A Caregiver’s Point
Posted: Friday, May 11, 2018 - 8:54am
A Caregiver’s Point of View…
My scariest day at work....
Today in the office we were talking about how over the years some of our cases hit us harder than others. I recapped my many years working with children, the homeless, mentally disturbed individuals, and the elderly…and realized there was only one case which shook me. Funny to think a kind elderly man was the hardest, scariest and heart wrenching case I have ever had. One of my colleagues look confused and said, “really? It wasn’t when you worked for that other company with that crazy guy, that stabbed you in the leg with a steak knife?” Hard to believe a 300lb grown man stabbing me in the leg was less scary then walking in and finding an elder man in need of great help. Here is how it all started.
I had been taking care of this man, lets call him Mr. Smith, for about a year, 2-3 times a week like clockwork. This beautiful sunny day I was ahead of schedule. As I pulled in and shut my car off I heard the faint sound of a fire alarm. I quickly grab my cell phone and got out of the car. As I open the door the smell of overcooked eggs and propane burning filled the air. I looked around. Mr. Smith was no where to be found, but there was a chair turned over that I had to climb over to get to the stove. As I came around the corner to the kitchen island, I saw Mr. Smith’s walker turned over in the middle of the floor. There was blood on the counter top. As my eyes shifted down, I spotted the bloody hand prints on the rug and marks on the lower kitchen cabinets, where someone had struggled to pull themselves up unsuccessfully. I quickly shut the propane stove off and followed the bloody drag marks across the floor. As I walked closer my foot slid on a mess of change and blood, and I found Mr. Smith by the stairs in a heap. He was face down making no noise. I quickly moved to his side ignoring the mess around us. As I touch his neck and look for a pulse, I hear him say, “is that you, (then his dead wife’s name)”. A slight smile creeps onto my face as I let out a sigh of relief. . . He’s alive. I remember telling him no, its me Jesse, as he reached out for my hand. I grasped his hand in mine. As he tries’ to pull himself up, I’m on the floor next to him and assist him in rolling over. With his head on my lap, he smiles and simply says, “you’re early”. My smile grew as I knew then, he was coming back to me. My only reply, “lucky for you, I am!” He smiled again and said, “no ambulance please”. I looked Mr. Smith over and realized he scraped his arm and legs badly. Once he was able, I helped him into the wheelchair. He was transported to the hospital for assessment.
Mr. Smith’s family and my supervisor were notified. Thank goodness his daughter was able to come to Maine from out of state right away. I remained at Mr. Smith side until his family arrived.
Mr. Smith was resting comfortably so I stepped out to greet the daughter, whose voice I heard in the hallway. She wrapped her arms around me and simply said, “we stopped at the house first, it looks like a murder scene!” I reassured her that he was fine, and the doctors have been in and out the whole time. He is comfortable and looking forward to seeing her. She thanked me repeatedly for being early, little did she know there were no thanks needed. I loved her father as well. He was kind, gentle, considerate man who enjoyed sharing stories of the good old days and how life was so different during the depression. I couldn’t imagine not being able to see him every week and hear his wonderful stories. I told the family I would go back to the house and clean up, so they didn’t have to deal with it, but they told me I had done enough and thanked me again before I left to go home.
As I got to my car I called my supervisor Ellen, who offered to help me clean up Mr. Smith’s house if needed. I told her the family is all set and that I was heading home. Ellen asked if I was ok, and of course I said I was, I thought I was ok. It wasn’t until I started my car and drove to the end of the parking lot that I broke down. I began to cry, shake and just sob. I pulled over, shut the car off and laid my seat back so I could breathe easier. An hour later I was able to compose myself and drive home. I will never forget how my heart jumped out of my chest and the fear I felt as I walked into the client’s home to find him on the floor in a puddle of blood. Mr. Smith survived his fall and was able to come home several weeks later, with extra care, until he passed away later that year, I still think fondly of the memories I got to share with this wonderful man. I hope he and his family know how truly blessed I felt to be part of their lives.
Written by Jesse Rishani, Coordinator at Private Home Care, Inc.