Silvia Bhuiyan

As Interviewed by A.K., March 14, 2015

Silvia Bhuiyan: In Her Own Words

My name is Silvia Bhuiyan. I am a licensed clinical social worker. I have a Masterís degree that I received from Texas State University. I am licensed by the State at the highest level a social worker can get. A licensed clinical social worker means I can do therapy, and I can build from my services if I want to. But I donít. I work in a hospital, and Iím a case management supervisor, so I work with patients in a hospital. I make sure that they have everything that they need to go home, to ensure that they donít wind up back in the hospital. So thatís what discharge planning is when you go in a hospital. Social workers and nurses do that -- so itís a team. I am a social worker and a supervisor there.

I like to hear about peopleís lives. I meet very interesting people of all cultures, backgrounds, colors, and genders. Social workers get to interact with about any kind of person you can imagine. Talking to them and hearing about their lives, things that are causing them to feel sick, or are going to cause problem when they get back home -- those are the things I need to know. I can try to prepare them to go home, hopefully help them find a way around the problems at home, and help them to stay at home instead of coming back in.

I deal with a lot of older people who donít have a lot of family support or that are kind of sickly and still live alone. They need help at home and canít do everything by themselves. They need someone to help them get dressed and shower and cook. I also work with their families to see if they are able help and to find places that can help them. The best part of my job is meeting so many different people.

I like the old people. I remember them the most because theyíre the ones that have the least and they always donít have good support. Itís hard for me to imagine that some of these 70 or 80 year old people are living alone -- their children donít come to see them or they donít play a part in their lives anymore -- and theyíre struggling at home.

Sometimes bad things you bring home with you. You remember patients when you are leaving the hospital that things arenít set up for. You know they donít have a good home life, or youíre worried about if theyíre about to die. You kind of remember that during the weekends. You come home and wonder if Mr. So-and-so passed away this weekend. You know they might have been really, really old, and you know that they might have not been able to make it during the weekend. You wonder about that and it affects you because the time you could be spending in your home life and your family, youíre thinking about patients in the hospital that arenít related to you, but youíve had some involvement with.

Itís called advocacy. You have to advocate for your patient. Even if the doctors says their numbers are good, you have to advocate for the patients. You have to say they didnít look so good, theyíll be back here tomorrow. Believe it or not, the doctors listen sometimes.

Sometimes my job is real stressful. To some extent it affects your day-to-day life in the sense that you worry about people. Sometimes you wind up late because you canít cut out of people. Itís 5 oíclock and youíre still talking to people -- you still have to document them. So sometimes you end up staying longer than you need to. But most jobs are stressful these days.

I like helping and interacting with people -- itís my favorite thing to do. Most of the recognition I have received is cards from patients, thanking me and being very appreciative. Iíve had people tell me, ďIf it werenít for youÖĒ Iíve had people come back and tell me, you know I was going to do something and I did it. When the patients come back, itís nice to see how theyíve done. Iíve had a lady with a baby come and say, ďIím finishing high school this summer, and Iím going to nursing school, and when I do I am Iím going to come and tell you.Ē You know what she did she came back and said, ďI told you I was going to have a baby, and that I was going to go to school. Iím about to go to nursing school.Ē I was really excited to see that. I like hearing back from my patients.

My mother winded up being a patient at my hospital and that was an impact for me. It impacted me because I really got to see my mom really down at her worst. She was an actual patient of mine, so it was different. I got to be the family and I got to be the social worker. I could move her through the process and get her out. I also knew that when she got out, I had to continue taking care of her. So that was probably the one that impacted me the most. It was good to take care of your own mother. It makes you feel youíve given her something to make her feel that she is appreciated. As you get older life changes and the parents now become the children. You have to take care of them and it was hard for me to do. But I knew I needed to do it for my mom because it was something that she did for me. So I took care of her when she came out of the hospital. I helped her go to the restroom, I had to help her put her pants down, put her pants up, help her wipe herself. She became the baby just like when I was a child, and now it was my turn. It was good to give back to my mom.

Your whole life brings you to this point where it makes you who you are and that is how you affect your patients. Every experience that youíve had, every mistake that you make, changes you. You learn from it and you become a different person, and over the years and over your job, you just learn. And you keep it with you, so you know to be looking for that. You become very astute to whatís going on around you. So you learn not to make that same mistake. Itís every mistake that you make along your life, will teach you something.

When I first started, I was working in the emergency room in Brackenridge. I used to see small children come in and die all the time. From gunshot wounds, they were playing with their dadís guns, car accidents, or families coming to identify their babyís bodies. All kinds of stuff. Youíll be surprised -- Iíve carried a lot of dead babies in little baskets around to the morgue. Iíve done a lot of interesting things, and not everybody can say theyíve carried little babies around in a little basket and gone down to the morgue and put them in a little refrigerator.

Thereís a lot of cases that you donít really know what to do for, but thatís when come working as part of a team helps. Sometimes it helps to listen to other people, because you get ideas. Sometimes youíre just closed, especially when youíre really, really involved. You have to be able to step away from it and listen to what other people say. Thatís when you go around the table and talk to everybody saying, What would you do? What would you do? What do you think about this? You have to be able to step back and see what youíre not seeing, because sometimes youíre too involved. Sometimes you donít know what to do, and you start working a little bit at a time. You start at ground one, and boom! -- you just work your way up and see what comes up.

I recently had a mom who was a drug mom. She came in. She had a baby, and her sister wanted to adopt it. But her sister didnít have a good history. So you have to report them to CPS because itís illegal to do drugs while youíre pregnant because youíre exposing your baby to those harms. The family was very, very hard, and it was hard to report them to CPS -- and they werenít happy. They liked to complain that you ruined their lives, basically the plans that they had. So it basically impacted me in the sense that, it makes you question if you were doing the right thing. But you were doing the right thing, because you know when your interest was taking care of the baby. The mother had no business, and she didnít want her baby. She just wanted to do drugs. The baby ended up in the MIC [Medical Intensive care Unit] because the baby ended up in withdrawal. They spend weeks in the MIC when the mom does drugs, and the babies, they wind up in the hospital withdrawing from the drugs. Nausea, vomiting -- and they screech, mostly because their bodies hurt coming off the drugs.