I can't say the same for the folks at the cooperative. While I was gone, E's caregiver/niece discovered a big mouse infestation. In my defense, I think the signs became obvious right before I left: I told her I'd heard mice and explained our trap system (a jug of water, desert mice are drawn to dive in and drown). I had heard the mice, but not seen them or their leavings, so I had not done anything else about them.
Anyway, she went into huge overdrive: there was apparently a nest of newborns, and there were holes in the roof and, and, and... She used to be involved in infectious disease stuff (had a PhD and worked in a lab), so she has been following an extremely careful CDC protocol and cleaning every day. EVERYTHING has been moved and disinfected, except for a pile of brooms and containers in the bathroom, and the things under furniture in my room. Those, and the myriad numbers of books will wait until the last mouse sign is gone. C arranged for foam blocks in the Epod and the Casita (which also has a mouse problem.)
I was sick all last week with nausea, fatigue, and aches, and I missed E's 99th birthday party. I was advised that those are symptoms of hantavirus, which has a 38% of being fatal. Never mind that the mice for hantavirus are deer mice, not field mice, and that you need to have contact with fresh feces, and E was not showing any symptoms. I bowed to the panic and went to the doctor on the Monday I returned: No, I do not have the hantavirus. My symptoms are probably due to stomach flu and reaction to the bodywork I'm having done for last month's whiplash..
After I went to the doctor, I gave J a break and spent the afternoon with a tub of diluted 1:10 Clorox, doing battle with mouse turds. Most uninspiring. Then, I sent a message to my boss, regarding schedules and the possibility of getting a piano for Esther.
She wrote back that we need to connect on her next visit and clarify things, and she is not happy with the idea of having a piano in her house: no room, and E wouldn't use it anyway.
So now I am going into paranoia mode. I think she is thinking that I am getting paid too much for my work, since I'm gone for a week every month, and have subs for two overnights and one afternoon a week. Of course, we had agreed to that back in January, so....is she perhaps wanting to change the terms of our agreement? Or perhaps she is reacting to the hysteria regarding the mice? Whichever, it is not an acceptable attitude. I am a live-in caregiver, and I am here 24/7. My current rate of pay is barely $100/day. July was an anomaly: I had 17 days off (only two of which were covered by paid backup) and two 5-hour afternoons. That means, in July I worked 393 hours. At the going rate of $18/hr, that would be $7074. I'm getting $2100 a month, which translates into $5.35/hr last month, plus room and board.
Whatever, I'm cheap. And I am good at it. E and I love each other, and I do my best to shoulder my share of the co-op work, even though I'm not a member.
Probably this defense is not necessary. My boss is probably wanting to get another sub and hammer out the time off so she can budget for it. The real issue, of course, is that I'm thinking of the future. E just turned 99, and she is not happy here, and her memory and health will probably deteriorate. I'm only 55: What do I want to do for the next ten years before I retire? I actually spent the last few days of my recent vacation thinking about this. The mouse hysteria and my boss's message were just the tipping point.
I guess I feel like I'm ready to go back into the real world. I've been doing this since mid-September, so I'm close to the one year mark. I think that I could actually do this for a living, but then again, I can't expect to find other clients as wonderful as E. However, if I did this more formally, I would have much more freedom. Here, I'm responsible for scheduling my backup, and I don't have a real weekend: my weekends are 48 hours, not two days with the night before and the morning after, like most weekends. If I were working for an agency, like my friend C's, I would be making $15-20/hr, and if I were working a 24/hour shift, I'd be working a 3 day work week.
I'd need to get some EMT training, though. E is easy: she has short term memory loss, some hearing issues, and some physical frailty, but I don't need to administer meds or take her to the toilet or give her baths or any of that sort of thing. I'm just here, keeping her company and picking her up if she falls, making meals, and monitoring things.
I'm thinking out loud here...do I want to do this much longer? Do I want to go back to library work? Do I want to stay in New Mexico? The last few days have proven to me that I still don't handle criticism well, so it's tough to figure out a job and a living situation that will suit my perfectionist, flawed, thin-skinned style.
By implied criticism.
I don't have to be.