Sunday, August 2, 2015

Personal Support Worker

They say the hardest part of writing is getting your butt in the chair, and keeping it there. That is certainly true for me, and especially true in the summer when there is no consistent schedule - only consistently inconsistent interruptions.

This summer is a summer like no other, in many ways it's the easiest, and in some ways the hardest. It's the easiest in that I've never had more help. It's the hardest in that Wil is not going back to a full-day school schedule in September, and my fear is this "perpetual Saturday" will be our new norm.

Wil qualifies for what is called here in Oregon, Support Services Brokerage. He has been assessed and assigned a certain number of hours a month (a lot) that he is able to have support with things like activities of daily living, community inclusion, and in September, job support/coaching.

Because there are no accidents, and an abundance of angels, Wil has had the great blessing of a friend as his Personal Support Worker (PSW) this summer. Long story short, I met with a friend in the spring, was casually telling her about Wil's future, and when I mentioned we were in the process of finding a PSW, she said her son would love to be that person. Actually, a dream come true.

And a dream come true it's been for us. This friend, Michael, as in the Archangel (no accidents) has been doing fun things with Wil all summer, and it has been liberating for all of us. They have many mutual friends, and have been able to do outings, without me, that are age-appropriate, fun, and are giving Wil independence skills. He's learned to use a wallet (and has only left it behind once, where Michael quickly retrieved it, fully intact). He's ridden bikes, walked, hopped on the bus and light rail, as well as taken Michael's or others cars all over town, including downtown. His horizons have been broadened, his pallet expanded, his comfort-zone stretched.

Michael, unfortunately, is leaving for college soon, and we will be adjusting to a different PSW or two. We have two wonderful ones in mind, and I'm certain others will be "there" when we need them, too.

Simultaneously, I've moved into a personal support worker role for my mother-in-law. She, too, needs help with activities of daily living and community inclusion. She, too, needs someone to be her second pair of ears, to hear/interpret/feed back to and help form appropriate responses. She, too, needs someone being the second pair of ears to make sure the wallet comes with us, stays in our possession, and is returned to a safe place when we get her back home. She, too, needs someone to do the driving, the arranging, the making-it-all-happen.

That's the circle of life, isn't it? We go from dependent, to some level, ideally, of independence to dependent again. I know there are spiritual lessons intrinsic in the recognition of that circle, the acceptance, the hopping on and off of it when it's our turn to be helped, and be of help, and back around again.

It helps to detach from all outcomes, to simply show up, be a support "worker" of the personal kind, and have no expectations of "results," or effectiveness. It stretches one's definition of what true support is and isn't, what is "personal" and what is simply a matter of pertinent fact, and what is "work" and what is simply love.


Peggy English said...

Time to start our next phase of "AG" support group. Just got the call today my other in-law is now in the hospital in Denver. I can't even find joy in the "back to school" hoopla since Mr. Max is transitioning to middle school and I worry about the challenges he will face. We are on the same roller-coaster ride. Time to pour a glass of wine and circle our friendship wagons!

Elizabeth said...

Sometimes I think you just need to hear this: You, Carrie Link, are a beautiful person, one of the most beautiful persons on the planet.

That's all.

kario said...

We should all be so lucky - either to have you as a PSW (!) or to be Wil's PSW. I love that this system exists and I love that Wil is open to his expanding horizons. Much love to you as you all continue through into this new phase. Thanks for sharing it with us. said...

I love that Will is getting support via personal support workers. So, so good! What an amazing summer he's had. Love to you as you navigate your own personal support responsibilities per MIL. She's lucky to have you.