Ouch weblog: individual blog entry
6 Sep 07, 2:34 AM - In The Company Of Others
One of the noteworthy aspects of living in Minnesota--aside from the blizzards and the hot dish and the abundance of blonde people--is the fact that it's one of the few states in our imperfect union that offers 24-hour nursing care to those of us with an affinity for breathing with a ventilator. Now, just because the state offers nursing care doesn't mean it's easy to find actual nurses. As in much of the country, we have a nursing shortage in these parts and home care isn't the first choice for most people entering the field. When I first moved here and used a home care agency, I was constantly dealing with gaps in the schedule and some nurses who were--how to say this nicely--less than ideal matches. A few years ago, I decided to manage my nursing care without an agency and things have settled down a good deal. My nurses get a better wage and I get a little more freedom to determine who is going to work with me.
I sometimes get asked what it's like to have someone around me 24/7. I usually respond that it's probably a little bit like being married to seven or eight different people. When you're with someone for eight or more hours at a stretch, you can't help but learn quite a bit about that person. And in turn, they are privy to many of the details of both my professional and personal lives. They know my family, friends, and colleagues. They know it's useless to talk to me when I'm in front of the computer. They know about my cravings for Pringles crisps and my liberal politics. Some of my nurses probably know me better than most of my relatives. I do manage to carve out a private life, but it takes work and some acquired assertiveness. And we Midwesterners are not renowned for our assertiveness.
I've also learned to play to the strengths of each of my nurses. I have one nurse that I take with me when I need to go shopping for clothes. When I need help with fixing my computer, I have a couple other nurses to whom I turn. I figure that my experience with managing my own care is good preparation for a career in middle management.
It probably seems weird to most people; having someone within earshot nearly every minute of the day. But without my nurses, I'd probably be much less independent. That may seem counterintuitive, but not from where I'm sitting.
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