All in a Day’s Work …

I had this idea that I didn’t much react or hardly reacted anymore, but the other day a client’s brother showed me otherwise. And here is what happened:

The air was already thick when I entered the house. Everybody except my client was still asleep in their rooms. Only the dog was bouncing around and no doubt looking forward to the walk up the driveway. My client has a severe mental disability with very little cognitive function but is otherwise physically able and surprisingly independent. It is my job to assist her with her personal care which includes shaving, showering, drying, checking and treating any skin lesions, dressing and grooming. I then take her to day care unless it is a Saturday and we go for a drive, to the markets and do some shopping.

This client is an absolute joy to be around

She is utterly harmless, has a mad cackle and is a great imitator, which is the way she learns new things. She doesn’t miss a beat and loves imitating the birds, drinking lots of soft drinks and listening to music while directing an invisible orchestra. Having no teeth at all, she hardly talks, and it took a while for me to get used to and understand what she is saying when I ask her something.

That morning, after our walk and just before leaving the house, my client’s brother emerged. And he immediately called my name – like an adult who is severely admonishing a very naughty child with more dire consequences undoubtedly looming. I have gotten used to then calling his name in exactly the same tone of voice which, under normal circumstances, makes him realise what is coming through him at me and he’ll apologise, meaning he realises how he has been talking to me.

Well, that morning he didn’t but started telling me about my misdemeanours the week before. Apparently, I had turned his load of washing off mid-cycle. Well, big deal you might think, that’s easily sorted out. And I agree.

Well, that morning he didn’t but started telling me about my misdemeanours the week before.

But now comes the crux of the matter – I reacted to the force coming through him and started to explain what had happened. In other words, I was justifying myself and trying to set the record straight. Instead of saying, as I had many times before: “Why would I do that? I only take care of her (my client’s) washing (or whatever) and leave the rest to you.”

But I didn’t, and I reacted. Conclusion: When something comes at me, is delivered with more than usual forcefulness, backed by a large physical presence and fuelled by unresolved stuff (in his case a stressful week with new carers and changed routines), I can still react.

Wow, I hadn’t known that – and isn’t work great! While getting paid and enjoying what I do I also get to learn heaps about myself. Who would ever want to give that away!

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