Kevin Champeny is a friend, and fantastic artist, who lives and works in New York City. We met in college, an I have blogged about him, his work (and his pranks) before. Currently, he is in a contest that will help expose his talent to the rest of the country AND via social media.
Kevin is busy and brilliant, but he still makes time for the people he cares for. Please, so this dude some love.
This is a hard post to write, but given that my interview–a formality– is scheduled, I need to get this out so i can finish up my 13 years.
I’m leaving the JSO unit.
I have worked with sexually problematic youth for my entire career. Thirteen years may not be a lot of time, but it is all I have ever done. I am moving on to a new position: Juvenile Advisory Council Coordinator. This position is one I have held part-time and on a voluntary basis for seven years. Now, in order to make this program grow, I’m being given the chance to establish JAC and ensure that it gets the resources it needs to become a fully integral part of the Juvenile Court.
That doesn’t make this easier.
I am good at what I do. I really am. I can get most kids to talk to me about private matters within a matter of weeks. Even the kids that never come out of denial admit that I helped them with something. And while this may just be smoke, the record supports my notions: Most of my clients are relapse free. In 13 years, and after a hundred or so clients, I’ve had a total of 4 relapses… In short, I’m pretty damn good.
When my job was at its most stressful, I would view my therapy groups as a way to break the stress. I was hestitant to call of work when I was sick–even really sick–on a group day as I love it. I will always love group. And soon, i’m giving it up.
Let me tell you why: I can make a solid therapeutic connection to most kids. I have this one kid: Latino, gang banger, loves to push buttons and boundaries with everyone. He returned to group after a mandatory anger management class. He was talking about the other counselor as if he was from another planet:
So here’s this old, pudgy white dude. He had grey hair on his head and in his beard. And he told us he’s never been in trouble with in his life. He’s just this old white dude who has lived in the suburbs all his life. He doesn’t have an anger problem. He doesnt’ know what I’ve been through. He doesn’t know anything about where I live or what I do. And he’s going to help me with my anger? Fuck that.
I pointed out my similarities to this guy. White, pudgy, never been in trouble in my life. The kid looked at me and in the seriousness he could muster, said
“No. You’re my counselor G.”
He told me I didn’t pretend to know what he went through and I would always let him talk–even after I kicked him out of group. He was clear about how I was there not to tell him how to be, but to help him be better.
Maybe he was blowing smoke. Maybe he played me. It wouldn’t be the first time…and it may not be the last time. But, for what it’s worth, I believe him. And it made my day. While the guys don’t know I’m leaving, I do. And it is going to be hard to say goodbye.
Let me take the set of issues that Reid and McConnell debated to a different level. Who is responsible for the Senate’s constipation? McConnell put the blame squarely on Reid for the practice of filling the amendment tree and shutting Republicans out of the debate. He has a point, one I have made often when exploring balanced ways of reforming Senate rules. But McConnell went on to talk poignantly about how Senate Republicans have repeatedly offered a hand for cooperation, only to have it slapped away rudely by Reid, the president and Senate Democrats.
Coming from the “Raging Moderate” employed by AEI (a Koch Brothers Company). Tell me again how “Both Sides” are responsible for the gridlock.
Yesterday’s supreme court hearing, upholding the constitutionality of the ACA makes this three year old post relevant. For the record, the steaming crock of shit know as Death Panels has been rated as a “Pants on Fire Lie” by Politifact For these reasons, I’m reposting an old entry about my Parent’s Death Panel:
The phrase, “Death Panel” is the biggest crock of shit invented by the Right since the phrase “Tax Relief.” End of Life Planning is an essential part of addressing death. It doesn’t matter if you believe in eternal life in some kind of Heaven or if you believe in oblivion: You are going to die. At some point you need to consider dying.
When my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, we talked about my parents last wishes. Both of my parents signed a living will and talked, however briefly, about what they wanted. Long before this discussion happened, my father had to take care of his aunt Irene’s affairs. While my dad was Irene’s only surviving family member, her second husband’s family became more interested in her the older she got. Irene always said, “don’t worry Pat, you’ll get everything.”
Now my dad didn’t want anything. Irene’s estate was full of kitsch and junk. Gleason’s have a pack rat gene (my brother is the only exception) and towards the end of her life, she became increasingly senile.
When she went into cardiac arrest, my father raced to her side. When he reached her, he was shocked to the point of anger. Her chest was not uncovered, her ribs were cracked so they could stimulate her heart. He couldn’t see her arms because they were lined with tubes from various IVs. She was mostly naked, lying on the hospital bed. I wasn’t in the room when he saw her–I was maybe thirteen–but when he told the story, he was the angriest I had ever seen him (and would see him until I was a teenager). He told the doctors to, “Cover. Her. Up.”
Text cannot impart how cold his voice was, or how forceful his tone was. My dad was a lawyer, with a fantastic ability to use his voice to get what he wanted. The doctors argued for a second before they relented.
That experience haunted my dad. Given Irene’s fraility and her advanced age, he thought it would have been more dignified if they had let her pass away. There was no need to crack open her 80 year old chest to apply direct stimulation.
With this episode firmly implanted in my parents mind, my mother’s oncologisthad a conversation with my mother. She told her, “There may come a time when this is not a fight worth fighting anymore. When the chemicals and procedures you will need to take will ruin your quality of life. You won’t be yourself anymore. You’ll just be the chemo.” I know this occured privately, as the day before my mom died, her doctor repeated those words. It infuriated my aunts. They thought it was highly unprofessional, unethical and immoral–especially at a Catholic Hospital–for this doctor to tell my mother, a woman who had fought cancer tooth and nail, and yet with grace and dignity, for over twelve years, that she should give up the fight.
But my mom knew. Her cancer had metastasized again. This time, there were microtumors in her brain. They impacted her speech. The gave her seizures. Those tumors robbed my mother of who she was: a talkative, impassioned woman who was always on the go. My aunts, my brother, my future sister in law and I all wanted her to stay. We wanted my mom to be around for decades to come.
What we wanted was selfish.
My mom wanted to live her life. She did not want to exist for chemo and radiation treatments that would make her less of who she was. My mother didn’t fear death either. She was a devout catholic woman who attended mass and believed in most of the teachings of the church fervently (except the whole gay marriage thing, the treatment of homosexuals by the church, women clergy and on priest celibacy). She also missed my dad terribly. Weighing the options, she chose to pass away. I believe if she wanted to, she could have fought on for another year before her body finally gave out. Her vitals were good despite the tumors. She chose, in the end, to die with dignity.
My parents planned their end of life decisions. They died the way the wanted to. Every other person in this country deserves the same. To get that, they need those options. End of life care needs to be discussed–and not maligned–as a death panel.