It’s been a few years ago now that I made the change. I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something different. It seemed pretty darn radical at the time. Not so much anymore, although there are definitely still some periods of adjustment.
For decades prior to that point, I had a strict “females only” policy. Since caregivers help me with some of the most intimate things that I do, it seemed to make sense that I didn’t want to work with guys. And then came one of the times that I was short-handed and not many people were responding to my ad on Craigslist. The ad said specifically that I wanted to work with women due to the personal nature of this job, but Aaron applied anyway, and I thought there was no harm in interviewing him. The rest, as they say, is history.
Some unexpected things happened when I started to hire male caregivers. They are typically pretty strong, so they have no problem lifting my wheelchair in and out of their car multiple times per shift. Some have also been known to lift me when necessary. Therefore, I tend to get out of my house more and run more errands with my caregivers when there are guys in my life in this capacity. Guys also tend to be able to get me off the floor by themselves if I happen to lose my balance. Because some have been rather tall, they have been able to stretch me out well when I have a spasm or I am in pain, because they can use their torso and the length of their arms to raise my legs high toward the ceiling. No offense at all to short females, they just don’t have the ability to do the same thing in the same way.
Since 2012 there have been several male caregivers that have been part of my world. Some have worked out, some haven’t. But like all my caregivers, each has contributed something to my life, and along the way, I hope they have learned something from me as well.
A few years ago, I overheard a conversation that almost had me in tears. Jacob, who had worked with me for several months and was about to leave to start a new job, was training Joshua, who had just moved to town and was eager to learn the ropes. They were in my bedroom, and Jacob was explaining some aspects of my night routine. I was finishing up something in the kitchen and was making my way down the hallway to join them, but they didn’t know that.
Joshua: How do you respect Lorraine’s privacy and give her dignity, especially when she needs help changing clothes or getting in or out of the shower?
Jacob: Well, what I usually do is stand behind her, so she is not embarrassed when I have to see her naked or vulnerable. Then, when she specifically asks for my help, I do exactly what she needs. Then I go back to standing behind her until she needs me again.
When I heard the exchange, I had to choke back some emotion. I had not in any way encouraged Joshua to ask the question nor had I asked Jacob to talk about anything like that. These two guys wanted to make sure that I felt safe and that they respected my privacy and sense of dignity even though they were fully aware that I needed their help. It was amazing.
God bless both of them!
What is new for me these days is that I have a full team of male caregivers. I have two young men working for me now and they will be joined by a third in June as soon as he gets finished with a job shadowing gig in Italy. When I joked that I had an all-male “staff,” with one of my former caregivers on the phone last week she joked back and told me that she was going to call me periodically instead of going to Chippendale’s. Grin!
The two guys that I work with currently are great. Brandon helped me to make all kinds of signs for my book signing last week and guides me through using a step stool to get in his truck. He also took an extra-long time to learn the various stretches that we do every night because he wanted to make sure that he does them for me correctly.
Michael has spent part of his last two shifts spraying ant killer around the perimeter of my house, and carefully looking for places where they might be coming from. He also asks lots of questions when I request that he does anything because he says that “he wants to be sure to do things in the way that I want them done.”
God bless both of them!