Tuesday, May 8, 2012

big tommy

today i do not feel particularly inspired to write, but guilty if i don't-

if you are a long time reader of my blog, you may remember a blog about a boy named tim and how we have been visiting with him since 1994----his real name is tommy--we actually call him "big tommy"--since i had a baby boy named tommy when we met big tommy---

big tommy lives in a state institution--i am not sure how long he has lived there, but most of the workers believe it has been most of his life--he is in his middle forties, although he looks like a teenager----tommy is in a wheelchair and is severely disabled-

we had been volunteering with the institution since 1989--we started with a girl named jaime--she is in a much earlier blog also and her name was changed  then to "janie"----we met big tommy while visiting with jaime one day--

jaime was in the hospital one time and as we were leaving the complex, i told my husband frank, i felt we were to go in the regular unit, where jaime lived and volunteer to stroll other residents around--sing to them and just cut up and make them laugh while getting some fresh air--

to frank's surprise, the workers allowed us to do it---that was before the "hippa" law-----so we started coming every weekend to visit jaime and any others they would bring to us----big tommy was one of them-----i believe part of tommy's diagnosis is autism---but one day he purposely met my eyes, with his sky blue eyes and did a little wave---we knew at that moment, he was ours in our hearts--


forward to a few more years maybe ten or so--the hippa law came---that law may have done some good in some situations, but not where we volunteer----most all of the residents have no family involved and no one hardly ever has a visitor---so it was they who were punished, as they could not speak up and tell anyone, that they would like us to keep visiting---

fortunately, big tommy's mother, who no one had ever met and never had come to visit tommy, signed for us to still be able to visit tommy--

this past Sunday we went to see tommy--we were informed that they were being shut down, due to state budget cuts, by the governor---they thought we had heard--we had not---they told us, that the next time we visited, tommy may not be there--that other residents were already place else where---

as i understand it, all residents are trying to be placed in their county of birth---now don't misunderstand--i think that would have been wonderful if they had done that with each one in the beginning---but most of the resident's only family, has been the workers at the institution----

we are hoping big tommy's mother will be asked to sign for us to know where he will be--otherwise, we will lose contact with him forever potentially and that is too sad a thought for us at this time--

i believe big tommy lives in the moment and i know he will adjust, but something better has to be done with our disabled and mentally challenged population-----

by the grace of God i kept all of my angels at home with me---but for many reasons, one of which, people cannot get any help sometimes, if they keep their love ones at home---people are choosing to institutionalize their family-----i make no judgement except please please, just make a visit now and then---

so today's post is another sad one, and for that i ask you to forgive me---i just had to share this, in hopes that, someone might read it and know something to do---in the mean time, could i ask you to pray for big tommy and all of the other residents and workers at southside va. training center--thank you <3

36 comments:

  1. I have heard that is happening in a lot of States with budgeting issues. Your posting puts it into a whole other prospect as I hadn't thought of those who had no family that visits them. How very sad. Will be keeping fingers crossed that his family adds you to stay in contact.

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  2. thanks so much for the good thoughts!

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  3. That's so sad it's happening. I'll pray that you get news on Big Tommy, and that all the residents find a good place to call their new home.

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    1. that means so much--thanks christine:)

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  4. I really hope his mother will allow you to know where Big Tommy goes. Praying for him and all the other residents and workers.

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    1. if she is still living i pray she will--because there is no other way for us to be allowed to visit--thanks so much for praying, dana:)

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  5. What a kind and wonderful thing for you and your husband to do. I teared up reading this post. My mom had a very good friend who worked in a home like that, and she always talked about how so many of the residents had no one come visit them. There were a few she kept track of even after she retired. I really hope some solution is found that will allow you to continue to visit Tommy.

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    1. oh that is so wonderful that your mom's friend kept up with some of them---thanks for your kind remarks and thanks for your good thoughts :)

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  6. This is sad. Does Big Tommy's mother know you personally? Maybe you can meet and arrange for a way to keep in touch. I'll keep Tommy and the other residents in my prayers.

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    1. no, no one knows her--but i believe tommy's social worker is going to try and contact her--i don't even know if she is still living---thank you so much for the prayers, sherry :)

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  7. Lynn,
    This story makes my heart so sad. We keep Zane at home with us and, if I'm still around when he's an adult, will still want him home with us. Tommy is so blessed to have you and your husband. I know he lives in the moment--much like Zane. But Zane does love people, and for that to be taken away would be crushing. I will definitely say prayers--it's the only answer I have right now. Thanks for sharing your story and Big Tommy's.

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    1. i am so happy i kept my children at home as you are with your dear zane--for us i could not imagine it any other way--thank you for your sweet comments and we thank you so very much for your prayers :)

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  8. Prayers for you all. It's very kind of you to visit. My late husband lived in a nursing home and it was sad that many people did not have visitors.

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    1. it is so sad--and i know how true it is in most nursing homes too--thank you for your kind words and prayers, stacy

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  9. That was such a sweet thing you and your husband started doing years ago; it does seem like you have made a great connection with Tommy; one can only hope and pray that it is allowed to continue in his next placement and he will be close by for you guys to be able to visit him and spend time with him. It is sad that you have the ability and willingness to spend time with him and laws like HIPAA prevent it :( (I do get and understand HIPAA and I think it is important on some aspects, but other aspects like this, gut wrenching).

    betty

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    1. i am hoping too and maybe he will be even closer--he is not even an hour away now---yes it is a double edged sword sorta law---thanks for your well wishes and concern, betty :)

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  10. What a deeply sad situation, Lynn! I add my hopes and good wishes that you will be able to maintain the connection with Tommy. Sometimes rules overrule common sense :-(

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    1. i know---some rules only hurt people--thanks so much for the good thoughts, lily!

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  11. you have an enormous heart! thank you for enlightening me as to what's happening. it's so sad all the government money that's wasted on nonsense and not spent where it should be. i hope all works out for tommy and all those involved.

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    1. thank you ainsley---i know, it just seems like there is so much waste and money going in the wrong directions sometimes!

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    1. thanks sandra--but i hope my next post will not be a sad one---maybe another crazy one about my sis and me!

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  13. Oh, that is sad. I hope you will be able to know something about where he will be living with his mom's permission again.
    Glad you have been able to touch their lives so far.

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    1. yes we are so glad we have been able to be in his life--thanks for your good thoughts, brenda!

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  14. It is sad that we make blanket laws for all for the protection of some, and it ends up hurting others. I will keep you and Tommy, as well as others in similar situations, in my prayers.

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    1. it is very sad--thank you for keeping all in your prayers, it means so much, donna :)

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  15. Wow, I think it is awesome how service-minded your family is. Sometimes laws just get in the way of that. I hope everything works out okay for him and all the others.

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    1. thanks, jessica- tommy and people like him are just near and dear to our hearts---thanks for your good wishes!

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  16. Oh this is sad... it sounds like you're just about the only family he has. I really really hope that you are able to keep up with him and visit him in his new home. Prayers for you all...

    Jo
    In Which We Start Anew

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    1. thank you for your understanding and prayers, jo :)

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  17. I hope y'all will be able to continue visiting Big Tommy. The first thing our governor cut in education when she was elected was special needs programs. I keep saying that they'll leave those programs alone the day they have a special needs child.

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    1. you are so wise, what you say is so true--such a sad way things are--thanks for your kind thoughts and hopes for big tommy :)

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  18. So sad. It's infuriating when the things passed to keep patients safe are the very things that stand in their way of feeling "good".

    Hopefully his mother will be able to do the right thing.

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    1. yes we have certainly had some infuriating experiences since this law---thanks for your well wishes, juli:)

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  19. Lynn, this is such a touching post. I have similar stories about the elderly who get moved to nursing homes and their families stop visiting. It's so sad.

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    1. oh i know, it is terribly sad in nursing homes too--thanks for your concern patricia

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