A Difficult Transition
I have just two more weeks with my current personal care aide. She has been with me since last November and separating will be especially difficult. She is a recent graduate from Penn State and is from Hong Kong. According to her culture the elders and “the ancestors”, as she refers to those in her culture who are no longer living are highly valued. In fact, they are revered. This is something we seemed to have lost sight of in the United States. I was familiar with this cultural tradition among Asians from my undergraduate years at Penn State when several women students from Taiwan invited me to share dinner each evening. They considered it a privilege to assist an American with a disability in gratitude for being able to attend a university in the United States. That’s how I have been treated over the past 9 months and it has been a joy to teach this lovely young woman about my particular needs. She was been a willing assistant as I watched her slow down to my pace and cook according to my instructions as I shared how important nutrition was to managing pain and reducing the inflammation of osteo arthritis. Any miscommunications or differences of opinions were worked out between us without the assistance of the agency that employed her or my case manager from the Office of Aging.
Those of you familiar with home based care or “elder care,”as it is sometimes called, will know that this is very extraiordinary. In addition, the agencies were unfamiliar with some one with cerebral palsy living independently into their 6thdecade. However, my wonderful aide from Hong Kong who, from the beginning, identified herself as Christian assured me, “God is not done with your life yet! He has more for you.” That is, apparently true as I have grown much stronger while working with my personal assistant during these past 9 months. I have lost weight and have established a regular exercise routine with her consistent and reliable help. I will miss her very, very much!
Yes, the arthritis has spread and there are days of increased pain. However, that does not yet diminish the optimal quality of my life. This what having my current caregiver has taught me. I hope it will continue with the person who next comes to assist me.