Watching such videos my little heart wrinkles and my eyes get a little bit wet. I remembered when I was just a boy, my beloved mother and sisters used to loved to watched soap operas on the evenings, after all their house chores. Everyone in the family gather around in a little bedroom and turned on a small (Black and White) TV to viewed their favorite Soap opera, even I did because even though, I didn’t like those TV shows, we had only that one small TV, so I had no choice. Anyways, sometimes there were these big dramatic episodes where a couple broke up for some reason, or something bad and very sad happened to a family, they were robbed, assault & killed, or simply struggling to survive poverty. Suddenly, my mom and sister were shower in tears, I usually made fun of them and asked, how can you do that!? That’s pure lies and falseness, please don’t. Then, my mom shut me down nice & easy, she said, Yes! you’re right son, they’re untruth, but they’re appearances, things that happen for real everyday in the world. Now, I understand and see clearly how right she was.
Throughout all these years; yes, I’ve been here, in this nursing home, for many years already, 11 and 9 months to be specific; not everything was nice and smooth, there were some tough, challenging days, ones determined to break me down, they were pretty close, but somehow I overcame them and emerge victorious!
I took a few more classes, recommended by the lady who works at the DRD department; she is a specialist, people who deals specially with students with disabilities, before starting my career. Now I could go to campus and pay for transportation, caregiver and for my classes, all thanks to this good souls who decided to, I don’t know how to refer towards them, sponsors maybe, but I feel that they deserved a better tittle; they do so much more then just sponsor me, they take care of me and look after me, they’re like my guardian angels from earth. I started with more English, because my writing and comprehensive skills were very poor, they still are, not as much though, I improved significantly. First I had to do a placement test to see how advance I was and determine the right class, my goodness! I did so bad, my score resulted very low; consequently, I had to start from the very bottom.
It took me very long time to finish all these classes, because I could only take one for semester due to my movement limitations, it is a true blessing I’m able to do school work, but “there is no time that is not reached nor a deadline that is not met”, I did it and now I was ready to take on my original target.
In 2013 I started the classes I was hoping for, Web Development, and I got a magnificent gift from God, a bit of independence, yes! I could move myself around, no unfortunately, it’s not what you all thinking, I haven’t get any improvements in my motion yet. I got a fabulous set of wheels, a brand new power wheel chair, woo-hoo! I was so happy, so excited. I so wanted an electric wheelchair since I was in Healdsburg H., it was one of my greatest dreams, dream that seemed so far away, so out of my reached, but God surprised me and gift it to me years later. Perhaps, he got tired of me asking so much and said, “here, but please be quiet little man!” heheh, God is so amazing. In my searched to get my new wheels, I was so lucky to find a very good, amazing and caring woman for people with similar disabilities. She lives in North Carolina, but I posted a small article in the Christopher & Dana Reeve’s Foundation website, and she saw it and message me. Her relatives live in the Bay Area, and her mother was a quadriplegic, so she had some experience on dealing with disabled individuals, helping them in any way possible. She offered me her help, no doubt my God keeps putting good people in my life, of course, I accepted and with her knowledge and support, I succeeded!
How am I was going to control it and drive around…….you may ask? Well, here’s the thing, I had such a big trouble to convince people that I could; in fact, this part was one of the biggest obstacles to knock it off my way, it was so painful and disheartening, whenever I brought it up to the management here, either no one listen to me, or tried to talk me out and said, because I couldn’t move my hands good enough, I could end up hurting myself or the residents here at the facility. They tested how much I could move my hands sometimes; they held a pen about the same distance, more or less, where the joystick and controls suppose to be, and I had to reach out and grab it. I couldn’t do it, as much as I tried, sometimes I tried to explain to them how I thought I could do it, but it was in vain, totally useless. I think part of it was my fault, because of my writing, the words I use, I mistakenly typed down the wrong ones and end up confusing them, instead.
Who perseveres reaches! It’s been over 5 years now and I haven’t hurt myself or anyone of the residents yet. I finished college on May 23th of 2016. I am a certified web developer for a while now, trying to take flight!!!!!!!!
During my first year in the nursing home, I started to get interest in taking classes at the SRJC (Santa Rosa Junior College), but as they were too costly and I didn’t have any resources, I looked for free classes online. I went to the college’s website and start looking around, even though I had no idea of what exactly to look for. One of the CNAs helped me to find the right people and to contact them. I was very lucky to find a very kind and awesome lady, who works at the DRD (Disability Resources Department) department, she offered herself to come all the way here to meet with me and discuss about it. She came in company with one of her colleagues. We introduced each other and proceed with the registration process.
I took one or two, not sure, semesters of free English classes online. The fact that they were through internet wasn’t my favorite thing, but I didn’t have any other choice, no money to pay transportation, and I had to have a caregiver with me in order to go to campus.
I consider myself a very fortunate individual, my mommi must be watching over me, because so many great things have happened to me since I’ve been here in the nursing home, I can hardly believe it, sometimes!
A very dear elderly man, I loved him very much as my real grandpa, was put in my room. The other three guys were discharge already, the two younger ones went home, and the Filipino elder man was transfer to another facility closer to his family. I met my grandpa’s son, one of them, and his future daughter-in-law. One day in the afternoon during one of their visits to him, I was sitting in front of my desk playing with my laptop. I heard his family telling him, nosey me, huh, should you ever need something let us know right away, tell the nurse whoever is taking care of you to give us call and we’ll come in to see you as soon as we can; I felt the impulse and necessity to let them know somehow, I could email them if he needed something, or they could check on him via emailing me. I printed out my email address with a short note and give it to them, they were very grateful and I feel very good because I did a good deed. We became very good friends, whenever they visited grandpa, I got a hello and a little chat. One day, December 2007 I think, oh my God! They gave me a big, big, big surprise, one that would change the way I see things. Suddenly, I was given the privilege to get far in life even with my disabilities. I will always be in debt with this couple, because they not only lent me their help, they gave me hope. I thought such things happen in the movies only, but it happened for real.
They offered their mental and financial support to me for my studies and anything I needed, I did not know how to take this, how to react. I actually sent an email to them and ask, are you serious? Am I have to do something in exchange? Hahaha! Stupid me I thought, what a question. I offered my apologies and gladly accept their help. My dreams started to fly and look a little bit more realistic and achievable.
I wanted to get the G.E.D (high school equivalency certificate) because I thought to have a school document was very important, I don’t know why, but I did, and I only went to elementary school in Mexico, so I had nothing. I got myself a study book, so I could study hard and get it over with quickly. I used to go to campus to take pre-test and get ready for the big one, they didn’t seem so hard to me, a piece of cake, I thought. It was compose into 5 sections, I think, Reading, Writing, Math, Social studies and Science, I started with math, OG! It was harder than I thought, I didn’t consider myself so hard headed, but when I took the test, I came back home convince I was. Yes, I failed, many times, I had to re-take them again, again and again, until God had mercy on me. It was bad very bad and embarrassing, but I did it, eventually!
After I got the G.E.D certificate, I wanted to go for a career, but as a person with such limitations, it was really difficult to pick something that I would fit in and, of course, I like. I thought to study business administration or public accountant, but as I couldn’t decide which one, I took one class that helps students to be more confident and choose wisely. It was curious because both of the choices I had in mind, neither one result to fulfill my expectations, afterwards. I wanted something that wouldn’t require much writing and involvement in the community, if my hands could work, I could do anything, but I must play as if they weren’t there, I thought. As the class was coming to an end, now I too had a more clear idea of what I wanted to become. Web-developer (build websites) was my last and ultimate decision, because it was something I could do in a computer, from home and I enjoy computers………
January 20 something of 2007 arrived, they at the hospital had found a nursing home for me to stay. It was in the same city where my sister and her family lived, Sonoma California, they thought to be closer to my family would’ve be good for me. I did not know what a nursing home was or anything like that, it was going to be totally a new experience to me. I used to hear that it was a place where mostly elder people with alzheimer’s lived, and a sole nurse usually was in charge to give medicine to a large amount of residents and very few nurse’s assistants, as well, so the change was going to be rough. The first few days in the nursing home were pretty miserable, I really missed my people at Healdsburg hospital, but I had no choice, there was not a way back, not that I wanted anyways. I did miss them dearly, but to be out of the hospital was a great deal to me, an upgrade! I remember when I arrive, I was taken to a room of four beds, oge! I was going to share the room with three other people, or better said, they were going to share it with me! The surprising thing was that they didn’t look so old. Well, one did, he was, sorry to say, hilarious little grandpa. Whereas, the other two looked still young, not young young, but still strong enough to carry on working and provide for themselves.
The first morning at the nursing home was kind of unusual and frightened, because around 6am when I was still sleeping; suddenly, a “WHISTLE”, yes I heard a perfect loud and clear “WHISTLE” come in down the hall woke me up, oh poop! A haunted place, I thought, now what I do? Hahaha, I was actually scared. The whistle was getting closer and closer, and now it was a whistle in company with a voice. Then, my feared turn into giggles, because I realized that they came from an elderly lady wandering around looking, according to her, for a family member. Soon, my roommates woke up and scare her out of the room and go back to sleep. Breakfast time came shortly after the whistler old lady left the room,
My first meal in the nursing home, cool, huh! No, not really I hated pureed food since the first day I could start eating again. My sister used to bring me some junk food I could eat and enjoy like yogurt, vanilla puree, jello, and so many more stuff. As time went by and I get to know all the staff members of the facility, and had the feel of how everything works, sort of, things became a little easier. My English was improving as well, not much, but it was more clear and understandable. I began to be a little demanding and ask for certain stuff to the facility’s management; like what would I want to eat, if I liked or disliked a certain CNA to take care of me, things like so, sometimes I got it my way, but not always, though! With stuff I didn’t succeed and believe I surely had the right to, I didn’t stop there and settle down. I’ve always been a very resourceful, stubborn determined person, I started digging deeper and asking questions to people I knew, ombudsman for instance, and could helped me out to obtain what I wanted and was my right. If however, it seemed to me like too difficult, I used my last and most reliable support, I contacted the State of California. My sweet sister and her husband used to ask me, aren’t you afraid that the people here could kick out? Not at all, I think they would end up losing more then I do, at this point I don’t really care the consequences, don’t worry about it, I replied back.
Later I achieved the privilege to get regular food and thin liquids, no more pureed nor thick drinks, how did I do that? You may ask, nope! I did not was approve nor upgrade by a speech therapy. I upgraded myself, yes, I investigated on-line and ask questions around, I found that via signing a waiver that would free the facility’s liability, if something wrong happens to me while eating. So, I requested to sign the aforementioned waiver, they tried to advice me against it, but I had decide it already. They said, Francisco you could choke, or the liquids can go straight to your lungs and die, that’s ok, everybody is heading that way anyways, I just go before you all do, I replied back………