A Walk in Each Other's Shoes

I visit a resident with Parkinson's disease in her room from time to time to resolve little issues with her computer. The many visual messages the computer screen sends can be exhausting and confusing for her due to her disease. My most recent visit with her was especially significant to me. She can be reserved and fairly quiet; a highly intelligent, strong, and very capable woman, it has been very painful and damaging to her self esteem to have such difficulty doing the things she once could with ease. I did not know this about her before this day, however.

I was able to sit with her for quite some time and walk through what she wanted to do. Because she is more independent than most of the residents at Allen Brook, she and I, as well as most of the staff, have not become very close yet. She reached out and changed that. By asking for help with her computer, she helped reaffirm that the way I see things and perceive things is not the way everybody does. It made me think about the stimulating things, not reserved to a computer screen, that would be completely overwhelming to someone in her shoes. Being able to imagine how the people I serve may see things - or at least understand their perception may be completely different from mine - is important for me to be better for them.

This woman, who I see as so resilient and having experienced so much more in her life than I could ever imagine, offered the gift of showing her vulnerability and fear. Though always a candid person, she and I were able to talk about her pain in a way that we had not before and gave me a true insight to how someone in her position feels. It is hard to explain why this experience with her meant so much to me. I think it is because we are closer now and I feel lucky to know her better. It is also an exciting prospect to know she and I can keep focusing on her computer goals and streamline the tasks she wants to complete independently. This way, at least when she has something to do on the computer, it will not make her feel worse about herself.