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.)

Feeling The Burn

You know that hissing sound a fire makes when you douse it with water? All that smoke in the air, the crackling from the burning logs slowly becoming quieter until all that’s left is somber burning embers. Relaxing, right?

Sort of like when you come home from a shift in LTC. After 8 hours it feels nice to come home to quietness, cats & a shower (at least, that’s MY life right now).  And I’m not even talking about a HARD day at work because… well, let’s face it. What day ISN’T difficult to some degree in long term care? I’m talking about those regular, every day shifts and the crap PSWS have to endure on a daily basis. Yes, CRAP. To the point where all you want to do is pour a bucket of water on that flame.

Double shifts.
No breaks (or short breaks, if at all).
The absurdity that is staff to resident ratio, where 1 to 15 is the “norm”.
Pop-up problems: Falls, Outbreaks, Diarrhea
Short staffed (I’ve worked with 2 PSWS for 28 residents during a morning shift instead of the regular 3).
Too many showers scheduled per shift.
More responsibilities delegated to us by RPNs.
General stress of the job itself.
Management making a pathetic attempt to make you feel guilty for legitimately calling in sick.
Working while the MOLTC (Ministry of Long Term Care) breathes down your back.

Am I missing anything? That’s the short laundry list of issues that make PSWs want to pull their hair out after their shift is done. YES, there is stress with every job & I get that. But these are issues that for the most part can be avoided with a) common sense & b) MORE PSWS on the floor.

As I’ve said & will keep saying, NO ONE gets into this job for the money. Having endured EVERYTHING on that list more times than I care to mention, the paycheck I get every 2 weeks doesn’t make up for that at all. I do this because I LOVE it & want to make a difference in the life of a senior AND a PSW. We need more people to understand what we go through. We need more management on the floor with us so that when we tell them that 20 peri clothes a shift isn’t a enough, they MIGHT see where we’re coming from.

#regulationforPSWS

Use it in your Twitter world. Drop me a line if there’s anything I’m missing on this list. I’d like to do posts in more detailing pertaining to each point I made.

Until next time.

Cake.

Do you freak out about your birthday? Depending on my mood & age-to-be, I get a little anxious. For instance, in December of this year I’ll be 30. THIRTY. When did this happen? What did I do in my twenties? A lot of it is a blur, but the majority of it is nothing but good memories. That’s what I think birthday’s are: Celebrating another year of life passed and another one to come. I’ve always enjoyed birthdays, even the ones that weren’t my own. Birthday’s are a big deal! Every year is a blessing and should be treated as such.

So imagine celebrating someone’s 100th Birthday. ONE HUNDRED. This occurred yesterday for one of my favourite residents. And for 100, being so “old” and “fragile”, she’s as spunky as anything. She’s so vibrant and full of life, it’s remarkable. Every day is a positive, new beginning for her and it makes me smile every time. Her lust for life rubs off on you. And even though she can’t see the balloons & greeting cards surrounding her (she’s blind) I’ve never seen someone so content just knowing they were there. That after 100 years of life on this planet people still care as if it were her first.

Happy Birthday my angel.

IMG_1104P.S Don’t forget to sign up for the Montessori Dementia Course! Seats are filling up fast! (See my last post for details!)

Six Feet Under.

Waiting for death is an awfully tiresome experience. Not knowing when they’re going to go. Not knowing if this breath will be their last – despite  the use of an oxygen tank. They’re no longer responsive to your voice. Your touch. It’s like you’re holding the hands of an empty shell whose soul has already departed. But you can’t properly grieve because their body is – for all intents and purposes – alive. Not living, but existing. In a never-ending time capsule that won’t open.

I watch this every day. 2 beautiful souls who were once so vibrant with life lie motionless in a single bed. I no longer get hit on. I no longer see their smiles when I walk into work. Their jokes aren’t being told to anyone.

It’s hard. Being a PSW and dealing with all the things that come with this position doesn’t mean that I’m completely devoid of emotion. It is excruciating to watch someone die a slow a death. As awful as it sounds, I find myself wishing for death to hurry up and take them. Their quality of life is nonexistent.

The hardest part for me is watching their family members. Not only seeing them cry, but watching them slowly lose every ounce of sanity they have left trying to keep it together. Frustration and anger take over, asking over and over why they can’t do anything to help.

One of them is going to go this week. The waiting game, even while at home and in my pajamas plagues me. Dealing with death once it happens is far easier than dealing with its disturbing game of trickery.

PSW Headquarters, At Your Service.

When I started writing this blog, well over a year ago now, I did so because I wanted to share my stories. I wanted to let people know what it is this job entails and WHY it is so so important in the world of healthcare. I love my job and I will continually repeat that as it is the truth. 4 years in and my life is better because of it.

I’ve had an opportunity to write pieces for a website for PSWs. I am so happy and grateful that others want to read what I have to say.

I know my updates here have been lacking, and I’m working on that.

Until then, check out my first piece @ http://personalsupportworkerhq.com/nursing-home-routine/

A Day In The Life Of A Personal Support Worker – by me, Stef 🙂

There’s more to come.

I never stop writing.

The Long Haul.

December 1st marked my 3 year anniversary of working as a psw in a facility that I like. In a JOB that I like, with co-workers I like and residents I like. Nay, LOVE. I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it at nauseum because this is my blog and never in my life have I been happier in a career choice. I LOVE IT. I love it despite the fact that sometimes I have to work the 3-11 shift, that on most work days I’m up at 5am, that I have to work holidays, that I’m part time, that my commute can get on my nerves and my residents aren’t always nice to me. How many people are this lucky, this blessed to have a job like this?! To love it despite all it’s negative aspects? Not many, and for that and so many things I am thankful.

Not a bad way to round off 2013.

Alas, I will be working New Years Eve and day. It used to bug me and sometimes still does. I try to go to bed before midnight because sometimes it upsets me to hear people celebrating. I want to be a part of the fun, I want the kiss at midnight. The last time that happened was 3 years ago at Yonge & Bloor subway station and even that was lousy. But it’s ok. Because I am ok with being upset about it sometimes. I’m not embarrassed about my feelings and expressing them no matter how “silly” people may say New Years is. It’s human to want to be a part of something and be involved.

And that’s when I think, you know what? I am involved and a part of something special. I get to spend my New Years Day with some of the nicest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. People that don’t always have family of their own and have become a part of mine.  I think I may even go into work with a party hat on.

What’s sad is that none of my co-workers would be surprised.

I love my job

senior to senior.

I paid a long over due visit to my grandparents today. Once a month or so I go over and help with some house cleaning. Vacuuming, mopping the kitchen floor and on occasion cleaning brass with Nana. They insist on paying me even though I’ve tried arguing. I don’t do this for money, I do it because they’re my grandparents and I want to help if I can. None the less, at the end of my 2 hour stint they insist and cleverly hide it in the envelope of Sudoku puzzles they also save for me.

I usually get there early in the AM after dropping my sister off at work, around 8:45. I buy a coffee on the way and before I get to any house work we sit and chat and catch up on my apparently “exciting” life. I never have much to talk about as all I do now a days is work and come home from work. So more often than not I’m the one with the listening ear as they talk about their friends, the neighbors and how the cost of everything is just ridiculous. Which I agree on. However, they grew up in the Depression so I don’t think it’s fair to say that I quite grasp it completely from their end. So when they save plastic zip lock bags or napkins I try not to say anything.

They have friends who recently moved into retirement living. From what they say it sounds like a nice place. It’s not a nursing home as they don’t need that kind of care, but the wife does have a touch of Alzheimer’s so some care is needed.
I found it interesting to hear what my grandparents – people of an age that actually live in these facilities – had to say about it. My grandfather found it depressing. He thought the idea of such a regimented routine would turn ones brain to mush. And I agree, to any other individual it probably would. But to someone with Alzheimer’s it’s necessary and very helpful. I think he might have had a bit of worry should they ever have to go into this kind of living.
Both my grandparents are 88 and doing remarkably well. I think they’ll live out happy years in their home.
And I’ll always continue cleaning.

whole new level.

I decided to bring apswlife to Facebook in the form of a “page”. You know, all those pages we “like” and participate in with conversation, pictures, etc.
This blog is very important to me and even more important is getting the information out there into the world to people who may not even know what or how important a psw is.

http://www.facebook.com/apswlife

I’ll still be updating here, but if you’d like to contribute to conversation and ask questions, please go on and “like” my “page”. You don’t have to be a psw or be in health care to do so, maybe you have relatives living with around the clock nursing care.

I’d love to hear your stories.

You Know Your Job Is Awesome When:

..the EMS guys ask if you’re having a rave because MuchMoreMusic is playing in the t.v room.

..your residents accuse you of drinking because you tripped on your own pants.

..the call bell goes off on it’s own and you wonder if your nursing home really is haunted.

..you hear curse words you wouldn’t say yourself come out of a 90 year old woman’s mouth.

..you get to celebrate someone’s 104th Birthday.

..your boss wants to talk about your tattoos during your yearly evaluation.

..your boss thinks your awesome (seriously).

..you can wear yoga pants to work instead of scrubs.

..you can wear scrubs with Betty Boop, Charlie Brown and Disney characters on them.

..your superiors buy everyone pizza. Just because.

..when a resident compliments you and is genuinely happy to have you around.

..you wake up every morning looking FORWARD to work.

..you don’t mind working holidays and weekends.

..they send cute EMS guys over when someone has to be sent to the hospital.

..dancing in the dining room is totally acceptable.

..watching The Sound of Music is or any other movie a normal day at work.

..you get enjoyment in talking about bowel movements and urine samples in front of people who find it uncomfortable.

..being called a bastard isn’t insulting.

..you and your senile resident agree that men are assholes.

..when the people you work with – both staff and resident – appreciate your hard work and caring nature.

 

 

Not Everyone Is Happy.

I woke up again. Why. Why didn’t I fall asleep into an endless slumber where no hurt, pain or fear could haunt me again? I don’t want to be here and I don’t know why. It hurts to breath. Food disgusts me. My friends have lost interest in seeing me because I never return their phone calls. Why should I return their phone calls, I am of no use to anybody. I’m a mistake. My parents love me – or so they say – but would I really be missed if I ended it now? God, I wish I had the strength and courage to do just that. But I’m a pussy, a scared little coward who can’t even  end her own life. And who am I to even comprehend the thought that I would be missed? Why am I so damn special? I’m not. I’m broken and I can’t be fixed. I cry without reason. I hurt without physical injury. My whole life is a fuck-up and the world would be a better place without me.

….

That was me 5 years ago.

Scary, isn’t it?

Unless you’ve been through the hell that is depression, you don’t know the meaning of hell. Words can’t describe the true horror that goes through the head of a depressed individual.

I bring this up for several reasons: 1) I am no longer afraid, 2) This IS a big deal and needs to be discussed at length & 3) This affects EVERYONE.

Yep, seniors too.

She wanders the hall looking for her room not realizing that it’s 2 doors down from where she just looked. “I feel like an idiot, I can never remember where I live”. The tears stain her beautiful complexion and I hand her a tissue. “I wish I wasn’t here. I don’t want to live.” This saddens me as I know all too well the feelings she is expressing. A hug comforts her and she softly sobs into my shoulder. “I know how you feel” I whisper in her ear. She looks at me confused, puzzled, as if she thinks I am lying. I don’t blame her, when you feel like this you don’t think anyone understands. “But I do,” I say softly, and something changes in her face. Her eyes are brighter and if I’m not mistaken I think I see a slight smile forming. She knows I’m not lying.

Everyone’s pain is different. When you’re old, everyone you know is dead and you’re not in your own home anymore the fear must skyrocket through the roof. I can’t make it go away, but I can assure you the one thing everyone in this mess wants to be reminded of: You’re not alone.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.