Who Helps Who?: Introduction

Jun 13, 2013
Tagged with: Who Helps Who?: Introduction

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of living independently.  I have accomplished this dream for almost three years now.  A HUGE component of my independence is my attendants.  I owe a major portion of my success to them.  However it is not always peachy keen with them all.  This past semester I had seven different aides who worked up to five shifts a day.  Contrary to what most people think it’s not the scheduling and managing that flusters me, but rather juggling their personalities.  With seven aides comes seven personalities that can be completely different from each other.  I have had over thirty attendants in my lifetime with ALL kinds of personalities.  Wild, quiet, loud, overwhelming, unmotivated you name it I’ve had it.  Some I like and others quite frankly I can’t stand (literally), but regardless I make do and appreciate their help.  Although our personalities don’t have to mesh, it certainly helps.

I can only imagine from the aide’s perspective how overwhelming their job must be.  I try to delegate major assignments to different attendants, which then determines their hours.  For instance one is solely for cleaning and getting me ready for the day.  However even though each aide has a specific purpose it can still be quite overwhelming.  Typically I try to ask for one need at a time, but usually it comes out, ‟Can you get my coffee and then my notebook, but before that turn the channel sorry, oh but wait first put my hand on my computer sorry, SORRY?!?!″ (I’ll explain the sorries in a later post).  Exhausted yet? So it is definitely a two way street or as some of my aides call it a love-hate relationship.  Another factor that can become quite tiring is the fact that it is one on one.  Also I can sometimes put my attendants in sticky situations.  My mom always tells them if it’s legal let her do it.  In high school I would ask them to pass notes for me and of course the teacher would catch me.  It is hard for my aides to watch me get in trouble and make mistakes, but I am human which means I live and learn.  Essentially my mom and I tell them their job is to be hands and feet only with judgment as my job.  I joke with them and tell them their job is to contain me, but it’s really not, the wheelchairs got a pretty good handle on that one.  Because of the numerous factors why the job is fatiguing for the both of us, I try to only hire my main aides semester by semester.  Also I find that it helps to have two main aides and have them alternate days.  With all that said I don’t want you to get the wrong impression at the end of the semester I am sad to see them go and with some special ones quite a few tears are shed although I try to hide it.

Most of the time my aides tell me how much I have taught them.  Whether it’s about the ADA, wheelchairs, life or whatever they are usually grateful.  However what they fail to realize is how much they teach me.  Patience, gratitude, unconditional love and oppression are just a few topics I’ve grasped from different aides this past semester.  One of the main reasons I am grateful for my disability is the amazing people, unique ones, but none-the-less remarkable ones I get to meet that I wouldn’t have the chance to otherwise.  Although the aide situation can sometimes need an aid itself I appreciate every minute of it.  I like to think of the situation like life, complicated, but beautiful and I will be forever grateful for all of the unfortunate souls who have had to put up with me.

Author: Demi Eckhoff

  • Sassywheels

    Wow juggling all those personalities may not be easy but it sounds like you do a good job.