Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are we so different?

We are, after all, advanced animals that have learned to adapt the environment to suit us. Not animals that adapt to the environment.
I have thought and believed that there is a difference in people "out west" versus "back east".
But when I get down to my job, helping people recover from the worst things that have ever happened in their lives, they are still the same.
For some reason, stroke, trauma, illness, these souls are in the hospital to heal and re-enter life. They have sons and daughters, fathers and mothers that have loved them or not, dissapointed or made them proud. There is a home to go to or to never return to again. The emotions are the same, too.
Kubler-Ross put forth the 5 stages of grief. It has become apparent that it is not just grief around dying, but also in any major trauma or life altering event.
I see people in the worst moments of their lives and I see the anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I see it in the family members as well.
But I also wonder if environment and childhood roll models shape how one embraces the challenges these people confront.
They fight on, struggle, at least try, or just give up.
Giving up is the most frustrating. I have helped a 95 year old to learn to walk again. I have seen people no one expected to live regain so much function that they go home with little to no help.
But some give up. There are types of giving up. There is complete surrender of the will to live and they just waste away and die. There are the learned helplessness cases. These, to me, are the worst.
I can see their potential to recover, to regain independence, and they want some one else to do it all for them. It makes me mad, to be honest. I have limited time to work with a person. If you want to give up and make your family work so much harder than they need to, to burn them out on caring for you, tell me so I can move on to the next person that WANTS to get better, that dearly desires to be as independent as they can possibly be.
But I can't and do not say this. I do the best I can, crying a little inside knowing it does not have to be this way.
These people drain you so deeply.
The next time you see a health care worker drooping, dragging, looking drained, it could be this reason. Ms Smith could get up and walk to the bathroom by herself, but she has learned dependence so she lies in bed and wants help. Two to three people have to divert their time and care from others to come in, get her up, get her into the bathroom where she will probably, in a fit of hysterics, let herself fall or loose her balance, injuring the young nurse, mom of two children, so badly she can't bend overt to pick up her crying child because her back is so messed up. Then Ms smith will ring the call button every three minutes to have a pillow fluffed and her sheets straightened so a non-existent wrinkle is not under her sizable ass. Meanwhile, Ms Jones, next door, can get up with help but no one can answer her call bell because they are all wiping Ms Smith's ass and wondering whether or not to fill out an injury form and report the burning in the low lumbar area on the right side to her supervisor.
It is all the same as in Hamsterville Hospital. The people care just as much, the patients feel the same things.
Are we all that different?

1 comment:

Paradise Driver said...

Here is a suggestion:

When I was in the Academy, one of the awards given was the "True Grit" award. Some awards were for Marksmanship. Academic, Physical fitness. The "True Grit" was a vote by instructors and cadets, about the person in the class who never gave up. Never quit. No matter how hard the going got, that individual wouldn't stop overcoming the obstacles. Just like the John Wayne character, Marshall Reuben J. 'Rooster' Cogburn, in the 1969 film.

Maybe you could make a certificate for those patients of yours that you feel truly deserve recognition.

just an idea.

Oh, I won that award. :)