Never forget there’s a person inside that body

As a nurse it’s easy to forget the person behind the face you’re dealing with. You see your residents every day and they all have one or more issues which prevent them from caring for themselves. It’s easy to forget who they once were, to see them as just a face, a body. But there’s a person behind the exterior. A person that dealt with school, health, work, family, friends. Even if they don’t deal with that now.

The man who regularly screams for help when he hears kids playing in the street. He has lost his daughter. She drowned when she was 5. He stood on the water’s edge and couldn’t help as he can’t swim himself. No-one else was close enough to help out.

The woman who’s sitting in her wheelchair, looking out of the window all day. She doesn’t say a word. She lost two of her sons in a car crash. The same car crash which left her husband paralysed and left her with severe headaches.

the woman who clutches the babydoll and won’t let go of it, not even for food or drinks. She fell pregnant when she was 16 and had to give birth in a home. Far away from her boyfriend and her (unsupportive) family. Her child was taken away to be adopted, even though she desperately wanted to keep him. She never told anyone this story.

The man who walks into the hallway in his underwear. He once was a school director. He helped out a lot of kids in trouble. He always wanted to become a teacher and he managed to follow his dream, even though his parents had no money.

The man who lies in bed the whole time and screams loudly at night. He was a pediatrician. Many of you who care for him now, he helped when you were little.

The woman who always cries and tells you “I don’t want to live anymore.” She was the head nurse in the hospital nearby. She helped out many people in their hour of need. Now she needs your help.

It’s so easy to forget that all these people have had a whole life before they came to live in a nursing home. Looking at the pictures in their rooms, talking to them makes me realise who they once were. Now they’re just a shadow of themselves, but we should always treat them with respect.

How to treat people
Courtesy of Imgur

This post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge.

Erasure

When I saw today’s Daily Prompt title, the first thing that popped into my mind was this:

But that wasn’t at all what it was about… Or was it?
Maybe this memory should’ve been a good one to erase from my memory.

For more entries, click here.

Camping is not for me

I have discussed this before in a reply to Tattooed Mummy’s post.

Camping really isn’t for me. When my brother and I were young we used to go camping every year. We spent 3 weeks in a tent. No electricity, no normal bed, no tv. It was fun. I loved it and couldn’t wait to do it again the next year.
So when I moved out of my mom’s house I went camping with my ex. Now our relationship was already falling apart, but this trip might have pushed me over the edge.

The camping space we reserved had been given to somebody else. I wasn’t too happy about it, since it meant setting up my tent in a spot I didn’t really like. By next Wednesday we were fighting a lot. And it started raining. Not very hard, a mild drizzle. It didn’t stop until friday morning. When I woke up I heard some strange noises. Not knowing what it was I turned and hoped I could get a bit more sleep. 30 minutes later I saw the tent floor rise. Within seconds the water came up and the tent started to flood. I tried to wake up ex, but he didn’t want to wake up. So I let him lay in the tent that now had about 4 inches of water in it. I desperately tried to rescue my medication and my clothes, but before I could do anything the water rose further. By the time ex woke up because he was getting wet I was out of the tent and standing in 12 inches of water. Everything I’d packed was wet and the shock gave me an asthma attack. I dragged everything out of the tent onto dry land. Ex stood there doing nothing. I managed to call my dad who had a real shock when he heard what was going on. He immediately stepped in his car and went to pick us up.
After that ex and I broke up.

Then I met Jay. I wanted to forget what happened with ex, so we went camping again. Different tent, different campsite, different part of the country. Everything was going to be awesome!
The first few days were going great. Until a rabbit decided to dig a hole right outside our tent. In the middle of the night I had to go pee. I went out without my glasses, stumbled right into the rabbit hole and managed to seriously bruise my ankle. We stayed at the campsite for a few more days until we realised my ankle wasn’t going to get better and we went home. Jay had to carry everything, as I couldn’t stand on one leg. Luckily Jay’s parents picked us up from the harbour.

photo courtesy of ginz: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginz/
photo courtesy of ginz: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginz/

Two years on and we decided to try camping again. Same tent, same campsite, same island. It was the end of June and it was cold. So very cold.
We were trying to cook on a tiny gas burner, but strong winds kept blowing it out. Other camping guests lent us their windscreen (3 metal plates put together with duct tape) and we managed to cook dinner. The next day those guests moved on and we couldn’t even make tea. That night we really thought our tent was going to blow away. It was horrendously windy and cold. But the tent was still standing when the sun came up and the wind had gone down a bit. We had a great day cycling around the island. When we went home we realised we couldn’t cook dinner, so we went for fish and chips. It didn’t taste as good as it did back home, but we ate it anyway. Big mistake!
We ended up having foodpoisoning and had to go home. Again…

So we decided never to go camping again. I really think Murphy’s law is in place for me when it comes to camping.

This post is inspired by today’s Daily Prompt. For more entries, please click here.

Thank you Daily Prompt…

Yesterday Daily Prompt asked us to describe our last nightmare. Reading about other people’s nightmares was interesting. And it triggered a nightmare for me. Great…

I was with Jay. We had just bought a house. And we were going to look at it for the last time. We were going to move in just 5 days. When the owner let us in I discovered it was tiny. It had only one window, looking out into the garden from the kitchen area. The kitchen had 4 units. There was just enough space to squeeze yourself in. The kitchen area had a large half wall with jail type bars on top to corner it off from the living room. The livingroom had very old sliding doors into the garden. But they couldn’t open as they were so old. The livingroom was about 2.5 meters by 3 meters. The garden was 4 by 4 meters and very overgrown.
The ceiling was cracked, ceiling tiles were falling down. The walls were covered in a heavy flowered wallpaper. The floor was a very bad colour laminate flooring with whole boards missing.
The whole time I was thinking “I can’t live here. It’s too small, it’s too cluttered, the cats can’t go outside. I don’t want to leave our house!!!” When we walked off Jay asked me if I still wanted the house and I told him no.

I woke up crying, since I really love our house and don’t want to move at all. Especially not to such a tiny house with no garden to speak of and windows only on one side.

In my dreams

When I dream I tend to gather all the things I did that day, put them on one giant heap and make a new story out of it. Generally it doesn’t make sense at all. Jay loves hearing what I dreamed up every morning. He always knows exactly which piece of the dream comes from which piece of my previous day.

Dreams

Generally, when I’m having nightmares it’s either about my past or about things that happened and where I felt I should’ve done something and didn’t or couldn’t do anything.
The last nightmare I remember was about work.

I was at work, alone. All my co-workers called in sick that day. It was 2 weeks before my vacation and I was very tired. My manager told me I had to work 11 day shifts (8 and a half hours) due to all my co-workers being home sick. I told her I couldn’t and that it wasn’t allowed to let people work that amount of hours. She told me it wasn’t her problem and that I had to go and help every client. I told her, again, that I simply couldn’t and that she couldn’t possibly suspect me to work all routes at once. She said she didn’t care and I had to go.

When I woke up I was so so mad at her. It took me a while before I realised it was a nightmare and not all my co-workers had called in sick.
Mind you, this was at a time when a few had called in sick due to the flu going around. Why I was fighting with my manager I don’t know. She’s absolutely lovely and I never fight with her!

For more entries to today’s Daily Prompt, please click here.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Pierce.

6 things you probably didn’t know about me

Many of us think of our lives as boringly normal, while others live the high life. Take a step back, and take a look at your life as an outsider might. Now, tell us at least six unique, exciting, or just plain odd things about yourself. Daily Prompt.

6 Things, that’s easy. Right? As it turns out, not so much. But I think I’ve come up with 6 things you probably didn’t know. Or maybe you did.

  1. I have an eiditic memory. Sounds great, but it’s not. I even remember the bad things that happened. And I can never forgive someone for something they’ve done ages ago.
  2. I do forget things. Like how many cats I kicked out the door. Or what to buy in the supermarket.
  3. I love llamas. Llamas (ans alpacas) are cute. I love seeing them out in a field. Too bad there aren’t many llamas or alpacas around here.
  4. I can walk past you without noticing you are there on the streets. But don’t worry, it’s not because I don’t want to see you. I just don’t notice you. I’ve been known to walk into my own mother without noticing…
  5. I have an irrational fear of dirty plates. I can’t help it. I find dirty plates the most horrendous thing I can think of. The idea that someone just ate off it is making me physically ill.
  6. I have a very twisted sense of humour. It’s a family thing. All my relatives are the same. If you ask me if I can do something for you, my reply probably would be: “I don’t know, can I?” Or “No, no, I can’t.” But I’ll almost always do it!

For more entries, click here.

 

 

Dementia is a bitch

After reading this post by ChickenRuby, I felt I have something to contribute to the discussion.
Not about children with special needs, but about elders who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Like ChickenRuby, I’ve been bitten, pinched, hit, spat on, kicked and called names (being called a Nazi really hurt my feelings and made me cry). Most of the times by the person suffering from dementia, sometimes by a family member of the client.

Family members tend to think they know their relative better than we do. But we see their relative every day, for hours. We see that they are getting worse, that they forget more and more. Most clients have a tendency to act better when their relatives are around. But when they leave, the clients gets back to its normal self. The one that (in many cases) can’t perform even simple tasks.

seniorentwitter_en380

For families this is very hard to understand. I once cared for a woman who, physically, was fine. But mentally she knew nothing. Yet she wanted to go out, walk around the village, go to the harbour. Her daughter thought that was fine and was very angry when I told her I couldn’t let her mother go out unless someone was with her.
Mind you, she’d got lost quite a few times before. Luckily, in a small community everyone knew her and brought her back, but the ordeal made her get worse every time.

Or the gentleman who thought he could still drive his car around. One time, when I went home, I got stuck behind him. I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green when he suddenly overtook me (wrong side of the road) and drove through the red light, almost hitting a few cyclists. I got stuck behind him for 10 kilometers. Couldn’t get past him at all. He swerved from one side to the other, breaking randomly and going 50 KM/H instead of 80. It was dangerous.
I talked about this with my manager and coworkers and the advice was given to his children that they’d sell off the car. One agreed, the other one didn’t. So the car stayed. We called it in with the police, they came around and talked to the man, but he flat-out refused to give up his car or his driver’s license. In the end we had to call the police whenever we saw him leave and hope that he wouldn’t cause an accident.

Of course it’s hard acknowledge that your relative can’t do what they used to do. They slowly travel back in time further and further. Until, finally, their body gives up and they die. And that’s hard. But don’t ignore the signs, don’t ignore the people who care for them. They know what they’re talking about, they know your relative better than you do, really.

Dealing with dementia is like dealing with a child with special needs. They don’t see what consequences their behaviour might have. They simply don’t know. They tend to think they can do whatever they always did, but that time has passed.
And that’s hard. On the client and on the family.

Cartoon by TeddyTietz

Changes

I’ve always thought I live a very boring life. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke. I don’t go out (health issues have always prevented me from doing that), I don’t have (many) friends. I’d love to change the last one, but I’m having trust issues, so that’s very hard.

Yesterday, when we were talking at work about what we did before we came to work there, someone suggested I had led a pretty interesting life up until now. I’m still not sure why she said that. Yes, I have worked in lots of different jobs (cashier, gas station attendant, butcher, cleaner and now a nurse), but does that make my life interesting?

It does make that I can change jobs pretty easily. I fit in in a lot of places. I can easily adjust to new work environments. But does that make me interesting I wonder, or is it just the things I did or do that are interesting?

This post is inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.

Sweet 16

When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

Are you serious? When I was 16 my life couldn’t possibly be worse than it was. I didn’t think too much about the future as I had way too much to deal with at the time.

My parents relationship was miserable (it ended in divorce about a year later). My uncle was tied to a hospital bed. One of the teachers in my school did everything to get me to fail. I was constantly bullied by some brats. My brother (lovely boy) had psychological problems. I had a job where a guy thought he was allowed to touch me whenever he could.

I did not think about the future. At all… Sweet 16? Don’t get me started…

sweet16

For more entries on Sweet Sixteen, click here.