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Deaf Awareness & The Pointy Nurse

Posted Oct 08 2009 10:45am
The Setup

So I think I have mentioned that we are in a MAJOR transition to a new nursing agency. Unfortunately these things take a bit of time to arrange. The doctor needs to sign orders, the new agency needs to find nurses to cover shifts; so lots of paperwork is happening behind the scenes. We hope to be switching in the next week or so.

In the meantime, our current agency is NOT really performing up to my expectations, which by the way have been seriously lowered. So that is not saying much. I know we are switching, but they don't (obviously) so when they offered to send a new nurse for training I played along, yeah sure send 'em down. This was my one complaint from my otherwise near perfect day yesterday, and of course it had to be from them. The nurse they sent out yesterday is still living in the Dark Ages.

If you have nursing care in your home, or know of anyone that does, then you have probably heard some horror stories. In the grand scheme of things, this story is not all that bad. I mean no one's life was threatened, there was no need for 911, but I think I rolled my eyes so hard they are still under the sofa.

The Attempt To Find A New Nurse

Nurse Ratchet X showed up at 6 am to train with our current weekend nurse. Having not had much sleep for the past 4 days I was really looking forward to sleeping in. Well that did not happen. I was woken up at 7:something AM to "meet" the new nurse. I was not a happy camper.

So "blah,blah,blah..." she runs down her list of qualifications while I rub my eyes. And I am thinking, I got out of bed for THIS? Once she finishes patting herself on the back the run down of her resume I think, okay I should ask her a few questions. But I haven't had my coffee or even gotten the chance to look in the mirror yet and I am not really in the mood for this so early. Actually something in the tone of her voice kinda irritated me, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

The Problem

I started with an easy question. One of the standard questions I ask the new nurses is if they are willing to learn sign language. Austin does have words, but he really uses A LOT of signs to convey what he wants throughout the day. Thus far all of his nurses have learned some signs right along with him, without issue.

Well, lo & behold she had an issue with it.

She scrunched up her face, paused, and asked "is that a REQUIREMENT?" To which I, sharply inhaled, collected my thoughts and replied, "No, it's a recommendation." When in my mind, I am thinking something along the lines of YES, you imbecile of course it is required! I explained that Austin uses sign language to communicate his wants & needs. If he is hurting he can tell you where, if he wants to play with a certain toy he can tell you which, etc...

She then retorted that she was a NURSE, she had been a nurse for 26 years, SHE would know if he was hurt. He didn't need to tell her, THAT was her job to know. (Implication: she was here to be his NURSE, nothing more.) So I said, 'Yes, I understand that, but as such you are also required to attend to his Psycho-Social Development, which includes play. It would be helpful to know some signs to facilitate that aspect of his care.' Or something along those lines. But I got the look, you know the one that says - You are ONLY a parent, what do you know? How dare you tell me how to do my job.

The Part Where I Realize I Am Wasting My Time

I could tell she was coming unhinged and I began to enjoy myself. Now I was awake; this was better than caffeine! (Bad Mommy)

She got all hot & bothered and stated that she had worked with Deaf and Non-Verbal kids before (because everyone knows they are one in the same - all Deaf kids are non-verbal and all non-verbal kids are Deaf, DOH!); she knew how to do it.

So that, of course, begged the question, "how did they communicate their needs to you?" And she said, "well, if he (Austin) wants something he can just point to it." Or maybe, he can just take her hand and lead her to what he wants and then of course use more pointing. Yes, exactly. Why didn't I think of that?



All these months of learning and teaching signs, using AVT, having a DHH teacher come to the house, traipsing to and from the John Tracy Clinic - it was all for naught. For that matter why even go through all the trouble of getting him a hearing aid or BAHA at all? Think of all the time and money I could have saved myself and the insurance company. I should have just focused on POINTING and guessing. That is how Deaf people get through life, right?

What more was there to say than, please allow me to point you to the door. Don't let it hit you on the way out!

This is Deaf Awareness Week, please help yourself to some information.


Thanks for peeking,

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