Over the falls
Here's how yesterday felt in my endless pursuit of long-term care-related service and perfection. As challenges multiplied, I'm pretty sure I was strapped inside an old wooden pickle barrel, pushed into the middle of the raging Niagara River and carried over the falls.
Basically, I became the 21st century incarnation of 64-year-old bored schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor, who did exactly that back in 1901. The only difference was, she apparently chose to do this to herself. I was grabbed by armed, deadline-wielding thugs and forced at stress-point.
Now, I may not know you well, or even at all, but I'm still perfectly comfortable making a wild assumption that your job, like mine, also includes a daily gauntlet of unexpected and sometimes unwelcome challenges. I'm told that if you work in long-term care, certain difficulties tend to recur, little annoyances over minor things like regulation, staffing, reimbursement or multimillion dollar lawsuits.
These things happen in our profession. They just do. And maybe the key to survival is not so much in how we react, but in what we choose to do in the moments before.
I don't have a prescription. Maybe listen to some Debussy in the parking lot. Read this poem by Mary Oliver just before going into morning stand-up. Crouch on a meditation cushion under your desk, or stare at the bird feeder on the smoking patio.
Basically, do whatever brings perspective and recalibration — anything that triggers a deep awareness that life is bigger than the stress and worry you feel.
Or here's an even simpler survival strategy. When difficulties procreate and the day starts to spin out of control, a facility administrator I know does something entirely radical — he leaves his office and walks down the hall. “There's just something about watching a resident's face light up when she sees you,” he told me. “It makes you feel you can continue doing what you do.”
For the record, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel is completely illegal. So far, that's not true of basic workplace obstacles and anxieties. But I think we'd all agree that when it comes to stress, there oughta be a law.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.