Monday, January 6, 2014

Compassion fatigue

I've written about compassion fatigue before. It is rough stuff! And now that I'm a couple weeks in to these new cases, I figure I need to write about it again. They covered this in our foster parent training, but they barely touched on it and all they did was say that "we need to take care of ourselves". Well, if you don't really understand compassion fatigue, days like today just don't make sense. I'm extraordinarily tired tonight and I just want to curl up in a ball in a dark room.

I had to take Daisy to two separate medical appointments today. The first was simply to our pediatrician. It's not time for any "special" check-up, but I needed to establish a relationship with the doctor and get some therapy paperwork signed so it can get sent off to Medicaid for approval.

The appointment went well. It's very hard for me to watch the expressions on the people at the office though. I know they see a lot, but it isn't every day that an abused or severely neglected child comes through their doors. Often, they don't know how to respond.  For example, I don't think the nurse that took vitals and filled a ton of stuff in the computer when we got there really understands what Global Developmental Delay is!! Despite me explaining Daisy's injuries and what she's capable of doing, this nurse insisted on asking every single question exactly as it was written on the form in her computer.
No, I don't know if Daisy has abnormal thoughts.
No, Daisy doesn't eat dirt.
Shall I remind you that Daisy is practically immobile due to global developmental delay?
She meant no harm. But she kept asking question after question that didn't apply. And when I would give her an honest answer, she would look at me with this puzzled expression like she didn't now how to put the answer in the computer. Yes, Daisy is eight months old. But no, Daisy can't do the things eight month old babies can do.

The doctor we saw was great. But again, I had to tell Daisy's story. Thankfully she didn't react in ignorance or horror.

This afternoon I had to take Daisy to the hospital for a transfontenelle ultrasound of her head. Because she's eight months old her soft spots have almost closed. It was very difficult to get good images. The technician even brought in someone else so they could try as well.

Again, I had to tell Daisy's story. It's not like I say everything! But the diagnosis "Shaken Baby Syndrome" is all I have to say and it's a bombshell! Both men tried to contain their emotions, but they each had these looks of horror on their faces. It's hard to deal with.

I cannot live in that place of horror. I have to move past it and let it become part of Daisy's story - but not a part of daily life. Every time I have to tell Daisy's story to someone new though, I am flung back to that difficult place. My words explain what happened to her, the injuries, the horror - and it hurts!!

So foster parent friends - do take care of yourself. Hopefully this post can help you understand your own emotions a little bit better. Taking care of these innocent children is no easy task. It's so much more than simply caring for them. We bear the weight of their stories too.

I've got basketball practice with Bart tonight. I'm going to sit in a corner alone and fry my brain on stupid FB games on my phone. I'll recover tomorrow - no appointments. Then hopefully I'll get enough sleep to be able to hang on for the rest of the appointments I've got the rest of the week.

Thanks to everyone that pushed me to sign up with Medicaid for transportation reimbursement. After I get all the paperwork filled out I will qualify for over $200 reimbursement since Daisy came. That will definitely help the bottom line!


C Dawn's bucket said...

With my boys' story I got so that the emotional impact of retelling it was simply not something I could continue living through, so I finally wrote up an outline of sorts and would hand a copy to folks to put in their charts and read. I eventually attached a short paragraph in bright colored paper explaining why I needed them to read it and not ask me to recount the details unless it was absolutely necessary.

I'm glad you are looking for ways to take care of yourself.


Rachel J said...

"We bear the weight of their stories, too." Do we ever. I, struggling with that right now.

Thank you for this. You take care of yourself, too.

Teresa said...

We had a child that was intentionally burned. Everyone always reacted in shock and horror. It is totally draining. You've earned that night of mindless FB games. ((Hugs))

Annie said...

The upside is that she can neither understand what you are saying or (hopefully) take in the reaction. You'd think medical personnel would be more socially adept. I've had the same clueless sort of person asking me and one of my adopted children EVERY question until I want to heave something at their heads. Especially when the child is sitting right there. "When did she first walk?" "At what age did he say his first word?" "Is there any familial history of heart problems?" I said I DON'T KNOW! I met this child when he was ten. Then they ask another one.