Midweek musings – managing the lows

 I promised to blog about the highs and lows of being a Speech Therapist and recently there has been a period of lows.

My case-load is constantly changing.  I might have a settled period of the same case-load and then someone goes back to uni, someone else is discharged, someone has a setback and it’s all change again.

As it’s August, lots of my usual case-load are on holiday and I’ve been doing some new assessments. Everyone who has had a brain injury has a story to tell of a life changed in an instant. Every story is shocking and sad.  However, I’ve recently assessed quite a number of the saddest cases I’ve come across in my 10 years of practice. You just cannot make up real- life sometimes.

When you are a community speech therapist working in people’s houses, you become immersed in their world for the time you are there. I think that is very important for making therapy work. When you meet a new client and learn their story, I feel I take that person and that family ón’. I will be investing my time and my thoughts to get them the best outcome possible  That is what makes the job so rewarding – however, sometimes I wonder how many more stories I can hear, how many worlds I can immerse myself in before I can’t cope any more. I feel emotionally drained at the end of the day and my two little girls get a snappy and frankly horrid mummy putting them to bed some nights. I don’t dwell or brood on cases but I do try and feel and understand what they are going through so I stand a chance of building a relationship and making a difference in therapy. My emotional energy is not boundless, and at times when it is being used a lot at work, I feel like by the time I get home I have nothing left to give.

I have been on the receiving end of healthcare. Thankfully nothing major. I’ve had a c-section and a natural birth. My youngest daughter had septicaemia at 5 months old and was dangerously ill but recovered after a week of IV antibiotics. My oldest daughter broke her arm recently and needed a general anaesthetic and an overnight hospital stay to sort it.

I’ve experienced good and bad healthcare. The best healthcare professionals I’ve experienced were empathetic, took time to understand me and my children, were positive without giving false hope, had a can-do attitude and made me feel like I was the most important person in the time they were with me.  They were knowledgeable and did their job-role properly.

My daughters broken arm happened just as I was just starting this period of taking on some new cases.  The care from every member of the team was exemplary. And that experience helped. I remembered what is important to the patient and their family. I remembered it is OK to achieve tiny steps and not huge ones. I remembered how stoical people can be in the face of adversity. I remembered that I can put one foot in front of the other for my clients and do what I need to do, because even if I can’t magically make everything better, I can do something positive. And I’ve done this long enough to know that my case-load will settle into a manageable equilibrium again soon.

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