Sunday, June 24, 2012

Power of Attorney

My brother, who I call Dustin in this blog, suffers from schizophrenia and lives in a group home in the St. Louis area. I also have a sister, who I will call Belladonna. She is in her 60s, single, and retired. She has nothing to do but meddle in family business. She believes that members of the family are obligated to extend themselves to provide extraordinary levels of care for other family members like Dustin, but she always has a reason why she should not be bound by those same obligations.

She likes to take Dustin out of the group home for a weekend, take him to her house, and make him do yard work. She believes Dustin owes her the labor in return for her hospitality, which he didn’t ask for. He doesn’t like Belladonna, but he’s not capable of refusing.

Dustin is getting older, and there will be inevitable health issues. To prevent Belladonna from taking command of his medical needs, another sister and I arranged for me to obtain medical power of attorney for Dustin. It was a strategic move; I never thought it would be a problem.

Once a year, the staff of the group home has a conference call with me, in which they describe Dustin’s medication, his diet, his activities and any incidental needs he may have. During the year, they also call me if there are any changes, any disciplinary actions, or any special requests (like pocket money for a field trip).

I always assumed that my medical power of attorney would continue in this manner until Dustin suffered some kind of major medical problem, and I would be called to determine whether or not to unplug the respirator.

Last week, Dustin was attacked by another resident and suffered some bruises. They took him to the hospital to be examined. The group home called me and gave me his room number. The hospital, informed of my power of attorney, contacted me to explain his condition and treatment.

They discovered that Dustin had a urinary tract infection, and required my permission to perform a cystoscopy procedure. “What’s that?” I asked.

“We insert a camera into his penis so that we can inspect the bladder for cysts,” I was told.

I reluctantly agreed to the procedure. It had never occurred to me that medical power of attorney would require me to make decisions that would cause Dustin to hate me more than he hates Belladonna. Suddenly yard work doesn’t look so bad.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Disturbing Trends

Last year at this time, my pool team won the regional championship tournament and had the exciting privilege of playing in the national championships in Las Vegas. We won’t be going this year. In fact, there have been some changes in the team that indicate the possibility that we will break up soon and go our separate ways. One problem is that the ranks of a couple of our players have gone up. Because the league places a limit on the number of “skill points” a team may employ, this meant that our team had become top-heavy, and our best players couldn’t play.

We attempted to counteract this problem by recruiting a very low-ranked player to balance things out. However she is self-employed, and often chooses to stay home and work rather than show up to play pool. For this reason, I will call her “Absentina.”

Another problem is that a couple of our players are struggling financially. One of them seems to have developed a bit of resentment to the demands of the team, and has already decided that he’s not coming back. So it’s been difficult to keep the team motivated.

Nonetheless, we all showed up to play in the regional championship tournament, along with hundreds of other pool players from around central Florida. The tournament takes place in a local Moose lodge, which is sprinkled with delightful bits of Americana, such as this:


We struggled in the first round of play, and it came down to the last match. Due to the skill point situation, we were forced to play Absentina, who had never played in a tournament in her life. To everyone’s delight and amazement, she won.


We continued to struggle, and were knocked out in the third round. But that’s not what I wanted to write about.

I have noticed a disturbing trend that I call “lack of mirrors.” This is when someone has made clear choices in their appearance that indicate that they don’t own a mirror. It’s hard to imagine that they gazed into a mirror in the morning and said, “Yeah, this is the look I’m going for."

For example, there’s this guy over my shoulder with a blue mowhawk. I guess he doesn’t work for a bank, like me:


Then there was this guy, who is the size of a dump truck. We were presented with this delightful view almost every other shot:


The weirdest thing I saw was this balding guy. He has a tattoo on his head of a guy pushing a lawnmower, as though trimming away the remaining fringe of hair. My guess is that he works in the construction industry and wears a hardhat all day:


But the story isn’t over. I showed this picture to a friend at work, and he exclaimed, “I’ve seen that guy!” Then he frantically searched through the pictures on his phone until he found this one:


The first thing I noticed is that it’s not the same guy, because the mower is going in the opposite direction. So there’s more than one. Has anybody seen any more of them?