#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 12, 2022)

Hi everyone. It’s once again been a while since I last wrote. Today, I’d like to write a post for #WeekendCoffeeShare. I drink more coffee here at the new care home than I used to and it’s not decaf in the evenings. That’s one thing I don’t mind, although I now realize the caffeine might be contributing to my poor sleep. Like I said a few times before, I’m struggling greatly otherwise too. Let me try to share a bit about this past week. Grab a cup of coffee, cappuccino (we have a milk frother here) or tea if you’d like one and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d start out with the slightly positive: the weather. Although others – climate activists – would see this as a negative (and I understand why), I am so relieved we have relatively mild fall weather here. Daytime temperatures rose to a maximum of between 12 and 17°C over the past week and we didn’t get much rain.

If we were having coffee, then I’d share about the negatives, the list of which starts with my day schedule. I requested one because, otherwise, staff would give me one-on-one support whenever they so wished. However, as it turned out, the day schedule was so vague that staff could still interpret it however they wanted to.

For instance, some staff had gotten it in their heads that, between each activity, regardless of how long that activity took, they’d need to leave me alone for 30 minutes. I said sarcastically that I’d have to think of activities that lasted two hours then, but the last staff who openly told me this about the 30 minutes between each activity didn’t get my point and said an activity could take 30 minutes or whatever too. For clarity’s sake, I have unlearned to initiate activities that take longer than 30 minutes myself because I know staff will usually tell me they don’t have the time, even though I got 90 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one from my old home’s staff each weekday morning and two hours each weekday afternoon.

Like you may guess, my day schedule is organized around activities, not timeframes. I understand this if you want to put into it specific activities such as “walking” and can’t be sure how long each walk will take. That’s why my old home had “supported activity” in my day schedule. However, it appears as though my staff here want to be able to decide on a daily basis how much one-on-one support to offer me and usually this is not dependent on my need for it, or even on my fellow residents’ daily care needs. Not that those should matter, since my one-on-one is *my* one-on-one, not my fellow residents’. However, it’s about 90% dependent on staff qualities: whether they smoke, whether they’d rather do stuff on their phone or chill out with coworkers than help clients, whether they can or want to set boundaries on my fellow residents’ demands, etc.

As a result of all this, I tore up my day schedule on Monday and life hasn’t been worse since.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share it’s my husband’s birthday today. He doesn’t celebrate it or so he told me, but he will be coming here for a visit tomorrow.

How have you been?

Coffee, Beer, Night Staff, Etc.: Questions I Asked My New Care Home #31Days2022

Hi everyone. Today’s optional prompt for #31Days2022 is “coffee”. I was immediately reminded of one of the E-mails I sent to my assigned staff in preparation for my orientation visit at the care home I’ll be moving to on Wednesday.

One of the less important questions I asked was whether they have set coffee times and, if so, whether they brew regular coffee or “decaf shit”. I did point out, with a winking emoji, that it wasn’t like I didn’t want to live there if they served decaf all day, but that this’d mean I’d need to ask my husband to give me my Senseo back (if he even still has it) As it turns out, they serve regular coffee at least in the afternoon.

I asked some other questions too. Most of the first ones I E-mailed, were worded rather formally. Some of the other less important questions were about groceries. I asked whether the home contracts with a local supermarket or with a nationwide healthcare-specific superstore (the latter), whether they did chips and soda or (alcohol-free) beer on weekends and, if so, whether clients had to pay for those treats themselves. It turns out they offer these treats on Saturdays and clients don’t need to pay for that, but each client does have an account with the superstore in order to get extras, which they do need to pay for.

I also asked what my mailing address would be, since the home has a fake within-institution mailing address. Mail should be sent to the institution’s main address, with the fake address as an additional address line (I’m not yet sure how mail delivery people aren’t going to get confused).

More important questions had to do with the availability of staff. As it turned out, the early shift starts at 7AM and the late shift ends at 10PM, except on Saturdays and Sundays and every other Friday, when it’s 7:30AM and 10:30PM. That had me a little concerned at first, because I was worried I might not be able to get the right support at night.

Another important question was about the night shift. I knew that the institution night staff operate from a central office in the main building, but I wondered whether one night staff would be allocated to my home (and a few others) or whoever received my call, would come or send someone. It turned out whoever was in charge of receiving calls at that point, would send someone who was close by.

Thankfully, at my second orientation visit, I found out the door to the home is locked at night, so I cannot leave the home then. This is good in light of the 30 minutes or so between the late shift leaving and the night shift being able to fully step in. I am not in a medically fragile state, so it’s not likely I would die of a seizure or something within those 30 minutes. However, if I could leave the home on my own, it would’ve been quite possible that I’d wander around grounds all night. I am happy I will be as safe as possible in my new home.

My New Home? #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “home”. How timely! As those who’ve read my blog over the past week or so will know, I may move to another care home in a week and a half. The choice is up to me.

It is indeed the first home that wants me, like when I applied for long-term care and landed here. Well, no, in that sense it isn’t the first. My current care home isn’t kicking me out, after all. If I don’t want to move to the prospective new home, if I don’t think it’ll feel like home to me eventually, I don’t need to.

It feels liberating to be able to make this choice. I have been able to ask quite critical questions, some of which were answered already and some of which I’m waiting on being answered soon. For one thing, I want to know about the staff/client ratio. This is important should my one-on-one ever be reduced, but also for those times when I don’t have one-on-one support. The support coordinator told me there are three staff each shift, but I’m not sure that’s just for my group of eight or for the entire home, consisting of two of these groups. I so far only saw my group’s home and that’s quite large already, so if the three staff are for the two groups of eight, that’s going to be quite difficult for me.

Other questions have been of lesser importance, such as whether they serve decaf coffee or the regular kind, whether we need to pay for treats such as chips on weekends, etc. I feel quite satisfied with most answers and am pretty positive I’m going to make the move. With my visit on Monday in addition to last Wednesday’s, I should be able to make an informed decision about whether this will be my new home.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 6, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Saturday of August. Okay, that starting phrase gets boring, but who cares? Well, me, but I can’t think of any better way to start my post. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’ve had five cups of coffee already today and it’s mid-afternoon. Want one too? I hope I haven’t used up the whole pot. Well, it’s a virtual coffee share. Let’s have a coffee and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your weather as usual. Ours has been mostly warm, sometimes hot. On Wednesday in particular, the daytime temperature rose to 31°C. Today, it’s only about 21°C. I even wore long sleeves this morning when going out for a walk.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I discovered a function I hadn’t previously known about existed in JAWS, my computer’s screen reader. When you press INSERT+4, INSERT being the designated JAWS key, JAWS displays a menu with special characters to select from, such as the euro sign, the degrees sign I used above, etc. Before I knew about this function, I’d do a Google search for something that’d pop up the character I wanted, copy/paste it into a text document and copy/paste from that document to my blog. However, if I wanted a character that wasn’t yet in the document, I’d need to do a search all over again. Besides, it’d mean having to open a separate app, in this case Notepad, and copy/pasting from there rather than selecting the character from the menu.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, today, I started on 25mg rather than 27.5mg of aripiprazole (Abilify), my antipsychotic. So far, so good, but I’m not expecting any effects as of yet, as aripiprazole has a half life of 72 hours and the dosage decrease is so small anyway. This is my second decrease out of possibly twelve, each taking three months. That’s an incredibly slow taper, but it’s this way so that any possible changes in my mood and/or behavior can be observed over time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been busy crafting this past week. Someone from a neighboring care home has her birthday next week and a fellow resident from my care home has his birthday on the 25th. I asked the woman who has her birthday next week what her favorite color is and she immediately understood why. “Ah, you know when I have my birthday!” she exclaimed. Of course, I didn’t reveal anything else. I am creating a necklace with all polymer clay beads for her. I did this for someone else, who had her birthday at the end of January, and back then it’d taken me weeks to create all the beads. Now, I was able to do half of them in one day. The other half is a little harder, because that color of clay is more difficult to work with.

For the man who’s having his birthday on the 25th, I bought a canvas, which I painted black this week and am going to decorate with polymer clay cookie cutter shapes once I’ve finished the necklace. I am doing his name and a car. Since the challenge theme for this month in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group is mixed media, I’m also thinking of including some other technique, but I’m not yet sure what.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that today, my husband went to get his new-to-him car, a Fiat Panda. He’s coming for a visit tomorrow. We originally thought of driving to some town or city in the area, but neither of us can think of an interesting one, so we may just go to Subway to have lunch.

How have you been?

My First Date

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is first dates. Since my now husband, Jeroen, was the only person I ever actually dated, I’m going to share my experiences about meeting him.

As regular readers might know, we met on a message forum. More specifically, he met me there, because I barely knew him by the time he private messaged me. He, on the other hand, had read most of my posts on the forum, as well as my blog.

I wrote on there, for all forum members to see, that I was feeling lonely living on my own in my student apartment in Nijmegen. At the time, he had decided he wanted to expand his circle of acquaintances. Neither of us were really looking for love, so in that sense, maybe it wasn’t actually a date.

Jeroen PM’d me asking to have a cup of coffee or tea somewhere in Nijmegen. I agreed, then backtracked, fearing he was a “creep in his fifties”, as I worded it. You see, I had barely read his introductory post. He invited me to the forum meeting in Utrecht where, according to him, at least fifteen other forum members could vouch for him that he didn’t appear creepy and was nowhere near fifty. He was eighteen at the time and I was twenty-one.

Looking back, I still took an enormous risk, as I never went to that Utrecht meeting. I did tell my support worker where I’d be meeting Jeroen, but, me being an adult, I didn’t have a curfew or anything.

I can’t remember whether I was stressed beforehand. During our meeting up, I certainly was. I can’t remember who paid for my coffee and his tea, probably him. As I’ve mentioned before when discussing this first “date”, I tripped over some steps in the cafe, spilling my coffee. I screamed in frustration.

As for who did the talking and who did the listening, neither of us talked much. Jeroen asked me about my taste in music, to which I replied vaguely that I like world music. I honestly wouldn’t have a clue how to respond now either, as I’m not really that much into music.

This “date”, to be honest, was quite the disaster, but Jeroen had it in his mind that, if he tried to meet me another time, we’d have many more dates. And we did. We got married exactly four years after this date.

Bat-Tea

In the psychiatric hospital, coffee was consumed more than any other drink, except for maybe alcohol by the dually-diagnosed. (No, that’s not true: even though I’ve seen my fair share of drunken patients, they probably still didn’t manage to drink on a daily basis.) We had set coffee times, but everyone knew the way to the coffee machine in the outpatient clinic’s waiting room; actually, a nurse showed me.

Even so, when we were unstable, we drank tea, specifically rooibos with strawberry and whipped cream flavor. I don’t understand how any of us liked it, but we did. I nicknamed it bat-tea, for it helped us when we were going batty.


This post was written for this week’s Six-Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “coffee”.

Things That Made Me Smile (July 11, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone. I haven’t been blogging all weekend, because I didn’t feel inspired. I’m still struggling with the fact that my assigned staff is leaving. However, today I wanted to put a positive spin onto it and end our contact with good memories. You see, today she had her last one-on-one shift with me. Despite it of course being bittersweet, the day itself was so good I actually think it deserves a mention on Trent’s #WeeklySmile.

We started the day at 10:15 with two strong cups of coffee. This staff is one of the coffee drinkers among my staff and so she usually brings the full coffee pot to me rather than just pouring me a single cup. My morning cup had been rather weak, so I’m so grateful I was able to have two cups of strong, black coffee. (My soon-to-be former assigned staff drinks her coffee with milk, something I kept forgetting.)

After this, we went for a walk. I initially decided not to put on my jacket, but it was just a bit too chilly for my liking, so my staff ran back up the stairs to grab it for me.

After that, I had lunch. I didn’t indulge in anything special this time, as yesterday for her leave-taking party for the entire home the staff had already treated us all to French fries and snacks.

After she’d had her afternoon break, my staff and I drove to a playground in the village she lives in that we’ve been to before to jump on the trampoline. A few little kids were playing on the trampoline when I arrived, but they were thankfully happy to go play on the other playground equipment and let me jump on the trampoline for a while. I jumped for about ten minutes, but by then my feet hurt like crazy. My inner child parts had the greatest fun!

Then we drove by the supermarket, because I had to get dinner for this evening, as I’d skipped my meal delivery service meal for today. Apparently, they’d had nothing on the menu that I liked. I also got blueberries, stroopwafel cookies and licorice.

Then it was time for two more cups of strong coffee. I chatted some with my staff until it was time for her to go to write up her notes and be there for any other clients who might come home from the day center early at 3PM. She returned briefly at 3:30, as usual, to say goodbye. She said that even though this was her last one-on-one shift with me and Thursday will be her final shift working at my care facility, she’s sure to see me again. I hope she’s right. In any case, she’s after some thought decided to give me her E-mail address. This makes me feel much better about our goodbye than I’d been feeling last Friday, because it means I can still stay in touch with her when I feel like it.

Overall, the day was positive and I didn’t even cry when she left. I might on Thursday, but we’ll see.

Five Favorite Summer Drinks #5Things

Hi everyone. I’m joining the #5Things challenge once again. This week’s topic is favorite summer drinks. Now I must say I’m not a person who loves a variety of drinks even generally, so this was a hard topic. I mean, I don’t care for lemonade, slush or juice, let alone soda or other fizzy drinks. Here is my attempt at coming up with five summer drinks I will have anyway.

1. Milkshakes. I particularly love banana and vanilla flavored milkshakes.

2. Water with fruit infusions. I love it with strawberries, cucumber, cherries, and lots of other fruits. When I tried to put some orange into my fruit infusion bottle recently, somehow some of the orange got into the actual water, which I didn’t like.

3. Iced coffee. I don’t have this often, as it is usually high in calories, but I do love iced coffee at times.

4. Smoothies. I love creating all kinds of fruit and vegetable smoothies particularly in summer, when there’s a greater variety of fruit available. Of course, I’ll still use frozen berries, as they are less expensive than the fresh kind.

5. Plain, cold water. I usually have two bottles of water in the fridge that I drink from when I want water. Especially in summer, water straight from the tap doesn’t get nearly cold enough for my liking. Out of all the things I drink, water is probably my most frequently consumed.

Temp Workers #WotW

Hi everyone. May I take the opportunity to join Raisie Bay’s Word of the Week Linky (a little late) to share about my experiences with temp workers this week? That’s my theme for the week for sure, as the week both started and ended with a temp worker doing my one-on-one shift.

Well, technically the one doing my shift this evening was self-employed, not employedd by the temping agency. However, my point is that neither had been oriented to my shift. The one doing my shift this evening, had had a few regular group shifts in my care home before, but still, she was really new.

On Monday, I lay in bed most of the morning, because this woman was just completely clueless as to what to do and also didn’t seem to show any interest in me at all. She paged through my information folder, but I was rather surprised if she got something right out of it. It didn’t help that the two staff working the regular shifts were also relatively new.

Today, I braced myself for another difficult shift. I had been told that the staff doing my one-on-one today had a lot of experience working in psychiatric hospitals, with which I don’t have the best of experiences. I mean, just because I’m a nutcase doesn’t mean I want to be treated like I’m just a nutcase. And I don’t mean this in the way you’d expect: I don’t want people to expect me to comport myself just like that because all I am is a mental patient who “knows better”. After all, in truth, sometimes I don’t know better.

This morning, I learned that said staff also has a lot of creative talent. My morning one-on-one thought she might be able to teach me macrame. This scared me a little, much as I’d really love someone who knows what they do in terms of creative work. After all, they also know bad crafting when they see it. As it turned out, indeed, the staff was able to talk me out of pursuing macrame any further. She did admire my polymer clay creations though and said I could sell them. This tells me she doesn’t know clay, but I was back in my comfort zone again where I’m the “expert”. I showed her how to blend a color (that I later realized I already have in my collection, but oh well).

I did through both temp worker shifts, notice that my assigned staff made several mistakes in my daily schedule. For example, today at 3:15PM, the afternoon staff came by my room with coffee even though I’d already had coffee at 2:15PM. As it turned out, both times are listed as coffee breaks. I don’t really mind usually, although if the staff who comes on at 4PM also forgets my water, it means I’ll have lots of coffee in me and not enough plain water. I know reports vary on the hydrating effect of coffee and most say you retain at least two-thirds of the water. I try not to make a big deal out of it, but it does get confusing.

Speaking of coffee, I did play today’s staff a little. She was making coffee at 7PM because the regular staff had forgotten. She got the can labeled “regular coffee” and started putting it into the machine. I could’ve said then that, per the home’s rules, we drink decaf at 7PM, but didn’t. We both had a little laugh when I did eventually tell her once she’d already turned the coffee maker on.

Word of the Week linky