Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hands……

It is hard to believe and so i am nearly holding my breath in the hopes that i might actually only have one client to see on this soon to be rainy friday in lovely East Tennessee.  I am extremely tired from a heavy schedule these past few weeks. Getting the girls ready for school has only added to the chaos. My only client today is such a lovely lady I have had the great pleasure of getting to know.  She told me last week that she was retarded. At first i was surprised by this because i didnt really come close to drawing such a conclusion about her. She is getting on in years and i recall learning when i was young that most retarded babies do not live to old ages. Heart problems mainly. But more than this it was that she just seemed more of a simple person full of joy. She has this wide smile and big blue eyes. She showed me a picture of herself at a younger age and i could definately see the downs syndrome characteristics in her face back then.  I usually only stay there about 2 hours at a time and i try really hard to whiz around as fast as i can to clean as much as i can before i leave at the end of those two hours. She loves to sit in her recliner and lean forward and sew things. She likes to take old material from discarded clothes and cut them up and sew them together. She even reuses the yarn from sweaters as the thread to sew it all together. She makes quite a mess right there the first two feet all around her recliner with material shavings and scraps of yarn and thread. She just truly loves doing it.  Mimi is a very large woman yet inocent and helpless at the same time. she is far smarter than most people would consider her who didnt really know her. I love to cook her good food. She also has a passion for cooking. She told me that she was retarded and the only thing she knew how to do were to cook and sew.  One evening while I was waiting for her dinner to be ready  i sat down to visit with her and she started talking to me about being a momma.   She boasted nonstop about her daughter and the twin granddaughters she bore.  Mimi LOVES babies. She made me look at all her picture albums almost everytime i come to lend her my helping hand. Most of the photos are of the twin grandbabies who just turned three years old. Mimi has the best high pitched laugh you ever heard. Everytime she talks of her sweet daughter and the babies she lets out a high shrill of laughter. she talks so much about her daughter and grandbabies that i was surprised to hear that she had given birth to FIVE other babies!  As she talked to me i listened intently to this sweet woman tell me about how men would have their way with her and how she was even raped out right once. I never expected to hear her say this.  She said she didnt know and people would just have their way and she would have another baby. she loved her babies.  She said that the state came and took all her babies away. She said it tore out her heart. She said she was so mad that she wanted to hurt the people that took her babies. She was working to get them back and got married to some crazy awful man who would bring home women and tell her to leave the room so he could have sex with them in their bed.  She had her fifth baby with him. He threatened many times to send her to the institution cause he said she was crazy. He took that particular baby from her is how Mimi understands it. She said that she didnt know where he was for the longest time. She called her husbands sister and (Mimi’s sister in law) and the woman at the other end of the line told Mimi that he brought the baby to her and that she felt it was best to turn the babygirl into the State.  Mimi talked about this story the most because it seemed it affected her the most. Somehow there was a supposed car accident or something and the newborn that was taken from Mimi was in the car and she perished in that accident. Somehow the state compensated her with money for this terrible accident of her baby dying in the home of a foster family(though she still wonders what the real truth is) and somehow the rotten man who married her once came back into town and found Mimi only to remarry her in order to take the money and leave her once again.  I think of all those nasty men who thought it was ok to have their way with a mentally retarded woman as if she was free for the taking due to her condition. Somehow she did have one more baby and stayed very close to her and they lived together for years. That is the woman who i see in photos everytime i come over to Miimi’s.  My heart breaks that noone protected Mimi during those years. HOw traumatic to not really know how you get pregnant and then having to birth them and then get them all taken away. She said she had boys too. I said it was a shame that noone around would help protect her and watch over her. She said finally there was. Three women who were Jehovahs witnesses took her in and cared for her and helped her clean and gave her food and money to help her see her boys when they visiited. she said they showed her so much love that she became a Jehovahs witness herself.  I wonder how if these ladies are alive and if they know what a great affect and beautiful service of Gods love they offered Mimi during that time.  She seems kind of childlike in spirit but still she is smart enough to know what is going on and how unfair life can be. She still exudes joy nonetheless. I brought her some veggies from my garden and a Lady Vols teeshirt from the last game i attended with my daughters. Mimi’s eyes lit up when i gave her the pink shirt. She was so excited to get a present. She said thank you thank you!  I made her an apple crisp from apples given to me by another client i have. I told them if they picked the apples for me i would make them an apple crisp. I made them this giant platter with double crisp ontop and then they gave me a bag of apples to take home. So i brought some to Mimi and made her an apple crisp too. I still had some left so i made another big platter of it for my family and gave away the remaining eight apples! I swear it felt like the story of the loaves and fishes in the bible! When the crisp was finished i took it from the oven to cool and served up a small bowl for Mimi before i left. I didnt want her bending over to pull it from the oven and get hurt from a hot heavy casserole dish. As i left i suggested she take it down in the morning to share with her friends in the lobby over coffee.  She did and they loved it. I wonder if those apples knew they would travel so far and meet so many people! 🙂 Well, Mimi has been tickled by the time we spend together. I sure have as well. Its hard sometimes when you know other people that are in the same job position as you do not care enough for the people they care for. How can one use the words “care for” regarding the elderly if its not in their heart? They have let life consume them and they lose sight of the fact that these people are PEOPLE. I am not judging them in anyway. We are all on a path and at different coordinates in the great path of life. But i know its hard for them to hear people like Mimi go on and on about me as her caregiver only making them a bit put off by it. I was over there two days ago and Mimi said the caregiver that was there that day for her said”Why does she make you all that food and give you gifts and things?” and Mimi said that she told her “Because she LOVES ME!!”  I did not do any of it because i wanted to out perform the lady Mimi was talking to but because people like Mimi deserve it.Because i love what i do. People like this totally appreciate every little thing you do for them. The rest of our society is so caught up in their own life they cannot see past their nose to consider anyone else outside that life. Most people do not show appreciation nor do they acknowledge it when they should.  I keep having the feeling that we all may not be around here alot longer on this planet. I cannot explain this but we must realize that every minute we have is fleeting and should be appreciated. If i am gone tomorrow i do know that i surely loved those people. I miss Mimi when i leave her in that apartment by herself.  I think how much joy it would bring her to just sit in my living room and be a part of the noise and chaos of kids.  Surely she is in a much better place in her life than she was years ago and I find solace in this on my way home from her place every other evening. I love this job.

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Hands….

Recently ,i returned to the world of caregiving. I love doing it and its the most rewarding job i have ever had. I have been feeling the call back to home health for sometime now. I have been having very lucid dreams about being in such environments. I truly believe its important to try and help the elderly and handicapped maintain any semblance of independence possible in order to prevent them from having to move into a longterm nursing facility. There needs to be alot of reform from the government regarding nursing facilities. They are always understaffed because the demands of such jobs on your family life and the schedule demands as well as the job itself are far too intense to justify the wages.  People in general cannot honestly maintain the design of these careers and juggle the demands of their families. The crazy thing is that the school system is set up the same way. In total contradiction of the average healthcare workers schedule and the unexpected emergencies regarding ones family. Moreso than the demands of the caregivers delatariously affecting the quality of life for our elderly folk in nursing homes, but also, are the design of whole concept of longterm care nursing. We take our elderly from everything familiar, we put them in a facility with a roommate they have never seen before. We have strange faces come in one them to give medicine and keep the residents dry and repositioned to avoid pressure sores. We feed them strange food and expect them to eat it with bibs on in strange rooms with lots of people they do not know. Many of them could be drooling on themselves or making strange sounds which only takes away from any already deteriorated desire to eat. No more privacy, no more familiar smells from the house they most always lived in for many many years. It really does have a strong effect on the elderly when uprooted from all they know such places. No matter how sweet the staff is and no matter how much family visits, they still lose a shine(unless its an assisted living place or retirement community as they usually have more independent people living their who tend to improve their quality of life by living in  retirement centers. The longer we can keep our elders out of nursing homes the longer we can offer a more vital life.  The pay is even worse in home health than in major nursing homes around any given community. The demand is not about carrying fifteen patients everyday and answering call lights nonstop,  But I always get such a great feeling when i leave someones house after helping them or caring for their momma or daddy or whomever.  I fall in love with these sweet old people. For privacy sake i shall change names but i feel there are some amazing and very touching stories to share about my blessed life a  caregiver. I know you will be touched by the stories that are shared with me or i experience with people in my job. Its very late and i have a long busy day then a long busy night caring for clients so i will have to share some tomorrow.  I will say that I am so lucky to get to know these magical people and i will never be the same from every minute i have spent with them. I have become a better me. I am still becoming a better me and each and every one of them help me get there in its own natural path as it began since the beginning.I go to bed thinking of these people. I am extremely blessed to now have a husband who to carry the load so that i can have the opportunity to work in such a low paying job yet a richly lavishly rewarding job. He appreciates my heart when i express things about my day. I can tell that it truly touches him to hear about how truly beautiful people are from the inside out. sometimes i get angry and i am ashamed of the way our nation, our culture has chosen to treat our elders in such a modern society wealthier than most everyone else on the planet in opportunity. Most families could not work this job because it wouldnt be enough to pay rent.  Much less daycare, or gas and daipers and daycare. If these caregivers were paid more feasible wages to consider living by than you could get more dedicated and caring workers who do not quit and who you can count on to further the cause of independence and quality of life for our elderly. I am feeling a tug also about getting involved on a political level on a campaign to champion the needs of the elderly in our world. For now i shall try my best to work as hard as i truly can for these people and try to be the brightest light i can be for them. Some of the stories i will share are hilarious and some of them are sad and many are brave and impressive and wonderfully surprising.  But mostly they are a connecting of hearts. All the hearts who hear the story will be connected.  I hope to challenge others to see the beauty in everyone . In all things. May they all inspire you to be better in your efforts as well:) Wait til you hear about Sophie……