the hardest lesson

I was brought up to believe that the most important thing about getting nine-and-a-half-out-of-ten in a Latin or French vocab test, was the half you got wrong

I was brought up to believe that the reverse side of your embroidery had to be as neat as the front, otherwise your needlework skills were very poor indeed

I was brought up to believe that "if at first you don't succeed, try try again" (until you do)

I. . .

I. . .

I. . .

I could go on, but you get the drift (and regular subscribers have been here before, so you're probably neck deep in said drift, eh)

yes, it's going to be one of those me me me pieces: so switch off your technology and go and do something more interesting instead should you so desire; I won't be the least offended

when I was a Speech and Language student at Uni in the mid-80s, I spent two years in hospitals and clinics studying the practice of being a Speech Therapist, as part of my four year Honours degree was to pass sufficient units at a high enough grade to gain a Licence to Practise as a Speech Therapist

I trained all over London in some of the best hospitals and some of the most deprived areas: voice patients (people suffering either psychological issues, or neurological or oncological damage for example); stutterers (ditto); children and adults with cerebral palsy - completely normal inside their brains, but almost unable to communicate with the outside world; children with Childhood Developmental issues (babies unable to swallow; children with cleft palettes; five/six/seven-year-olds who have neither vocabulary nor concept of shape, colour, number, position because their parent(s)/carer has never actually talked to/communicated with them);adults who had suffered a trauma to the speech and language areas of their brains (thru disease or accident); the list is endless: but I'll stop there for fear of boring those of you who are still with me, and get to the point. . .

one clinic was in Greenwich in South East London at an ordinary General Hospital with Geriatric patients - I saw the ones who had had strokes and had lost their verbal abilities, not just reading and writing but all aspects of communication (speak, express themselves verbally in any way; listen, understand the words that were being spoken to them) and some who had also lost their swallow reflex and so had great difficulty eating

I developed what I thought at the time, being young enthusiastic and full of energy and interest, was a brilliant idea: a pictorial menu - so that these people of a generation or two/three before me could actually choose what they wanted to eat from the daily hospital menu - rather than just have to eat what was put in front of them. . .

there was one old lady I saw week after week who was able to point to some of the pictures - I hoped she was pointing to what she wanted, not to what she didn't want (such was the obvious flaw in my system); she'd smile, in what I hoped was recognition - everytime I went onto her ward - we'd order her lunch and I'd then spend a quarter of an hour or so icing the back of her throat to stimulate her swallow reflex, so that when the food came she might actually be able to get it from being chewed in her mouth into her stomach to be digested

about three quarters of the way thru the term of this particular clinic, the therapist who was training me took me to one side and said that altho the old lady was still well and her condition had not deteriorated, and even tho she was still in the hospital receiving care, I was not to spend any more time with her

I had to spend my time with other patients who would benefit more and had the potential to make a better recovery than this old lady might; the lesson was one of managing a case load of patients, which was as important a part of the training as the therapy work with each individual patient

so I never saw her again

7 comments:

Anonymous G said...

*big hard heavy sighhh*

I admire your dedication and your obvious desire to go above and beyond. This is not a quality a lot of people possess.

(AND...screw the back of your needlework. and hooray for 95%! that's how I see it)

I'm over here in Califoria (not Laguna Niguel, mind you...) thinking about you and sending positive, peaceful thoughts to you.

(and eating cheese)
:)

mig bardsley said...

Makes me think of the starfish, the one to whom it mattered.
You must also have been brought up to believe that it's good to care for other people. Unless that was a skill you achieved on your own initiative :)
It must have been terribly hard to have to abandon your old lady. And to have to think in terms of case loads instead of people.

Children of course, want to please and gain approval from those they depend on for love and wisdom. Which is why they're prepared to labour mightily to do well at school. It seems terrible to me to demand perfection from someone when what they're really trying to do is earn some love and respect. (I'm not sure if that makes sense - hope so).
But love and respect to you anyway.
xxx

(I have to say that the reverse side of my embroidery was at least as neat as the front but not even I could deny that my needlework skills were really very poor indeed :)

dinahmow said...

It's a thorny issue, at whatever age we encounter it.
I have much admiration for the people who CAN and DO help those who need it. (And I want to knock together the heads of those who could not, would not see that my helping a non-reader was of benefit to him in other areas.He just didn't "fit" their time table...)

'Shot said...

ooh, mayhaps you could teach me to speak more better? I mean, English is my second language.

katherine. said...

well.....I kinda like the back of my needlework to be HIDDEN.

but I was a parent who asked about the other 5%...mostly because I have one who got the 95 without cracking a book or putting forth any effort....and I wanted her to...

I so want to know what causes stuttering...seriously.

it is sad when priorities result in a lack of humanity...a lot of that going on with insurance companies making rules for doctors.

I have learned a great deal about who you are...such talents...take care of yourself please.

Mel said...

"The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self."

And boy......I can't wait for you to find yourself there, yaknow?

Frankly, you're talking to one who had to unlearn some 'stupid rules' so I really could BE all that I am. It was a part of that 'don't talk, don't trust, don't feel' deal that I was trained so well in.

You KNOW I color outside of the lines and run with scissors with great glee, today!
And splash in puddles.
And deliberately drop a stitch on any needlework I might be doing.....cuz I CAN dontchaknow....


:-)
It's GREAT!!!!!!

Mel said...

btw......
.....I failed to mention, the training therapist that told you to not spend more time with that patient?? Yeah, well.......I'm not likin' her idea of ethics very much.

And yup.....purposefully failed to mention that earlier. Figured if I bought some time, I'd be able to say it much more kindly than my original though. LOL
WORKED!!!!