Give Thanks

I love my job this time of year. Not just because of all the visiting I do and all the Christmas fun I am sometimes privileged to attend but because of all the time I spend in my car. Driving about this beautiful city (although to me it’s still very town-like) this time of year I get to see all the Christmas lights this lovely community has to offer. Sometimes I even take the slightly longer way home just to pass by certain homes because they just blow me away with all of their lights and twinkles and Christmas cheer. But then comes December 26th and I know that shortly after this date the lights will slowly dim and go out all together and I’m back to just driving in dreary, cold, winter nights with no pretty twinkle lights to make me smile.

So I make the best of it now and try to take in as much as possible while I can before January takes over, steals my soul and replaces it with a depression that seems never-ending. That’s not an exaggeration, S.A.D or Seasonal Affective Disorder can really get to me some years which is why I joined the gym last January. They really need to stop taking money from me because I haven’t gone in a while. I’ll go back after Christmas when the winter blues really hit. It’s always fulfilling to lift weights when you’re feeling gross. It’s a real mood booster.

The Christmas presents are wrapped and under the tree and will hopefully survive the wrath of the cats. Rosie likes to chew. She used to chew my hair, but she’ll chew ribbons or anything else she can get her little paws on. She is currently sitting beside me unamused as is her usual demeanor.

I’m not sure of my Christmas Day schedule yet which is annoying but not at all surprising. Hopefully I’ll know by Friday. Not that it really matters, I don’t get a say in who I visit but a lot of clients cancel on holidays on account of spending time with family so I may or may not be paying visits to my regular customers.

Until then we have Saturday and Christmas Eve to look forward to. Saturday being the most important seeing as it’ll be my 32nd Birthday which is gross on all sorts of levels but still more important than the birth of  baby Jesus. I think so anyway. And gross because working in this line of works makes me terribly aware of my own mortality and growing one year older just makes me closer to potentially having my worst fear come true which is dying alone. BUT I AM still the youngest amongst most of my friends and Shane is 9 years older than me so HAHA to you guys. Please don’t die before me.

OH, and if anyone was wondering what happened with the magazine fiasco from Monday I DID pick up my weekly reads yesterday. BUT!!!! The National Enquirer, which I know is pure trash so I don’t need you to tell me that, only had ONE crossword in it instead of it’s regular two!!! I hope this isn’t a permanent change because that’ll have a serious impact on my magazine choices. That and the Enquirer is so PRO Donald Trump it’s disgusting. There’s your fake news, Donald!

Merry Christmas Friends. Stay thankful.

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Get It Together, Wal Mart.

Every Monday I go to Wal Mart to purchase my 3 for $10 celebrity gossip magazines. Not because I care about said celebrities who may I add make far more money than what their “job” is worth, but because I love the puzzles. I do them through out the week and this keeps me in my Zen zone so I don’t have the urge to commit heinous crimes against humanity. I went to Wal Mart TWICE today and the new ones weren’t out yet. That really grinds my gears, man. Today is also my day off which is why it wasn’t spent doing anything productive not that I need to justify what I do with my time. They’ll probably be out tomorrow but for the time being I am just as upset as one can get over such matters. So I’m actually fine. Just annoyed.

I think I’m going to start using this as more of a general blog than just one for and about PSWS. I’ve covered a multitude of topics within the last 5 years – yep, I’ve been talking crap for THAT long! – and until inspiration hits for something specific I just don’t write that much. Tonight’s inspiration was my annoyance for Wal Mart.

I could write about my job, not just home care in general but my specific company but I’ve decided that’s not a good idea because I actually want to keep my job and putting my thoughts down in writing would probably 100% guarantee me being discretely dismissed from my position. PSWS are under paid as it is so you can only imagine how being unemployed would work out. And I do love my job. I have benefits. I have vacation time. I have a very flexible schedule that allows for naps. And most importantly I absolutely adore my clients. They keep me going.

 

Snowed In

If my phone hadn’t fallen a part I don’t think this update would have happened. I’ve thought about it, too many times to count actually, about writing in here. Something just gets in the way. But as mentioned, my cell phone, the life line to 2017 & beyond has finally died. I’ve ruined my Christmas surprise by telling Shane that I would get it fixed & he said well don’t bother because that was going to be your Christmas present. So I wait. And I hate to admit it’s been more difficult than I thought. Mainly because I love texting, as I have access to a computer for everything else. So send a thanks to the tech Gods for putting my iPhone5S (I think) to rest otherwise I probably wouldn’t be sitting at our computer desk on this chilly, snowy Tuesday night rambling my head off on apswlife.

This PSW’s life is going very well. There are always things to complain about but tis’ the season for being thankful and jolly. I do love this time of year. I’ve been listening to Christmas music since November first and our Christmas tree went up about 2 weeks ago. I have most of my gifts bought but I have yet to wrap them because as much as I love all the things paper I don’t enjoy wrapping. I’m also particular about the paper I use for people because I know some people appreciate a nice wrap job while others just rip with no regard to the wrapper’s feelings. I do the same with my Christmas cards.

I’m working on Christmas Day this year. I put in a request to have it off and my supervisor said Stef, you had Christmas off last year. To which I replied, yes, I did, but I thought I would try just the same and she said Nice try and we had an awkward boss / employee giggle so that was that. BUT I do have NYE and day off so that’s nice. The chances of me staying up until midnight aren’t good but you never know.

I don’t mind working on holidays. Aside from the obvious fact of better pay, I find it very enjoyable. Which is something I am very grateful for because if working on Christmas made me want to kill myself than we’d have a problem. Though to be honest, there have been times in the past where being with family on Christmas has made me want to kill myself so I guess we’re square on that.

As mentioned it is snowing something fierce in Stratford tonight. I did go out for work tonight but had to cancel on two clients because like hell if I was going to drive out of town and risk my car going into a ditch and knowing my luck it probably would despite the fact that I have snow tires. So I came home, showered and sat my bum down here and decided, yeah, lets do this.

I’ll try to write more. I swear I used to write all the time before the technology took over. Shane actually insists that it’s partly my fault that my phone died because I’m ALWAYS on it. I wish I could say that is an exaggeration but it isn’t. To which I said, UHM no I’m not and anyway it was a used phone to begin with and you don’t even use YOUR phone like a normal person. To which he said I use it to make calls and text and then I turn it off and I said That’s NOT NORMAL it’s all about social media but he won’t touch that with a ten foot pole which I suppose isn’t a bad thing.

I’m going to go make some tea.

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.)