Tuesday, February 3, 2009

sick and homeless

This week seems to be healthcare week on the blog, or maybe ill health week, or something like that...  The image on the left is rhinovirus, or the common cold.  One of those things we all get, all hate, and most of us get over pretty quickly.  I've been blessed enough that I haven't had a cold yet this winter (no wait, I did, that one I had before I got strep throat...) In anycase though, whatever cold I did or didn't have is such a distant memory that I can't remember it (what a sentance).  

There are a lot of things most of us take for granted when we're sick.  Things like being able to buy ourselves some cold medicine, make some tea and curl up in a warm bed - even if we do drag ourselves to work.  We can look our symptoms up on the internet and get an idea of what's what (although this can backfire...trust me).  Most of us have friends or family who can drive us to the doctor, or the hospital if we're really sick.  People who'll help take care of us or our families if we need a little help.  Gosh, most of us know that if we've got a stomach bug we can at least have the privacy of our own bathroom to puke our guts out in.  

When your homeless, things change.  Homeless shelters are definitely NOT the place to be staying if you're sick, but for some people there are no other options.  I have a client right now who has cancer and has to have some major surgery.  She and her partner are looking for a place to live because once she gets out of the hospital recovery will take some time and she knows the shelter really isn't the best place to do it.  We try and be understanding of people's dificulties but the fact of the matter is we are only open 21 hours a day and people need to find someplace else to be during those 3 hours.  

Another thing about the shelter is how germs spread.  While we do our best to keep things clean the truth is people are still sleeping on mats side by side on the floor.  So when one person gets sick, well, everyone's getting sick.  That's one thing about the shelter, it's never quite.  There is always someone coughing, wretching, gagging etc...  One night there wasn't and I was worried and when around and checked to make sure people were breathing, fortunately it started up again.  

Recovering from being sick is a lot different when you don't have a safe comfortable place to do it and when you don't have healthy nutrious food to eat.  Illnesses seem to last longer or just never go away.  I know for some of my clients they haven't felt "healthy" in years.  

once again, a post with no answers... 

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