Doing what you love, while doing what you love.

In addition to being an OT, I also am a darn good baker. I love to bake and lately I haven’t been feeling like baking. Cue the older patient that tells me she no longer cooks or bakes because she doesn’t think she can anymore. It broke my heart. I would be so devastated if I could no longer make those little bits of happiness I call cupcakes. Or those morsels of heaven that they call chocolate chip cookies.

So being the great OT that I am I asked her if she could bake anything right now what would she want to bake. She chose a chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting from scratch. She had a recipe in mind from a cookbook she has had for 60 years. Her husband kindly brought it in, I carefully made copies of what she wanted to make, and when I say carefully I mean it. The books binding had been taped and retaped a dozen times! I went to the store and bought all the things we needed, brought in tools from home and set up the cooking.

The first day we had to bake the cake. She started out the session telling me what to do, so like any good OT I stood there and refused to move. I had everything carefully placed in her reach so she didn’t have to get anything. Thankfully she took the hint and started putting things together. She has sternal precautions (no lifting greater than 10#, no pushing, pulling, twisting with the arms, and no weightbearing through the arms) and I was teaching her how she could still make this cake while maintaining them. She quickly got the hang of things. The cake was made and all set for the next day to frost.

When we were making the second batch of frosting (because we both agreed it needed more) her husband and friend came in. At first they were skeptical of what we were doing, thinking that it was a bit silly how much I was helping her. We didn’t have much time left and I still needed to get her back to her room so I could see my next person. Once I talked to her husband about why we were doing what we were doing he understood and backed down.

She was so happy to be cooking again. Many times over the two days (and 3 hours total) she thanked me several times for letting her do this. And saying how wonderful it was.

Could I have made the whole process easier and quicker? Sure, I could have used a cake from a box (but that would be against my own baking rules:always from scratch or not at all) or I could have encouraged her to pick something simple, but what good would that have done us? I felt good cooking with my patient. Other people kept poking their head in hoping to join in, patients included. And now two of my other people want to cook for their therapy.

I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love, while doing what I love. You have to love what you do.

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Finding happiness among sadness

A few months ago I had a wonderful patient on my caseload. He was there over Christmas and Veteran’s Day, so I had a chance to get to know him pretty well. When he saw me he would ask about my wedding plans and made me promise that I would announce the wedding in the local paper so he could read about it. I told him I would.
Then he got really sick, and just couldn’t recover. He decided that he would go home with hospice. I was in full agreement that it was the best plan for him. He wanted to be home with his cat. I said goodbye to him before I went away for vacation knowing that he would already be home before I got back. He passed away a few days after he got home. His obituary picture was him with his cat. It was the saddest and sweetest thing I had ever seen.
Today I found out that before he left the facility he was asking the social worker where I was (he had forgotten I was on vacation). He kept asking where his girl was. He wanted her to assure him that I was marrying a good guy. Luckily she knows him and was able to vouch.
I just feel so touched that one of my patients in the very end was more concerned about how I was going to be than what he was headed home for. He was such a sweet man.
It is so wonderful and sweet to know when you are appreciated for what you do.

The principals office

At some point in your life you have been in the principals office. Unless you were perfect in school, and then I am sorry. You see having one day in the office can help you when the work equivalent happens.

This happened to me this week. I had a really serious ethical dilemma that needed to be dealt with. I followed my gut (which luckily also sticks along with the code of ethics for OT) and was professional in all that I did. It didn’t keep me from getting called to the plate.

So on Monday I had an email telling me that I had a meeting with the program director, the department manager, the OT team leader, PT team leader and the therapist I had been co-treating with. As soon as I saw it I felt sick, and so did the other therapist. We both apparently have the same anxiety reaction. Today the meeting happened. This resulted in 2 nights of me not sleeping great, having stress dreams, dreading work, and feeling sick. (I need to get a handle on how I manage stress, I get it. But there was too much time between it all). I also tend to cry when I am angry. Not right away, I usually have my say and then burst into tears. Emotional let down is what I am going to call it. So I was nervous about that.

At the meeting it was really tense, no one in the room was happy to be there. The program director said the meeting was to just figure out what happened. The OT team leader jumped on that and gave her side. Then the PT team leader. Then finally me and the other therapist. The program director kind of ignored what we were saying, and then the manager came to our defense. (She is a wonderful woman) I was able to keep emotions out of it, knowing that I did the right thing.

The most important part is that my manager agreed with everything we had said. She chalked it up to the battle between therapy and nursing (it will always exist I think. Sadly.) and told us she was on our side. Going forward I would do the same thing all over again but dig my heels in sooner.

The moral of this whole thing is that you will get called to the plate at some point for your decisions. Stick to the code of ethics, do what is right for your patients, and please always be professional. At the end of the day you have to be right with yourself and be proud of the work that you do. I am so proud of how I handled the whole situation. I am thrilled that I was able to keep it together (no tears!) state the point, and call the right people to the plate for their part in the whole thing. And that at the end of the day I did what was right for my patient.

Seriously, I love my job.

 

 

I love love love love love my job. Why you ask? Well let me tell you about my day.

Today I was working with a patient that recently came off from the ventilator and is on a trach collar. Today we decided he would stand up. We did it in the morning and then got real ambitious and put him in a wheelchair instead of his bed. Great. Then a couple of hours later we were working with him again. We said okay lets get him into bed. After a couple of other things we got him into bed and all was good. Then we happened to look over at his wife. She had tears pouring down her cheeks. It was so sweet to see, because we did something I think she thought was out of reach. He was exhausted so he couldn’t really be proud of himself. It didn’t hit me how big that was for him until I saw her. The reality of what I do hit me, and I was so happy.

Then later in the day I went back to see my lady that I wrote about yesterday. She wasn’t feeling well today and I couldn’t really push her too much. In the morning, I had asked the nurses to do a bladder scan on her so that we could rule out residual urine as the issue. She was holding urine so they dealt with that how nurses do. Later when I was in to see her I was asking her how she was feeling and explaining to the daughter what had happened in the morning. My patient said to her daughter “If it wasn’t for her they never would have looked at this as a problem.” I told her that they probably would have done it anyway, I didn’t want to take all the credit. She then said “But you got the wheels turning and I am so grateful” I told her you’re welcome and that it wasn’t a problem. Then she said “Lots of people come in and out of your life. There are some people that you will remember forever. I will never forget you and how kind you have been.” I couldn’t help it, I teared up. I’m doing it again now just thinking about it. She was so incredibly sweet. Another therapist was in the room to hear that, but she didn’t say anything to me.

Hearing those kinds of things are so wonderful. I need to remember them for the days where I feel like I haven’t done anything at all.

 

 

I love what I do

 

 

 

Today was one of those days that I needed to have to remind me why I am doing what I am doing.  And not only that, but also that I am supposed to be doing what I am doing.

I have a patient that is older and is having a hard time with therapy.  After a long discussion with her and her daughter it was decided that she was right in requesting a lighter therapy program. I had to tell them some hard things, and tried to be as frank as I could. It’s really hard to tell someone that they have to take care of themselves first when you know that at home they are worried about their spouse that has dementia. I wouldn’t want to hear it either. And I was feeling like maybe I had pushed too hard. But then from my patient I hear “Thank you for everything. You have been so good to me and I appreciate that you are so down to earth. Some people come in here and they’re head is in the clouds with all these ideas they have for me. But you are realistic.” I wanted to hug her and cry when I heard that. It’s not often that I get a compliment like that. So I told her that I promised my grandfather that I would never do that to someone, that I would always be honest with them, that I wouldn’t sugar coat things and that I would only push so far. I also said that I try every day. She then responded “You aren’t trying though, this is just who you are. You are this way, and that makes you perfect for this job”. My response was “When you love your job this is what happens” She responded with “Then you are where you are supposed to be” What a wonderful way to end the day, truly.

Another wonderful compliment today was from a coworker. Now I have only been where I am for a month, and not everyone has seen me work. But today I was with one of the women that I haven’t been cotreating with since week 2. We had a patient that I was a little nervous to see but I was with someone else so it wasn’t too bad. I thought the session went well, went downstairs and didn’t think anything of it. After the session and after lunch (so at least 2 hours after I was working with her) she turned to the team leader and said “I need to talk to you about this OT (pointing to me) and about how she is doing” and I thought really she’s doing this right here in front of everyone, thinking that she was going to critique me. She follows with “She is really good. She takes initiative and she is good at what she does. I am really impressed with her skills, especially since she is a new OT.” I was beaming, it was so nice to hear from someone directly that they are happy with what I am doing. I thanked her, it was so nice to hear.

Don’t get me wrong, I have heard good things, but no one has said them to me. At the last rehab meeting the director said that they were getting lots of compliments on me, but they never said them to me so I have no idea what people are saying. But in that meeting one of the PTs that I have a lot of respect for caught my eye and was nodding in agreement and was smiling, that was nice too.

Why do you care about all this you ask? Well I hope that someday you are getting these same compliments, or even nicer ones, on the work you are doing. Maybe it is reminding you why you are doing what you are doing, or it is giving you hope to get through exams. Whatever it is, I hope that you found something useful from my ramblings.

 

 

 

Recommending equipment

I know that it has been a really really long time since I have posted anything. So this is long overdue.  Since I posted last I have changed jobs and that has been the best decision that I ever made. My family is proud of where I am, and I am so happy to be able to say where I am working. But this post has nothing to do with all of that.

This post is about ordering and recommending adaptive equipment for people. Why today you ask? Well I recommended something for everyone that I worked with. Starting with a tub transfer bench that comes in around $60. It hangs over the edge of the tub so that someone does not have to stand and step over a tub. I don’t like having people order it, I always encourage them to try other venues including renting or borrowing. Others I tell to buy it through walmart or amazon.  Other people I feel terrible recommending that they purchase a reacher, those run around $15. But for someone on a fixed income (which lets face it, almost everyone I come into contact with is on a fixed income) that $15 can mean they don’t eat a meal or two. But its rarely just the reacher, it’s also the sock aid which is another $15, then the long handled shoe horn which is around $17. And that’s if they choose to purchase it in the gift shop. At medical supply shops they can run much more. Online they might be less but then there is shipping. All of this ads up quickly.

So I guess the moral of the story here is that when you are recommending equipment, be careful. Keep in mind the cost. And don’t forget the copays for being at an inpatient facility. Or the copay for an outpatient visit. For someone on a budget that can mean they struggle a bit more.

Not sure what to do

 

It has been an insanely long time since I have posted. I am not even sure what my last post was about. So I suppose I will start at the beginning.

 

When I started my job I was one of two OTRs and one of three in the OT department. About a month and a half ago (which feels like half a century ago) the other OTR left. Leaving me, the OT with the least experience to run the OT department. Yikes, scary. Kind of a nightmare situation.

 

I’m not going to sugar coat it, its been so hard. And miserable. And my social life and mental health has suffered. Not suffered like I needed an intervention. But suffered like I am a crazed stressed person. I had to do my caseload and more and a ton of paperwork. I came home every night and had at least 3 hours of paperwork to do. And I had no social life. I had told my boss that they can’t keep doing this to me, that I needed a reprieve.

 

So today the new contract OTR started, yay! She has a lot of experience and I can learn a lot from her. So I will have to absorb what she is doing. And a new COTA started today. Well she starts treating tomorrow. I am so happy.

Life is going to get better and I will be more sane soon.