The Nerve!

We're talking with this friend of ours.

He's the father of a child with disabilities. His son is nearly an adult... a tall, skinny boy who can walk, but not talk. He entered the world as a normally developing baby until a nanny delivered him a debilitating brain injury with a shake. It takes but an instant to alter the lives of an entire family... a lost temper... a few seconds... and everyone's life shifts onto a new path. The dreams of that bright-eyed baby going to college become dreams that the child will learn to swallow, learn to walk, learn to say a word or two.

The three of us are talking about how hard it is to find good, paid caregivers.

We're telling him about one caregiver in particular that no longer remains in our employ. Her most redeeming quality was that she mostly showed up for her shift (unfortunately "mostly showing up" is a virtue in the home health industry). When she was with us, she moaned through her day, her crestfallen face forever pinned in a downward frown. She asked for our sympathy and told us of her personal woes. She couldn't do this today because of her back, or couldn't do that because of a headache, etc. I'd classify her work as less than adequate,

The gurney I built for Savannah many years ago and still use.
Savannah's gurney at home
But we could put up with her unreliability and mediocre performance. What we couldn't abide was her criticism. On several occasions she condescended to give us advice on Savannah's care. Yes, this low-skilled attendant, who had spent mere hours with our daughter, felt she had accumulated enough knowledge and insight to tell us how we were doing things wrong.  As she schooled me on Savannah's seizure disorder, my mouth stood agape. I held back a stream a vitriol. What about my fifteen years of backbreaking devotion? Where was this woman through the long nights, the surgeries, the illnesses, the fevers, the screaming, the pain, the PICC lines, the intravenous antibiotics, the therapies? She shrank before me, this know-it-all, this self-appointed holier-than-thou who dared to come into my home, do her job poorly, and have the gall to tell me I wasn't doing it right? I imagined squashing her into oblivion under my foot, her whiny voice evaporating in a crunch of exoskeleton.

Our breaking point came one evening, Tamara and I were trying to have a nice dinner alone.  The attendant slouched into the dining room and said, "Have you ever thought about bringing Savannah in here with you?  She can hear your voices and looks over her shoulder for you."

I thought Tamara was going to leap upon her and throttle her good. Instead, Tamara, the consummate professional, slowly closed her eyes, breathed in, steadied herself, and politely thanked the attendant for her suggestion.

After relaying this story to our friend, he leaned back. His eyes were wide. "I'd have fired her on the spot! The nerve!" he blurted.

We have learned to contain our anger, bide our time.  We are dependent on these workers. Tamara said, "We asked her to train a back up attendant. The day that training was complete, we fired her."

We've learned a lot in fifteen years.

#specialneeds #parenting #disability #shakenbabysyndrome #braininjury


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