Friday, March 18, 2005

A Bitter Sweet Day

I went to work this morning as usual, for the first client I started working for after returning to this job. The husband has cancer. When I first starting helping them, he was going through chemotherapy and he was on the road to recovery. That was in November. They stopped doing the chemotherapy about a month ago, because it was no longer having any affect on the cancer. They tried once more with a different type of Chemo, last week. He has been extremely tired and in a lot of pain since. They saw the Dr. Today and realized that he will not be recovering. The Dr. told them that his body is failing fast.

The wife gave me the news this morning. The words, "He is failing." kept ringing in my ears. I couldn't remain my usually calm, cool and collected self while I was there. Tears welled up in my eyes a couple of times. I made an Ensure shake with ice-cream for him, which he has been practically living on for the last few months. When I brought it in to him, he had been attempting to write a note to his wife. He asked me to help him with it because he was not able to steady his hands to write it. He locked his eyes on mine and said, "This is a very serious note. You know that I am dying...." I told him, that yes I had heard the very sad news. He explained to me that he had the desire to be buried next to his parents, but that is not possible for some reason. He told me that as an alternative, he would like to have his ashes sent to the same cemetery where his parents were buried.

I assured him that I would let his wife know. I told him again that I am so sorry for what is happening. I could feel the tears forming in my eyes. His remedy was that we do the best with what we are dealt. I told him I'm sure he did it well. I had to stop in the bathroom to dry my eyes after I left his room.

I wanted to leave early. I found myself feeling uncomfortable around him. His wife told me how she was glad to have someone (me) there to keep her company. I felt badly for wanting to go and I really didn't have any reason to. I guess I wasn't prepared for what was happening. In the past, I have come on the scene once it is already known and the family has had time to come to terms with the situation. This was so fresh, it was hard to take.

From there, I was expected to be "bubbly", and funny for a brand new client I had not even met before. Her daughter described the perfect caregiver for her as one who would be "bubbly", and for some reason they thought of me. Personally, I would not describe my personality as bubbly. I think of bubbly as an annoying, air head that calls everything cute and talks like a valley girl. I would say that I am warm and friendly and occasionally witty.

The daughter's impression of me when we met was that I am somewhat quiet. I certainly am not loud and obnoxious and it's true, I can be reserved. All this pressure to be bubbly made me nervous to meet with her. Besides the fact that they are keeping a secret from her the fact that I am being paid to be her friend and take her shopping. People see through my lies.

I was even contemplating not taking her on as a client because I would be moving in a few weeks. I still haven't told my employer yet. I decided I would go through with it. If nothing else, I could warm her up to the idea of having a companion. I guess she has been pretty resistant to the idea.
I went and everything went AOK. She is a sweetie, and she was totally cool about having me there and driving her around to run errands. I managed to hide my sadness and even had a few laughs with her.

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