Monday, October 5, 2009

This is hard...

Dear Clinical Supervisor,

I'm not so sure I'm cut out to work with geriatric population. Sure, I tell you everyday that I love working at the facility, and for the most part, I am telling the truth. I love my co-workers and the residents. I love the area of speech-language pathology that we work with. But you see, my first client at the facility died yesterday. You know, the one who I called my Italian boyfriend (even though he's married :o), the one who told me I was prettier than Audrey Hepburn, the one who lit up when he recognized my face (although he rarely remembered my name). Him.

I know that it's not my fault that he died. But it still hurts that I couldn't help him get better. I mean, that's what we do. We help people get better. But he didn't.

He died because of a lot of complications, but a big factor was the fact that he wasn't eating. Remember how you had me sit with him and help him eat. Because that's what we do as Speech-language pathologists. We work with the dietitians and nurses to help people eat safely and effectively (at least that's what they tell us in my dysphagia class...) And I tried! I really did. He eat wonderfully the first day. But he wouldn't eat the second day. Or the next. And then he went on hospice care. I don't know much about the medical field, but I do know what hospice means. It means you're not going to get better. And he didn't.

You don't know much about me, but I am very religious in my faith. I do believe in a heaven, that life goes on after this one. I do have faith that there is a just and loving God who will make sure this sweet man goes where he should, that he learns about God's plan for him.

But it's hard for now.

It's hard to realize that no matter what you do, no matter what you learn in school, some people just won't get better. Not all my clients will die when they don't get better. Some will just have difficulty communicating their whole lives. Some will not realize a need to communicate, but their families will have to live with that hard reality. There will be other heartbreaks and tears over those clients who I just won't be able to help get better.

I guess it's important for me to learn that now. But for now, just know that this is hard for me. Really hard.

Your graduate student,
(like Audrey Hepburn)