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Happy Holidays

Bissell boys holiday photo

Here is our traditional holiday photo of the boys. It came out nice this year. I used a green screen with a background I found on the web.

We will be staying home for Christmas. Santa will be coming tonight, because Rich has to work tomorrow. We will tell Eric that Santa does our house first;-)

My sister and family will be coming down tomorrow. Sadly, they are still without power! This is day 13 for them, which is totally unacceptable. The electric company (Unitil) that supplies the city of Fitchburg is in big trouble due to their poor response to this major power outage, as well as generally poor maintenance to their lines, which made the outage much worse than it should have been. News Video

Happy Holidays to all!

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Fisheye Photography

“Fisheye” photographs are taken with a very wide-angle lens. Fisheye lenses (For example: the Sigma 8mm F4 Fisheye) were originally developed for meteorologists to capture the entire sky in order to study cloud formations. The lenses are also a cool way to get creative with photography. They give photos a distorted view that can be very interesting.

These wide angle lenses can cost hundreds of dollars, but there is an inexpensive way to get a similar look with just a few dollars. I taped a peep hole that I had in my junk draw to an old digital camera.

home made fisheye camera

Here are a few of the photos. Of course, these are no where near as good as what you can capture with a professional lens, but still fun. I’m keeping a human eye on ebay for a deal on a used lens for my Canon Rebel.

tweetie

crayons

Aaron

Halloween pumpkin

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Bissell Adventure

We got free dinner and ballet tickets from the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Unfortunately, Rich’s schedule changed and he had to work the weekend. So I decided to take the twins by myself. They both love the ballet. I left Anthony at home with my mom, because he is too loud at a ballet and can’t sit still that long (been there, done that). Eric, well you never know how he will do, sometimes he does great, sometimes not… I really didn’t feel like going, but hey, it was free, the boys wanted to go and Starlight was expecting us. So, in order to get the ballet tickets, you have to go to the dinner. We were to meet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (nice!) between 4:45 and 5:00pm. I left my house at 3:15 to give us plenty of time.

Here’s what went wrong…

First, I took a wrong turn getting into Boston, even with my co-pilot Christine (Our GPS; Aaron named it after the movie “Christine”). Any of you who have driven in Boston know how bad it is to make a wrong turn. This city is not set up like a modern city. They made the roads from old cow paths from colonial days, so there are one way streets everywhere and nothing makes sense. Anyway, Christine “recalculates” and starts bringing us around and around in circles! I’ve discovered the hard way that the GPS stinks in the city with tightly packed streets and tall buildings.

After going around in circles for an hour or so, we finally stumble upon the hotel. We were told to park in the garage, but the garage is 6″6′ feet high and my van is like 8.5″! So, I drive around the hotel, no place to park and no valet. We drive around and around again. By this time, I’m ready to turn around and go home. The kids are hungry and the dinner has already started. But the kids were really looking forward to the ballet, especially Eric who love Cinderella. It would be very tough to explain to him why we were going home without seeing Cinderella, Ugggg.

I found a different parking garage that looked tall enough for the van, so I pulled in. I barely slipped under the 8″8′ sign, but once I got inside, the garage dipped to 6″8′! I said screw it and parked along the side, got the kids out and found an attendant who said it would be OK to leave the van there. Nice guy, I think he felt sorry for me. I was so frazzled after driving around Boston for an hour.

So, it is two blocks to the hotel and we get there and there are stairs! I had to go around to another door and the doorman had to go find a key for this little stair lift closet. I had to leave Eric in this closet, while the guy locked him in. Aaron and I went down stairs to meet him. Luckily, Eric was happy when he got off the lift. Like I said, you never know with him.

Now it’s 6pm and we are an hour late for the dinner. Aaron’s anxiety is kicking in, since he knows the letter said, you MUST arrive on time! At this point I didn’t really care since I knew the show was at 7pm and what were they going to do, send us home? It was embarrassing arriving so late. But they fed us anyway.

Now, the plan is to walk over to the Wang Theater, which is seven blocks away on Boston’s cobble stone sidewalks! Eric enjoyed the bumpy ride, but I was tired by the time we got to the theater. Now, my anxiety kicks in since Eric is not too sure he wants to be there with all these people. But, we managed to get through most of the show. Eric was a bit loud a couple of times, but not too bad. I sat in a seat behind him and Aaron found a good seat further forward, so Eric actually did a bit better without being able to see me.

The play went a bit too long, if you ask me, but Aaron was loving it. I could tell that Eric was getting tired, and also, he wasn’t happy that the music was not Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, or even Disney. He would have liked it much more if he knew the music. But other than pumpkins, it was really hard to tell we were watching Cinderella. Anyway, there were only a few minutes left when Eric decided he had had enough and started making a big scene. I unlocked his chair and started moving him out of the theater, when I realized my purse was somewhere on the floor in the dark. I reached down to find it and Eric’s chair started rolling away! I forgot that there was a ramp to get him to his seat and I couldn’t see it in the dark. OMGosh, he rolled all the way down the isle and into the sound booth. What a scene! I was so embarrassed. Luckily, Eric was fine. Not sure if there was any damage, I didn’t stop to find out. I got out of there as fast as I could!

Than I had to leave Eric in the lobby to go in and tell Aaron where I was (this time his wheels were locked)! Still, I didn’t want to leave him, even for a minute, but remember Aaron has an anxiety disorder.

Well, the show ended in just a few minutes, too bad Eric couldn’t have lasted a couple more minutes, oh well.

As I was waiting for Aaron to come out of the theater, some lady shows me a camera and said, “is this yours?” Yup, sure was! I have no idea where she found it or how she found it in the dark, but I was thankful. I think I’m losing my mind sometimes…

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. As we were rushing back to the van, I hit one of the cobble stones the wrong way and the tire came off one of the front wheels of Eric’s chair, so I couldn’t push him without tilting the chair back, which wasn’t easy, since he has those “anti-tilt” thingies on the back of his chair. Luckily, we were almost to the garage when the tire came off.

Then, of course, someone parked next to me in the garage, so I couldn’t put the lift down. I had to move the van, just to get Eric in. Now a new problem. I can’t get out of the garage without going up to the lobby to pay for parking and get my ticket validated. I can’t push Eric, so I had to leave the boys in this underground garage at 11:00 at night in Chinatown! Aaron did fine though, he was very brave and locked himself and his brother in the van while I went to pay for parking (parking was supposed to be free from Starlight, but it cost me $20.00).

As we were leaving Boston, I noticed that I was almost out of gas, but I took a chance and got onto the MassPike.

OK, Now for what went right…

The dinner was excellent and Eric did very well in the restaurant, even though there were lots of kids there, which can set him off. He did great and he eat all of his dinner (that’s progress!).

Aaron loved the show and he got to see the whole thing. Eric liked most of it and did fairly well. It was just a bit too long for him. Plus, he had to poop… I think that’s why he acted up at the end. Fair enough.

We made it home without running out of gas, not sure if I’ll make it to a gas station though!

I was able to fix the wheel on the wheelchair when we got home.

I kept the boys home from school today and we all enjoyed sleeping in.

So, all things considered, just another fun Bissell adventure.

Below are a few photos, thanks for the nice lady who found my camera. Thanks also to Starlight!

Aaron at Dinner

Aaron in his element; he loves fancy restaurants and going to the ballet.

Cindy & Eric

Twins at the Wang
Twins at the Wang (see the devil in Eric’s eyes?)

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Legislative Breakfast

Legislative Breakfast, originally uploaded by BissellBlog2.0.

This morning, Rich and Aaron presented an award to Massachusetts Senator Edward Augustus at a legislative breakfast at Clark University in Worcester.
Aaron wrote his own speech and did a great job.

From left to right: Rich, Jack Foley (chairman of our local DMR advisory council), Aaron and Senator Augustus.

I also posted a little clip on youtube. (Oh, don’t worry, the entire video is only a minute and a half;-)

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Comfort Measures Only

ajn_header

Sometimes that is enough.

The Bissell family, from left: Cindy, Anthony (in wheelchair), Aaron (standing), Eric (in wheelchair), and Richard, who became a nurse in 1990, soon after his father died. He began his career working in geriatrics providing care for individuals with end-stage Alzheimer disease. In 1993, after the pre- mature birth of his twin sons, both of whom have developmental disabilities, Bissell became an advocate for people with mental retardation. In 2001 he received the Massachusetts Governor's Citation for extraordinary and exemplary efforts of behalf of people with mental retardation.
The Bissell family, from left: Cindy, Anthony (in wheelchair), Aaron (standing), Eric (in wheelchair), and Richard, who became a nurse in 1990, soon after his father died. He began his career working in geriatrics providing care for individuals with end-stage Alzheimer disease. In 1993, after the pre-mature birth of his twin sons, both of whom have developmental disabilities, Bissell became an advocate for people with mental retardation. In 2001 he received the Massachusetts Governor’s Citation for extraordinary and exemplary efforts of behalf of people with mental retardation.

Pulling back on the plunger, I watch as the liquid morphine fills the barrel of the syringe. In a room down the hall lies one of my patients who has been diagnosed with end-stage ovarian cancer, and it’s my job to ensure that she remains relatively comfortable. Entering her room, I immediately notice the worried looks that blanket the faces of her somber family members. It’s at this time that I am reminded that I once experienced a scene very similar to this, but on that day, I was the grieving family member and it was another who played the role of caregiver.

How quickly and efficiently that busy nurse moved as she handled my father’s fragile, precious body. Although she was very gentle and at all times professional, her emotionally detached demeanor upset me. Her expression remained flat as she scurried about the room attending to his medical needs, and it seemed to me that she saw him as a task to complete rather than the person he was. He was my father and my friend, and it saddened me to think that she would never know him as anything but the piece of flesh that lay dormant and decaying on the bed in front of her.

A soft moan escapes my patient’s lips, bringing me back to the present. After giving her another dose of morphine to relieve the pain, I gently clean and reposition her, making sure that I take the time to swab out her parched, dry mouth. She is a person to me, a human being who has loved and been loved, and it brings me a feeling of satisfaction to be able to ease her suffering in her final hours. I gently express these sentiments to her grieving loved ones and smile reassuringly as I go about the labor of my chosen profession.

We buried my father on a cool, clear October afternoon, when the colored leaves were falling from the trees, and all of nature was preparing for a long sleep. He had experienced no pain and had drifted peacefully into death. I never spoke with that nurse who took care of him during his last days, but I’ve often wondered what went through her mind as she mechanically completed her assigned nursing duties. This family will not wonder, for if I do my job properly, this will be a dignified, pain-free death, and they will know that I truly do care.

Photograph Caption: The Bissell family, from left: Cindy, Anthony (in wheelchair), Aaron (standing), Eric (in wheelchair), and Richard, who became a nurse in 1990, soon after his father died. He began his career working in geriatrics providing care for individuals with end-stage Alzheimer disease. In 1993, after the premature birth of his twin sons, both of whom have developmental disabilities, Bissell became an advocate for people with mental retardation. In 2001 he received the Massachusetts Governor’s Citation for extraordinary and exemplary efforts on behalf of people with mental retardation.

About the Author: Richard C. Bissell cares for developmentally disabled adults at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation at the Glavin Regional Center in Shrewsbury, MA. Contact author: rich@bissells.com.

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AJN – February 2005 – Vol. 105, No. 2

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