Category Archives: Care

Expectations on the eve of change

12Roger_Ballen_Squawk_2005

So I am about 24 hours away from submitting my final essay of my undergraduate degree. To be honest I am freaking out. The thought of not learning anything impractical for three months is terrifying. It’s time to come to grips with the everyday realities of what motivates and satisfies me, and decide if teaching is it.

I like my everyday right now. And this is a problem. I have the most rewarding jobs in the world, and neither of them pay well enough to live in Sydney where these opportunities to connect exist. I get to make real connections everyday, and I have to lose my own ego and let them go as easily as they came. A flash of recognition, a smile from someone who can’t say my name, the ability to stop and sit and listen to someone whose problems bear no relation to my own. Will I get this from teaching?

I have chosen this image by Roger Ballen to illustrate what I am feeling. I wonder what he was feeling when he made these connections. Did he feel like his ego was outside these relationships, but did he feel satisfied all the same? Or did he place himself so far outside that he wondered ‘What is the point? Does it even matter that I am here?” I don’t know what his relationship was, but I do know some of the thoughts that would have passed through his mind when interacting with his subjects. 

I find comfort in the ontological insecurity that my job brings. Someone needs water, I hold a straw to their lips. Some days I need meaning, but mostly I don’t. I fear that teaching has become removed from satisfying needs. But I’m going to carry these questions with me and try to answer them, or not answer them, daily.

 

Participation and Chemical Restrictive Practices

YIWRRA KUJU COLLECTION CANBERRA

 

Yes, I was surprised to learn that it’s a thing too. I suppose it had always made sense that medicating someone without their consent in order to restrain them was dubious, but sometimes necessary to prevent them from causing further harm to themselves and others. But I hadn’t really thought of the implications of drugs that might restrict participation generally. I’ll give an example.

Imagine that an adult has regular seizures. And now imagine that they’re given a drug that minimises those seizures. The only problem is that it makes them sleep for 23 hours a day. Pretty restrictive, huh?

Now imagine that this person may have needed assistance from a carer many times a day, and that before they were medicated for seizures, they complained loudly and displayed constant echolalia. Well, that doesn’t happen any more, does it?

My questions are many. Is this the least restrictive drug for this person? What are they losing by taking it? Does anyone except the person taking the drugs stand to gain something that may set off alarm bells? Is there a ‘least restrictive’ alternative that would aid with seizures. Has the person participated in this decision, or just the GP and carer?

Chemical restriction isn’t just about padded rooms. It’s about participating as fully as possible in daily life, and the constant revision of medication to ensure that this is possible.

Image: people participating.