Friday, August 08, 2008

Left unsupervised...

Last night I had a dream about visiting this woman who lived down the block from my parents. She was a senior citizen. She was somebody who meant a lot to me. I was telling people they should visit her. Meet her.

I woke up, suddenly remembered the dream & started hyperventilating.

Good morning, world!

I went to my shrink today & she gave me some really good perspective. We talked about the woman I took the video of, how I felt about her.. the whole process that led up to my posting her video. I told shrink how it was almost like I was in another world -- until somebody kind of woke me up & said "Hey - you're not supposed to do that!" I just didn't see it.

I told her how that last visit had meant so much to me. How I had told my supervisor how I wanted to visit this client on my own. How I had told J that I want us to visit her. How I had these kind of day dreams about visiting her with my kids... introducing them to her.. And Shrink said: "She became family. Your supervisor should have caught this transference. It's really very common for social workers in their first five years of working. When you said you wanted to visit her your supervisor should have focused you back to that. WHY do you want to visit her? You lost perspective. Got carried away with your caring. You took her video, posted it - like she was a member of your family - you thought of her like that & lost the client/sw perspective"


My therapist is a social worker. She understands what I did was wrong... but she can see it from the "clinical" perspective. She said to me "Your supervisors did not. They saw it from the "administrative" viewpoint." She understood why I was fired, but thought the punishment was much more extreme than it needed to be. "They were just looking out for the agency." She said.

And I talked about how I was so involved with this case... I was the only one. The only one who cared for her, paid her bills, followed her medical care, was trying so desperately to get her to be able to live at home... And really -- what I can see NOW is that yes -- I needed MUCH more supervision with this. It was a lot. I'm not that seasoned. I needed somebody to pull me back & give me more perspective.

So it was good. Today. I really want to get away from blaming myself for this. THREE people -who are unrelated, do not know each other, talk to each other, etc, etc - said to me: "Stop beating yourself up!" When the third person said it I stopped. "Oh. You're the third person to say that to me.... Hmmm...." Don't need to tell ME something four times! Oh no! Three is quite enough, thank you!

So, this morning I grieved for the clients I won't get to see any more. The ones I didn't get to say good-bye to, the ones who will wonder what happened to me, worry about me, and... dare I say it... miss me.

I am going to be aware of all this from now on. My boundaries. Transference. And hopefully just grow from it. I'll allow myself a bit more time to process, to feel the loss, to regroup... but then I'll (hopefully be able to) move on.

Stuff just always happens, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My Surreal Life

When my alarm went off this morning.. I couldn't open my eye. Not that "I'm so tired, I can't open my eyes" feeling -- but physically. I could not open them. They were swollen.

Then I remembered.

Was it a dream?

A nightmare.

I was fired.


It still seems so unreal to me... I came into work yesterday, got busily to it since I'm going to be away on vacation from Friday the 8th until Monday the 25th. My supervisor calls: "New situation. People upset. Agency upset. We have to meet.& talk about this video. "But, but" I said "I thought you said you understood? That mistakes happen. That it was good that I rectified it..." And she was all "yes, but I was distracted when I was talking to you -- and I told my boss... and now it's gone all the way up the food chain.


And then I knew. I told the woman I share an office with & she says: "You won't be fired. You made a mistake, you owned up to it - you might get a suspension." I talked to an old co-worker -- "You won't get fired... maybe just a suspension..." But. I knew.

So, fast forward to 3:30 yesterday. Meeting with my supervisor, division head and Director of HR. I told them: "Yes, I made a mistake,but... explained how I had been so involved with the client, so happy to see she was doing well, wanted to save the moment, naively thought that other people would see/appreciate it the way I did. That they would see it/take it in the same sense as I did. That I felt that you could not see the client's face, and I used no identifying information. (As I can tell from the comment on one of my earlier posts... that's not the case.) and once I 'snapped out of it' took the video right down. There was absolutely positively no malicious intent.

But - in the end - what it came down to was the Agency. Protecting itself. I took an agency client, took her photo, and put it on the Internet. No matter who - if anybody - saw it or not. That's a liability. Period. End of story.

I said "But I always thought, was always taught, that if a person makes a mistake - that if there was no malicious intent.. that it was forgiven. A mistake." Nope. I said "What about all the good I've done? I love this job. I love this Agency." Nope. I said "You know, this agency has no soul. What about the people? I thought we are a social work agency?" Nope.

They gave me a letter. They took my ID. They took my keys. They told me my health insurance will last until the end of the month. (Which is when I lost it - I cover the kids X is on Cobra....) and I'll get paid for my vacation days.

My supervisor walked me back to my desk - to clean it out. But when I got there I realized I have too much stuff. I said I'll have to come back another day. I thought I would go back today.. but you know.. I can't. I'll go back. With J. Next week.

And J. J.... I know some of you remember other times I've lost a job.. or been job hunting.... and how X was. Yelling. Berating. Even after we split. Even though he's been fired from more jobs than I can count. But J. Calm. Supportive. Came over last night. Took one of my bills to pay. (Took one of my bills to pay!) "We will get through this. Together. You will be fine." I've never had that. I've never had the luxury of really being able to feel sad & voice it. To feel... supported.. taken care of... I mean - ok - I have my parents who are always there & I've always felt their support... But this. Being in this team. The way it's supposed to be...

So I had a pretty bad night last night. Cried a lot. Walked around like a zombie a lot. Today I'm here by myself. Kids at camp. They are over at X's tonight & tomorrow X gets married & we leave for Long Beach. I'm feeling pretty down... and I know that's normal. It's funny 'cause it used to be my regular state of being - with X. And I realized I haven't felt this way in a really long time. (Can't say I've missed it!)

I'll get through this.

And my kids. You know, my kids are my saviors. They make me smile. They're doing so well.. they make me feel so good. Today is their last day of camp & it has been such a summer of growth for them. You know, Nathan began the summer not wanting to go into the pool at all -- now it's his favorite activity. AND -- he wants to take swimming lessons over the school year! And Max doesn't! It's the First Time Nathan wants to do something that Max said No to. The first time. He always follows his big brother...

Ahhh... so - this coming year (because, well, I always seem to count the years from the start of the school year...) will be good. Different. But good.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I guess I'm just to open and honest in general. When I post about mistakes I made I guess I don't expect to be told that yes, I did. I know that. I've gone through it. I ruined my weekend because of it.

But I understand - if I put my life out in public I will get opinions.. and they are that -- opinions. It's up to me how I react to them.

I have to think if I feel up to putting my real life mistakes out there -- especially ones I already feel so crappy about.

Post is down.

Gotta think.

I made a mistake

OK - I'm putting this back. With the disclaimer -- with the feeling -- that I have to explain myself a bit more. Only about 10-15 people saw the video, and most of those were people I know or know the client. I understand that my intent in showing that video is/was not clear to some people... and I just have to say that that is the kind of person I am. I show videos of my kids. I share photos. Things that are important and meaningful to me -- I like to share.

Yes, I made a mistake - it happens. I learned.

Not sure if any of you saw... but last week I had posted a fifteen second video of one of my clients -- taken with my phone while visiting her in the nursing home. I felt that you couldn't see her face - so that it was safe to post it. I had uploaded it to YouTube, emailed it to a few people who knew her - and posted on facebook.

I figured - about 10 people (more or less) look at this blog every day & it's only my friends on Facebook. So it's closed.



Friday morning I get into work & there's a voice mail message from one of my co-workers who I had emailed the video to. "It's a HIPPA violation. It's a confidentiality violation. You could be fired!" I took it down.

I called her up. She was all: Client can't give consent to have picture taken because doesn't have capacity, it's exploitative, it looked like you were doing this art project on YouTube... don't you know people can take the video, change it - email it... client looked disheveled. Why would you do this?

And I was in shock.

It so was not my intention.

I went to the NH & saw this client there.... and she looked so good... was doing so well -- and I wanted to remember her. I wanted to share her. I took these videos that showed her personality - and wanted to share it here because it was important to me. Meaningful. The same reason why I wanted to email it to these people.. who I thought felt the same way about her. I thought they'd be so appreciative... to have the video... to see her - to have the memory of how she is/was.

I felt awful. I felt awful that collegues would think this of me -- that it was construed this way. And I felt awful that I really did breach social work ethics. And I was worried. What should I do? Tell my supervisor? What if somebody else had seen it? Did something with it? I went through this blog and deleted every post having to do with clients/work... Because you know, I work in a very very close community. People all know each other & each other's business. They have grown up here, known each other & their families all their lives. If I mention anything & somebody from down here reads it -- chances are they will be able to figure out who it is I'm blogging about.

Could I really be fired?

I was a wreck.

I texted a woman I used to work with. We had shared an office & became very good friends and even though she's younger than me, has been a social worker a good deal longer. I told her what happened & the first thing she said was "Anybody who knows you knows you have a good heart and would never do anything intentional to hurt a client." Which made me feel good. And made me wonder why these other collegues who had seen it had automatically thought the worst. (They explained it as "feeling protective of the client.....")

I talked to her & she said that everybody breaks ethics every once in a while. It's a learning experience. I did this with my heart, not my head... And that she really doubted I'd be fired. She reminded me that , the co-worker I had originally spoken to had a bit of a history of hystrionics...

So yesterday I called my supervisor & told her: "I made a mistake and I fixed it." And explained what happened. And you know... I pretty much worried all weekend about this (because I never over think or over worry about stuff) and she said: "Ok. You made a mistake. Thanks for telling me. You thought with your people hat - no social worker hat. It happens."


After all that worrying.

But I do have to think about how I'm going to write about work stuff... and it made me think about how with this blogging, facebook, you tube, twitter.. how so much of your life is out there... and it almost becomes second nature. Kind of freaked me out a bit. I like the fact that not a lot of people read this. It's FINE with me. But I like the community of it - I like the people I have met & am meeting...

But I have to think about all of this.

Monday, August 04, 2008


If your favorite baggy linen pants fray in the crotch you're allowed to patch them, right?

But what if those SAME pants become a wee bit threadbare on the left side (where you carry a bag & it probably rubs against it?) And say there's a HOLE on the left hip side? And say your SKIN shows through that hole...

Can you patch them again? (From the inside. THe tailor does it. Same color... [obviously])

Or do you call it a day?

I love those pants.

ETA - And WHAT IF these pants are one of the lucky few that STILL fit due to your explosive weight gain? (Just getting dressed. NOTHING fits! Augh!)