in     by  14-12-2015

When a WWOOFer becomes ill, how much do you offer in terms of support/advice/time/money?

Today, one of our pair of WWOOFers became ill, and was told by our local GP to go through to Dunedin Hospital Emergency Department.  It was an urgent but not life-threatening condition, so an ambulance was not an option... 

Emergency transport - for sure
When it became clear that they needed transport to Dunedin Hospital, it was natural to offer to take them through.  I could never have abandoned them "in their hour of need", especially as one of them was miserably sick, and the other was naturally very anxious.  And they are only 19!

Discussing but not solving the problems
Unfortunately the hospital is a two and a half hour drive away, so it would not be possible to go back and forth several times, therefore all contingencies had to be covered from the beginning. But there were so may unknowns. Surgery or maybe not? Hours or days in the hospital? Plans after discharge? A place to stay in Dunedin? Transport back to us or onward to their next destination? etc etc.  The instinct to solve all the problems was strong....but had to be resisted!

I felt very callous just delivering them to the Emergency Department and then driving off, rather than helping them settle all the unknowns.  I spent the long drive home trying to figure out how to draw the line between support and mothering!  
I rationalised NOT solving their problems by reminding myself that:

  • They are young but not children.
  • They speak excellent english so communication is not a problem.
  • The NZ health system is pretty good so they are in good hands.
  • My presence in the hospital and in Dunedin might have been nice, but was not necessary.
  • My presence out in the vineyard at this time of year IS necessary.
  • They have my phone number which I encouraged them to use if they wanted to consult.
  • I am NOT their mother!

Maybe they are perfectly happy WITHOUT my help and input, and maybe it is just a case of "once a mother, always a mother" but whatever the situation, I think it was important for me to settle my own mind about where to draw the line. 

My Line, in a nutshell!

  • Do offer necessary and obvious help, kindly and willingly.
  • Don't offer more than you can do in a reasonable time-frame.
  • Remember and balance your responsibilities elsewhere.
  • Don't take responsibility for them or their decisions.
  • Look at the positives which come from their and your experiences!

I think I have it settled - until the next time.