As some of you might already know my biggest career aspiration is to be a Physician Assistant, but I'm working as a Certified Nursing Assistant until I can take the next step in my career path. At first, my ego had a really hard time accepting the fact that while I'm extremely educated I'm working in a field where most workers have only a high school diploma and some vocational training. My friends and fiancée have helped me to see the light these past few months.
One day, B said to me, "I could never do what you do at your job". Initially, I was offended and thought he meant that he would refuse to work in a role that sometimes involves bodily functions and spending hours being patient with the elderly. I asked him what he meant by that later on via text and he said, "I couldn't do your job because I couldn't. It takes an insanely strong person to do what you do. It takes someone who not only has a strong sense of self, but also the ability to be completely selfless for others."
Then, I melted. I knew that when he texted me, he was thinking of his dad who died of brain cancer just over a year ago. I think his dad didn't feel comfortable with his future of daughter-in-law taking care of him like a CNA would, so I really didn't get the chance to use my CNA skills on him. I use them all the time now though and lots of sweet elderly people that need some extra help.
Another day, I was complaining to my friend about the low-pay, lack of benefits etc. and while she was commiserating with me and lamenting over how much the elderly are overlooked and mistreated in our society, she said, "I really hope there are a lot of Christys around when I get to be an frail, old lady." That comment totally made my day, and I haven't let my ego get in the way since then.
Besides, I love my day-to-day routine. I work Monday through Friday with an elderly couple in their home. The man I work for has Parkinson's and his wife is unable to help him get around by herself on days when "he isn't navigating" as she puts it (Isn't that a nice way to put it?). What that means, for those who might need clarification, is that he isn't always able to control his muscles and it can be very debilitating at times. Besides physical assists, I remind him to take his medication every 2 hours around the clock, help him make it to doctor appointments, help him with a shower or a bed bath, let the dog out, let the dog in, help prepare lunch, clean up some around the house, make sure that the patient is safe at all times, cheer him up as much as possible, and spend a lot of time talking with his wife who is still adjusting to the changes in her husband's health. Since she is now handling everything to do with their insurance, bills, etc.so I try to give her advice on how to navigate insurance since I used to work in the field, by at least pointing her in the right direction. I explained the Medicare gap for prescription coverage to her and no elderly person should ever have to try and understand that mess...most young people don't even get it!
But I digress, I totally love this couple.
The patient with Parkinson's has always been extremely nice to me no matter how frustrated he can sometimes get. He treats me like he would a daughter. His wife is my South Beach diet buddy and she and I are always talking about food...recipes, how to make things low-carb, how we cook things.....I LOVE it. Heck, I've lost 15 pounds so far (blog post on that later). She also has the cutest phrases that she says that just make me giggle. She likes to say things like "my husband hasn't eaten that in a Coon's age" and she likes the word "liable". As in, "if you eat that kind of bread, you're liable to put on weight". That's kind of a bad example but it's so adorable and southerny when she says it.
Also, I admire their relationship. She treats him with respect even though she is a lot more mentally astute than he is at this point and tries really hard not to embarrass him in anyway. He also gets frustrated with not being able to do things like he used to but seems to understand that without his wife around he would be in big trouble.
They are quite religious and always do a blessing everyday before eating lunch. One time when their close church friends came over to eat and spend time with them, their friends thanked God for me in their blessing. It was so sweet of them....they treated me like I was my patient's guardian angel. Totally brought a tear to my eye.
I love how rewarding this job is spiritually and emotionally. I love the patient interaction and occasionally learning new things. I've learned about how to put hearing aids in (they don't teach you that in CNA school, go figure), how to use a nebulizer, the best way to insert a suppository (TMI?, we nurses aren't shy...), how to move a patient with stiff muscles, how to check blood sugar, and the list goes on. However, the biggest downfall this job has is that I don't get to use my mind as much as I would like. I'm going to be taking nutrition online and applying to nursing school soon though so that will make me more mentally active and it will be a nice change of pace.
I also pick up shifts when other patients need a CNA. I've worked in nursing homes and hospitals. I've worked with tons of patients with Alzheimer's and several in hospice care. I've done two 12 hour overnight shifts.These jobs that I pick up is where I learn the most new things because I get to work with a variety of patients in different settings.
I love the work I do and can see myself becoming a nurse and then maybe one day becoming a Nursing Practitioner instead of PA....I'm really not sure which path I would like better at this point. What I know for sure is, if I become a nurse I will have no problem at all spending lots of time with the elderly and I will probably even love it.
When it comes down to it, old people are cool cats.
Am I talking like one? That makes me cool too.