Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Until You Squirt: A Man's Journey through Caring for the Disabled

That'd be the name of my book/memoirs if I were to write one concerning the events of my current job. I have a client who has a condition called "Barrett's esophagus" which just means that it's really narrow. But, everything else on him is narrow, too. I jokingly say he has "Barrett's ear canal," "Barrett's nostrils" and "Barrett's a**hole" too. Impacted bowel is a real and honest fear we have with him. And that can go from zero to fatal in but a few days. So, I battle with him, as he only likes to eat crap food. Chips, fatty meats and sausages, cheese, cheese doodles, or anything that would plug him up really good. We go rounds about him eating his prunes, drinking his prune juice and consuming his oatmeal each day. I just try to keep him from dying, nothing huge.

He's non-verbal, but makes squawks and noises when he is displeased, and giggles and coos when he's happy. So, amidst the squawks and noises he gives off, I tell him, "Dude, you're eating this stuff until you squirt." He can understand most of, if not all of what you say when you speak to him and he does a little sign language, so he knows what you're talking about.

This job is a lot like parenting three two year-olds and a three year-old. I have one client who speaks, but is developmentally stuck somewhere in the prepubescent period of maturity. The question becomes, "Do they run you, or do you run them?" They, like children, want to tell you what's going on or where to get off. How do you respond? It is a question of who knows best. Obviously, I know best. If I let that client eat like he wants to, he'd be dead inside a week. Now, the greater challenge presented to me is that I cannot punish if they "misbehave" or make bad choices. I have to get creative

Honestly, it makes me feel like things will be a breeze compared to this when I can give time-outs and bust a**es (not out of anger, of course). Also, they won't be roughly my build and able to beat the crap out of me when they throw a temper tantrum without a known antecedent. I've had the patience to suffer through, so I think parenting will come easier than this on many levels. I know it has it's own challenges, but I spend so many hours at work that I might as well live here. I don't spend much time away. There is a bond that tugs at the heart strings that develops with each client. You see their sweeter and more vulnerable side. You see them express generosity and kindness. It's like they become aunts and uncles

So, there are strong similarities, yet striking differences. I will throw my mind open when it comes to parenting when that day arrives, but I feel my work is well preparing me for that.

For those of you still paying attention, thanks. It'd be great if you left a comment (thanks for the last one, Delia; you're a true Sister). It's nice to know I'm missed.



clumsy ox said...

Good to see you writing again. I'm stoked to see you face-to-face soon.

Dapoppins said...

Hey, I thought you weren't blogging any more...last time I wandered by it had been a month!

My grandpa has severe Parkinson's...and trying to get him to do therapy so he doesn't turn to stone is a huge challenge for the nurses. The Veteran's hospital recently got a wii...how cool is that, to help with that movement thing, but I think it sort of baffles him.

I know I don't call...I have a story about that...my husband's brother...who lives in Portland, didn't know that my youngest son had broken his leg...I felt really bad, I was like..."don't you read my blog?" They were very hurt by the terrible we we keep in touch.

Jan Parrish said...

I had a business for several years as a companion for the developmentally disabled and really enjoyed my job because I knew I was making a difference in these peoples lives. It's challenging but rewarding. Sounds like this is the perfect job for you. Praying God's blessings for you!