Thursday, 5 February 2015

I Was Wrong... Again

Okay. I admit it. I was wrong. I should be getting used to being wrong with ALS. Every time I think I know something, this disease teaches me that I don't really know anything at all. Today I had a male care giver, the first time this has ever happened. I was very worried about it. I had all kinds of presuppositions about a male caregiver; that he would be rough, that he would be awkward, that he would be unkind, that he wouldn't do the home making part of the job. I was wrong on all counts.

It's not very often that you meet someone and you feel you can trust them almost at first glance. Mohammed walked in the door smiling, something which always helps; with the first words he spoke, I felt at ease. I had been steeling myself for someone who communicated poorly, handled me roughly, treated me with less than an ideal level of respect. What I got was just the opposite. He was gentle, kind, respectful and helpful from the moment he walked in the door. He didn't, not even for a moment, assume command and control. Instead he checked with me at every stage of the way, showing an intuitive knowledge of when I needed privacy and when I needed care.

I talked to my daughter last night about my fears with respect to having a male caregiver. While understanding of my concerns, her first comment was that perhaps I was concerned about the gender/power dynamic. It gave me pause to think; I asked her if she felt I behaved that way. Her comment was enlightening. She said "Dad, you have always treated men and women differently, even with your daughters and son." I asked her if she felt it had negatively impacted her life, to which, after a moment or two of thought, she said "Not really, but I've always noticed it." I wondered what she wasn't saying.

It's true that I am, deep inside, perhaps a sexist, perhaps even a bit misogynistic; maybe I am being to gentle with my self-opinion there. It's a part of my personality which I work very hard at keeping in line; it's one of those things I don't like about myself yet seem unable to rid myself of. I have always done my best to put those thoughts far behind me, to treat women with respect and fair consideration. Obviously I have been fooling myself; my basic instincts still show through.

Today was a learning moment. To find that having a male caregiver was as good as, and in some cases better than having a female caregiver was enlightening. Physical things, like his upper body strength, made exercises easier. He had no trouble with my preferences around having a clean floor. I doubt he would have argued for a moment had I remembered to ask him to take the garbage out. And he was easy for me to talk to. I wasn't expecting this.

It's never to late to learn something. Thanks to the things that ALS puts before me, I suspect I will keep learning things right up to the day it all ends.

1 comment:

  1. I am sure you will Richard you being a lifelong learner.