATEX. As many wheelchair users (especially those with spina bifida) have latex allergies.
3. GOOD GRIP. When you're wheel is wet, it is hard to get a grip sometimes. And when you're wheeling through snow, even harder. The gloves would need some sort of grip material on the palm.
4. WARM. They would need some sort of warm lining to keep the hands warm while the gloves are in contact with the wet, slushy snow.

Four things. That's not a lot to ask. Is it? Anybody out there have superiour sewing abilities? :)

Deadly winter coats

I dread looking for a winter coat. There are so many factors to consider. First off, it has to be warm, obviously. Secondly, it has to be some sort of water resistant material. Water resistant to the point where my cuffs, which are grinding along the wheels as I wheel, stay dry and don't soak through. The cuffs on most shirts, sweaters, coats, are the first to go. They wear through and start to look pretty ratty when the rest of the piece is absolutely fine. If it's not water resistant, and is some sort of clothlike material, that's just asking for trouble. It gets soggy and your clothes underneath get soggy and it's just generally pretty darn ugly. And even if it's water resistant, it REALLY needs to be water resistant. Most "water resistant" labelled stuff doesn't pass the Ranter test. I am pretty hard on my sleeves, especially in winter. Sure, it may resist water for the average Joe who is just merely touching snow or rain. With my wheeling, I rub and grind it in. Pushing one's wheelchair in snow/slush can be hard work. Thirdly, the item in question cannot contain any latex. This hasn't been too much of a problem for me, but occasionally, like today, I hit a snag. I received my LL Bean catalogue and was flipping through looking for winter jackets that I could add to my Christmas list. Last year I received a jacket as a present and had to return it because it was riddled with latex! The snap covers, the zipper pull thing... even an LL Bean logo on the front was indeed latex. This year, I thought I'd be smart. I made a note of all the possible winter jackets I wanted and emailed LL Bean with the catalogue item numbers and asked if these items contained latex. Their answer was that there were so many chemicals used in the process of making their jackets, they couldn't confidently tell me if their jackets had latex or not. I've bought from LL Bean before, without questioning the latex factor. In fact my current winter jacket is LL Bean, as is my rain jacket. I have never had a problem until last year's jacket. Obviously the chemicals they use in processing their jackets do not bother me unless they have specific latex parts on them. Oh, sometimes when I wear down the cuff too much, the elastic shows through (even just a tiny pin prick) and I get little white bumps on my wrist. That happened to last year's jacket, so I went to a tailor who put leather reinforcement on the cuffs to cover the hole.

But really though, is it too much to ask companies to list the ingredients used making their clothes? Just like foods. Are not these same chemicals used in all jackets or most? I hope this current jacket lasts a few more years.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Give me a freakin' chance first, sheesh!

I've had a rough week. As you saw in my previous post, I got more work replacing someone on a maternity leave. I have not started that position yet, although I've been working in that unit a couple mornings a week as part of my present job which I've had for about 5 1/2 months. To prepare me for a full-time position there for the next year, my manager wants to send me to a bunch of training, which I've been doing. That will go on sporadically for a couple weeks. I have none this coming week thankfully. I will start the new full-time position mid-October, as that's when my current contract ends and when the person I'm presently replacing will be coming back. The person who left the position I will take over mid-October left 2 weeks ago. They have not been able to provide proper coverage for her position since she left for the past 2 weeks. Therefore, you guessed it, it's been left up to me to cover both my present position AND the other position. They tried to get coverage. They found someone, but she was only available 2 days a week for the past 2 weeks. As of this coming week she'll be there 4 days a week. Also, as of this coming week, part of my present job will disappear as there will be a new person starting in a recently created new position to alleviate some of the workload.

Following so far?

With the new person starting, and someone providing coverage on the other position 4 days a week, my workload will decrease until I start my new position. However, the past 2 weeks have been hellish and I've been pretty overloaded.

So earlier this week, I get called into my boss's office and she's there with my unit manager. They have concerns that I haven't been giving as much attention to the position I will be doing full-time in mid-October. Specifically they mentioned one case I had worked on. My manager received a complaint that I had done only superficial work. My manager asked the complaintant if I had done what they had asked of me. I had. She then asked the complaintant if I had reported back to her when I had done what they had asked of me. I had. My manager then asked what the problem was then. The response was that I hadn't done that "extra" bit. I hadn't fished for more information, I hadn't asked if there was anything more they wanted me to do with that.

I was flabbergasted. I did not see this coming at all! And, quite frankly, I think it is unfair. I had to be very professional though and keep my cool. So, I validated what they told me. I told them that I agreed that perhaps I did not give the case as much attention as I could have. I explained that I had gone to another department that had dealt with that case the same day to get some background information. I had called the person in question and gotten some details. I reported back to the person who asked me to do this what I had done and what still needs follow-up from her. And then I left. I reiterated that I have essentially been doing 2 positions when I already felt that my present position as it is is too much (and such has been reduced with the addition of the new position). I informed them that time was a factor. I didn't have time to document what I had done yet (and I had been called by the complaintant before the day's end to ask if I had documented yet), but I did by the end of the day, as I had planned to do.

What pissed me off was that even after I said that, while I don't expect a pat on the back, there was no recognition of the fact that I've been doing all this extra load and that it is impossible to give everything full attention. Oh, I had initially asked if this were something that needed to be done that day, or if it could wait until next week when there would be proper coverage for that position. They said it could not wait, and that was fine. When you do emergency coverage you do what needs to be done then, but anything that can wait will wait until the person you're covering for comes back. That question of mine was interpreted by the complainant as me being reluctant to do the task asked. Well, darn freaking right I was reluctant! I have a 2x caseload, TYVM!

I talked about it with my superviser in supervision yesterday and I felt better. I tend to take things personally, and it helped to remove me from the situation and recognize that it's more a reflection of my manager's expectations. The thing is, how I'm doing in that position now while I'm doing this other position too, is not reflective of how I'll work when I'm solely in that new position and can give it my full attention. I felt they judged me, and did it too quickly. I now will have to show them that once I'm in that position, they were wrong about me.

Now that it's a couple days later and I've had my supervision, today I am ANGRY!! I already had reservations about working in this department, but now I'm in it and I feel like they've already decided I'm not up to par. During that meeting, my manager said she had gone around to others in the department to ask them their impression of me. That's fine, but then she told me. "so and so says you're very approachable and easy to work with, but they don't see you around here in the department very often." Again.... 2X caseload, people!!!

I have a feeling it's going to be a long year.