I grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire with my mother, father, and older brother, Tony. All of us were healthy, except for Mum, who was always sick. I cannot remember a time in my childhood, or my adulthood when she did not have something wrong with her. She had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, ovarian cancer, and diabetes, to name a few. She fought hard to be well, and, with the exception of all her life-threatening illnesses, she was able to lead a somewhat normal life. There were, however, a lot of trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, a lot of check-ups with her general practitioner and a lot of treatments; some common, some experimental, some that could kill her. As a young child in elementary and middle school, I worried about my mother all the time. There were many days I envisioned coming home from school to find her deceased, and it terrified me. When I knew she was having a particularly bad day, I would do extra chores to help her out, so she could rest. I knew, from that young age, that someday, I wanted to go into the nursing field. My calling was to take care of other people like my mother.
As a young adult, I had put aside my dreams of becoming a nurse, to have children. I was a stay-at-home-mom for many years. In 2008, Mum was put on Hospice care through a facility that provides the same types of services as TLC. A Registered Nurse visited my parents’ home to take my mother’s vitals, administer medications, assist with personal care tasks and provide some much-needed respite for my father. I had occasion to witness that nurse, on the job, several times during that period. I am aggrieved to report that she did not provide the services in my mother’s care plan. While she did take her vitals, that was all she did, and while doing so, she seemed rushed; eager to move on to her next case. She spoke very little, and when she did speak, it was only to reveal the results of Mum’s vital signs. The lack of care and personal attention to my mother, made me feel like she was just a number on a roster, a means to a paycheck; a storyless lump in the bed. Witnessing the lack of care from a professional, made me revisit my earlier thoughts about working in the healthcare field.
Mum died on July 17, 2008. She was only 55 years old. I still had young children at home, and the wounds from her death were too fresh to consider working with those in palliative care. Instead, I worked as a PCA for children with Autism for a while, until budget cuts put me out of a job so, I started school. While working on my prerequisites for Nursing, I had heard that a Licensed Nursing Assistant course was being offered at Hartford Area Career and Technical Center. I jumped at the chance, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
In September 2017, I started my Caregiving Career with TLC HomeCare. I only work part-time, because I still attend school, and I am raising my seven children. It is a busy household! When I first became a Caregiver with TLC HomeCare, I covered shifts for others Caregivers when they were out sick. Then, I was given my own regular clients to work with. As a Caregiver, I still cover shifts for others when they are ill or have appointments. I enjoy my regular clients, and I also love seeing new faces and hearing new stories about the wonderful people I get to assist. Even without being a Nurse, I am fulfilling my calling to help people. I am allowed to do for others, the things I will someday need assistance with myself, and I am so glad to do so. I hope that someday, a great-grandchild of one of my clients will see my passion for helping, and that will be the catalyst for them becoming an LNA or Nurse one day. Maybe they will care for me when I am too old and failing to do so.
My ultimate goals in working in this field? I aspire to give better care than that of the nurse who came to Mum’s bedside, and I strive to provide my clients with the personal care that I would give to my own family; because each one of them is somebody’s family. They are each, a dear friend or former coworker to someone who loves them. They each have a history; maybe a history like mine, and maybe not, but they have a history, nonetheless.
I always wonder if I am doing my job right. Working out in the field, without co-workers, can be isolating and, sometimes, invalidating. I have, however, been fortunate enough to receive some wonderful feedback about the quality of care I provide; from my supervisors, my clients and clients’ family members. While I was working with one of my regular clients, and his hours were cut back, the family specifically requested that I be one of the caregivers that stayed on with him. After that same client passed away, I received an e-mail from my supervisor that relayed a message of satisfaction from the family. I get regular verbal “thank-you’s” from my clients, who tell me that they appreciate what I do for them and that they are happy with the way that I do things.
Most recently, my daughter came home from school to tell me that her friend informed her that I work for her Grandma and Grandpa, and they “adore” me. I could say nothing to her in return because of confidentiality, but on the inside; I was smiling. It felt good to hear the words. I know that what I do, is not only fulfilling my dream, but also improving the field I am in because I am doing it to the best of my knowledge and my heart. I’m glad to say; “Mum would be proud”.