I’m into week three of my CNA position at an LTC facility near my home. Driving time….5 mins. 3 breaks. One thirty minute lunch. Two twenty minute smoke breaks. 8 hours. 5:30-2:00. Not bad for a newbie.
this is my first full time job ever (I’m 31). I was a hairstylist for 11 years. Full time for a hairstylist is anywhere from 32-37 hours, and that is what I worked. I’m feeling the flow of the job and even noticing some moments throughout the day where I have “nothing” to do. I mean “nothing” because there’s always something to do. I had every intention today to wipe down three wheel chairs that gross me out when I use them. One being from a woman who isn’t completely coherent and cries all the time. The one thing that puts a smile on her face is her baby. It’s a little doll that she holds in her arms so carefully. She looks down on it like a mother and her child. She doesn’t eat. She’s very thin and wiry and I really feel for her. I wonder what it’s like inside her mind. I wonder if she has any memories of her life or if all of those are gone.
I have another resident (friend), I have become very close to. She was overweight when she entered the facility and after multiple health problems has lost all her weight. What’s left of her is a lot of sagging skin. She’s is a beautiful woman. Winy, particular with a wicked sense of humor. She knows I struggle moving her from one side to another so she makes jabs at it and turns it into a joke. I asked her where she wanted me to put her call light. She said, “I know where you can put it. UP YOUR ASS!” I laughed because i knew she was only partially kidding. She makes fun of herself for pooping so much. I make fun of myself for not being able to push her to one side fluidly. We laugh at ourselves and we laugh at each other and we know when our jokes are taken too personal, we back off and tell each other, we love the other.
Another resident reminds me of my Grandmother but a wee bit snappier. My grandma laughs when she doesn’t understand things because of the Alzheimer’s. This lady gets snappy and condescending. They both share a full head of beautiful white hair, dentures and glasses. They are similar builds and both tall for being women of their age. My resident in particular, plays with her poop. When I’ve woken her from her slumber, I will have found poop everywhere. In her hair, her fingernails, and all over her bed clothes.
I know my residents. I know mostly what they need and what I need to do for them. I am just now finding this flow in my job on the 400 hall of my unnamed LTC. They are all heavily dependent. None of them walk. Most of them are completely bedridden.
I know what’s expected of me.
I was having a grand old day doing what I knew to do with every intention of finding an hour to hose down a couple wheelchairs then Jenna (shift coordinator) comes up to me and says you’re on 300……..I’ve never been on 300. I don’t know the CNAs on 300. I don’t know how they work. I don’t know the residents and what they need. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know………and I don’t like to not know.
I became immediately frustrated as I couldn’t find the CNAs down 300. Where did they go? Why would they just walk away from their job? I know they’re here somewhere. So I searched every room. All the closed doors…..but that’s the thing. Closed doors on 400 means care is being given. There is either a CNA or Nurse in with the resident.
On 300, its a different story. A closed means the resident wants privacy, or the resident is going to the bathroom, or the resident is sleeping and every door I opened was one of these scenarios.
As I awkwardly searched for the CNAs on the wing, I started to panic. I have social anxiety and anxiety in general too. Changing things in the midst of just figuring out things is not how I wanted today to be. I wanted to walk in and do what was expected of me and bond with the residents I’ve grown to love and understand. That love and understanding was replaced by madness, frustration and fear. I feared they were going to take me off of 400 and I be a permanent placement in 300. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to be a float. I wanna learn my hall like the back of my hand.
Two hours after awkwardness and deer in headlights moments, it was time to leave. I took a Lorazepam on my way home, knowing that how I was dealing with this was typical Heidi style…..to obsess about it.
I was seething. I thought that everyone in 400 wanted me to stay in 300 cause they didnt like having me around, that I slow them down and I’m not very funny and im too serious and slightly too professional.
Self-loathing…..it couldn’t have been that they just needed me on 300 for the time being, it was the worst cataclysmic thing that could happen…..that everybody hated me and they wanted to screw me because I was late and they think I’m incompetent……Damn brain! You got me again….
But thank you Lorazepam for bringing back the clarity……
The day was a learning experience. I want to work with people that need me. Not just for little things like getting a drink of water or calming them down because they can’t breathe. I want to help the dependent. I want to help those that can’t help themselves. That is my honor. That is my creed.