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.

 

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.

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.)

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!

Working In A Winter Wonderland

Wow. I don’t know where you are but it has been snowing here the last 2 days with A VENGEANCE! Seriously, what did we do?? I guess it’s just January.

With the lovely white stuff come the lovely – Not said sarcastically, I swear! – people who do not know how to drive in it. It peeves me off to no end. Yes, your pick-up truck is bigger than me and I’m sure your penis is smaller than mine as well. That doesn’t give you the right to pass me on a hill in the dark in an apparent white out. But HEY, what do I know. I’ll wave as I drive by at 40 and see your sorry behind in a ditch. Or upside down as I saw earlier today.

Working in homecare means that I do A LOT of driving. On my part I make sure to always give myself extra time, have a full tank of gas, windshield wiper fluid and anything else I may need to assure that I get where I need to be safely. YOU in turn should also be doing the same and not acting like an idiot just because you have a larger vehicle than me. I’m sorry to pick on those with larger cars – I know not ALL of you are asses – but the majority or asshatory that I’ve encountered were from those in trucks. So quit it.

I hope to be properly blogging for OPSWA on their website soon. The Association has grown up A LOT and I can’t wait to share all these new achievements with you. I’m in our Cambridge office this afternoon doing some admin work while M & K (Our P and VP respectively) are out making the connections that help to benefit us. Our 3rd Annual Conference is coming up on April 23rd at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Check out http://www.opswa.com for more details.

AND DRIVE CAREFULLY!

A New Year.

I am so amused. Today apparently marks the “first day” back to work after the holidays. I laugh at this as I sit in my PJs sipping my coffee with no where to go on this chilly Monday morning. As a PSW, I WORKED during the holidays. Christmas AND New Years. Now I’m not complaining, but if you try to feed me your woe is me crap because you have to go back to work I’m not going to buy it. Don’t take up a career in healthcare, I don’t think you could handle it.

ANYWAY, I had to get that off my chest. HAPPY 2016 Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & New Year. As mentioned I worked on those days so I just altered my holiday to other days. No biggie.

I’ve worked NY before, infact thats ALL I worked when I was in Toronto. This year was my first time working Christmas Day and truth be told I REALLY enjoyed it. I worked home care in the AM and LTC 3-11. Both shifts were lovely. I felt really happy to be able to spend my time with folks who otherwise might not be with anyone else. A little secret – people tend to spend holidays with their families when in LTC, so needless to say that shift was practically a dream because a lot of residents were out of the building. We had fun with those who couldn’t venture out. Champagne & eggnog WITH Rum were served to those who cared for it. Who says you can’t party in LTC.

Last night during my home care visits, I made a call to one of my regular clients that I normally see in the morning and not at night. During the night he wears a condom catheter & I was super nervous about having to put it on. I see penises all the time. It’s a body part, it no longer phases me. But most of my contact is help with cleanliness and that’s it. Having to apply a plastic-like wrapping around one that isn’t erect is something else. I don’t know how to work these things, I don’t own this equipment! (Seinfeld, anyone?!) But this gentleman was a doll in directing me step by step on how to properly apply it so that it would stay on during the night. I was quite proud of myself for having done a good job.

Maybe I should be a doctor?

No thanks.

It’s OK To NOT be OK.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a generous person. A nice girl. Someone you’d bring home to your parents. A fucking doormat.

It took me A LONG time to grasp the concept of “It’s OK to not be OK.”. Attempting to deal with depression on your own in a futile attempt to “fix” yourself will do that to you. Sometimes you’re NOT ok. Whether you’re depressed or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I was inspired to blog this in the middle of watching Just Shoot Me (David Spade is awesome, yes?!!) because I came across a wicked blog posted on Facebook by my cousin who is a paramedic. The blogger, also a paramedic, posted her own post on this topic, detailing what they DON’T teach you in school and the emotional toll a job like that can have on you.

I could somewhat relate as a PSW.

Going back to that whole nice thing, I still have trouble being ok with not being ok in regards to what I deal with at work. Yes, I have to act professional. But when I come home I expect all of that to go away and not affect me.

I get called names. I get threatened. I get pinched and purposely urinated on. Sometimes I CAN’T do anything and that bothers me even more.

Last week I had to make a 911 call. I was making a house call and upon arrival I found my client lying on the floor. Apparently it had JUST happened and according to her, her legs just gave out. She was concious and able to tell me what happened. I was weirdly calm when calling the paramedics because THANKFULLY I had never had to make that call before. They were very nice & extremely good with her.

Two days later she died in hospital.

….. Uhm. Ok..? I had no idea what to do with that information. All the “what-ifs” that could possibly go through my head did so at warp speed. What if I wasn’t there?! How long would she have been laying there? What if she had hurt more than her leg? WHAT IF I COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING!

I’m ok. And sometimes I’m NOT and you know what, that’s OK too.

Check out http://chickyparamedic.wordpress.com to see her story.

Christmas Time.

I have to say, it is such a beautiful Sunday morning to spend in pyjamas watching Friends ad- nauseum on Netflix. Otherwise called HAVING A DAY OFF.
Sometimes it feels as if this time will never come & then when it does it’ll pass just as quickly. Yesterday I delighted in my Christmas obsession with checking out the first of many craft shows of the season in Kitchener. I do love shopping local and checking out some of the neat finds for potential gift giving. Afterword I met up with a close friend who also happened to be in town and we delighted in sushi which completely made my evening as Stratford doesn’t know what sushi is.
Today my man and I along with some friends will be taking in the Christmas merriment in St. Jacobs. I do love this time of year.

Work has been… well, work. I’m getting used to the whole home care deal – NO, I haven’t quit – as I think its making all the difference now that I have more of a schedule with regular clients. And even though my company is un-organized beyond belief, I DO love love love my clientèle. I leave after my time with them feeling happy and satisfied that I was able to help them and that is WHY I am a PSW in the first place.

On the weekends I do work I work BOTH jobs so that I can always have one weekend off. It’s tiresome to say the least but I keep telling myself that this is only temporary.

I have no idea what I will be doing come Christmas Day. Maybe I’m working? I hope to find that out soon so I can attempt to make plans with people, I miss so many people.

Also. I know this has NOTHING to do with the overall theme of my blog, but I feel compelled to say something. Paris breaks my heart. Syria breaks my heart. Violence of any kind in the world hurts me deeply even though I don’t express it much. What REALLY scares me, is the “us vs. them” mentality that’s slowly coming out of this. Have we learned NOTHING from history? We cannot blame an entire population of people – regardless of creed, religion, hair colour, WHAT EVER – for a group of loonies. Stop that, stop that right now.

Until next time.

Re-neg.

I take it back. I take it all back. Everything negative I could have possibly bitched about – and let’s face it, I don’t see that changing – that takes place while working in LTC. I re-neg 100%.

I have had to take on a second job due to lack of income from working on a casual basis. After exhausting all options available to me – without going out of town, that may be next – I have bitten the bullet and applied for a PSW position working in the community. For anyone that knows me, I swore on a stack of bibles that I would NEVER work in home care again. However, 5+ years have passed & a PSW has to do what a PSW has to do.

To start off on the positive – the work is THERE. Home care is where it’s at, folks. We’re living in an age where people now have the options to receive care in their home. We’re not just talking light house duties & tea with old ladies. We’re talking full on sling-lifts, total care being done right in their residence. Now, not ALL people are privileged to this, but for those with money it is completely possible. I’ve worked with mainly seniors, requiring mild care and mainly assistance with bathing, but I’ve also done work with children and younger adults.
You’re pretty much guaranteed work. Days, evenings or on my Fridays – BOTH. Sorry, that’s not really a positive comment. I’m trying.

However, it’s not my jive. I’ve been at it for almost 3 weeks and I’m surprised I haven’t pulled out ALL my hair yet.

I don’t like bouncing from client to client – because that’s what you do. Sometimes I’m scheduled for a 45 minute shift & other times it’s 3h. Sometimes I’m scheduled for a client that requires minimum care, so after I’m done they want me to leave. Well, fair enough, I wouldn’t want someone loitering in my home just to kill time before their next visit. So I loiter. Usually at Giant Tiger.
The work isn’t easy, which is a huge misconception. As previously mentioned I’ve worked with clients who require mechanical lifts. And from what I recall, those aren’t to be used A LONE, right? I’ve worked with children who have mental issues of varying degrees. And it’s not that I don’t feel for these kids. I do. But that’s NOT what I was trained for. I work with SENIORS. So needless to say I sometimes feel like a fish out of a water there. Then we have the hoarders. These guys make the shows you see on TLC look CLEAN. It’s… well, there are no words. So aside from being disgusted, you want to get the job done but you also NEED to take care of yourself. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but should I ever feel unsafe in ANY WAY in a home of such magnitude of disgust, I’m leaving. And I hope you would to. There isn’t enough emphasise put into the care of the PSW. Oh, that’s a good blog idea!

Today I worked a AM shift in LTC in a dementia unit and I was so happy. It was tiresome. It was heavy duty. But It’s where I’m meant to be. And one of these days, you will see a blog update with immense happiness relishing in the fact that I got a full time or at least a part time position.

One day.

OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference!

One year later from the first conference & I’m writing about it yet again. Huh.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I knew from the moment I read up on OPSWA that it was something I wanted to be a part of. So to have really taken part in this years conference – from planning, to working it AND presenting – was a huge huge thing. And I loved it.

Instead of hosting it in a clinical setting, we opted for the more relaxed, yet formal look at the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Center just off of the 401 & Hespeler (If you know Cambridge or drive the 401W frequently, you know where it is, otherwise, use Google. It’s your friend). It was perfect. The staff who set up the tables & prepared the food & helped us electrically-challenged were absolutely fantastic. And I think our guests thought so as well.

Instead of sitting and enjoying the show, I was wondering about taking pictures, Tweeting & Facebook-ing the event. As I did so, I not so subtly reserved one ear to eaves drop. Hey. I worked hard on helping to prepare this conference, so I wanted to know if people were enjoying it. Of course I could have asked – and I did – but this way got me very honest opinions. Words like “so much fun!”, “Interesting!” & “I can’t wait until next year!” made me smile from ear to ear. THIS is why I do this. Not for the money – because working for a not for profit association isn’t exactly the best way to become a millionaire – but because I BELIEVE in this.

PSWS are the forefront of healthcare and we NEED so badly to be recognized & held accountable to those we serve. This was mentioned adnauseum throughout the day & I have no doubt people may have become numb to hearing about it. Well, we’re not going away. & if this is something you too believe in then don’t stop preaching.

We had a lot of very interesting speakers, some even came back for a second round. Tilak Dutta of Toronto Rehab came last year and just like the first presentation blew our minds the second time around. He introduced a lot of new technology being tested so that one day it may make work for the PSW a lot easier. Hey, find me one PSW who isn’t on board with that.

Louise Lachowskyj, RN, OPSWA’s Director of Operations & token RHCP also came for a second time and talked to the crowd about the importance of proper charting. Her words are spoken with true honesty, sincerity & with a touch of humour & firmness. I very much enjoy the privilege of working with this wonderful woman and listening to her presentations.

Other presentations worthy of note are the Palliative Care talk by Wellington Hospice, MY VERY OWN presentation about apswlife & how I became involved with OPSWA. Needless to say I was a tad nervous, but I think my excitement and exhaustion covered that up nicely.

OPSWA’s President Miranda Ferrier – and my wonderful mentor & friend – also spoke to the crowd. Her focus was on the future of the PSW, leading into the desperate need for regulation. Will it happen? We still don’t know. Is there hope? Yes. there is always hope. We’ll keep pushing until it happens.

The day was a success. The presenters had a great time and most importantly, so did the 80 PSWs in attendance. Some came from local cities, where others travelled from Sudbury, Barry & Windsor to name a few. That’s dedication.

As much as I can’t wait for next year, I’m also sort of happy it’s over. I need a day… or 360 of them, before I can do this again.

For more highlights check out our page on Facebook. You can also search our hashtag on twitter #OPSWAConference2015.

I’ll leave you with CTV Kitchener’s coverage.
http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=600180&fb_action_ids=765156423600404&fb_action_types=og.shares
Yeah, that’s right. We got CTV there!