What is your mandate?
They arrive with a stack of papers, and they have a job to do. I should be smart enough to ask what that job is, but instead, I just sit on the couch or at the dining room table and try to get through the visit. My province has seen fit to fund this phalanx of home care workers, who claim that they have to the power to speed my recovery, help me navigate the system, and possibly keep me out of the Emergency Department, and so they arrive as soon as I am home from the hospital. They supposedly offer services, but at this point it’s not clear that I need them. Also not clear how much they know about my case, since they arrive with a mandate, a stack of papers, and some reason for coming here; but they often end up asking the same questions all over again.
Sometimes they are quite useful, like the physiotherapist who gave me exercises to do, and now I don’t have to go to an office to get exercises to do. Or the local service that came and left me a walker for use on longer walks. Now I have a borrowed walker, and it sometimes buys me a little extra deference in the shops or room on the bus (picture above, at the local farmer’s market on Saturday, with The Prophet).
My favorite is the visiting nurse, who is a South Asian woman who appears to be in her late-twenties. She is generally approving of my overall demeanor and education level, noting that I already meditate and drink tea in place of coffee. She is required to ask if I have any wounds or incisions to tend, whether I require the visit of an Occupational Therapist or the acquisition of assistive devices. I insist that I do not want a grab bar in the bathroom, I already know how many steps away it is from my bed and how to get myself to the toilet without falling. In fact, with all of the appointments, it might be better to have fewer visitors, so I discharged the social worker.
The visiting nurse wants to know what number I would use to rate my pain and dizziness. She does not like hearing that I am dizzy, but how else am I supposed to feel just a few weeks after brain surgery? Sometimes I think I’m normal, then I stand up and find that my head is floating in space somewhere over my body. The sensation is not unlike being pleasantly buzzed, except that it is most of the time. Bending over to pick something up off the the floor is slightly perilous. I can do most normal things in the kitchen, but I do tend to spill more spices and other things than I used to.
My favorite question is in response to the question of whether I’m getting much sleep, which I am not. “IS THAT WHY YOUR EYES LOOK LIKE THAT?” she asks. No, I think my eyes look like they normally do. But apparantly, my eyes do not look right. I try to explain that I am half-Japanese, that I have inherited a mixed bag of traits, including light hair and puffy eyes. It’s starting to remind me of the midwestern doctor who told my mother that she must be hepatic because he had never seen an Asian person’s skin before. When the visiting nurse came back 6 days later she said that my eyes looked much better, so things must be going in the right direction.