Monday, November 30, 2009

Drug Test

Okay, so I had to go to the hospital, and they diagnosed me with pneumonia. They gave me a powerful antibiotic, which has just about knocked it out of me. So on Friday night, the mission had a surprise drug test for guys in my program, and I failed it due to the fact that the antibiotic gives a false positive for opiates. I told the tester about that, and he said he didn't want to hear it, and said I needed to see the man in charge of the program.

Today, I saw him. I brought it to his attention, because I didn't want him to think I was covering anything up. I showed him the sheet from the doctor about the false positive. He said he was going to have to do his own research.

Was he doubting my word? Was he doubting the pharmacist? Was he doubting the hospital? Was he doubting the doctor? It just seems strange that people can't trust you. And then, we have guys in there who are abusing the rules by bringing in radios and even a TV, when they aren't supposed to have them. I am trying to follow the rules, but I get punished. I know life isn't fair, but this is just too weird.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Visit

I haven't been able to shake my cold/bronchitis. It has been going on for over two months. I have been to the hospital ER twice. The first time, they took 2 chest x-rays, and said they looked clear. They gave me an antibiotic prescription, as well as one for a cough suppresant. I couldn't take the cough medicine, because it contained codeine, which makes me sick. After ten days of taking the pills, I was still coughing. Three weeks later, I went back to the ER. I couldn't breathe. They didin't take any x-rays, but they listened to my chest. They said it sounded okay, and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and one for pain. I had severe pain in my side from coughing constantly. I didn't get the pain medicine filled, since it was expensive.

So, last Wednesday night, I was standing in a line to get a shower at the mission, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I had not been eating much and had lost some weight. I also had not been sleeping much due to coughing and pain in my sides. I left the shower line and got to an empty toilet stall, where I sprawled out on the floor. A nice guy from our group of homeless guys ran downstairs to tell the people to call an ambulance. I had never ridden in an ambulance before, so this was a new experience. They took me the two blocks to the hospital, after running a heart strip and taking some blood, as well as my vitals. We got to the ER, and the doctor and nurses could not have been nicer. They took blood; did an EKG; gave me an IV for fluids and one with antibiotics; gave me some food and a sports drink; did some other tests; gave me two chest x-rays; and let me rest there. After all of that, they determined I had pneumonia. They gave me some high-powered antibiotics that seem to be helping. I also got some strong pain meds that have helped, too. Despite the fact that I made abundantly clear to everyone there that I was homeless, they looked after me, as if I was rich. They didn't blow me off like the first two times. They even let me rest in the bed overnight, even though I couldn't sleep with all the noise in the ER. What a way to usher in a Thanksgiving! But, I thank God for letting me get there when there were competent people there, especially Nurse Latesha.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Thoughts

In thinking about Thanksgiving tomorrow, there is so much to be thankful for. I know that may come as a surprise to some of you, as if you know about my homeless situation, but just know that I am still thankful for some things. First of all, I am thankful to God. He has shown me many things that I have seen over the last few months. Things like character, humility, and the generousity of strangers. I am thankful for friends. Many of whom have stuck by me. I have seen that there are some who have abandoned me, I guess because of my situation. That's okay. I have also made new friends in the mission. I guess I wouldn't have even noticed them a few months back, but now I know them, and they are friends. I am also thankful for Oliver Gospel Mission which rescued me at my lowest point. They have identified with my plight and tried to get me going on the right road again. I am thankful for Mary, because she saw I needed help. Help is something that I thought I would never need, but she recognized it and got me started. I am thankful for Joni who has kept me thinking positive. There is a light at the edge of the tunnel. I can't think negative. I am thankful for my new church. It is my old church but what was old is new again. I am thankful for people I don't even know. They have taken an interest in me. So, I know that this holiday is to be thankful for what people have. I am thankful for what I don't have. Sounds strange? Well, if you have ever been in this position, you would understand. As you are sitting across the table at dinner tomorrow, be thankful that you are sharing your dinner with someone else, and think of those of us with no one. Have a good day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bath Taking

I have written sbout this before. I like baths. I adore baths. Showers are okay, but a bath relaxes one in a way that showers can't. It relieves the stress of the day.

But, I come with a plea. A bath for me has become a necessity. I need a hot bath desperately. To use the steam to clear up my lungs, and to use the heat to relax my aching chest and back. In addition, this cold and wet weather has gone straight to my core. I can't find anywhere that is warm enough, not even the mission, except for the brief hot shower at night. And, the mission does not provide heat for my floor. With just a thin sheet and blanket, as well as sleeping in long pants and a t-shirt, it just isn't enough. Even the library doesn't have its heat on. I had to sit down at the post office for a few minutes this afternoon, as they had heat.

If you are on or near a bus line, and you would be willing to let me take a bath at your house during the day very soon, please contact me at Thank you and my God bless you and your heat.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Passing

There was a guy who stayed at the homeless shelter. I didn't know his name. He was in a wheelchair, although some saw him walk occassionally. I heard stories about him. I don't know if they were true, but it was stuff like he was banned from the library for life. He smoked crack. He abused children. He liked to hang out in front of a children's dance studio. He did sing a country song in chapel about Jesus turning water into wine. He couldn't sing, and it was hard to listen to him sing it.

Last Monday night, he began to sing the song and folks in the chapel starting howling like dogs to drown him out. I was a little embarrassed for him, but he carried on. When he got done, one guy stood up and defended the singer. He said that the others showed a lack of respect. He was right, but he was so mad that he had to go outside and cool off. The staff publicly apologized to him.

Tuesday morning, I got up and passed by his bed. He had not gotten up, and I just said to myself to him that I was sorry for how he was treated the night before. I didn't much care for him, but no one should be treated that way. I went on outside to wait for breakfast to be served. A few minutes later, we got the news. The man in the wheelchair had died sometime during the night. He apparently had a weak heart, and it had given out on him. I can't say that his treatment the night before had caused his death, but there were several people the next day who were feeling a little guilty. And , maybe that was a good thing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Unknown People

I suppose everyone is known to someone, except for maybe the last survivor of World War II stuck on an island somewhere. But, most of the people in this world know somebody else besides them. They may not know them as friends, but they know them. Maybe, they don't like those people, but they are known by them just the same.

I bring this up, because there have been forces at work around me, by people I don't know, to help me. I know some of those folks, but most I don't. Is it God at work through them? Probably. Why are they even nice to me? An unknown. Because they care? I am not used to people caring about me. I have seen too much rejection. I hope I don't cry.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some Things

Okay, another apology is in order, so don't shoot the piano player. I haven't written anything in a week or so. But, I've been sick. After writing the previous blog, I had to go to the ER, because I couldn't breathe. Some more antibiotics (because they don't know how to cure me) and some pain killers to make me more comfortable (that didn't work). What I truly need is a good night's sleep. That's hard to do, when I am coughing for four hours straight. There is no air circulating in there, and I can't breathe. I must ask again--if you have an extra room, please consider letting me borrow it for a while.

I continue to look for work, but it is increasingly difficult. The unofficial unemployment rate in Columbia is 22%. It is hard to compete with that, but I may be making a little money soon.

I do spend a lot of time in the library. It is an oasis, however I can't figure out what the security or staff do. They have signs everywhere about not using cellphones at the computers, because it can be disruptive, but they don't seem to enforce it. But, God help you if you fall asleep while reading. The library was closed for one day last week, so some of us went to the State library to use their computers. It is a good little hike to get there. Nowhere is there posted the maximum time once can use the computer (an hour), nor how many times you could get on the computer (twice). I walked up there a third time, as the county library limit is 3 times, and was turned away despite them having open terminals. If anybody from the State reads this, please encourage the State library to post some rules where we can see them.

Well, I guess that about sums it up for now. Please continue to pray for me. I need all the prayers I can get.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Library

Today has not been a good day. First, I was awakened by a guy in the shelter who wanted to call someone on his phone prior to 5am. I told him to shut up, but he ignored me. Others in the sleep room were upset with him, too. Then, I went to the library to find some people cleaning and vacuuming the carpet, so I had to go to a computer terminal away from my favorite area. I am a creature of habit. Then, I broke a tooth. Then, I went to a job fair several blocks away, but they only had 3 companies represented--an insurance company, the US Army, and the city of Columbia. Hardly much variety. I went back to the library to watch my favorite TV show online--NCIS. It was the first new episode in two weeks, and I was really looking forward to it, since I don't have access to a TV. But, due to the continued vacuuming and not enforcing loud noise from people, it was almost impossible to concentrate. The library is closed tomorrow for some employee training. Why couldn't they have cleaned then? What do the library workers do all day, other than stare at their computer screens? When I was growing up, I was taught to be considerate of others. Between the guy this morning and the people in the library, consideration has gone out of the window. But, do I complain? No, because I'll be branded as a troublemaker. Any excuse to ban the homeless from the library is what they are looking for. So, I'll be a good little soldier and be quiet. At least, for now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Adoptive Families

I don't really know why this is in my life, but there have been some familes who have taken it upon themselves to "adopt" me. Maybe, it was because I knew a family member well, whether through school, church or work, but these familes have shown me unusual kindness through allowing me to become a part of their family.

The first was the Wise family. I met them through Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. Mary Ellen Wise was close to my age and was a member of the youth group. Their house was only a few blocks from the church and was big enough to hold our youth group, so I was over there a lot. We mainly talked or listened to music. I even wrote a play about their family called "Birge for the Defense". Mr. Wise was an attorney. The Wises really helped me see that I had talent and self-worth.

When I got to seminary in Texas, there were two familes that made me feel welcome in their homes. The Brooks family and the Miller family. Paula Brooks was my Communications teacher at seminary. Her husband was a preacher, and they had a son named Mark who went on to be a successful professional golfer. They had me over several times for dinner. Then, there was the Millers. Mrs. Miller worked with me at Sanger-Harris, and she opened up her home to me and others to play games and watch TV. Our favorite game was poker. She also invited us out for picnics on Saturdays and Sundays. It was a good time to get away from the pressures of school.

More recently, it has been the Stone family in St. Matthews SC. I met Thom at Rich's, and we became good friends, since we had so much in common. When my parents moved to Laurens, Thom and Mary Ann invited me to spend Christmas with them, because I needed a family Christmas and no longer hand one. This is where the tradition began. They welcomed me into their home and lives. Soon, I was spending Easter and Thanksgiving with them, too. I became a part of their family, and they accepted me. This has been going on now for over ten years. I hope it continues.

I don't want to imply that my biological family ignored me, but these other familes helped me. I thank them as having a special place in my heart.