Sunday, 6 December 2009

Great news, good news and OMG am I going to be able to do this?

Erm, I seem to have lost a year.....If anyone knows where 2009 went can you please point me in the right direction? (Seriously, how the hell can it be December already??)


Anyway, I guess your all wondering what my great news is....well it's the news that our entire class has been given an extension on our Community Profile assignment (You know that odd noise you heard the other day? Well that was me whooping with delight!!). Instead of it being due on the 10th of December (which would have given us a whole three weeks in which to get it done!!) it is now due on the 11th of January (and there was much rejoicing!!). My good news is that, although I have picked an incredibly difficult community to profile, I have managed to find 16 housebound people that are willing to speak to me (they have signed consent forms and everything!!). so, two rather good reasons to be cheerful....but....and there is a rather big but coming....

I hadn't really thought much about how harrowing the stories are going to be! Next Thursday I have a face-to-face interview with a gentleman who is at, what the health professional call, end of life care. His health problems are numerous and, from the little I know, the way he has been treated is absolutely awful. I know that he and his wife are really pleased that his experiences will be used to try and change things but I am really worried about how I'm going to cope with the interview. I know how selfish that sounds but I am a real softie....

22 comments:

  1. I'm sure that you will be treat these people with compassion and respect - and that is what is most important.

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  2. No, it doesn't sound selfish at all - it's completely understandable. Don't worry about the tears - you're a human being and so is he (just perhaps make sure you take along plenty of tissues). I think it's wonderful that people like you are taking the trouble to listen - that alone is worth so much.

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  3. Softeee is good. I doubt he could be offended by you being touched by his expeience.
    xxxxx

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  4. I'm sure you'll be wonderful and a great help to the people you'll be talking to.

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  5. I'm sure you're going to do the best by them. And as soon as they meet you, they'll know that.
    x

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  6. Hey that's great news, an extension is always a bit of a welcomed relief/miracle. I agree with a previous comment- I think being a 'softie' is important.. it is someone's life you are hearing about after all ... someone's story. Sending courage, strength and luck, it sounds like quite an ambitious and valiant undertaking!

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  7. You are one of the most compassionate people I know - being moved by someone's experiences doesn't negate that. 'Losing control' and crying just shows you're human.

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  8. Oooh dear...that sounds as if it will be a real struggle for you. You know, I'd love to read your assignments sometime, I think they are going to be very worthwhile and important.

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  9. LadyFi - I think respect and compassion is what is missing sometimes. Medical staff have so much to do and are so overworked that I think quite often the fact that the patient is a human being with worries and fears is forgotten about!!

    LittleBrownDog - I could have picked something easy to do but felt it was really important to give people who have become housbound a voice. No-one ever asks them! I have hunted through the internet and I can only find one study which was done in 1993 which focuses specifically on housbound patients and even then there was no action plan at the end of it! (I have already bought the hankies and they are already in my handbag!!)

    Molly - I hope he doesn't mind! I just know what I'm like...and I think it will be a miracle if I get through the interviews without tears!!

    Debs - Oh I do hope so!!

    Lane - Awww, that's a lovely thing to say. Thank you :-). I will certainly try my best!!

    Juniper - It's a huge relief...I think most of us were tearing our hair out wondering how we were going to get it all done on time!

    I didn't just want to do an assignment...I wanted to do a meaningful piece of work that might actually make a difference. The Primary Care Trust in Tower Hamlets are currently doing an Older People's Needs Assessment so my work will be feeding directly into that. Hopefully with a collective 'voice' the report might influence some of the decisions being made!!

    JJ - Thank you sweetie, that means a lot!! I think I'm just going to have to be very well prepared and hope that if I do (If I do? Ha, more like when I do!) get a bit teary the prep will kick in and I'll be able to keep going.

    DJ - I think I'm just going to have to hold on to the fact that, even if I can't do something about their situation, I can use their experience to improve things for someone else!

    Of course you can read a copy of the assignment when it's done!

    C x

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  10. Oh Carol, I feel for you with this. I'm also not a stoic and can well up at the first few words of a sad story. From the poor chap's point of view it will be such good therapy for him to get all this out and of course for his poor wife as well. I don't envy you at all with this but just think what a service you will be doing them. It also might change things in the future and that is something so wonderful it can never be underestimated

    xx

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  11. Been there; it's tough. Yes, the odd tear does no harm. But it's true that turning into a hopelessly blubbering wreck isn't a good idea. You may find there's also a surprisingly large amount of warmth and humour around, which helps. Other things that help me are (a) remembering that I'm not suppressing my tears, just deferring them (after a really difficult interview, I may only make it back to my car before dissolving into floods) and (b) having an incongruous phrase or picture to call to mind at the really difficult moments, which can deflect any imminent tears. Something slightly surreal and comic seems to work best, so a cartoon image (Garfield giving you his most withering look, for example) or a comedy couplet might be useful. Sounds bonkers but it works.

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  12. It's not selfish at all to be apprehensive. You'll be able to empathise with them and that will make the experience better for them. Sometimes all we can give people is time. At least they will feel that someone is listening. But I know what you mean about being a softie, but you are a caring soul and that will show through. Good luck.

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  13. Nerves are good - the right proportion. Without them we blunder in overconfident and insensitive. Deep down, you know you will do it well.

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  14. French Fancy - I was talking it through with Tom and I think I just have to get my head round what I need to do. I saw some hideous things in Thailand and coped (although one has really haunted me but I very much doubt that I'll see anything that bad again!) so it's all about positioning. When I visited Mon at the Orphanage I had to put aside my feelings because what I was doing was for her benefit...Tom came with me once and couldn't cope. He reminded me of that last night.

    Queenie - Thank you! I think that is probably the best bit of advice you could possibly have given me!

    I was talking to one of the other students last night who is a Social worker and I asked her what training they get on coping mechanisms and was astonished when she told me they don't get any. They are offered counseling after a particularly difficult case but no coping skills up front!!

    MOB - I was just worried that I would be in floods of tears which wouldn't really benefit anyone but having spoken to Chris and Tom about it I'm feeling a bit better. They both reckon I underestimate my ability to cope and I think Queenie's suggestion will really help.

    Mark - I appreciate the vote of confidence. It's one of those things....once I've written down whats worrying me and start talking about it....well, it helps me put things into perspective and it becomes less daunting. Blogging is great for that!!

    Sea Blue Sky - Thank you hon :-)

    C x

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  15. Yes, where has this year gone?

    Good Luck for tomorrow. I am sure that you will manage admirably. You can't change what has happened. It is in the past now, but hopefully you can change the future.

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  16. Carol, I hope it went well today. I was talking to a researcher yesterday who works with NHS patients and their carers. Her view is that being interviewed, by someone who really wants to know, listens, asks questions sensitively, and generally takes the time and makes the effort to find out someone's story to the extent that they want to tell it, can be very therapeutic for the interviewee. This doesn't mean that researchers are therapists, but the act of listening, witnessing, and taking someone seriously is often an astonishingly helpful act. That resonated with my own experience, so I thought I'd pass it on in case it's useful.

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  17. This year has dragged for me. I can't wait for the new one. Good luck with the interview - you'll do great.

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  18. I hope the meetings go well. It's good that, via your course, you will be making a difference for some people. When I was younger I took a group of under privalidged kids to West Wales for a week. It was hard, harrowing and emotional but they loved the fact that someone was taking time out....which is what you are doing.

    Good luck with the assignment took.

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  19. Hello Carol, remember me, oh that's okay, nobody ever does.

    I too seem to have lost a year, where did it go.

    Seeing the pain first hand of fellow human beings suffering must be so harrowing, it is so hard to bear Carol, I would find it difficult to sleep, though surely if this helps just one person, it has to be worth it.

    You know I mentioned before of how dad was treated when he had cancer, so I understand completely what this gentleman is going through, and as also mentioned, dad had a voice, me, his daughter, this is what has haunted me for a couple of years Carol, the many who don't have a voice, no one to fight for them, to make life a little easier, to get things done, just little things, which may not mean a lot to many, but to the ill and vulnerable and lonely, it means the whole world, someone to listen, someone to care, someone to help, you will have made their worried life a little brighter, given them hope that somebody somewhere hears what they have to say, well done to you Carol, I know it is difficult, but you are making their life just that little better by being their to listen to them.

    I have a lump in my throat, and painful tears in my eyes, thinking of this.

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  20. Brilliant that you're in the position to be able to make a difference. Having someone as vibrant and empathetic as you seem to hear out last stories must be a blessing to these people. You're in a privileged position but you probably know that.

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  21. Cheshire Wife - Thank you for the good wishes. I am about to write a post about how I got on...it was no-where near as bad as I expected!

    Queenie - As I said to Cheshire Wife, it was no-where near as bad as I expected! To be honest I was in awe of their honesty, bravery and humour....you were absolutely right about the fact that there is a lot of warmth and humour around when dealing with difficult situations. I am about to blog about it so won't ramble on anymore here :-). I do want to say, however, that I really appreciate your help and support and that your idea for dealing with the emotional side was invaluable!!

    Lily - It's funny....part of me thinks that the year has just flown by and another part feels like it's dragged on forever!!

    Kevin - That was a wonderful thing to do!! I bet you got just as much out of the expereince as they did!

    I'm a firm believer of not avoiding something just because it's hard....if you don't try then you will never succeed!!

    Ann - Who are you again?? Remember you my dear....how could I forget?? There are not many blue faced Scottish folks that sing and dance with their dogs around these ere parts *grins*

    I'm sorry I've brought bad memories to the fore hon. Your right though, lots of people dont have family that can fight for them but there are lots of organisations that can and do fight on people's behalfs. It is the small things that make a big difference....I don't expect miracles but I have identified a few easy to change things that will have a big impact so hopefully the people that have spoken to me will see some changes quite quickly.

    *hugs*

    Spiral Skies - I've now done six interviews and, as I said to Queenie, I have been humbled by the warmth, bravery and honesty of those I have met. I'm lucky that I am in a position to do something that might help improve their lives...if that's not job satisfaction I don't know what is!!

    Hope all is well with you :-)

    C x

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