Kenneth Weene’s ‘Memoirs From the Asylum’ Is a Powerful, Unsettling Read

Chances are, you have a family member or an acquaintance who’s been affected by a major mental illness. For many people, mental illnesses are very treatable. They will either recover or learn to manage their episodes of illness. For others, a mental illness does not respond to treatment and living in a therapeutic setting becomes an option. Of those whose illness leads to hospitalization, some are lucky enough to be able to afford private care. For others, there’s the state hospital.

As Alice famously said to the Cheshire Cat, “I don’t want to go among mad people,” and any examination of the lives and thoughts of those living in the state hospital will not be a walk in the garden. Although ‘Memoirs From the Asylum’ by Kenneth Weene is fictional, those of us who have mentally ill friends and relatives or who have worked in mental health care settings will find it unsettlingly real.

Readers will no doubt find this book fascinating. It’s like what medieval Christians used to call “the abominable fancy:” the saved glimpsing the suffering of those in Hell. The trouble is, as Weene’s book makes clear, the line between the “sane” and the “insane” is a fine one. The “insane” are institutionalized by their own volition, but can declare “the vacation’s over” and walk out to rejoin society at any moment. The staff are just as capable of abnormal thoughts and irrational behavior as the patients. It reminds me of a joke from an early season of ‘The Simpsons,’ when Homer found himself committed and asked the doctors how they could tell who was sane and who was insane. Simple, they tell him: everyone who’s insane has his/her hand stamped “INSANE.”

‘Memoirs From the Asylum’ is, at times, funny, sometimes unsettling, but largely tragic. It’s a powerful book, but one worth reading. It’s a plea for compassion and a disorganized rant as careening as the Jimi Hendrix solos that a patient named Jamul endlessly plays on his invisible guitar.

Funny thing about that: thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the Navy record of the real Jimi Hendrix is now public, and it reveals he was once thought to have a mental illness. The real Hendrix seemed to be unable to concentrate on any work other than writing songs and playing his guitar! Perhaps Jamul was a misunderstood genius. Within the pages of ‘Memoirs of the Asylum,’ anything is possible.

15 Key Life Categories for Successful Goal Setting

So, you’ve sat down and started goal setting. Where did you start? Your monster goal of course!

A monster goal is what’s most important to you at this point in your life. That’s a natural place to start. Well, whether it’s career, family or a special relationship, are you neglecting the rest of your life in your goal-setting efforts?

I have come up with 15 areas of your life that you could consider in your goal-setting plan. This will help you to take steps to build a balanced and more fulfilling life. Here they are in alphabetical order:

1) Artistic/creative
2) Career
3) Community
4) family,
5) Financial,
6) Fitness,
7) Friends,
8) Fun,
9) Health,
10) Learning/intellectual,
11) Living environment,
12) Personal relationship,
13) Psychological,
14) Recreation,
15) Spiritual

Of course, you don’t want to create goals in every single area of your life. It would be a little overwhelming and might actually work against you. Pick 3-7 of these areas in addition to your monster goal and then do your goal-setting process. As you’re doing this, consider carefully which areas might be most important to you.

Following is a brief overview of seven of the 15 areas with a few examples for some of them.

Artistic/creative – Do you have a yen to paint or do you love to sing? Maybe you like to carve wood, make soap or play a musical instrument. Including goals relating to activities such as these can add color and fulfillment to your life in a way that other goal-setting areas do not.

Community – This area includes such things as volunteer work with local groups (non-profit or other), or political, and social activities in the area where you live. It also includes organizations you belong to such as clubs and other social groups.

Financial – This area may be obvious in some ways and can relate to your career. But you may also want to consider goal-setting relative to retirement planning, savings and investing. You might also want to add learning about retirement plans or investment vehicles as part of this area of your life.

Fitness – Good health is the underpinning of a good life. And, because exercise is a major contributor to your health, goal-setting in this area is very important. To paraphrase Tony Robbins, you can have a lot of enthusiasm for success but if you can’t get out of bed in the morning, then you’ve got a problem!

Fun – Now you may be one of those people who never misses an opportunity to “let loose”. But if you’re like most people, this may be an area of your life that you neglect. So I say, life is too short not to have as much fun as you can while doing all that other goal-setting stuff! Telling jokes, being silly and generally letting down your hair are good goals to help keep your life balanced and joyful.

Learning/intellectual – Keeping your mind sharp and youthful is a worthy goal, wouldn’t you say? A few ways to do this are to take classes in stimulating topics you’d like to learn about, read new books/magazines and play mentally challenging games like chess and bridge.

Spiritual – For some people, this may not be an important aspect of life. For others, it could be the most important. Here, I’m not just talking about religion and traditionally spiritual issues. Goal-setting in this area of your life could include writing down an intention to forgive someone, to be more loving to others or to start a new practice such as meditation or yoga.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, all 15 areas are important, I chose the ones I felt most connected with as examples. As you go through the list, figure out what will give you the most satisfaction in your life; more friends, more money, more fun, a partner or any of the other areas. One good way to help make your choice is to rank each area on it’s importance to you on a scale of 1-10 (one = least important and 10 = most important). You’ll find yourself enjoying your goal-setting experience more than ever, but most important, you’ll be enjoying your life more!

Begin Your Health Care Field Career With CNA Certification in Alabama

The passage of the federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA-87) legislation required each state, including Alabama to establish state and federal OBRA approved CNA Training program and evaluate the competency level of nurse aides. The federal legislation further requires candidates upon completion of the program must pass state approved CNA Certification in Alabama within 120 days to earn certification and to work legally in a variety of health care settings in the state.

CNA Training Program

The Alabama Department of Health approved training program requires nurse aides to complete, at least, 75 hours program, prior to earning their CNA Certification in Alabama. The program consists of 59 hours of theoretical classroom instructions and 16 hours of supervised clinical hands-on experience that must be performed in an approved facility among the residents, under the direct monitoring of a registered nurse.

The course curriculum includes training on restorative care skills, communication and interpersonal skills, residents’ rights and independence, mental health care skills, personal care skills, basic nursing care procedures, emergency cares and patient safety. The successful completion of the program allows candidates to sit for the nurse aide certification exam.

CNA Certification Exam

The Alabama Department of Health has contracted Pearson VUE, a leading test assessment agency to design, develop, administer and score competency evaluation exam. The exam consists of Written/Oral Test and Skill Test. Both exams are administered on the same day.

The Written Test comprises of 70 multiple choice questions.The students facing problem reading English can opt for Oral test, offered in English or Spanish, instead of Written Test.

Skill test requires performance of at least, 5 skills on a dummy. The demonstration of each skill is supervised by a licensed nurse.

The nurse aides are offered 3 chances in 2 years to pass both Written and Skill test, and failure to pass either part or full parts of the test in given 3 attempts, they will have to re-train through AL CNA Training Program and pass both portions of AL competency evaluation test again.

Expired Certification

Under OBRA requirements, a CNA Certification gets expired in 24 months. It is essential that the certification must be renewed before it gets expired.

Certification Renewal

Nurse Assistants must get their Certification renewed through the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to maintain it in a current level. The ADPH requires CNAs in AL, once certified must perform for compensation, at least, 8 hours during 2 years of certification for certification renewal. The complete information on Certification renewal process can be checked with the Alabama Department of Health.

Learn From a Registered Nurse How to Advocate For Your Self in the Health Care Setting

Are you interested in advocating for yourself in the health care setting? Then you will want to read this article. In this article, we will discuss the fact that only YOU can advocate for your health. Before your next Medical Visit start by having a list of all the medications you take, name, dosage amount and how many times a day you take it. Write down any side effects such as diarrhea or decreased energy or if your appetite has changed. It also helps to note when the side effect occurs, for instance right after you take the medication or later on. Also write down any allergies you have to either food or medication. Keep a copy of this information on your computer and a hard copy in your wallet or purse. You can even down load it to a “thumb or flash drive”, then the physicians office can open it up and print a copy for your medical chart so it will be readily available for the clinician. Lastly, write down any questions you may have for the clinician regarding either medication, treatment or maybe the lab results previously completed. Perhaps you have questions about an upcoming test that you are going to be scheduled for.

Years ago it was very common not to question your health care provider. After all, he was the Doctor right? Not any more, with the advances in health care and access to knowledge and education, it has really become our responsibility to advocate for our health care. If you put this information to use you should feel confident you are receiving the health care you need.

Only you can advocate for your health, as a Registered Nurse I listen to what my patient is telling me. If he or she is saying something is wrong I listen to them, ask questions and help solve the problem. A wise clinician always listens to their patients, I learned this early in my career. Advocating for yourself in health care is essential because you know yourself the best. Even though the clinician has the education to put the information you are providing together, they still need the what only you as the historian can provide. You are the main piece of the puzzle.

It is also important to know what to do if you or a loved one is Hospitalized. If you feel that either something is wrong and needs to be corrected or your loved ones health is deteriorating and it seems like no one is listening to you. Then you need to use what is referred to as the “Chain of Command.” First you would start with the staff RN or LVN that is providing care for your loved one. If they do not resolve the issue, or you feel like you are not being heard or they are too busy, then go to the next person in line. That would be the charge nurse on the floor and so on until someone listens to you.

For example, your loved one needs to have the bed linen changed, the hospital staff is busy. How long do you wait before saying anything? Not long, first let them know. You can start with the CNA or certified nurses aide, if they are too busy then ask the primary care nurse, either RN or LVN. I would think that the staff RN would provide help immediately. As a staff RN I would always help my CNA’s change my patients position or help change their linen, it was a part of my job. I wanted my patients taken care of. If that does not get results the next person in line is the Charge RN on the floor, still nothing? Then you could either ask to speak with the House Supervisor if it is a weekend, or either the Director of Nursing for the facility or administrative person in charge. This could be the Hospital administrator or someone who has the responsibility to take care of customer service issues. Some hospitals even have a specific position for this, a patient service ambassador.

Does this seem like how a hotel or airline would handle problems? In fact, it is similar. Now days you can go online and find out how individual hospitals are rated. Good or bad. Believe me, hospitals are aware of not only customer service issues but the fact that happy people do not sue as often as unhappy people. That is the bottom line. Additionally, I worked for a small community hospital that had a problem with people being exposed to hepatitis through contaminated scopes used for endoscopys. What did they do? They immediately called the media and the chief of staff addressed the issue, reassuring the community that they were acting responsibly by communicating to the public what had happened. I believe that was the smartest thing they could have done. Not only that, I was proud to be a part of a health care system that was responsible enough and cared enough to address the problem first. I know the community appreciated it too. Yes, there were a few people that were upset, understandably so. They were all offered testing and to my knowledge there were not any reports of people contracting hepatitis.

Again, before your next medical visit take the time to write down any questions you have regarding your treatment, medications or something you may need to have clarified. Advocating during your medical visit is vital to your health care. Just as it would be if you were charged for something in error. Most health care clinicians welcome patients that ask questions. It gives the provider an excuse to educate and as a Registered Nurse, I love to educate. Even people that do not want me to educate them, I do, for example smokers. I educate them, then tell them I am a nurse and they usually appreciate it. They usually also agree with me and tell me they know smoking is bad for their health.

You can be assured your receiving the health care you need when you are an active participant. Your concerns should be important to your clinician, if not find a new one! One that will take the time to listen to you, you deserve it. Would you keep the same mechanic if every time you took your car to be repaired he just did what he thought was needed? No! It should not be that way with your health care provider either. Advocating for Yourself in the health care setting is possible and again, usually welcomed. Only you can do what it takes to safeguard your health and the health of your loved ones. So start today, you will feel confident you are receiving the health care you need.