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Blogity-blah-blah-blog: WWWE: Six Years of Hope - Part I

Friday, September 11, 2009

WWWE: Six Years of Hope - Part I

Things have been pretty busy lately. I'm still looking for new job but I have been doing a sales job on the side for a little extra money while collecting unemployment. This week has been busy because we are at a county fair all day everyday this week. I'm not feeling to well today so I decided to take the day off. So now that I have some time, I think it's time I got back into something I've been putting off for a few weeks now. I'm getting back into the WWWE or Work, Work, Work, Edition of this blog. I had started it awhile back when I still had themes for each day of the week. The WWWE was part of Story Time Tuesday on my blog. So I last left off when I was working at Blockbuster Video. So now I will talk about a place I worked at called Hope Enterprises.

Hope Enterprises is an organization that employs people to take care of individuals who are mentally and/or physically challenged. I worked in four different group homes over the course of six years. I'll talk about the first house I worked in. I worked at that house for three years. I took care of four different individuals at that house. I have to be careful about what I say due to confidentiality so I won't give out any names or locations. This particular job is going to take awhile to talk about, so I'll have to span it out over multiple days. So today I thought I would tell a story or two about each of the four individuals I took care of.

The first guy, we'll call him Bill, even though that's not his real name, has profound mental retardation, autism, he couldn't talk, and he was prone to have seizures. He also has pica which is a disorder in which the individual likes to eat things other than what's normally edible. There was an episode of Ripley's Believe it or Not in which there was a story about a woman who had pica and she liked to eat dirt. Bill seemed to like cloth. He would chew on his shirt all the time. He also had bibs he would wear around his neck and he'd chew on those too. We had to keep a close eye on him obviously. He liked to wander into the kitchen a lot and try to grab things to put in his mouth. I wasn't at work on the day this particular incident happened but it's pretty funny. Two of my co-workers were occupied with two of the other residents so they couldn't keep an eye on Bill. When my co-workers were finished with what they were doing they came back into the living room and saw Bill with what looked like chocolate all over his hands and mouth. There was a trail of this chocolate leading from Bill sitting on the couch, all the way into the kitchen to the tray of uncooked brownie batter. Bill had walked into the kitchen and grabbed two handfuls of brownie batter and trailed it back to the kitchen. I thought it was hilarious when they told me about it even though they didn't find it too funny, they had to clean up the mess.

We'll call the second guy Kevin. I know you're not supposed to pick favorites, but Kevin was my favorite. He always had a smile on his face and he would always laugh. He also had profound mental retardation and he was non-verbal. For the most part he remained stationary in his recliner and didn't move around too much. Of course we did physical therapy with him and had him walk out to the dinner table and take him out to Dairy Queen and other places, but for the most part he didn't walk around on his own free will. But every once in awhile he would get out of his chair and he would either walk around the house or roll around on the floor. It wasn't always a good thing because he would do this for days and even throughout the night non-stop. You could see that he was tired, but something in his mind made him keep on going. They said he was being manic when he did this. When he was manic like this it was the only time he wouldn't smile or laugh. Kevin had the ability to brighten anyone's day though. Everyone he came in contact with was always happy to see him. On days when he wasn't smiling or laughing and just sitting in his recliner I would always try to find ways to make him laugh and I didn't stop until he did.

The third guy who we'll call Steve also had profound mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, and obsessive compulsive disorder. He was also non-verbal but he was smart enough to understand what people told him and he could do simple tasks when asked. Actually he was much smarter than he allowed people to think he was. He may not have been able to take care of himself, but Steve was very intelligent in other things, like playing jokes on people. Due to his OCD he would constantly rearrange things in the living room to the way he liked it. No pillows could be on the floor, in fact, nothing could be on the floor except for furniture. He also liked to unplug things, lamps, the TV, etc. This became a real problem sometimes, but he didn't do it too often. I took him to the grocery store one time and he ended up wetting his pants while we were there. Fortunately one of the employees of the store was very cooperative and he said he had a lot of respect for what I did for a living. So Steve did #1 in aisle two which is much better than #2 in aisle one. I mentioned earlier that he like to play jokes on people. One time I made myself a sandwich on a bun and set it on the end table in the living room and then I went back into the kitchen to get something. When I came back the top part of my bun was gone. Steve was sitting on the other side of the room laughing and I could see that his tongue was yellow from the mustard that was on my sandwich. The funniest thing he did I can laugh at now, but at the time I wasn't laughing. I was getting ready to go home one night, but I couldn't find my car keys. I looked all over the house for them. When I was searching Steve's room he started laughing. I had a feeling he knew what was going on, but since he couldn't talk he couldn't tell me, not that he would if he could. I was convinced that I had lost them so I called for a ride home. The next day at work one of my co-workers came up to me and said "Are these your keys?" She had my keys and I asked her where she found them. "They were in my purse, and I have a good idea how they got there." Yes, it was Steve. He put them in her purse the day before and her shift was over before mine was, so she ended up going home with my keys in her purse, not knowing it at the time. Good old Steve.

The last guy we will call John. John was higher functioning than his three other housemates. He had severe mental retardation, autism, and OCD. He was also a very big guy weighing in at 32o pounds. He pretty much had his own space in the basement with his own bathroom and a living room with a TV, but he liked to be upstairs with everyone else most of the time. He was very pleasant but he had a habit of bopping his housemates over the head with a closed fist. He didn't do it to be mean, it was part of his OCD. We would try to stop him or lighten the blow by placing our hands on top of the head of the person he was hitting. He didn't usually hit hard, but sometimes it was enough to give you a headache. Yes, he used to get me when I first started working there. I would try to distract him when he wanted to hit me. One time he tried so I told him to sing the theme song for the Flintstones (John could sing almost and theme song for any TV show). He sang the last line of the song and then yelled out a big "HO!" and bopped me over the head. After a little while I finally put my foot down and let him know he wasn't going to bop me over the head anymore. He backed away from people who stood up to him. But his housemates didn't really have the ability to stand up to him so that's why John would always go after them. His other housemates usually laughed at him when they got bopped over the head, for some reason it was funny to them.

There are so many more stories I could tell you about these four individuals and I think I will talk more about them later. I've said enough for today.

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