A Locum’s ScrapBook: What is Homelessness?

Editor’s Note:

I have been doing Locum’s perfusion for about 5 ½ years now. All I can tell you is that it is challenging, rewarding, and definitely keeps you on your toes. But after being toe walker for the last portion of this part of my career, I must say it is not fun in terms of separation anxiety from being away from your family as much as this particular career path can AND will do. There are all kinds of reasons why people start to do Locum’s perfusion, in my case it was mostly logistics and a long-term plan to keep our family safer and have a great place to grow up and call home.

Realizing that I’m doing the last phases of this particular profession, not because I don’t like it or that I can’t do it, because I definitely still have game- but because I’m trying to find other ways to make an income on a remote basis – basically telecommuting – and being able to actually be a good father and a good husband to my wife and kids. Please don’t get the wrong idea, locum’s perfusion is for the exceptional and certainly not the faint of heart or those that lack confidence or a fundamental clinical skill set. I have all those qualities, not bragging – the proof is in the pudding – YOU’RE not going to last very long doing this if you suck.

Since clearly I enjoy writing, I’m looking at some freelance opportunities in other fields of endeavor. Having sent out about 25 or so applications for telecommuting positions many of which involved writing, I was asked to submit a sample piece in order to be evaluated for a freelance writing position. So I wrote about what I know the most about, and it’s a very significant aspect of what being a locum’s perfusionist really represents to anyone that has a home or family they care about. There is no judgment here, it took about 60 minutes to write, and an hour and ½ to figure out how formatted MLA style. So read on, and understand it’s a perspective piece and an honest look at one aspect of our profound profession.

Pump Strong (bcf)

Frank

UPDATE:

A Locum’s ScrapBook: What is Homelessness?

All of us at some point in time have heard the phrase “home is where the heart is”. It is imbued with a sense of warmth and the comfort of familiarity, companionship whether familial, intimate, or otherwise. When considering the questions of what is homelessness, and what causes people to become homeless, I suggest that the concept of being homeless reflects a psychological state of emptiness, a vacuum of emotional warmth or lack of connection with those that we care the most about. Addressing the question of what causes people to be homeless lends us the first step to defining what homelessness truly is.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines homeless as “having no home or permanent place of residence “, which in my opinion is clearly the standard fare for classifying people and their condition.  According to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Social Work, homelessness is formally defined by the United States government as when a person “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, and if they sleep in a shelter designated for temporary living accommodations or in places not designated for human habitation.”

Clearly the above two references define a socioeconomic condition framed for bureaucrats and politicians that require a black-and-white classification system in order to deal with a social condition that is considerably more sublime with psychologically ambiguous grayscale roots. I define homelessness based on my own personal experience which tends to lend itself more to investigating what causes people to believe that they are indeed homeless and by inference hopeless/helpless. In my opinion, this concept is more of a condition of the mind than the absence of a ZIP Code and four walls that surround and protect us.

I came from an upper-middle-class family, both parents being college professors, excellent educational opportunities and academic pathways were available had I chosen to take them. I was young, adventurous, indestructible, with a strong desire to rebel from societal norms.  I wasn’t interested in becoming my parents and chose to hitchhike across the country at the age of 18. This took me from the Midwest to North Carolina, off to Pittsburgh, then out West taking the Pacific Coast Highway all the way from Southern California to Portland Oregon. There were times I slept in Kansas cornfields, shacked up on friends’ couches for a day or two, here and there, and ultimately found myself rubbing elbows with the dreaded street people. I was never penniless but came very close. Although I met the above stated criteria for homelessness, I had never felt homeless. There was no sense of being “lost” because I had engaged in this journey of my own free will, not out of desperation. In my soul I was free, unafraid, and retained my dignity and a sense of destiny.

Fast forwarding to current day, I have a resume that includes military service, a postgraduate degree, a position in medicine that is incredibly intense and rewarding, several properties, a family of six, and having reviewed my last Marriott rewards statement, I realized that in the last two years I spent at least 350 days in luxurious hotels, and yes, I was far from my family not by choice but by economic necessity.

I definitely have my four walls. My family has a wonderful home with far more walls, many pets and a lifestyle very few could dream of. I live to work, I have to work to live, and to ensure that all is well in our kingdom I have to leave for months at a time. On the nights before I leave, my wife and I sleep side by side like wounded rats. When we discuss our time apart we call those separate realities our individual holes.  Holes that we crawl into as we segue from one five-week assignment to the next. We are literally fast forwarding our way from point A to point B living for the brief moments that we are together and essentially homeless for the time we are apart. We live in dog years.

Homelessness?  Homelessness is when the “no vacancy” sign isn’t on the front door you are knocking on, it’s on the back door of what you have left behind.  One of those neon road signs- that slowly fades and flickers the further you drive away.

Works Cited

Homelessness.  (adj.)  Retrieved from Merriam-Webster online: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homeless

The Law and Homelessness. Retrieved from The Law Library online: https://law-hawaii.libguides.com/c.php?g=421172&p=2875672

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