Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

There’s a But

Sunset at Sauble Beach

Ms. Bean asked the question, “Which Three personality Traits are Helping you Deal with Today?”

I replied, “I am pragmatic, perceptive (like you) and empathetic. At the beginning of all of “this” I was able to keep my head, sympathize when required, and in general I was somewhat removed from all of the hysteria.

But.

I have a front row seat, so to speak, to the shitshow that is underway at long term care facilities across the planet. Two in particular are a great worry to me.

One is in Niagara Region, where my stepson Eric works as a nurse. The good news is that COVID-19 has not been reported there.

Yet.

The bad news is that staffing resources were abysmal before “this” hit. Now, it is nightmarish. Particularly galling is the fact that time and time and time again frontline workers have raised the flag and asked for more support, more time, fewer roadblocks. Now, with the homes locked down to family and volunteers, the staff must take on work that those outside hands used to do for them. Now, instead of less paperwork, there is more. How does that make any sense?

In order to prevent staff-transfer of the virus, better late than never, management stopped scheduling a worker at more than one facility. You see, many of the nurses and PSW’s are classified part-time and must work at more than one home in order to earn a decent wage. Everyone at Eric’s home chose to work at a hospital and no one picked the nursing home. That meant that he was the only nurse on his floor, when there should have been five. Management left the positions unfilled.

How is that being responsible? How is that not negligence? Both the staff and the residents are being abandoned by the system. Quebec nursing homes were in the news over the weekend, and the police have been called in. The National Post reports that Premier “Legault said such staff crises are becoming self-sustaining and he’s looked into the possibility of raising wages. With fewer staff, the work gets harder and less attractive, and people are less likely to want to work at such places.”

How soon before we see the very same headlines about Ontario facilities?

Speaking of staff bringing in the infection, let’s turn to a facility in Fergus.

My brother Bob is a resident there.

He was diagnosed with ALS about a year ago, and has been “living” at the home since then. His so-called life is miserable. He has no speech and is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair every day. No visitors since lockdown.

His roommate was diagnosed with COVID-19 over the weekend.

Bob has been tested. We are awaiting results. Given the mortality rates at long term care facilities and given my brother’s health is compromised… It’s very hard to look this issue straight in the eye. I am feeling all sorts of emotion. Part of me hopes he doesn’t contract the flu, but another part knows that if he were to die, he’s be released from the misery of ALS.

I am ashamed to be making these closing lines about me. Clearly there are far too many people in the world who are in much, much worse shape than I am.

But.

I told Ally that I’d finish my comment in a blog post of my own: I’m barely holding up at the moment. My pragmatism, perceptiveness and empathy are working against me.

Categories: In Other News

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45 replies

  1. Oh I am so sorry to read this. I’ve been aware of the staffing problems in assisted living facilities and cannot wrap my mind around how this wasn’t anticipated and planned for. Yet here we are. And as for your brother, I’d be on the edge of frantic, too. What a dire situation he is in, with no way for you to help in a pragmatic way. I certainly wish the best for you and your loved ones, knowing that what I write isn’t enough, but it is all I can think to say.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have no reason to be ashamed! This IS all about you and it is all about me and Bob and countless others. Our fear is real. Perhaps our only solace is that we will learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately that is often not the case. But in the here and now you are not alone. Sometimes it helps to scream at the world in fury. So we will listen to you, if you will listen to us. Deal?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All pain and sorrow is relevant from the perspective of the one bearing it. And it all matters. You must express yourself and allow yourself to be comforted. It will give you the strength to face whatever truths and challenges necessary. I am so sorry for your personal challenges at this time. Remember to take care of you too. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. These are real and personal issues, Maggie. These are your family. It’s hard enough not to get emotionally involved when you’re just reading the brief news items. This is tragic, and it’s close to you,. I hope for the best for your brother, although, I don’t know what that means. I hope for the best for you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing, Maggie. This affects all of us, and though for many of us, it’s not “up close and personal” yet, it could be in the space of a heartbeat. You and your family are in my thoughts. Be sure to take care of yourself as you’re worrying about others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know Donna? I have an extremely small network of friends and family. I did not expect to be affected by this thing so soon. Eventually, of course, but right off the top?

      I’ve always maintained that the world would be brought to its knees by something miniscule. I never figured I’d live to see it happen.

      This has been a revelatory experience in more ways than one.

      Thank you, and be well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maggie, your feelings are valid. On Ally’s post, I too listed empathy as one of my traits and alluded to it having negative effects on my life. It is very difficult when you feel or anticipate another’s pain so deeply. I wish I had some tips to give you to help you with this, but it is something I struggle with, as well.

    Hugs,

    Deb

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Deb, I think you’ll understand, then, when I say that some days I swear I can smell the sadness in the world.

      Thanks for sharing your experience – and offer of comfort. It is welcome.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I just remembered something a counselor told me years ago: that I had to learn to draw a mental cloak around myself so I wouldn’t absorb others’ pain so easily. I’ve tried that visualization a time or two and it was somewhat helpful. Time to drag it out again. You might want to try it, Maggie. Can’t hurt.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’ll try that cloak idea, thank you. And I’ll share something that has worked for me to help feel safe – imagine you are standing on bus and need to hold on to something – imaging reaching up to grab onto the hand rail above you (or the hand of God, if that helps). Now pay attention to the feeling of ease and security. I find it helps short circuit an emotional spiral when I’m in free-fall.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Maggie–you wrote down what everyone is thinking. It is horrid out there. Raising wages? How can that even be a valid response? I don’t get it. Leadership clearly means nothing. Does anyone really know what in the hell is going on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Talk about tone deaf, right? Marc Dalton, another government guy tweeted today, “Most deaths are in care homes where average life expectancy is two years and 65 per cent usually pass in the first year… then he questioned whether it is “time to start moving Canada back to work.”

      Makes you all warm and fuzzy inside that the right people are at the helm.

      [Sarcasm font fully engaged.]

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There is no forgiveness for any government regarding the state of nursing in these establishments; and there is no understanding why they so patently don’t give a rat’s. To allow staff to become over-worked beyond description means that patients become under-attended: to under-attend the state of patient care in the hands of nurses grossly over-stretched means, basically, who gives a shit ? Governments of the first world are saying that, all of them: who gives a shit about patients or their nurses ?!
    My heart bleeds for you, Maggie. Do your best to hold up: we have you in our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I was feeling kind of sad today. And then I read this and realized how good my life is. I am so so so sorry to hear these two stories. I would be frantic. Eric must be exhausted. When our aunt was in a nursing home 2 years ago (at over 100 years old) we saw how deplorable most are, how understaffed, how the waits for care are beyond reason, how badly she was treated by staff that continued to turn over. It was awful. And your brother?! I’m so sorry. The ALS is bad enough. Covid19 on top of it is beyond belief. I understand your angst as to what would be best. Both things are so horrible. I wish the best for you and your entire family.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Maggie, your pragmatic, perceptive, empathetic traits are challenged to the hilt right now. I’m a retired nurse practitioner with those traits coming on strongly for nurses enduring sub-standard working conditions. Management bucking against an overburdened, and unprepared system for the magnitude of the COVID-19.

    I don’t have any family in danger, but I can sense your anxious concern. Pushed to the brink with no control over what happens to your bother. Or the struggles your nurse stepson has in the workplace. Staying safe & sane are important & difficult. Not everyone has the same sense of responsibility to follow the rules.

    I can’t even say to you, let’s hope for the best. Better to send virtual hugs, and a spot of tea for comfort. Stay strong, Maggie. 🤗🎶💛 Christine

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Oh Maggie! Consider my like of this post to be a virtual hug. Pandemic or not, you really need a lot of hugs right now!!

    I am absolutely heartbroken about what is happening right now in the long term care facilities. It is hard to hold back the tears each day as new numbers are released. What we are seeing is the end result of a long-time indifference to the needs of long term care. You have a deeply personal window into those needs and the emotional burdens you are carrying are extraordinarily heavy 😞

    Be well, my friend. I hope your stepson soon gets some much-needed relief and your brother remains safe during this outbreak. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maggie, I’m not sure what happened to my comment. I hope it’s somewhere waiting for you to find it.
    Without trying to reconstruct my thoughts, consider yourself virtually hugged. I’m so, so sorry for the heart break you are experiencing right now 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m heartened to see what great support and empathy you are receiving from your readers. These are hard times, and you are honest. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m so sorry, Maggie! You have every right to be upset and worried….it’s horrible that your stepson is trying to do the work of five nurses, and even worse that your brother is in such a bad situation. I can’t even imagine what you are going through…I wish there was more I could do to help, but all I can offer is my sympathy and prayers for your entire family.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am so sorry to read this, Maggie. I have said before that I am so grateful not to have a loved one living or working in a care facility now. I don’t think I would deal well with the worry and frustration. “They” say that this crisis has laid bare many of the inequities, mismanagement, under funding, lack of planning, corruption, etc., etc., etc. in our world but I sometimes wonder what will actually come of it. The cynic in me thinks that, most likely, very little will change. Anyway, sorry to add more sadness. My thoughts are with your and your family. I’m sending virtual hugs your way.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. There is nothing wrong with how you’re feeling. It IS a big deal. These are real problems. People who are not affected should enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s going to affect everyone either personally or because of someone they love.
    We all know people who are at terrible risk for severe, life-threatening cases.That’s terrifying.
    Big hugs to you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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