The Ultimate Irony – with an update
A patient with a TBI (traumatic brain injury) trying to flirt with me and telling me that I was a beautiful woman. And then me helping change his poopy diaper.
Update: I got two e-mails on this post. One was written by a person with spina bifida, and the other person was a TBI survivor. Both weren’t thrilled with the tone of this post.
You know, I keep making this mistake…I write something that my friends/family might find either amusing or at least not think twice about, but then I hear from people who have the diagnosis/similar problem, who are offended by what I said. You would think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but apparently I haven’t. I’ll keep trying, I promise. It’s not so much that I lack compassion so much as I’m still learning to remember to try and see things from the client’s point of view.
Another Clarification: – “irony” is probably the wrong word to use in regards to the above situation, because it makes it sound like I’m saying it’s ludicrous for an incontinent person to flirt. That is not the case at all, and it wasn’t what I meant to imply. I guess I found it ironic that even a man who was extremely confused and incoherent, covered in tubes and barely able to move, functioning at a very primitive level, would still even have the presence of mind to say flirtatious things! It shows you how little it takes for testosterone to kick in!
Also, both men pointed out how humiliating it can be to have your diaper changed, which I would completely agree with. I can’t imagine how it would feel if I had to experience that. So I can see why, as a TBI survivor or someone who has had to deal with this, it would be hurtful to discover that people wrote about how much they disliked it.
One of them pointed out that it can be taken as offensive that I showed strong distaste regarding dealing with body fluids. I apologized, because I could see the situation from his point of view. However, I am also a student, new to fieldwork and only just delving into the world of adult diapers or other body-fluid related things. The average adult walking around, has little to no experience dealing with such things. I think it is natural that I would find it difficult to deal with for a while. In the two weeks I was on fieldwork, it got easier and easier to handle seeing and/or changing diapers, and I know eventually it will become commonplace, and I won’t think twice about it. But for right now, it IS something that affects me, and while I don’t plan for it to affect me forever, I do think it’s okay to bring the topic up. I just need to do so in a less offensive manner!
I appreciate that the men were willing to share their viewpoint with me. It was yet another good lesson on awareness and understanding. I originally told them I’d just delete the post, but I realize it’s better to just add on this update, explaining what happened and why – as perhaps others can learn from my (repeated) mistakes.