General Fiction posted December 28, 2017

This work has reached the exceptional level
Where's the door out of here?

Alive Inside!

by Bar62

Alive Inside!

“I was sitting in my own apartment, in Windsor, CA., listening to some good sounds on my music system, casually going through my mail. Most of the mail was trashcan bound, a number of various fundraising pieces from different political non-profits. It has always baffled me how these organizations can be so strident and ‘in your face’ about their cause, and at the same time not be at all concerned about how many trees it takes to produce the tons of paper, they use as part of their campaign. Just one of my crazy thoughts.”
“Anyhow I’m sitting there with a beer and I come upon a letter addressed to me from the Sonoma County Housing Authority. I open the letter which just contains one sheet of paper. This sheet of paper can change my life so completely, it’s frightening to be sitting there by myself. I get my glasses so I can read it without any mistakes. The letter is impersonal and to the point
“Dear Mr. Pauper,
We regret to inform you of recent changes in our Rental Assistance Program. These changes will, unfortunately, affect your household and your Section 8 Voucher. Due to cuts in federal funding, we have no other choice but to release you from your Section 8 rental assistance. Your rent will remain at $184 until July of 2018. At which time you will be required to pay market value for your apartment. Rest assured that if our funding gets reinstated, you will be notified about re-applying for a section 8 voucher.
Fondest regards,
Lea Chan
Housing Authority Senior Rep.
I was devastated! What was I to do? I had no extra cash. The market value of many of the available two bedroom apartments was running anywhere from $1500 -- $2200, a month. I’m living on a fixed income of $1,059 a month, there’s no way I can afford an apartment, even with a roommate.
As I was making my dinner and sitting down to eat, the weight of what could ultimately happen to me, hit me like a ton of bricks. The situation that I absolutely hated the most and dreaded so completely, that I considered some drastic responses, was the possibility of being put back into an SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility). For those who do not know, back in 2013, due to circumstances beyond my control, I ended up taking up residence in an SNF and was trapped there for fourteen months. That period of time and the year preceding it, was the lowest point in my life; I was in a very bad place. Physically my disease was at a place where it definitely was affecting my daily existence. I did nothing, but focus on a way to end my life. My relationship with my wife of thirty years was falling apart. She wanted out of the marriage, but she could not come up with a way to exit without it being messy.
I was confused, angry and scared shitless. I was not going back into an SNF, that was the one thing that I was 100% sure about. I needed to get some outside feedback on my situation. During my time of being incarcerated (I know I wasn’t incarcerated, I used this as a way of expressing my feelings), I had a very committed team of friends and family who were trying to assist me in getting out of the facility. One friend, in particular, made it a primary job of his to find me another place to live. Before the SNF experience, I was living in a two-bedroom condo with my wife which we owned (more accurately, the bank owned it). While I was in the hospital, my caring, compassionate wife served me with divorce papers. So, the reality of moving back to my former digs was a pipedream. My friend Larry, put in applications at just about every low-income apartment complex in Sonoma County. It took some time, but we finally found a sweet two-bedroom apartment in a very quiet, well kept up, disability accessible, with low-income guidelines which made it feasible for me to take the apartment, set-up In-Home Supportive Services, which provides me with caregiving support pretty much around the clock. It’s a senior and disability complex, with access to shopping, banks, restaurants, and bars no more than three blocks away.
I needed to get some feedback from friends and family as to what I should do.
What led up to my entrance to the SNF was pretty horrific, but frankly, it deserves a story of its own, which I have documented; suffice it to say that it was a very dark time in my life, that I hope never happens to me again!
I had been in my apartment for a little over a year when a friend talked me into seeing this documentary. I was somewhat hesitant because I had heard some of what this film was about. What I knew was that this documentary was about nursing homes and the residents. Well, I had my own experience with nursing homes and with the residents to last me a lifetime. But I decided I was strong enough to watch the film. It was without a doubt one of the best documentary’s I’ve seen. It was called Alive Inside, and it was all about residents who were suffering the debilitating effects of dealing with dementia, and how one man was able to get through to these people with the assistance of an iPod and a music playlist. Dan Cohen is the man’s name. He lives in New York and he figured out that by setting up a playlist of the favorite music of the residents with dementia and then downloading it onto an iPod or any other digital player, he was able to touch areas of the brain that were not affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s. One of the areas that were reachable by the music was the long-term memory. When an individual tapped into their long-term memory, as a direct result of listening to their favorite music which takes them back in time, they replay memories of happier days when they were young and were enjoying life. People who were almost catatonic, when they listened to the music in their headphones, broke into large smiles, they were laughing, and dancing, It was incredible.  The film was such an ‘upper,’ that I came out of the theater charged up and committed to putting on a fundraising concert, to raise funds for the organization called Alive Inside. Which I did. It was a great evening with an audience of around 200 people. We did good work, cleared $4,000 after expenses, and we sent the money to Dan Cohen and his remarkable organization. I recommend this film, Alive Inside very highly to anyone who wants to feel good, or If you have a loved one who is in an SNF and is dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia, this movie is a must!
(I certainly hope so!)

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