My COVID-19 Story
I was once an engineering project manager. I built great products from ideas with a team of supersmart people. It was stressful to meet tight deadlines, working long hours, but I loved it.
Through a meandering path, I went from being retired and bored to becoming a senior caregiver. This was the opposite end of productivity … helping the elderly live in their own homes. It’s very rewarding. These clients, some younger than I am, have serious and complicated physical and mental issues. Helping them with routine tasks that others take for granted is easy. Providing companionship is fun. They tell me great stories about their past experiences, work, travels and relationships. I share my stories. They love to hear those, too. Seniors are into appreciating little things. The birds singing (if they can hear them), the sun coming in the window, a walk outside, a great sandwich, the list goes on.
Being a health care professional can burn you out. I learned long ago to take the most positive lessons from anything you do, even when something bad happens. So at the end of a shift with a client I leave feeling good and still enjoying our exchange of knowledge, ideas and hope. Hope is hard. My main job is to keep a senior safe. Then to provide companionship, personal care and special services. For example, transitioning a client from their bed to a wheelchair can involve complex equipment. A simple smile feels good.
There is stress in many ways. You must be there on time no matter what the weather or other factors; they are counting on you. You are in their home and must be ultimate in trustworthiness. Privacy, consistency, keen observation, and record keeping are just some of the considerations. Still, I come away at the end of the week feeling great.
Then the tidal wave COVID-19 arrived. Now, the stress has gone through the roof. I worry about being the one who brings in the virus that kills my wonderful senior. I worry about getting it from them; they have visitors from who knows where … do they take the appropriate precautions? I wash my hands many, many times a day. My skin is dry (thank goodness for hand lotion). I use hand sanitizer, and a disinfectant on my car’s touch surfaces when going to a home and when I leave. And that’s not all … there’s a six-page procedure guide from my company that must be followed. I carry my ID and a designation letter wherever I go. I practice social distancing.
Now, I feel exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes I imagine that my heartburn is a coronavirus symptom. I have to check my temperature constantly and keep reminding myself not to touch my face. I can’t shake hands. The news must be watched and avoided at the same time. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Who knows when? I, myself, am enjoying the little things … a different kind of spring is coming.