"You cannot hope to build a better world without improving individuals"
i received this email today ....a Spark healthy reflection.......and it got me thinking about work and my ambivilent feelings. i was drawn to occupational therapy(ot) for the "can do" spirit of it. i get to help and work with people to reach goals of independence.
i believe in that old saying "give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach him to fish feed him for life"...most ot practitioners do.
realistic aknowledgement of limitations with an on emphasis on abilities and compensatory strategies make up the bulk of what i try to do everyday with my patients. it's great......... in theory.
getting old is not for sissies......the hard truth is the people i work with are among some of the most fearful...and rightly so. my patients report being most afraid of:
loss of hearing
loss of sight
loss of bowel and bladder control
loss of independence
inability to eat normal textured food or drink thin liquids
inability to care for another family member
being in the way
living too long
all of the above
it's a challenging population to work with to say the least. professionally and personally.
professionally i feel good about the work i do when i'm able to "connect" and see that an individual is at least invested enough to make an effort.....the slightest indication that they want and believe they can do for themselves.....because that's half the battle....i will give 100% to that persons rehab experience. despite being, scared,weak,in pain or tired. their invested in the notion that if they do their part things will get better.
personally i credit the population that i serve with motivating me to get off my ass and start taking better care of myself. seeing first hand how very wrong things can go when health and strength give way to disease and weakness. all of my patients are a wake up call everyday to be thankful for the abilities i have and to thrive to not just exist. still, it's hard and i wake up in a bad mood more than i care to admit some days.
about 30% of my patients make an effort. their pleasant, (often pleasantly confused) but sweet and cooperative. they have good days and bad days and sometimes need a pep talk to get going but in general are motivated. the other 70% aren't so sweet or cooperative. i've never been particulary skilled at handling difficult pts...i do ok ...up to a point...but then my patience wears thin with the daily ritual of coaxing a person into working on whatever it is that landed them in rehab in the first place. sometimes my skin is too thin and i take it personally when i shouldn't.
i've been accused of pushing too hard. never by a boss or peers but by patients.......it's funny how the ones who bitch the most do the least and the troopers just plug along....not w/o complaint but they do what they have to do to get home
i think like alot of people in my profession i entered in with the desire to help people help themselves. . more of my time is spent on trying to tap into whatever is meaningful to the individual and when a person has lost hope or even desire it's all up hill.....and Big Bertha is a cake walk in comparison.
i like to think that this path that i'm on will lead me to a greater capacity for compassion. getting fit and striving to thrive and not just exist has given me hope and desire. i am very attached to the theory of occupational therapy.....helping others help themselves... the question is whether or not i have the capacity to give unconditionally. it's easy to serve cooperative patients but then there's that other 70% to consider. the majority, void of hope that need from me what is most difficult to give. non-judgement and compassionate detachment.
so how do i go about it? how do i remain true to the plan of care, goal driven within the medical model i work in and at the same time remain non-judgmental and compassionate independent of outcomes...in an outcome focused industry?
now that's the million dollar question.