Life Is Just So Daily

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


What would Lainey-Paney do?

Or...rather, what does LP do?
What's your job?

Well....I'm a social worker. I work in a hospital. More specifically, I'm a social worker in the Emergency Department of a hospital.

So, all the time, people say, "Well, what do you dooooooooooo?"

Today, I feel like I do a lot of holding my tongue. There are just, if I could just SAY what I want to say. And certainly there are times when I say quite a bit to people...and then my ever-present documentation reflects things like... "SW encouraged patient to seek employment" = "You NEED to get a job. If you had a job, you'd have insurance; you'd be able to pay not only your hospital bill, but for your medicine, and your insulin, and your dressing change supplies, and you wouldn't expect me to call in favors all over the county for YOU to get everything for free."

Seriously....some things just really burn me up... about this example; brought to you by a jaded hospital worker:

Oh, you got shot in the back b/c you & a "friend" were arguing over crack? Well, yes, he is now in jail for shooting you. But guess what---maybe you should go to jail for stealing his stuff. Oh, he can't really press charges for you stealing his crack...maybe you should go to jail for possession... but wait, now that you're paralyzed, you would be too much of a burden in they'll just let you remain free. you can get disability & medicaid; I mean, afterall, you can't walk again. And, you may even qualify for Crime Victim's Compensation b/c shooting someone is a CRIME & therefore you ARE A VICTIM. and, until those financial programs kick in, I should bust my A$$ to find you a FREE wheelchair, and FREE healthcare, and FREE in home assistance, or maybe even FREE housing/rehab/nursing home care. should get a FREE Ride.

As a taxpayer, i would just love to financially support you & your habit for the rest of your life.

[raising my glass] Here's to you, man!

So, there are routinely days where I feel like I've made no difference whatsoever in the world or in the world of that person. There are cases where I walk away arming an individual with information, and then knowing that they have the choice to change their own situation or not.

And then....then there are days when I know I've made a difference.
I can't say who or when....and it doesn't really matter, b/c it's happened more than once... but there are days that I may rock a baby until it's tiny heart beats for the very last time. Why? Not because it's in my job description. But....for a variety of reasons: because the mother could not do it; because the father was not there yet; because it was so tiny that it could not live, but it did not immediately die, and I could not stand the thought of that baby dying alone in a metal bowl on a cabinet. Why? Not because somebody has to, but because I feel like somebody should. That's a moment where I know I've made a difference. Even if the parents don't remember...I know that tiny little life was warm, wrapped in blankets, and felt a mothers heartbeat as it passed away; even if it was not the heartbeat it had known for weeks...that baby didn't die alone.

There are days when wives lose their husbands, of say, 60 years. People don't always think about it, but the dr tells them that their spouse...their partner for just about every day they've known, that person has died. The doctor leaves, and you have these broken, incomplete people there asking, "Now What?"
In those situations, other family members usually arrive, the details get addressed, & life will be different forever...but it goes on. After that moment, does that little old lady remember my name or my face? No. And, that's okay. That's not what it is about. I know that I helped her through a moment. I don't need her to come back here & thank me. I know that sadly, she will relive those moments daily for a while, & less often as time goes on. I know that bits & pieces of me are ingrained in some of their most horrid, sad & difficult moments, and hopefully I was a bright spot; not an escape from the reality but some sort of help through it.

So, what do I do?
Every day is different.
I never know what is going to come through those ER doors.
I never know what I'm going to see or what I will be called to do that day.
I never know how busy I will be.
I just never know.
And, boy...if I had to make a list of all the random different things I see over the course of a week....or a would be very long....very interesting...but very long.


At 1:58 PM , Blogger Beck said...

Wow. I could not do your job - I'm not made of strong enough stuff.

At 3:15 PM , Blogger Shauna said...

Social workers are very special people.

At 4:30 PM , Blogger Christy said...

Your job is very stressful. The part about little babies and lonely old women really distrubed me. I think you're brave and amazing. Honestly, I don't think I could do it.

At 4:33 PM , Blogger Papa Bradstein said...

OK, so now we know what you do.

But how do you do it? How do you handle all of that?

At 6:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there. You do a wonderful thing every day, something I know I could never do.

At 6:38 PM , Blogger Bonnie said...

Amazing post. I can't imagine going through what you do since I'm the one who can burst into tears at a touching TV commercial.

But yes, people do remember you with great gratitude. And if it made things just a little bit easier or gave them the shoulder to lean on, that is an amazing thing to give to someone.

At 8:31 PM , Blogger Cate said...

Just remember, you have a very important job...a job that not anyone could do. I know that probably doesn't help on days like these, but maybe it will make you feel good about what you do on the not-so-bad days...

At 4:25 AM , Blogger DJ Kirkby said...

This post made me laugh, cry and say 'Grrrr' in total empathy with you. We don't have social workers like this in our A&E but we do 'occasionaly' (read several times a day), call duty SW for various issues relating to our clients in our maternity dept.

At 6:21 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Great, moving post - thanks for sharing.
Despite the negatives, it must be wonderful to make such a difference in people's lives.

At 7:40 AM , Blogger zirelda said...

I work with social workers. I used to think I wanted to be a social worker until I started working with social workers. Now I know that I never want that job. Computers are easy to fix or replace. People not so much. You can't just do a wipe and reload on a human.

Kudos to you.

At 8:46 AM , Blogger Da Mommy said...

Hats off to you LP! I could not do that job...the jaded angry part of my job would drive me to hurt someone eventually. But I am thankful that someone can be there for those who REALLY need someone. Bless you!

At 8:55 PM , Blogger Swishy said...

Wow, wow, wow. You really can't ever have a bad day! That takes a very special kind of person.

At 5:20 AM , Blogger hellomelissa said...

I always reply, "the question is not what do i DO, but what do i NOT do." that usually shuts people up. if they ask for a list, i give it to 'em, and THEN they're sorry.

At 6:53 AM , Blogger gmcountrymama said...

Thanks for sharing about your work. It is nice to read about someone else who works at a hospital who is not a nurse.
I love the individual stories about people. We get a little bit different kind of crazy in our country hospital!
Is your little one home yet?

At 11:20 AM , Blogger slouching mom said...

What a huge contribution you make. You do amazing, difficult work, and I'm so, so glad there are people like you in our hospitals.

At 2:05 PM , Blogger Pregnantly Plump said...

It's amazing that you are able to do that daily. I can't imagine encountering issues like that, and then going back for more. I'm so glad that you are there for those babies and old ladies.

At 2:35 PM , Blogger John said...

Blimey. All I use is a paintbrush. And maybe a roller. Kinda dull in comparison!

At 10:37 PM , Blogger Kila said...

Thank you for all you do. I sometimes wish for a job like that, but I think I'd soon be a walking basket case. So thank you for doing all that.

At 2:55 AM , Blogger Mummy M said...

I know how about helping people who sooooo don't appreciate it. I work in a university library and students come to me and ask me to help them find a book. I don't just want to find it for them, I want to educate them to find it for themselves. I ask them if they coulnd't find the right shelf or if they found the shelf and just couldn't find the book. Most of the time they haven't even bothered looking. Once I had a girl come back so many times saying she couldn't do anything or find anything that in the end I had to resort to getting the books for her. Once I got them she came and sat down in front of the desk and stared at them for like literally 5 minutes. Then she said to me 'now what do I do?'. I had to check her reading list to see what chapters she had to read in each book and put a book mark in for her. Maybe I should have just read them and done the assignment for her. I obviously just wasn't trying hard enough :)

Try to focus on those times when someone says a heartfelt thankyou and you can see that you have really made a difference.


At 8:31 PM , Blogger Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

All I can say is:


We loved our social worker at Stanford... (and at the LV hospital)
but that poor social worker at Standford saw us thru some of the hardest days of our lives... and we love her sooo much...

We have a special place in our hearts for social workers....
We love you! and YOU do make a difference in peoples lives!

At 8:36 PM , Blogger Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

After reading your post, I had to run back to my email to send Ashley (from Standford) a loving note.

If you want to go see her..
go to Matthew's blog... around September 19th, 2005 that was the day we were flying Matthew back home ...
we have a great picture of us w/ Ashley.

At 4:26 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

Man you see a lot with what you do. It is nice to feel like you are helping someone though...but frustrating at times I know. I used to work close to social workers and see stuff daily.

At 8:11 PM , Blogger Eva said...

All this is why I am no longer a social worker.

But I'm glad someone like you is doing it.

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