I find myself at a strange loss, digging around for a topic but coming up with nothing. I could certainly write about my new job and orientation; it’s at a nursing home and I think it’s better to refrain from posting much at all until I know how to vaguely state the little bits I’d like to share. I’m a bit extra when it comes to HIPAA/professionalism in the healthcare field.

There will eventually be a post titled something like “New Girl Old Home,” or “Midnight Lockdown.” I can say that I have my ideal shift (midnights) on my preferred unit (dementia). I’m going to go back to school and finish my Associate’s degree by the end of this year, and start Nursing school next year. I want to focus on Geriatric care, dementia, and developing elements of care specific to dementia patients that encourage creativity. I want to find new ways to rebuild – or at least strengthen and maintain – pathways in the brain/the brain tissue that deteriorates with the disease.

I come from a family of healers. My grandmother is a Nurse, my mom is a Family Nurse Practioner, and my dad is a Paramedic…I almost wonder why it took me so long to come around! Okay, no I don’t. For years I vehemently suppressed my interest in and passion for patient care because I wanted so badly to be someone else. Wanting to be anyone but myself included wanted to craft an entirely new persona, new interests, new look. Simultaneously, I was only looking at superficial aspects of everything around me.

I’m rambling. I became a CNA because I was at rock bottom. I had been wrongly terminated from a management position I was pretending not to hate, living somewhere I was pretending to still love, dating someone who I was only a shell of myself with because I was so badly craving a false expectation or normalcy. I was equating those weird markers – job, bills paid, steady relationship (rocky, toxic, and falsely hetero) – with success and therefore value. I digress. I was fired, and for two months I applied to jobs all over! Jobs that my customer service and management experience should have snagged without trying. Nothing was happening. Honestly, the two or three jobs that did pop up fell through within a three week period. My parents paid my rent…they also said “You need a career. This isn’t healthy for you.”

My mom and dad put me through my CNA class and I was the only one to pass the test with 100%! I discovered a deep – dare I say, waiting? – passion within myself. I began to understand what kept my father working 36hr shifts. I saw what kept my mother up long after hard days in the ICU with an A&P book cracked open, notes spilled across the table and neon yellow highlighter covering every possible test question.

Caring for another human being, especially those losing/who have lost the ability to care for themselves is a privilege. There is no greater honor than maintaining the dignity of a person when they are at their most vulnerable. I almost want to cry as I write this because some of the greatest moments of my life so far were packed into 5 short days of clinical experience…the most memorable ones are of shaving a resident, fixing one’s hair, getting to yet another early enough to prep her for breakfast. I was able to help someone feel clean and dapper. I sat and listened to a man talk about his late wife and was hit with the strange reality his life is now. Nursing homes are endlessly surreal. They are stark and poignant, dark and repetitive, bland and reaching. The caregivers (ideally) develop close relationships with residents, whose home they are working in.

As I finish up my orientation and prepare for the time ahead I cannot help but to look forward to the mantle I was chosen to carry. I will honor my residents. I will learn from them, care for them, and do my absolute best to be worthy of the responsibilty. Eventually I’ll be an RN, maybe even an NP! I want to broaden my scope of practice beyond what a CNA does…but I won’t ever forget the life changing moment I chose to begin this course or the residents who inspired me.

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