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.)

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! 🙂

The Decision.

I either just did something really dumb or really smart. Either way, I’m confident with the path I have chosen and can already feel the stress and tension lift off my shoulders.

I quit my job.

Guess which one. I’ll give you a hint. Remember a while back when I went on a rant about homecare and about how much I loathed it? Yeah, NOT that one.

I gave in my 2 weeks notice for my casual position at the long term care facility. I’ll tell you why, because there might be a lot of you out there in a similar boat.

I love LTC. And until now I thought that was where I was supposed to be. And who knows, maybe in the future I’ll be back there again. But for now it isn’t worth it. I have FULL TIME hours while working in homecare. Why am I working another job ON TOP of that? Why am I exhausting myself with 16 hour days when I don’t need to be? It finally got to me and something had to be done. So I made the decision to let go of the job that wasn’t getting me further. I had been told when I was hired last July that getting a part-time or even full-time line would come easy and that I should have one by September. It’s almost February and I’m tired.
Despite my moaning I’ve come to enjoy homecare. I can more or less chose my hours and the work load isn’t as heavy as in LTC. I worked in LTC for almost 6 years. I think it was time for a change. I don’t want to worry about 2 jobs and balancing them both. It isn’t worth my sanity & it isn’t worth the extra $300 or so I’d be bringing in every 2 weeks. There are A LOT of things in life far more important than money and work. I intend to enjoy it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this job is that life goes by pretty damn fast.

No body on their death bed has ever said “I wish I worked MORE”.

A New Leaf

Friday, August 7th 2015 was the most difficult work day so far during my career as a PSW. On this day I had to say goodbye to all my wonderful residents & co-workers that I had the privilege to work with during the last 4.5 years.

This PSW is moving to Stratford in 3 days to start a new chapter in her life. I will be living with the love of my life & starting a new PSW position in LTC. I’m nervous, excited & extremely emotional regarding everything.

It still doesn’t feel as if I quit my job. That this is REALLY happening. The last 4.5 years have felt like home to me. Everyday was an adventure but I always had faith that I would make it through because of the most wonderful co-workers a PSW could ever ask for. I can only hope for such beautiful people in my next job. These ladies are some of the best. Always having each other’s back & making work fun no matter how tough the day was.

My residents felt like family. Even the ones that called me names & threatened to kill me. I’ll miss them terribly. Knowing that the next time I visit some of them will no longer be with us. Rest in peace beautiful angels.

Packing. Labelling. Repeat. This has pretty much been going on the last couple of weeks and I cannot wait to finally be there.

Wish me luck.

REGULATE US – NOW.

Yep, I put all CAPS for that title. I hope it grabbed your attention. It was meant to.

If you missed W5’s brilliant expose on abusive care in LTC homes, you missed something major. I hate to say this, but nothing in that 1 hour documentary surprised me – from the cases of horrendous abuse to the silly little union twit trying to cover the abusers ass. I’ve been around the block a few times, and thankfully I’ve personally never seen such appalling behaviour in my work place. You can bet if I did that PSW would no longer be working there. Unions don’t scare me & small minded people who pick on the weak to get off don’t scare me either. They disgust me. I would report it and do all that I could to make sure that that person never worked in LTC again.

Wait. Wouldn’t it be obvious? If someone abuses their client on the job, that’s call for automatic dismissal is it not? NOPE!

If you missed it, please go here to watch it. I hope it disgusts you.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any GOOD PSWS out there, because there are. There are tons. But unfortunately we get the brunt of the crap. We need to stand up as one, and DEMAND to be regulated. We are an integral part of the healthcare team. Look at this as a war. You have your politicians who call it – so in this case we have our DOCs (Director’s of Care). Then we have the people that actually FIGHT. And in our case that’s us – RNs, RPNs & PSWS. FRONT LINE WORKERS. And of these 3 designates, ONE is NOT regulated. MEANING that ANYONE can call themselves a PSW.

Obviously this won’t clean up the mess entirely, but it’s a damn good, strong start.

If you believe in this as strongly as I do, please sign our petition demanding the Ontario Long Term Care Association & Health Minister take action. There’s strength in numbers. Let’s prove it.

The Countdown Is On!

If you’re not already aware, apswlife has become an official branch of OPSWA – The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association – as their PSW Advocacy go-to. I have to say I’m thrilled for apswlife‘s new journey & I can’t wait to share more experiences & stand up for what I most believe in – US, THE PSW! We’re an important part of the healthcare system & it’s about darn time that we’re noticed. Am I right? So email me & tell me what’s on your mind. What is important to YOU, the PSW? snucci@opswa.com OR chat me up on Twitter @apswlife

A big part of advocacy is coming together as a whole and showing the world that we are a force to be reckoned with! So won’t you join me & many other of your peers at OPSWA’s 2nd Annual Conference happening on April 25th in Cambridge, ON.

Here’s the not so secret, yet extremely awesome activities that we’ll have going on through out the day! (If you look closely, you might notice a certain blogger will be there and presenting as well!)

Registration and Breakfast 8:00 am – 9:00 am
Opening Speakers 9:00 am – 9:30 am

Kathryn McGarry – MPP of Cambridge, Ontario – Opening Remarks
Dr. Catherine Brookman – speaks to the Value of the PSW Voice –Directing Home and
Community Care Now and in the Future

Featured Speakers:

Toronto Rehab 9:30 am – 10:30 am
PSWs and Self Care/Safety
Tilak Dutta

MORNING BREAK 10:30 am – 11:00 am

Wellington Hospice 11:00 am – 12:00 noon
PSWs in Palliative Care
Kathleen Scott PSW
Meaghan Scowcroft PSW

LUNCH BREAK 12:45 pm – 12:45 pm

A PSW Life 12:45 pm – 1:15 pm
Stefanie Nucci PSW

The Realities of the future of the PSW- 1:15 pm — 1:45 pm
Miranda Ferrier, President

AFTERNOON BREAK 1:45 pm – 2:15 pm

Charting, who is it really for? 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Louise Lachowskyj RN

Closing Remarks 3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Miranda Ferrier PSW

Exhaustion.

I had a wonderful weekend: saw some friends, saw my boyfriend & came home relaxed & ready to start another week of work. Only I haven’t been to work. In fact, I’ve called in sick to work for the last 2 days and for a very good reason. I have been sick. Not “Oh, I could go to work but I feel lazy” sick – you know what that is – but more like “I think I’ll wake up at 4:30 am with the most excruciating nausea and make love to the toilet for the better part of the day” sick.

Fun, huh?

It has been eons since I last experienced the stomach flu & I had forgotten just how nasty that bug can be. How on earth is one person supposed to manage both ends of their body at one time?! HOW?! Well, I won’t get into much more detail than that for fear of no one reading this blog again.

Today I am feeling better. Exhausted beyond all measure, but at least I am able to keep food down. And even though I’m not vomiting I decided to call in today. I know my body. I know how it works and after 29 years I know how long it takes for it to bounce back to normal. After spending a day with my face in the garbage can I decided that going in to work today probably wouldn’t have been the best idea. I need my energy back. I need a decent meal & a long nights sleep.

When you’re not feeling well – listen to your body. Don’t push yourself & for the love of all things holy WASH YOUR HANDS.

(Sidenote: I have been informed by PEAK College that due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control they have had to postpone their MARCH 1st Montessori Dementia Course to MAY 10th. Should you have any questions, pls contact them directly.)

#BellLetsTalk Day

From as far back as I can remember, I can always recall feeling… well, not “right” for lack of a better term. Not sick. Not depressed. Not hurt. Just… something was missing. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know how or who to talk to about it & I just assumed that this was a normal part of growing up. I always told myself that when I was older, it would go away. When I was in highschool, things would be better. When I went to college I would be fine. When I graduated and started working I would be normal. Yeah… so much for that plan.

I never felt like I fit in. Not with my friends, and even my own family at some times. It was never a matter of being popular. I never cared if someone had something I didn’t. Money was never a concern to me. It had nothing to do with physical material things that we all sometimes envy of others. I was uncomfortable being me. I wanted to be you. It didn’t matter to me if you were rich, poor, black, white, perfect, odd. It wasn’t me & that’s who I was trying so desperately to get away from. Myself.

Slowly… and I mean painfully slow, this feeling developed into something far more disturbing. I was sad. I was angry. I was scared. And I constantly felt alone… the scariest part was not knowing why. There was no logical reason. I had everything: Loving parents. Friends. School. A job. Clothing. … etc etc etc. Yet these feelings continued to grow and I didn’t know how to stop it. And I was scared to breathe a word of it to anyone.

Food repulsed me. During my lowest times I didn’t want to eat. I stopped seeing my friends. I made excuses to avoid the outside world. To avoid life. Because at this point I didn’t feel like I was living. And to make matters worse I didn’t want to live. I wanted to sleep and every time I woke up I was disappointed that I had. I had suicidal thoughts. My mind played games on me trying to convince me to do it and then guilt tripping me into stopping.

I knew something was wrong. Was I insane? I thought I was. So I went to Google & looked up every symptom I could possibly think of that I was experiencing and all of it led to one word: Depression.

So this was Depression. I finally had a label which alieviated the feelings of insanity but I was still too scared to talk about it. To who? My parents? The people who have given me everything? Why should I be depressed? Would they understand? Would anybody?

8 years later, after being forcibly dragged to the doctors by mother & then telling said doctor off, I finally feel ok. I have bad days here and there. But I can manage them. I’m no longer scared to talk about this. To voice my experience with a terrifying and debilitating illness which would have probably taken my life if something wasn’t done.

It’s serious. It’s scary. And I KNOW there are more of you out there.
You know me as apswlife. As a friend. As a daughter. As a friend. As a girlfriend. As a PSW.
But you’ll also know me as having Depression. It’s not something that just disappears. It’s a part of me. It’s made me stronger. It’s enabled me to help & relate to others going through the same thing.

Today is #BellLetsTalk Day and for every tweet & text with that hashtag, Bell will donate 5 cents toward Mental Health initiatives in Canada. This is my story. I’m not afraid any more & I don’t care if this makes you uncomfortable.

This is what ending the stigma is all about.

WSAD & Happy Anniversary to ME!

2 years ago today I decided to start apswlife and 2 years on I am extremely happy and grateful that I have the opportunity to share these stories with you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the kind words. It means more than words can describe that I can discuss my life as a PSW in the working world. To get out there the trials and tribulations that people in this career face. I will continue to do this for as long as my fingers can type. And when that stops, I will recite words to someone who will then type for me. Yes, this blog isn’t going ANYWHERE.

Moving on.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I want to talk about this for 2 reasons. 1) I know all too well the feelings of wanting to die and 2) I want to talk about Depression and the Elderly.

Unfortunately, there are far too many individuals who do not know the true meaning of depression. Thankfully, one reason is because they’ve never gone through it. Secondly, there is a HUGE stigma around it and it’s other ugly cousins in the large family of mental illness. Well, as you may or may not know I am not one to keep quiet. Depression is more than a sadness. It’s more than crying. It’s more than an Emo 16 year old sitting up in his bedroom listening to Cradle of Filth at full volume. Depression is the ongoing feeling of numbness. Of constantly feeling & believing that there is no end in sight. Waking up after a night’s sleep is a nightmare. Feeling alone in a room full of family and friends is one of the most awful feelings in the world. And you know what? Seniors get it to.

Depression has many route causes. Sometimes it is a chemical imbalance. Other times it is the result of a sudden change in life or a loss.  Often times, seniors in long term care get misdiagnosed with other ailments because they have the same symptoms as depression. If someone with dementia starts lashing out verbally and physically, would you consider this to be a symptom of depression? It could be. If this person is generally a gentle, quiet soul and they randomly start acting out, that could be a sign. People with dementia do not know how to show their feelings in an appropriate manner. Men specifically tend to show their emotion with anger as talking about it was never an option in their day and age.

It is important to look at the over all picture before properly diagnosing someone. In some cases, medicinal use may not even be needed. Getting individuals more involved in activities and with other residences have huge happy factors.

It is our job as a PSW to pay attention to the OVER ALL picture of our resident and to report any sort of change in behaviour to the appropriate person. Most importantly, don’t forget to take time to talk to your residents. If they’re sad, and are able and willing to talk, stay and listen.

I’d also like to say a little farewell to a resident who passed away recently. Their passing wasn’t a complete shock to me but none the less, when I heard of their death my heart sank like a stone in water. I’ll miss your dry sense of humour and how you always made fun of my hair and nail polish choices. I love you always MK.