Monday, August 8, 2016

The Joys of Being a Caregiver

I didn't mean to sound patronizing but I had to ask the lady if she spoke English! I wanted to know what I was up against! I am not an English Native either, but I wanted to know if there was any point in talking further with this person or she didn't understand a word. Trust me, having lived in Georgia, Eastern Europe; I have had my share of language barriers, you just want to know beforehand how deep you need to dig in sign language etc, that's all. The CNA (certified Nursing aide), eventually introduced me to the client who was sitting in her bed, watching HSN.
.As we walked towards the patient's room, I remembered why I hadn't done caregiving for so long! It hit me like a ton of Poop, no pun intended! There was a young lady in there who seemed ready to go to school. Apparently, she was waiting for her mom, patient's daughter to pick her up and take her to school. The television was on Full blast. I had forgotten about all those perks of working with the elderly. Majority of them are hard hearing. They are also good in reading lips, which helps in cases where they have to deal with someone with an accent, like me! The patient seemed relaxed, she was concerned about the little girl touching anything and going into some room that had an entrance from the patient's bedroom. We were all in the bedroom; patient, CNA, and the little girl and I. I was standing by the door, there was a heater in the hallway, right outside the door, so it was coming straight at me! It was hot outside, I had just rushed there, fell in the process and all that good stuff. Plus, just, generally, I'm a sweater. A heater was in the top of things I really needed that morning! (Sarcasm). There were oxygen tubes, tanks, food trays, Chairs, Desks, all the kinds of things you would find in a room of someone who was bedridden because they need to have all their necessities at arms reach. Kudos to all bed-ridden people who can still keep a smile on their faces and be considered 'nice people' because it's hard! It's easy for someone to say a patient/client is full of sh*t, when they have never been in a position to have strangers in and our of your house 24/7, taking off your clothes, seeing you in your most vulnerable position and wiping your privates. It can't be easy. I feel bad for patients, and that's where my patients with them comes from. I know that if they could, they would rather do those things for themselves. They would give anything to have their independence back!

Wiping your butt is second nature. It's not something you say, ah, I can't wait until I don't have to do this myself ever again! There's pride attached to being able to take care of yourself in that way. Nobody wants to feel that invaded!

The patient and I had a nice talk that morning. She seemed like any normal lady who used to have a normal life, job and everything. unfortunately, she fell ill and it got worse over the years, and now, here we are! She needed around the clock care, so 12 hours per shift. That's a long ass day, when you're doing something you don't love.

As a home health aide, you take care of the client, do things for them that they can't do for themselves personally. That doesn't include spring cleaning their house and cooking them gourmet meals. There are housekeepers and chefs for that! Light house cleaning, like sweeping around the patient, dusting, picking up things off the floor, making them cereal, washing a piece of fruit and giving it to them, sandwich, that's it!

The CNA I was relieving told me that I didn't have to vacuum because she had already done that, I thought to myself, shay what? That's not light house cleaning? She also told me, when I asked, that I didn't have to sit with the patient the entire time, I could go to another room, like the kitchen, but make sure that everything is taken care of when I sit down. I was allowed an hour's break. But needed to be around even during my break because, well, who are you going to leave the client with?

Not too long after CNA left, the client's daughter arrived. She whispered to her mom, asking who I was, while I was right there and I could hear her! I had already said hi to her with my magic smile. I guess she didn't buy it, haha! After her mom told her who I was, she asked me if I was told about the rules. I told her I had, there was a list of more than 10 rules on the bedroom door. There was another one in the kitchen. I felt like everywhere I went in the house, there were rules. There were more in the bathroom. The bathroom was gorgeous by the way! Dark tile, with outside light coming in through the roof. I'm into that!

The client takes a lot of pills, so many at this hour, then at that hour, this time with food, then before food, then after, then this, then that! It was a lot but all I had to do was keep looking at the clock and the rules.

When you work as a caregiver, you want the client to use the bathroom because that's a good sign and the feel good afterwards, but you really don't want them to because you are in charge with the logistics around that. If you've done this job, you know what I mean. I feel bad not only for myself but for the client too when we have to do this because it's awkward! Especially when you're knew. It's like, 'Great, one more person's about to see me naked!'

I ran around the house like a headless chicken, changing beds, sweeping the floor, tidying up. Making snacks.While in the kitchen making snacks for the client, in comes this tall man! Totally unexpected! He came from inside the house! Which was even crazier! Nobody told me there was a man in this house! What in the hecks heck!?!?!? I didn't know whether to introduce myself or pretend he doesn't exist Did he even exist? Or was I tripping off all that heat in that house? Maybe I was hallucinating!