Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hump Day Hmmm- Comfort Zones

As always, I popped over this week to check out the upcoming Hump Day Hmmm..., which I always vow to do, but somehow keep missing. However, after reading about this week's topic, I MADE myself remember that it was Wednesday and therefore, time to participate.

This week's topic is comfort zones, and is incredibly relevant to my as of late. As an incredibly open minded individual, I've always considered my boundaries wide and my hesitations few and far between. In my life I have been fortunate to know people of all colors, all orientations, and all walks of life. I've dabbled in men of every shade and size. My brother was a homeless drug addict for many years. In college, I helped one of my closest friends struggle with her sexuality and mental illness. I have a son with Aspergers.

For the past year, I've been working for a company that does assisted living for adults with MR (mental retardation). I work in the main office, primarily handling paperwork. One would assume that would keep you on the outs of most client interaction- but not in our company. I've bandaged self-inflicted wounds, given dietary advice, and listed to people talk about horrific abuse that they've endured. I've grown close to people who most would avoid on the street out of pure ignorance.

With all of that in my life and in my past, I didn't think I even had a box anymore. My comfort zone is so huge it's Australia. However, I've discovered that even Australia eventually becomes the ocean.

In mid April, I was asked to fill in at one of our residences while they worked to replace the House Manager who had quit. I was eager to be more hands on, and met the challenge with gusto. This was a residence where I was close to almost all of the clients, and also one of our more "low-key" developments.

And now it's June. I've been there longer than expected, and seen more than I ever expected. I've had to be mother and enforcer. I've been cook and caregiver. I've been the bad guy and the emotional punching bags. There have been days when I've barely held it together long enough to get into my car and start crying.

And just when I think I've reached the edge of my comfort zone, it gets pushed further. These past two weeks however, I've hit my limit.


Last week, one of my clients was prescribed a suppository for an anal fissure (Hey, I warned you didn't I?) and internal hemorrhoids. I knew this would not go over well.

This woman was abused in some of the most horrifying ways possible at the hands of her own family. She was raped by various male family members. She was put on a dog regularly when she was taken outside. All of her teeth were removed when she bit someone as a child.

I knew this medication would be traumatic, but I also knew there was no alternative. Without it, she could develop an infection, which would cause complications with her severe renal disease. Several of my staff told me outright that they weren't comfortable administering the medication. I wasn't either.

And so I pushed. Inside I tried to curl into my box and remain in my comfort zone. On the outside, I've been forced to push a woman who's experienced severe trauma to suffer through further violation. I've been forced to push my staff to do the same thing all in the name of her health.

And what have I gotten for my efforts? A client who now alternately weeps and screams at me. Staff who is uncomfortable every moment. A stack of paperwork that goes straight to the state with each dose of the suppository she refuses.

Life never stops surprising you. Just when you think you've reached your limits, your pushed harder, kicking and screaming. Your eyes are just a bit wider, your heart a bit fuller.


This morning, my client proudly told me that she had allowed someone to help her with her suppository last night, and then she took it again this morning.

A weight is off my chest, and today is a good day. It just goes to show that sometimes persistence pays off. And sometimes, when you push your own boundaries, others will push theirs in return.


emily said...

WOW, you are amazing!

Julie Pippert said...

Holy wow and how. That's such a moment of discomfort but more than that a time of really having to suck it up and do something for the greater good. It's fortunate there are people who will, such as you, and yes, it was uncomfortable to read that story and yet, I think it's an important one to hear.

That Chick Over There said...


Angela said...

Oh wow... It is clear that they truly selected the best person for your job. (Not suppository pusher, but You are inspiring!

theflyingmum said...

Aye Carumba!
But yeah, i get it.