CW: death, cancer, stroke
I haven’t been active at all lately and that is partly due to my busy schedule, and mostly due to my mental health. I lost my first client to his illness two weeks ago and it has taken a lot out of me.
On the 27th October I turned up to see a client. It was pretty routine, I got off of the bus and walked to the house. I spotted an ambulance nearby but thought little of it, it could have been for anyone. As I got to the house though, another carer came out and told me not to go in. The ambulance crew were there for one of the clients (both the husband and wife were under our care) and it wasn’t convenient. I left as I was told to and made my way back to the same bus I had just gotten off of (it looped around the block and came back).
While waiting for the bus, I called the office as a formality to let them know. They were already aware of the situation and informed me that it was the gentleman (let’s call him Jim) who was unwell. They thought he may have had a stroke.
It was worse than I had thought and it knocked me a little. But I went about my day. I still had to go about my day as normal.
Fast forward to Thursday and I had the same call again (to clean). I called the office to see what was happening and that’s when I was told Jim was still in hospital. He was in hospital and not returning home. His cancer had caused the incident on Tuesday and he wasn’t going to be coming home. He only had a few days left.
I didn’t know quite what to do. I hadn’t been in this situation before and I got on really well with Jim. Now hearing I wouldn’t see him again was a shock. I knew it could happen but I also knew I wouldn’t be ready for it. I was right about that.
His wife was naturally distraught when I went in. Another carer was there doing her personal care call and trying to calm her. Jim’s wife (let’s call her Marie) has depression and severe anxiety, and naturally this was off the charts. She was pacing. It was the first time I had ever seen her downstairs in nearly three months of visiting. She was crying, kept saying that she didn’t know what to do. It was horrible and I just wanted to help her somehow but knew I couldn’t at the same time.
I stayed for the whole call, doing little things she allowed me (which was not a lot), and chatting to her as much as possible. I will admit I did struggle. There were a few times when talking to Marie that I found myself saying something then ducking out of the room as I was tearing up.
On the 6th November I received an email informing me that Jim had passed that week. I felt my heart sink, I knew it was coming but it still felt bad. He was lovely, one of my favorite clients, and now he was gone. I couldn’t imagine being in Marie’s position, they had been married for so many years and he did everything for her. Now it was just her and her cat alone at home and nobody to talk to except for when the carers came in and the odd day the family may visit. It must be hard for her.
Since then I have been back a few times, twice for cleaning and once as her evening check up to see how Marie is doing. Last week I stood there talking to her for nearly the whole half an hour and she told me that she just can’t cry now and I wished I could do something to help her. She feels unable to grieve, just empty. Marie told me it just feels strange without him there.
When I started my job we were told not to get too attached. A lot of these people are elderly, or very ill, or both, and we couldn’t get too close. But by the very nature of the work we do it is impossible not to. You have to be able to connect with them else it is clear and you come across as uncaring. I sat in a shop on my break last week and overheard some people nearby saying how bad carers were. He said how they never really cared, how they were just filling their quota and they would never care for a client the same way they would care for a client.
I disagree, perhaps those who are desensitised to the work may come across a little emptier, but I don’t know any good carer that doesn’t truly care. I know that we do feel it. I know carers that have broken down crying when losing a client. We may be told not to get attached but most people in my line of work find it impossible, it is just a part of the job and I know I would do almost anything for my clients as I would for my family.
Since I last posted I also completed my probation period at work. I am still awaiting my meeting to make it official but I have been with the company now for over 3 months. I have learnt a lot in that time, which was proven by my score on my certificate workbook, 84/85! I have really enjoyed working here and my main downside is the travel it takes too and from work. I do enjoy it though and I have some lovely regulars who I adore.
Now tell me, what have you all been up to the past few weeks? Has anything major happened? Let me know in the comments! Don’t forget you can always email me too on email@example.com or contact me through social media (links at the side/bottom of the page).