Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31st, 2009:

Next Tuesday, Eileen Lemus and I will take a trip to Maitri to participate in a pre-intake interview. We will meet with Daniel Hill, the intake coordinator and Grace Molyneaux, the staff nurse who runs the medical side of the residence. I hope it's many months before I am ready to move into Maitri. However, I do have questions right now that will help me prepare for my final home. I last did regular bedside care at Maitri in 1995, back when the residence was located on Hartford St. and had six beds. Since moving to 410 Duboce St. the facility has grown to 15 beds.

Although I've been on the Maitri Board of Directors for the past thirteen years, I have spent little time in resident's rooms. Now that I'm going to become a resident myself, my curiosity is piqued. What will be in the room when I arrive? A bed, a chest of drawers, for sure. Maybe a chair and maybe a TV with DVD player. If they aren't there, I will bring them myself.

Also, I want Maitri's intake personnel to know about me. That will involve catching them up on my medical status, giving them access to my records, contact numbers of my doctors, etc. Again, I don't plan to move in anytime soon, but I do want Maitri to know that I am heading their way. Also, I know that Eileen has a lot of questions about how the facility operates and what I can expect. She has also served on the board, but still, board work and the daily life of a resident are at ends of a continuum of care.

My body will determine when it's time to move from my apartment into Maitri. The word from both doctors, Lisa and Dr. Jahan is to move in earlier rather than too late. I'd like that; meaning, I'd like to have time at Maitri when I'm still reasonably well. There's a daily and weekly rhythm in the residence that can be best appreciated by someone who's ambulatory and eats their meals in the communal dining room. The social life of the place is a big part of it's success. It's a healthy and safe place for residents to interact. And that is part of my plan. I'd really like to move there and step into the Maitri world.

My model in this is role is a terrific fellow named Percy who served as the chief Certified Nursing Associate (CNA) for many years. Unfortunately, Percy's advancing HIV illness compelled him to retire, but fortunately, after a few months in retirement, he moved into Maitri for end-of-life care. Wow, was he taken care of. The staff had never had the opportunity to take care of one of their own, and they were humbled by this opportunity to give back to Percy. Initially, there was concern that Percy would return to Maitri as a senior caregiver. But no. He totally changed. Rather than giving orders, he let himself be cared for by his peers. It was astonishing: all his knowledge about how to run the floor dropped and was replaced by his willingness to be loved and attended to. That's my model. I have no inclination to make board decisions from inside my bed. By the time I move into Maitri I will have left the board, and stepped into a brand new identity: resident-in-need-of-care. My task will be to let myself be cared for.

Prior to that new role from within a bed, I have my current identities which include the following. For another month or six weeks, I am still a consultant in Information Technology in the Financial District in San Francisco. I live alone in my apartment and happily cook, clean, and generally maintain myself. I'm a homeowner in Sonoma County who is selling his portion of the property to his land partner. I'm a 62 year old man with metastasized cancer to lungs, liver, bones. I'm a gay man with a well-developed aesthetic, special attention given to Baroque and 19th Century opera and Central Asian textiles. I'm a lucky guy with a lot of friends. I'm grieving the loss of my Mom who died in March of this year. I am on the board of Maitri Compassionate Care residence for people with HIV. I am an astrologer with a developing interest in other psychic teachings. Many identities, many of which will start falling by the wayside over the next months, only to be replaced by the new identies, some of which will jump aboard when I move to Maitri.

After the interview on Tuesday, I'll report in about the results.

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