Friday, December 19, 2008

Dementia Days

Four years ago, sitting in graduate holistic health classes, I would often become bored and impatient with colleagues who spent much of my time bitching and whining incessantly about the inequities and exploitation of the healthcare profession--low and mid level. I was a full time student, emptying savings and still teaching college. When I entered healthcare, full time, things would be different, new.

They are not. I am currently unhappily ensconced in an entry level healthcare position in one of the State's certified Alzheimer's/Dementia units. My professional life is comprised of continual serving, running, facilitating, serving, running, transporting, facilitating, quick lunch (we are timed) and quickly coding back in where some not very demented residents are spending their time, participating, observing, sleeping, coughing, and some shitting whenever and wherever they desire.

I could say I am an underpaid, exploited apprentice. I could say I am a Florence Nightengale-like martyr doing my service in the battlefields of the demented minds of the residents and the patriarchal frenzied service attitude of the basically well-meaning institution where I work, in the truest sense of the word. I could say I made a gigantic mistake five weeks ago when I left an exceptionally good semester of college teaching and launched my current financial and physical exhaustion. I could say I am a student of life and its continuing adventures.

Okay. I am stressed even though I am holistic. Oxymoron? No comment. No need to blog my physical/emotional stress symptoms. I have gotten a handle on the mind chatter. I have not yet mastered conquering an aching body after transporting some very obese residents around the aging facility or through the sometimes fetid unit. There are no windows open; there are no doors open. Residents will happily and rightly wander out. I share their frustation at their confinement.

I can imagine former professors admonishing me; telling me to look at this as a learning time. And they would be right, in part. I have connected with wise women dementia unit residents who have helped me learn about aging and living the process of dementia and fighting it, fighting hard. "Look, we have to cope with our problems, take it day by day. We may not want to, but we have to look forward and keep moving. We are women, we are strong," one resident explained to me during a small group conversation revolving around The Wellness Pie, an activity I facilitate often, to various groups. (More soon.) "I am aware of my confinement. I try to read and keep up on things. It is hard. However, it is better to be optimistic than to moan about each day," another woman explained. (These are supposed to be mid-stage clinically demented people.)

So, I take their wisdom and let it help me through these really rough days. It is useless to detail the injustices that take place in the name of care. Email if you want to know. It is more practical to focus on my escape, which I hope will be soon.

What will I do to escape this truly trying situation? Listen to the dreaded economic forecast? Beg for a job at my old place? Not quite. Run to the first position that I see? I will try not to. I have learned too much. (Something in my inner self said not to take this job.) I will center, prepare, search, and somehow adjust to working in a world that I hope I will never reside in. I know the code to get out; I hope I always do.


Anonymous said...

Deb, I feel your frustration. If ever there was someone who can and wants to turn a lemon into a lemon meringue it's you. Send your blog to Senator Cody. I think he has a great sensitivity to the problems of institutional health care. In the meantime, I'll keep looking for you, Cathie

CyberVoice said...


Thank you. I will send the blog to Sen Cody and contact him. And thanks for keeping an eye out.

About Me

New Jersey, United States
Wellness encompasses mind-body-spirit. We cannot feel well if all three elements are not in harmony. Achieving wellness can be exhilarating and can open your life. I can assist you on your wellness quest. I offer the combination of graduate training in holistic healing, practical experience and commitment to an integrative approach—using conventional and complementary healing tools, caring, and compassion. Training includes a Masters degree in Holistic Health Studies from Georgian Court University, Cancer Guiding training with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and continuing Reiki and Medicinal Qi Gong study.