Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Power of NO


I have a voice you know, although you attempt to still it,
treat my so-called illness, fill me up with little pills
potted in your little cups you hand out as if a gift.

Silent you are in your contempt of me your control of me. 
So will I take your little pills, like hell I will,
you can stuff them up your arse. 

Anna :o]

Sumana at Poets United  asks us to consider Weapons and writes:  Weapons are varied; in fact anything can be turned into a weapon if the user wills.  One can Find one or Be one.  Now what do you say?  

It got me to thinking of my time working in a care home, a mental health unit, and how by merely being there, residents were disempowered.

It was within the residents rights to refuse their medication, but this almost always done so as a protest against a perceived problem and the resident would be angry and would not discuss it.

I would say the usual:  Okay ‘John’ I can see you’re angry, but refusing your meds won’t hurt me, but might hurt you.  I would be told to “F*ck off.”  I would then advise I would ask once more and if refused, would keep the meds until the next round –of course making sure if the meds were accepted then, I would remove any that ‘doubled’ the next dose.

My colleagues would moan when a resident refused meds as if somehow refusal affected their power (over others) the ‘authority’ they felt was theirs.  I always totally understood the refusal for this was the only real power the residents had. 

“NO!” was their weapon.  It is sad that they felt they needed it.

Image:  Courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons   
Author:  Peter Ziegler

15 comments:

Sumana Roy said...

This is very sad. It's a unique approach to write to today's theme Weapon and so well put Anna. A hard battle to win indeed!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I like your observation that almost anything can become a weapon when used against someone else. I usually think of guns and knives when I think of weapons, but you broadened my outlook. Thanks!

Susan said...

A very revealing poem. I think after working in that environment for a while, i might give up my hatred of this type of med to make my job easier. That's a sad confession, isn't it? Treatment would be better, but even there, can the patients' dignity be the determining factor so they don't need "No" as a weapon? As a patient, I hope I'd have access to my "no."

Julian said...

This is a hard hitting piece and brings to the forefront a patients point of view with the use of his/her own free will, all be it possibly detrimental to them self.

Kim Russell said...

Oh yes, the voice as weapon! You've pulled the scab off an old wound here, Anna, but I'm glad you did.

Old Egg said...

Being a patient is very dis-empowering and probably worse in a care home where hope has been taken away. Spending a few weeks in hospital recently I was frustrated that my abiity to adjust my medication (action approved by my GP) was totally ignored by the hospital staff that refused to cater for my needs!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Yes, very sad when "No" is their only weapon. I worked in a care home, too, and the residents' lack of autonomy was so disempowering and must have been depressing. From a lifetime of choices, one suddenly finds oneself with no choices at all.

Sara McNulty said...

This poem has really made me think about the many forms power can take. You must have the right to say, NO. I think this is exactly the way my mother must have felt when dealing with her dementia in a nursing home. Everything had been stripped away from her.

Jae Rose said...

A touching and powerful piece - the back story really aided my comprehension of this perspective - superb

Samyuktha Jayaprakash said...

Thanks for shedding light on this lesser known problem.

Bekkie Sanchez said...

Very sad that many things have such power over us.

Brother Ollie said...

Good to get your take on this issue! Solid gritty poem too!

Carrie Van Horn said...

What an enormous job you have had Anna. I can relate to that. No is a powerful tool, and a powerful thing to be able to say. Something that I have struggled with most of my life. Thank you for sharing your story. You are wise, strong, and tender hearted Anna!

sackerson said...


I used to work in residential units, too. and however much one as a worker wants to empower people, going into residential care is a disempowering experience. People can be very creative in the ways they kick against their powerlessness and in an unreal situation (like residential care) quite understandable behaviour can appear odd if those observing it don't realize what reality is like for people showing it. As soon as you make someone an object of observation, however benign the motive, one perhaps strips them of power, dignity, identity. (CCTV does this, in my view. The arguments for it are not unlike the arguments for institutional care: it keeps us safe and who doesn't want to be safe?).

For example, people used to talk of "attention seeking" behaviour (a term I've always hated). Now they talk of "attention needing". It of course better describes what's happening but the fact is, if I need attention and show it, people don't consciously observe me and discuss my behaviour in a meeting! As soon as they do, however much "they" want me to lead an ordinary life, the fact is my life is far from ordinary.

rallentanda said...

People like you lead meaningful lives. You deserve the best. I hope you are happy.