“You read about it happening, but you never think it will happen to you“….Wife of a client
Family First….if the family wipes out, there will BE no one to take care of the patient. Isolation….breeds contempt.
I have dueling points today, but they merge, when you get to the fork in the home care road. One of the aspects of the job that they don’t include in training is that you will be a counselor for primary caregiver of a client with complicated health conditions. I get it. After Merrill’s Sudden Cardiac Death Incident, I was a wreck. My life became hell on steroids, as I went from a two adult household to just me. I had lost my hair, my nerve, my moxie and almost my sanity. Trying to keep the kids lives (and Merrill’s) as normal as possible, I had taken the weight of their world, and placed it up on my shoulders. It wasn’t until a friend asked me how I was doing, that it occurred to me that everyone was making sure Merrill and the kids were okay, no one had thought to make sure I was okay….it felt selfish to feel that way, but that was my truth. I then made the decision to make “Family First” care, a priority in the care I provided.
This is just simply me, writing from experience. Many of you don’t mean to do it, after all, you all care. I KNOW you do, but we think we have no way to connect to our once vibrant parent or friend, so we no longer visit….or call. Listen, to be the primary care giver of someone with a debilitating condition, is more stress than you’d ever ask to be placed upon an enemy. You see, my client, a former high-ranking official in the military, suffered two strokes that left him with left-sided paralysis, and he’s restricted to a wheelchair, and a lift, for his mobility needs. Some in the family think that they can pick him up, and “carry” him to the washroom, or the kitchen (etc), when they visit, but that’s humiliating for him, so they elect not to travel. Friends don’t call and ask to go out to dinner any more, and so the only people they can socialize with are the nurses and CNA’s that come by for care…..
Had I stopped with the bathing, toileting, feeding and washing, it would have been enough….but as he took out a word search, I commented that I was pretty good at them, so he slid the book over to me, and together, we searched for words. Yes, I pulled my punches, but looking for words was connecting…and while we were connecting, I was speaking, with the wife. Friends have good intentions, but because my client can no longer speak (he only says a few words), it may be that friends think they cannot communicate, and therefore, don’t even try….Just because someone has a stroke, dementia, CHF, COPD (whatever) doesn’t mean, they don’t have feelings. They do, and they don’t want to be treated differently. They KNOW they’re different….they just want to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. “Family First” means if you take care of the family, the family will have the emotional energy to take care of their charge…..we (I) can take care of the family by shouldering the harder burdens like showering, and they can do the fun stuff….like the word searches. If you know someone that’s suffered with a life-altering condition, don’t shun them because you think you’ll not be able to connect….They’ll take you any way they can get you. This is GOSPEL. Family First. It’s an approached I created, out of my own need for connection. Family and friends really helped me out, when I needed them, so that I could take care of Merrill, and his complicated needs. It isn’t enough to call…..it’s a start….but actually showing up, and getting some face time in, may just be what the home care nurse ordered. I pray none of you ever need my services….but I’ll be there for you, and your family, if you ever do….Be Blessed
Remember you set the Tone, you ARE the Example. BE KIND to each other. Show GRACE and MERCY to all those who cross your path today. With your Daily Affirmations complete, enjoy your Thursday.