Friday, May 15, 2009

" Ridge of High Pressure"

"It is not true that life is one damn thing after and another ~ it's one damned thing over and over."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 -1950)
The long hot summer of the Central Valley has unofficially begun. The weatherman, with a perfectly straight face, told us that a ridge of high pressure would push the temperatures through Tuesday into the low triple digits. He said it as though that was reasonable. One day after another of heat is a hideous idea. We will wilt. We have already begun to wilt. A haze has settled over the Valley and it promises to stay here - daring us to breathe in muck for the next six or so months.At 1:30 PM the "Interdisciplinary Team" sat in a conference unable to put another single sensible sentence together. The team was exhausted. Not one of the care professionals that I have a great pleasure to work with could think through one more cogent thought. The heat and the work pressure of the week had finally taken its toll. One woman struggling to finish the team notes wrote a last sentence twice - the exact same words twice. The complete thought was almost there on a page - like a desert mirage - but couldn't seem to make it to paper so her mind and hand simply repeated what she had already written. I could not help but imagine the regulators who might find that sentence. Wondered if they would worry about how we assess the patients at risk? Will they in turn wonder if we are serious or frivolous about our work? I looked at the face of this woman who provides therapy to dozens of patients, manages her own staff, documents everything she has done, manages to make a profit for her company and then goes home to care for her young family and spouse...I decided they were lucky she only repeated herself once. We were no longer able to sift through lab data, weight records, decipher physician notes, each disciplines notes, MDS details and then amend a Care Plan. The last patient had been discussed and just in time. The collective mind of the team wilted in the heat of work pressure, of a week of caring - all baked under an unrelenting sun. The reward for our efforts - the week-end, but it would be hot and difficult to rest and relax. In fact, according to the weatherman it will be VERY HOT! This scene is going to be played out week after week until October. For now we will go home, change into civilian clothes, and find a comfortable chair and dream of winter and rain.

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