“I’m the only one who can take care of you properly.”

Standard

“Do you want a full bed bath?” she said. “I'm going to be gone for a full week, and I know you won't want anyone else doing it for you.”

Uh-oh. I made a mental note to ask her other clients if this meant whatbi thought it meant.

I usually don't get an entire bed bath at a time because it wears me out. But that wasn't the issue. I have very sensitive radar for certain warning signals from caregivers. It's a survival thing. And I freak out a little at any hint of “You need me, I'm the only one who can take care of you properly.”

The weird thing about it is she's not even that good at her job. I mean she gets the basics done. But she does a lot of things that seem little and aren't, if that makes any sense.

Like she scrubs too hard, which causes pain and, for people with fragile skin, injury. She isn't able to control where she puts her hands. By which I mean she seriously thinks she's staying within certain bounds and she's not. Which means she gets lotion on my hands instead of just my wrists, which makes my eyes burn when I rub them later on. When she washes my vulva she goes all the way back to my anus despite attempts to stop her, which can cause infections. She can't aim properly when putting anti-fungal cream on, so my skin still burns when she's done. And no matter how many times I tell her to do otherwise, she tries to pull a towel out from under me before I have my pants on. Which can result in Desitin getting all over the bed sheets. She’s also one of the ones who inadvertently claws my vulva and thinks she doesn’t have fingernails.

More worryingly, she can be borderline abusive. You know how people slam cupboard doors and bang plates onto the table when they're angry? She does that to people. It's painful and alarming. She scrubs you even harder, slams your body around, and is generally rough with you.

Even when she's not angry she can be worrying in this department. On days when I'm unable to respond to her or move well, she treats me like I'm an object, not a person. And she can do the same things when in a hurry. It's like we are just things to her, not people, and the more severely impaired we seem to her, the more we are objects.

And she does a lot of things primarily for her convenience. Once she forced someone I know to stand up rather than get the bed bath he needed because it was slightly easier for her, and it exacerbated the injury that put him in bed to begin with. she didn't appear to care.

None of these are the attributes of someone who we all miss when she's not around. Let alone someone we feel we couldn't do without.

But her statement worried me a little. So I asked around. It's handy at times to live in a building where a lot of people have the same caregivers. Especially the people who bathe us, like her. They tend to be shared among more of us because they only come for the duration of the bath and any other personal care they provide.

Anyway, it was not hard at all to find someone who confirmed my suspicions more than I ever guessed. It seems that she has written it into her will that her pets are to be killed when she dies, because nobody could possibly care for them like she does. That's more of a warning flag than I wanted.

People have an obligation to our pets. And part of that obligation is to do everything in our power to ensure that they will have a good life if they outlive us. I know that Fey will miss me greatly, and I hope that she will not try to starve herself if I die. But I have plans set up for AnneC to find her a home or, as an absolute last resort, to take her in until she can find her a home. I would never have her killed just because I was dead.

To kill your pets when you die is selfish and reflective of a really disturbing and warped take on the world. Part of that take on the world is almost always “Nobody could take care of them like I do.” Which is also a huge part of the mentality behind a lot of animal hoarding and other abuse.

It works the same way with humans. “Nobody could take care of you like I do” always results in messed up behavior towards the person in question. It can range from minor abuse and neglect, to murder.

Parents who think nobody but themselves can take care of their disabled children are disproportionately represented among people who murder their disabled children. They often don't seek out help to take care of their children, and don't plan for a future when they are not around for their child. This means that even if they don't kill their child, they're setting them up for the awful situation the parent sees as inevitable after their own death. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever they believe, this is not love.

And caregivers who think this of their clients can be just as dangerous. At minimum they abuse their power over us. They may try to get us to see other caregivers as not very good. Even when they're better than the person in question. They frequently treat us like things, because to see someone in this way is to fundamentally see them as a thing. And at worst, they too can kill us.

I know a disabled guy who dated a nurse who had this attitude to her patients. He believes she was an “angel of mercy” serial killer who killed several of her patients. (Such serial killers are far more common than the Jeffrey Dahmer types, but receive little attention from the media or law enforcement. Their victims are only disabled people, after all.) She frequently talked about killing all her pets and everyone else who depended on her before she died. He realized she saw him in this way, and got out of the relationship fast.

I don't think that this caregiver kills her clients or anything. And I don't think I'm in any serious danger of more than being treated like an object by her, or else I'd never allow her in my apartment. But knowing this about her means I can be on my guard for more serious warning signs in case she does anything more disturbing.

But in general. Any sign of “Nobody can take care of you like I can” should put you on your guard. It nearly always results in something bad, and sometimes results in catastrophic abuse or neglect, or killing.

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6 responses »

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful blog . As an aspie as well as a paid care-giver , I find it interesting to learn more about the persepective of person who recieves “care”…though that care seems often more care “less” then care .

    I’m far from perfect in my care-giving but I find that my relating to being a person who sometimes needs care, I tend to relate more with the people I work for(clients) then the people I work with(staff). One of my outrages about autistics being labeled unempathetic is daily observations of NT’s indifference, manipulation, disrespect and general laziness towards both clients and staff . (honestly their words of sympathy mean little when they spend half their time gossiping and texting on the cell phones when clients need attention and cares .)

    When I read the quote from your staff, my first thought was that she was probably told to talk you into a bed bath and make it look like your idea/desire . That is the kind of manipulation I see daily and it does come from a deep rooted disrespect of the individuals autonomy . (I observed the same behavior towards myself as a child .)

    Caregiving profession, like any power inbalance profession(medical, psychiatric, teacher), is goiing to attract a certain percentage of people who thrive on their power over others because they have little power in their own lives . The lower the wages and social esteem fo the type of job , the more likely such abuses will be over looked, (or institutionilized as the norm), as long as the staff shows up for work and fills difficult shifts . Geberally, our hardest working and most compassionate staff end up leaving or being fired for bringing up such problems or advicating for the clients . I manage to hold my position inspite of “poor social skills and making waves” simply because I work an over night postion which is hard to fill .

  2. “I’m far from perfect in my care-giving but I find that my relating to being a person who sometimes needs care, I tend to relate more with the people I work for(clients) then the people I work with(staff). One of my outrages about autistics being labeled unempathetic is daily observations of NT’s indifference, manipulation, disrespect and general laziness towards both clients and staff . (honestly their words of sympathy mean little when they spend half their time gossiping and texting on the cell phones when clients need attention and cares .)”

    You sound a lot like me.

  3. I knew a woman who had her beautiful and healthy collie killed just for being 12 years old. People have pets killed for the slightest reasons and say they are being “merciful”, and say I am immature because I would never do that. Some very twisted thinking has caught the trendy mind.

  4. Some people clearly should not be caregivers. She is one of those. If someone cannot respect their fellow person, or pet for that matter, they shouldn’t be responsible for another. Just like how people with no people skills should not work with people or in retail for example. I had a doctor who was a real piece of work. She acted like a real Attila the Hun. Having to see her exacerbated my panic and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe, and her care was substandard. She made her patients feel less than human and dumber than dirt. However due to the shortage of doctors here you don’t really have a choice who to go to. I really hope that you have a choice in caregivers… if possible you should find a new one who doesn’t see you as less than human. One who doesn’t see life as less precious than it is. You deserve better! I’m praying you find someone more in tune to your needs and care, someone who will respect you.

  5. Pingback: Let’s talk cat | autisticook

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