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On Private Duty Nursing and Glass Houses

Submitted by kim on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 20:46 in Lessons for Mom, Nathaniel's Story

Nathaniel came home from the hospital with round the clock private duty nursing. I would love to write a blog post on how smooth Nathaniel's second first night home went. But it didn't. We were up all night fixing problems the night nurse was creating. At two in the morning I asked her to sit in the living room. She had told me she was afraid to drive in the dark and I couldn't turn her out in the middle of the night.

And I would love to write that she was the exception and that all of Nathaniel's nurses since have been fantastic. But they haven't. I've come to realize that private duty nursing care is a lot like homeschooling. It is as good or bad as the individual doing the job.

I can write that in general lack of skills is a big issue. We've trained nurses to suction, to change a trach tube, to work his feeding pump, to administer medicines, to give breathing treatments, even to change a diaper. A nurse that comes equipped with the necessary medical skills still requires training on Nathaniel specifically. A nurse that has the medical skills and has been trained on Nathaniel still has an occasional bad day at work. And in home health, the nurse's bad day at work happens right smack in the middle of our lives.

Some days what is suppose to be helpful is actually exhausting.

We still have nurses in our home an average of fourteen hours a day and for the most part have been fortunate to find nurses that fit. When that happens what is suppose to be helpful is very helpful.

But here's another part of the equation - they see the real us.

The dishes. The socks rolled in a ball under the kitchen table. The lack of makeup. The inpatient tone of voice. The fading smiles as the day wears on into the night. My husband's pajamas at two in the morning.

This is not foreign to me.

I've lived in a glass house since I married Rich. With joint custody of his boys, their every visit provided his ex-wife a view into our home and lives. Our daily words and actions were observed immediately for the seven years we lived in Rich's parents' home. The last five years with Rich's father living with us has continued my glass house experience. I have never had a problem understanding the omnipresent and omniscient characteristics of God. I suspect anyone who shares a home with an in-law is cognizant of those truths!

So having Nathaniel's private duty nursing staff in our home for twelve or sixteen hours a day carries on a pattern I've come to understand as norm. I love how Rich and I have chosen to live our lives - flinging our door wide open, interacting, serving, and loving people intimately in our home rather than away from home. But there is no room for a facade when your work happens daily inside your house. There is only transparency.

When I think of the sacrifices we have made in order to adopt Nathaniel or care for Grandpa it is this living with transparency that stands out to me as the hardest. Fixing my hair and makeup, my clothes and house, my smile and attitude before being seen by outsiders is a luxury not allowed to me as I fulfill the work God has given me.

But transparent living is also the sacrifice that has yielded the most growth. Like the Samaritan woman at the well responding to God requires removing our layers of preferred pretense and exchanging our paraded perfection for patency. Twenty-four hours a day.