Popcorn & A Movie?

 

When I first started working in homecare I had this ill pre conceived notion that it would be easier. Our clients may have an advantage physically, which in turn means that the chances of us cleaning up soiled linen is slim. However, the emotional load is something  that I was inadequately prepared for.

I’m visiting folks who for the most part are potentially preparing for their next life in LTC. When living at home becomes too much a care facility is often the next daunting step. As a PSW, I’m privy to the intimacy’s of their thoughts pertaining to this daunting change:

The husband who has severe guilt with the inevitability of his wife leaving him for a care facility. Not because he DOESN’T WANT to take care of her, but because her illness has digressed so severely over the last 6 months that neither of them can cope anymore. That damn brain tumour that just won’t stop growing has stolen both of their lives. And I watched it slowly do so.

The single mom, who with two kids, has no social life because she spends 24 hours a day caring for her severely disabled teenage son. Maybe if the seizures were more predictable she could leave him on his own for just 10 minutes to take in the sun that shines outside their window.

When working in LTC, I wasn’t privy to ANY of this. All of this had already happened. I was solely there for the aftermath of the hurricane that left a family in ruins. Many, many family’s.

So if working in LTC is the movie, then working in the community is the prequel to this million dollar blockbuster.

 

Emotional Comeback.

There are times when I just have no clue what it is I’m supposed to be doing. I know the basics – every PSW  knows the basics – but sometimes that isn’t enough. At least, that’s how it feels.

I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into her home. It was quiet. Was she still there? I had a feeling she was. How much longer is anyone’s guess. Laying in bed moaning, in severe pain due to the cancer that was slowly but inevitably taking her life. One breath at a time. Her daughter sitting beside her, not knowing what more she can do for her helpless mother.

It’s a cold grey day. Like her skin.

She settles and the room is quiet once again. Her daughter and I meet gazes and smile an awkward smile. I just sit there, realizing that maybe my presence is enough to help. Another body in the room. A distraction. I offer my help in anyway. But she doesn’t want anything. So I sit, as all three of us wait for death.

She didn’t die in my presence. She may still be here by the time I make my next visit a week from now.

But for her sake and the sake of her family, I hope she isn’t.

 

One Year On, One Year Strong

She loves to gossip. It doesn’t seem to matter that I dont know who shes talking about. She just likes the company. 
They have the cutest little pup who we joke has a lesbian crush on me. She goes nuts every time I make a visit and I love it. 
Hes not social. Hes more of a come in, do the job and get out, kind of guy. I’m cool with that. 
Shes got to be at least 90 years old. Lives alone, has visitors from time to time. She really and I mean REALLY loves a good cup of coffee. 

Its been a year. One whole year today that I moved my life to this beautiful little city and started 2 brand new jobs not knowing a single soul. I dont regret one day. And there have been hard ones. Tiresome ones. More importantly there have been really really HAPPY ONES, both in my personal and work life. I’ve gotten to know my clientèle. So much so that there will be a mutual missing as I embark on my well deserved vacation this week! It took a year to get here. One whole week with no obligations.

Sadly my other half does not have vacation time. He caught my cold during his week off (hard AND tiresome times).

Sorry I haven’t been updating a lot. I’ve been working or trying not to boil in this blasted heat. Ill try to get it together by September, but no promises.

Safety First

I laughed to myself as I typed in the title for this post; A post I try to do once a year at this time of year in regards to heat safety. I laughed because I am burnt to a crisp after spending 2 days in the sun with out the proper protection. And the funny thing is is that this happens to me EVERY YEAR. And every year I say, nope, NOT next year. It’s embarrassing. But you know what’s NOT funny or embarrassing? Skin cancer. A very real threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I tell you I am PAYING in spades today for my stupidity. Not only do I look like a tomato with raccoon eyes, but I feel like absolute crap.

I like to talk about this not just for OUR safety, but for those we as PSWS take care of. The biggest problem I have in working with seniors in the summer is getting them to drink water. Or any liquid for that matter. Even if you’re not thirsty, I can’t write for words HOW important this is. I’ve seen people faint; become delusional, lethargy and a whole slew of other ailments that could be prevented with one simple trick.

So far this season I haven’t had too many concerns with those that I visit. But EVERY TIME I am there I make a point of emphasizing water, water and MORE water. My clients have told me that drinking a lot is a concern due to incontinence issues. I’d rather a slightly wet pant than a trip to emergency, and once they get that thought through their head they usually comply.

Do any of you have trouble with this as well? If so I’d LOVE to hear your feedback and any tips & tricks you may have.

And remember. Wear sunscreen.

Buyer Beware

As Personal Support Workers we face a lot of challenges. Difficult residents and at times even more difficult co workers. And sometimes we encounter people and groups who we think we can trust. Individuals who claim to be there for the PSW, doing everything in their power to help our important profession get the credit we deserve. It is important to take note of such groups and even more important to do research before deciding to commit yourself and your hard earned money to said people.

I say this because I put my trust and valuable time into one such organization. And by doing so I thought I was doing something great not only for me but for other PSWS. However, I was taken for a ride as were several other people I know and it’s not right.

This needs to be made clear: Our profession is NOT regulated by a governing body. We do not have a group like nurses or doctors do in the province of Ontario. There are several organizations who claim to be just that – a governing body – but they’re not. And even though I can say with absolute certainty that their intentions might be good, the way things are carried out, are not. I’ve seen it.

I belong to quite a few online groups, discussion groups and such. That’s fine, a place for PSWS to gather and to talk about our jobs and the adversaries we face. That’s why I blog. But please do your research before deciding to commit financially to any one party. Make sure it’s a group you can trust and run by well trained professionals. There are A LOT of shady people out there.

Walk For Alzheimer’s 2016

A week ago today at this time we were tired, sweating buckets, eating water melon & drinking water like it was going to run out. But we were happy. All 140 or so of us who showed up at 10 am ready to walk 5km in 30 degree weather all for a wonderful cause to raise awareness & funds to combat a devastating disease: Alzheimer’s.

My alarm went off at 7:45 am thinking I had enough time to get up, WAKE up and get hyped for the day. Little did I know that my beautiful friend was already here waiting to get pumped with me. Another friend showed up half an hour later & together we pumped ourselves up, tied our laces & put on sunscreen ready to kick Alzheimer’s in the ass.

Well, unfortunately the disease still prevails, with an estimated 747,000 Canadians living with Alzheimer’s since 2007. By 2031, if nothing changes, those numbers are predicted to hit 1.4 million.*

Scary, huh? As a PSW I can’t imagine what my work load will be like. But more importantly, as a HUMAN, I’m worried someone I know will be dealt the horrible blow of a dementia related diagnoses.

I am super super proud to say that our team apswlife raised  $685 for The Alzheimer Society of Perth County, with all proceeds going toward education & research for a cure. Over all Stratford raised over $20,000 & I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to those who could support financially. Thank you to those who could support emotionally & spread the word. A huge, HUGE thank you to my beautiful friends Gloria & Barb who made the trek out here just to walk with me. I can’t ask for better friends.

Can’t wait for next year!

*For more information, please visit alzheimer.ca

12 More Days!

Good Morning!
I don’t know about you, but I was thrilled to wake up this morning and see SUNSHINE! Yesterday we had wee snowflakes falling down here in Stratford. Pardon me? Unacceptable! I’ll be paying close attention the weather now. Not because I am desperate to always wear sandals – which I am – but mainly because in just 12 days time team apswlife will be walking to raise awareness for Alzhiemer’s Disease! May 28th is the magical day for the Stratford walk and I am so so pumped!

To date, our team has raised $685, that’s $185 more than I had hoped to raise! Not only that, but our team is #2 in raising the most funds in Perth County! Thank you! I am so so grateful to everyone who has been able to support us – whether it be financially, emotionally, morally or in good friendship. Thank you.

In other news, work has been going very well. I have really taken to my new role as a personal support worker in home care. I still remember not too long ago how I was dreading it and wishing I could do anything but. Now I’m content. I adore my clientèle. I love not ever having to work the midnight shift again. Hell, I love not having to work past 10pm!

My mind has been all over the place lately with blog post ideas, so as soon as I can sort those out I’ll be right back here typing away. Now I must go fetch some coffee.

Hope you all have a great day!

(To donate to team apswlife, please click here.)

Update On Life. Sort Of.

Wooooah! It’s been awhile, eh’? Sorry, but I WORK.
No, I’m not yelling at you, it’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault really, but some days are more frustrating than others. I’m sure you can relate.
So you can imagine that when ever I come across a reading or hear anyone say something along the lines of “well, it’s not like you’re a nurse or anything, you’re ONLY a PSW” it just creams my corn.
Only? You’re right. Why don’t you show me how it’s done. My morning consisted of working with a woman with a brain tumour therefore dealing with several seizures. My client after her had severe Cerebral Palsy. #3 is a woman who I’m convinced hates me because she ALWAYS refuses care and yells at me in her native tongue and tries to hit me – and SUCCEEDED the other day might I add. And lastly – at least for the morning – is a gentleman I very much enjoy visiting and working with except when he’s on the verge of a Diabetic coma & you’re like -_-
So yeah. I’m ONLY a PSW.
Take a look at my buddy PSWHQ’s page here & take a read on the job description of a PSW.

Phew. HAD to get that out.

Secondly, it’s LESS than a month until my team aptly titled apswlife walks for The Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness and funds to fight Alzheimers! I’m very excited about this & so so thrilled with all the support we’ve been getting to date. Still, if you’d like to support our team, take a looksy over here to donate! Just search for our team, apswlife.

And thirdly, I’m off this weekend so insert happy dance here! 🙂

No Regrets.

Yesterday marked 6 months of living in Stratford. 6 months of learning a new city, learning new clientèle, learning a new job and adjusting to a totally new life. Oh, it was also Valentine’s Day so a Happy Belated to you & yours!

I have 6 months under my belt of no regrets & I am still so happy about the changes I have made in my life. I have no regrets about quitting my LTC job (Thank you to those who supported me!!). I feel less stressed AND I have 3 days a week of sleeping in! It’s the little things that make it worth it. It’s the little things in life we have to look to for happiness, to get us through the days that sometimes aren’t so easy. I have finally adhered to my father’s very smart way of thinking: Work SMART, NOT hard. We need to give ourselves a break or we’re no use what so ever to those we help.

Today being Family Day (in Canada, not sure what the American’s are doing) I surprisingly have the day off! AND I didn’t call in sick or put in a request. It was GIVEN TO ME – see? LITTLE things. I’m not questioning it. I’m actually really enjoying the snow fall from inside my apartment and not the dashboard of my car. I’ve also got 3 loads of laundry on the go & Netflix at my disposal (at least until the boyfriend comes home) – LITTLE things!

I did work this weekend & on my adventures I have gotten stuck in driveways and I’m fairly certain I ran over a rabbit. I’m still feeling guilt over that even though it was totally the bunny’s fault.  I can’t slam on my breaks on a slick country road in the dark! Goodness.

Give me a break people!