Thursday, January 05, 2012

Rising To The Occasion

A good friend spent six months caring for her dying husband.  She lifted him and supported him although he outweighed her by 40 pounds.  She cleaned his shit and his vomit and never complained.  I told her how much I admired her and expressed what I thought was my inability to ever do what she did.  She answered that she just did what she had to do.  I still thought it was great and something I could never handle.

This week I found out she was exactly right and our bodies do what needs to be done.  I learned to lift and after initial gagging, I learned to wipe butt and clean the uncleanable.  It still is something I would rather not do, but I rose to the occasion.  I've always respected the aides and health care workers that do this for a living, but after doing it myself my admiration has grown immensely.  These people are over worked and way under paid.  I remember hearing recently about a bill to raise their wages and the argument that people will not be able to afford them.  I don't know how we cannot pay these people, or anyone else for that matter, a living wage.  These are the people that care for our loved ones in the most intimate manner possible.  I will be employing one of these individuals soon.  Not paying properly is criminal.


Anonymous said...

I get this post... In the 2 years before my grandma passed away, I found myself doing a lot of things that I never thought or would be able to handle.

Schoolgal said...

My mom--who originally fought tooth and nail against the idea--finally let us get her an aide. At that time Medicare allowed for 3 hours--I think it's down to 2.

Both were the most caring individuals. They did what you described and more. My mom was staying with my sister at the time of her operation and the aide would come in the morning in time to give her breakfast, bathe her and be a companion. We convinced my mom to let her stay an hour longer. When the aide's time was up, we really missed her. Thankfully I was able to help out during the summer and weekends.

We were shocked when once again my mother resisted an aide even though it became apparent she could not be left alone. Both my sister and I were working full time. Even though she resisted, we hired one on our own. It turned out my mother liked her a lot, but my mother didn't last the week. We kept the aide on until the funeral. She helped my sister prepare the house, and we were very grateful.

The thing is, even caring wives, husbands, daughters and sons need a break from caregiving. We do it with all our hearts and it breaks our hearts. It truly is a role reversal.

I wish your dad well and am glad he was there with you to welcome the new year.