Sunday, November 29, 2015


HALLOWEEN - 2015 (Laguna Honda Hospital)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

August, 2013 - Almost 10 Years!

A Day in the Life

August 2, 2013

---Today was another highlight reel day for me. I had one and then two student nurses who worked with me this morning. I mentioned how much that (intelligent) TLC on the part of the nurse is important…and how beneficial it is at LHH. We spoke of making believe that the one you are caring for is a parent, relative or even a child of yours. How important it would be to make sure you give your very best. We, also, spoke of how you can’t go very wrong if you apply the Golden this line of work, especially.

---They gave me an examination, listened to my heart and lungs. They don’t get to practise a lot on real patients…as of yet. They seemed to get all excited when they located my liver, spleen, etc. They checked my stomach and digestion. I just liked the attention. They gave me a clean bill of health aside from the whole stroke thing that made me a patient in the first place.

---There was Happy Hour at 2:00 PM. We had pizza and are/were allowed a two drink MAXimum. I had two beers and found myself having enjoyed three different conversations. I think that this is a wonderful social event that we have. It is like a Happy Hour (anywhere)…but, overseen by the doctor in a much loosened, but very controlled, environment...for a Nursing Home/Hospital. One of the volunteers worked in the education dept., of LHH before retiring a couple of years ago. I had known her from my early days at the hospital.

(Baby + Bathwater Situation - There are those who think that alcohol and a setting like Happy Hour has NO place in a Nursing Home/Hospital that we have. I disagree, big time, with that as I see how walls are lowered and the interaction amongst the patients goes way up. I think that alcohol (used intelligently) brightens most patients and aids greatly in their recoverability.) Of course...those with alcohol problems, don't have alcohol.

---The former LHH employee and myself talked about a conversation we had ten years ago. It was about separating the attitude and behavior from the patient. You then understand that it is NOT the patient or person you have a problem with…but, the attitude or behavior that he exemplifies. Folks tend to take things so personally when you accuse them or blame them…but, when you work with them on attitude and behavior from a general standpoint…they are seen easily and more objectively. One can then see them from a distance AND watch them vanish.

---We (The GUMBO BOYZ) sang this afternoon at about 3 pm…after my two beer Happy Hour. I enjoy that a lot . It reminds me of singing with Bobby Darling in the BDS. A couple of beers always seemed to be a good lubricant for the evening or afternoon. We sounded good and serve a wonderful purpose for the hospital. It is residents entertaining residents which I would like to see more of. There is Cho (activities supervisor, guitar and vocals, Walter and myself. We both do vocals and I play kazoo. My kazoo playing has improved immensely over the years. It really adds a lot.

---I talked with my social worker about our upcoming trip to the zoo. We are going to try to see every animal mentioned by Paul Simon (At The Zoo.) My social worker will be on vacation soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013


---We have had belly-dancers at the hospital. A 104 year old man requested that the belly-dancers be at his birthday celebration. They enlivened the setting with their presence. It was fun, but doesn't happen very often.

Monday, December 03, 2012


---PAIN is layers and layers of accumulated saving face. Learn to let go and you will see this fact. Because...E=MC2, this answer is correct. It is beyond me to do the mathematics.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Laguna Honda Computer Club Blogsite Going Viral -
Bethany Schwarz - Computer Teacher:
Good Reason!
''going viral for me''
---The residents at Laguna Honda Hospital have formed a Computer Club with many of the ‘’key elements needed for success in the LHH environment,’’ says resident pointman Paul H. It was his idea that has germinated into the present form of the Computer Club. The Club motto is – ‘’give us an opportunity to make you HAPPY by exploring things that you ENJOY…on the computer. Our OBJECTIVE is your happiness and to make you an EXPLORER according to your abilities.’’
---Things have fallen into place for the Computer Club virtually right away. ‘’I had an idea for residents to purchase laptops,’’ says Paul. With much help from Judith Klain, LHH Administrator, they had a grant written by Thomas McEvoy that was picked up by Marie Jobling of the San Francisco Community Living Campaign. The CLC provided a few refurbished computers for residents who meet the criteria of understanding their enrollment in the time bank and would benefit from having a PC (personal computer) of their own. Some already have one.
--We set the table very quickly…when Bethany Schwarz made her entrance. She was hired through the time bank by CLC,  but they never felt her talents were being optimized. She was sent our way and are we fortunate that she was. Bethany came to the LHCC armed with all the right stuff. ‘’Her philosophy and talents couldn’t fit any better,’’ says Paul H.
--Bethany’s first day showed how she immediately  ‘’got’’ what her assignment would be.  Bethany hooked up a resident with her daughter’s Facebook page. She saw pictures of her daughter and grandchildren her daughter had posted. It was a magical moment. She taught SKYPE to a member of the Laguna Honda’s Spanish community. He plans to use SKYPE for himself and others he knows to get in touch with family members in other countries.  She next had a resident with  memory challenges. It was not determined how much his lack of memory skills would interfere with his enjoyment of the computer that his family gave him. I left for a few moments only to return to Bethany and the resident singing  old DOORS songs from his computer…that he remembered from his past. Kiddingly…Bethany gave him an A+ for his work…making his day (if NOT his year.)  She thinks that it will not be too difficult to set his up his computer for him.
---Bethany has only been to LHH twice and after the holidays plans to come more regularly. Watching Bethany do her thing is a great joy for me as well as with watching every resident she has encountered. One success after another is easy to watch…even with double-vision like I have. She says that she cherishes coming to work with the folks here at LHH.
---The quote by Bill Gates fits nicely here, ‘’the computer is the most empowering tool ever invented. Tools for communication, tools for creativity. And, as a tool, is shaped by the user.’’ Bethany says, ’’if you give people the impetus to continue…they will.’’
---My vision is to have a team of people who are savvy with computers.  I realize that much of what Bethany did was fundamental, but was made special by her knowledge, demeanor and comfort level on many subjects. Her ability to convey what she was doing was something to behold. Bethany is doing one-on-one visits to be able to see the struggles with computers that some residents may encounter in their own areas.
--- If we can have the supply and demand grow together – amount of laptops needed with the amount of computer coaches needed and have them grow in a way that stays aligned with each other…I really fell that we can change many lives for the better. Google - Laguna Honda Computer Club and you will find it. There is nothing overly impressive about the blogsite except for the 150 views it is getting each day. Truthfully…I’m NOT used to this kind of traffic. BUT…I am aware that it is a winning combination, at this point…and has the potential of bringing many folks back to the ‘’land of the living.’’ Take Care.
---If Volunteering your computer skills at Laguna Honda Hospital is something that is realistic for you...please call The Volunteer Office (415 - 759 - 3333) and talk to coodinator in charge!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Dr. Grace Dammann

''Do What's Important!''
Dr. Grace Dammann -

---As many of you know, Dr. Grace Dammann, was involved in a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge. This happened around May 20, 2008. It was touch-and-go for awhile, but there are now pictures posted on her website that show there is a marked improvement. She is getting better, as we speak.
---I, myself, have always held Dr. Grace in high regard. She and Dr. Behrman have been my doctors since I began living, here, five years, now, come November.
---She was in a coma for several weeks. The doctors didn't quite know exactly what the outcome would be. Though, she needs time to rehab and rest, she is doing quite well.
---She has gotten over 30,000 hits on the CaringBridge website, tracking her progress. Many, have sent love and good wishes, her way.
---She has, also, sent a message back to US all. This is the one that I heard, anyway. It is one that many people at the Hospital, could echo. It is simply this - ''Do what is important.''
---Thanks, Dr. Grace D., and CARRY ON with the business of healing. As the BEATLES once said:

''The Love You Take, Is Equal To The Love You Make.''

For Giving and For Getting -
(Written 10/01/08)
---I was thinking about the accident that Dr. Grace has been in. I thought about what life-lesson she could be learning...from all this. I see it this way:
---Since I have known her it seems that she been very good at giving. I wondered if she receives, as readily.
---I don't know the answer to this, and won't go there, but I do know that life works better, if you receive as well as you give. Giving and getting have to balance.
---People who give all or most of the time, usually, don't get as easily. It is, also, true in reverse. Those who get, or take, can come up short and not know how to give.
---In summary, it is, also, necessary to be on the same page. Giving and getting works much better when what is given is needed by the ''getter.'' Just picture how annoying it can be if you need water and you're given sand. It is not a good fit. Sometimes, it can be sadly this - water is needed, but it is refused. It is important to know what you're doing. Take Care.
Knowing Yourself, Resolves This Dilemma.
Paul H.
Grace Dammann's Journal
(Speech Given by Dr. Grace)
Tuesday, May 5, 2009 5:08 PM, CDT
Below is the speech Grace wrote and delivered in person at the Dalai Lama's Unsung Heroes of Compassion Event on Sunday, April 26, 2009. New photos have also been posted from the event.Grace asked to thank John, her speech therapist and scribe.CompassionApril 26, 2009Presented to the Unsung Heroes of CompassionFor the last forty years, I have been a somewhat compulsive caregiver. However, I found an appropriate niche in medical school, and have happily practiced medicine for the last twenty-five years. For the last year, however, I have been on the opposite side of the caregiver/caretaker divide. For eleven months, I have been totally dependent on others for everything: for brushing teeth, being fed, wiping my buttocks, helping me in and out of the chair. What I initially thought was that compassion ought to be aligned with warmth and empathy. Now I feel that it must be aligned with wisdom.
Compassion comes from the Latin word pati, which means to suffer. So compassion means to be fully present with pain and suffering. When I say that compassion ought to be aligned with wisdom what do I mean? What I mean is that when I am served by other people who are driven by their own standards of excellence, and not by the demands of my “whiny self”, and then I am best served by them. I have learned that the most compassionate behavior is that which appropriately encourages my independence from either depressive states of mind or dependence on another being. The least compassionate behavior, conversely, is that which enslaves me, making me dependent on the person performing the behavior.
When I first woke after two months of being unconscious I was focused on one main point. Somewhere during my unconscious period I had decided that all we could do in life is “clean up our acts”, you know, the long trail of, “Could I have done this more skillfully, or better?” I was captivated by the people visiting me and was more than happy to share my so-called wisdom with them. I would ask them, number one, are you in a relationship? And, number two, if in a relationship, are you married? If not, why not? If it is not working why not get out now? What about work? Are you passionate about it? If not, why not? For everyone I had the same fairly boring message: find a place to put your energy with total commitment. That place might be where you are currently standing. My motto was: Just do it now.
So what was it that I had learned lying on my back? I realized that I needed to clean up my own act. I knew there was a way that I had not gone through, "the eye of the needle" that we can only go through with 100% committed behavior. I had all the time in the world to finish my thoughts and so many of those thoughts were driven by, not so much regret, as understanding that I hadn't completely shown up in life. Those few times that I had shown up had given me complete happiness. I also noticed that those who are dear to me were a great deal happier not to be seeing my back all the time — not to be competing with a pager or a cell phone. I was encouraging commitment because, for the first time, I had nothing to do but look at my life, love the sunshine and people as they presented themselves, and just be.
I hit my head in the accident, and strangely enough my old thought processes no longer engaged me that much, thank God. What the therapists might have called inattention or processing problems actually enabled me to be completely in the moment. For example, pain came and went, nausea came and went, constipation came and went, but for whatever blessed reason, they didn't hold my attention for long. I spent a great deal of time enjoying the total pleasure of a shower, the way the water felt on my head or the sensation of someone's nails as they were shampooing my hair. I spent little time thinking about the future, what I would do, what had happened to small me. Instead, I was totally fixated on my immediate environment. Waking up, I saw that I was completely held and embraced by the very Earth itself as well as by my wonderful family and community of support.
I realize now that my greatest happiness in life has been in my service to people, particularly the joy that comes from being totally present with my own and their suffering. My new emphasis in service is to remind myself of this motto, “Do it now, just do it now, and be more responsive.” If you want to know how you are doing, just ask the people around you. They will be happy to tell you. Your job is to just listen and absorb it. Take it in. Really try to understand your impact on other people. If you want to know how you are doing at work, just ask your colleagues. Finally, if you want to know how you're doing in the world, just ask the trees and wind, and watch the sun.
I would like to thank Dick Grace from the bottom of my heart for generously giving me this experience two years ago. He helped me find my pod by introducing me to like peas. My sense of belonging to this pod has sustained me over the past year. I bow down to his Holiness with deep gratitude for his willingness to put himself in such difficult situations for so many years with such humor and wisdom and compassion. He is my model for the possibility that with great diligence and practice, we can all become truly compassionate people. For all of you who are acknowledged today as heroes of compassion, thank you for your undying efforts. I suspect that at some deep level, you are happy with your lives. And finally, for those of you who are here to witness this event and are moved by these compelling stories, just do it now. Do whatever it takes so that you can give happily, and thus be happy. . .and compassionate.

Thursday, August 09, 2012



---One of the Musical Performers we get here is Jon Hammond. He has been playing here for quite a long time. He would mention in passing, between songs, some celebrities that are household names. It was done in such a way that it sounded as if he had met some of these people. Come to find out, he had.
---After I got to talking to Jon, I realized that the polish he brings to his jazz piano and, to the Hospital, is no fluke. Jon resides mostly in New York City. He has a place in Time Square. In his neighborhood alone he met Paul Newman. Joanne Woodward, and Al Pacino. He also has a Cable Access show there. On his Show he has interviewed people who he has found interesting. His favorite was Lionel Hampton, the reknowned vibe player. ''At 80 years old, he was full of energy.''
---Another he enjoyed had been Cab Calloway. This was after his re-emeregence from the ''Blues Brothers'' movie. He mentions as one of his non-musician guests to be none other than Andy Warhol. It seems that Andy was interested in the Computer Graphics and Artwork that Jon and his crew used on the Show.
---Though he plays a ''jazz organ'' on his CD 's and with his Band, Jon has been banging on the piano from about age six. When the Beatles came on the scene in '64, Jon, with most others his age, decided to become a ''Rock'' star. He tried his hand at this. He had some groups ranging in name from ''Hades'' to ''Contraband.'' He becomes thoughtful at this moment.''Contraband was a pretty good band.'' At age thirteen he got his first electric-accordian.
---Jon has a small collection of accordians-mostly electric. He has inked a deal with Excelsior, and has received as his choice, some fine instruments from them. He also notes that e-bay, the computer sales website, is a good source. Jon mentions that he will be playing accordian for Broadway's own Fiddler on the
Roof', ''Whenever I learn the music.'' He says it is about as thick as a Telephone Book.
---His latest group is made up of the ''Late-Rent'' Sessionmen. As the name implies, whenever Jon is a little short and behind on his Rent, his landlord
takes some music in trade.
---Jon plays about every month or two here. Look for the fliers and catch his Show. I asked him why someone who trots the globe makes such frequent stops at a California Hospital. He says ''Well, my Father was a physician. My Grandfather was a physician. I'm a musician. I like to see the people smile.'' Jon does his ''therapy'' in another way. He hopes to be one of the first performers when they build the ''New Hospital.'' Happy Holidays.

Listen To His RADIO SHOW: