Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tears over Melba toast

It's 4:30am and I've been wide awake for the past two hours keeping my current 'no sleep' streak alive and well. Actually I did sleep great one night, which is probably better than most young mothers, however I'm not overly impressed as I am not yet a young mother. At this rate I'll be lucky ever to be a mother, let alone a young one.

I've tried distracting myself on the computer, I accidentally shut it down (along with all of my tabs for house hunting and my research into personal training certification). I then tried going back to bed only to toss and turn and be reminded of my yesterday.

Which then lead me to tears over Melba toast. Not just any Melba toast, but a pre opened package from a few days ago that was on my night table. (Seriously, is there such a thing as stale Melba toast?).

Now I sit here already having had a few good sobs over 4 pieces of something I will never understand why it was made purposefully but enjoyed as much as my 73 year old grandfather did years ago.

Tears over Melba toast. Good times.

Yesterday was long but not overall terrible. I actually was feeling pretty good about the day until a conversation I had with a co worker (which I have to say I really hesitate bringing up as I know some co-workers who read, I trust they know my heart doesn't have ill intentions).

I had endured and enjoyed an hour with the loudest woman on the planet whom drives me crazy and makes me want to put her in my pocket to experience all day long all at the same time.

I took another person I support to the Snoezelan room (a therapeutic place stimulating the senses) for the third time to be dazzled by the progress she's making each time we go. A new piece of her personality is revealed with every visit. It is so cool to see.

I also got to help a co worker fix a significant med problem during the same shift with little time to spare - but it got done. It felt good to be a tiny help in finding the solution.

Then I had a conversation that knocked the wind out of my sails.

I was chatting with another co worker about one of the places/people I support as they asked how it was going. Following the question there was a quick lifting of the eyebrows in anticipation, yet subtle at the same time.

I began to answer safely then got the hint that there was understanding in her question. So I followed my answer with a question ... 'why do you ask?'

Something I probably should've left unexamined.

This trusted co worker went on to share that the person I was supporting's home provider had been speaking to their neighbor (who is also involved in home providing with our agency) and neither of them could figure out what 'the staff' (being myself) did all day with.... well, the person I support.

I nearly fell off of my feet. Not because it isn't a valid question. But more because, to me, my integrity was being questioned - as I in fact am accountable for all I do, all we do, in the progress notes.

Apparently they were concerned and questioning the fact that I brought the person to my home. Other staff were referred to as 'lazy' and so on because of doing leisure activities while yet other staff did the leg work. Over the last couple of months I have been the only staff for this person leaving me with more responsibility than time for fun, but I have really enjoyed the challenge.

The hard part was, though I have indeed brought this person to me house, in the past couple of months it has only been to print forms out on the computer or to do doing nice for the home provider. We definitely were not sitting around. Even if we were it wouldn't be a crime where I work to do that. Leisure is as important for those we support as work, or any other daily activity of living. Of course it should come more times than not after the other stuff is accomplished but it generally does anyways.

I guess the part that bothers me so deeply is how hard I have been trying to work with this person to make sure everything is done well. Appointments upon appointments, phone calls upon phone calls, government forms and attempts upon attempts. There has actually been very little time for anything fun. Something I used to do much more of with this person (and I am sure will in the future).

I know you could say 'Don't assume the conversation, look at the trouble it has caused you before' but I trust this staff, her intent and the context she gave to the conversation (which is further than I can explain).


Nothing hits me to the core more than someone questioning my integrity, especially in my work. I'm far from perfect. I am, more times than not, without the answer. I will openly admit that I am fully aware I am not the best DSW in the land and this frustrates me, which is why when I can at least get the work that needs to be done completed I try my darndest to make it happen. Having someone question my work ethic is a big deal to me.

I did my best to get this out of my head, it was more than a challenge. It got a bit easier when I entered one of my weekly nursing home visits with Dolly (remember she has Alzheimers?).

It was then I got to be reminded about how truly cruel human services can be.

There's too much to write to help you understand the whole situation but I can say this: my heart was broken more than once during my brief time with her. As I watched her go from tired, crying Dolly, to happy, lovey Dolly, moments later to angry, yelling Dolly, yet a few seconds later to 'Thank you so much! You spoil me!' Dolly (that's what she will say if she thinks you gave her her current colouring book for her birthday - which by the way is everyday, my kind of lady!).

The one that hurt the most was when she said out of nowhere in the most cheerful of voices 'Hi, my name is Dolly!' then shook my hand as if it was the first time ever. Then she politely asked how my day was going.

This was the most diverse conversation (those two lines) we've had in a long time and they were quickly over moments later when she forgot we were having a conversation and then went back to yelling and being upset.

Because of new protocols where she is there is little I am allowed to do with her anymore, hopefully that will change soon. Early on I disconnected myself with her hoping that the fact I had to be a near stone in my actions would help my heart be numb to what she was going through.

It didn't work.

As we sat in the t.v room without the t.v being on (not allowed) I disengaged from her the best I could but quickly felt my nose turn hot and the tears well up.

I just watched her.

I watched her go from one emotion to the next, with not one interaction between herself and another person, she switched on and off all on her own, seemingly without control.

I had done so well disconnecting that by the time I left she hadn't even noticed (and I had to walk right in front of her). I was secretly grateful as it would've been hard on both of us.

As I left feeling empty and heartbroken over Dolly I was quickly reminded of my earlier disappointment of the day that sunk further down in my heart.

I know it doesn't always matter what others assume or think.

I know I can't change Dolly's situation.

But I do wish there was a dose of something we could take (that wasn't alcohol) that could cure these sad days.

Something better than Melba toast.

I completely realize I am just doing a job. I am paid to care. I do get to go home at the end of the day (whenever that might be). But it still changes the state of my heart the same as if I didn't.

I am human.