Posted by Selma Mirsky

I recently had hip replacement surgery. The experience was positive in many ways. I learned things about myself, some of which I would rather not have known. As a social worker in the JF&CS Mental Health clinic for almost nine years, I have been helping others. With my operation, the tables were turned.

I had to learn to be dependent in a way that was unusual for me. When I went to rehab, I was determined to work hard in therapy and to leave as soon as possible. I was not interested in socializing and certainly not in Bingo. I ate in my room until I was coaxed by an insistent Activities Director to attend a Chinese New Year celebration. It was fun, but I remained by myself. I did not identify as a patient.

Then, I was encouraged to come to Barn Babies. There were puppies, bunnies, a French chicken, and even a goat wearing a diaper, playing with his buddy, a baby pig. I was selected to hold a tiny tiger kitten, with an infectious purr. She was the drawing card. Some of the patients began to talk with me about the kitten. I was invited to join a few patients at meals. We shared our stories and some of them, who had been in the rehab longer than I, helped me find ways to accept help, by asking for what I needed.

My transformation from caregiver to patient was an eye opener. I really learned how difficult it is be dependent on others for help. I realized how important it is to trust caregivers. I became fully aware that it takes strength to ask for help and to help oneself as much as possible.

As a result of my experience as a patient, I gained a deeper understanding and compassion for what my clients go through.

Selma came to JF&CS in 2003, with extensive experience in individual, couples, and group therapy. In addition to her private practice, she has worked as a clinical social worker in several home care agencies, bringing with her an interest in and commitment to helping elders, both in the office and at home. Selma finds the work with elders challenging because of the losses and health issues they face, but gratifying because of the positive changes that can take place due to the strengths they bring to the therapy process. She is a compassionate, skilled clinician who collaborates tirelessly with other professionals and community services to meet the needs of her clients. As a former assistant professor at Boston College and Simmons School of Social Work, she has an interest in teaching and writing.