Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gotta keep moving and learning new things

If there's one thing I'm taking away from working at the nursing home it's this: Keep moving and learning.

I have residents who can't stand up straight. Not because of debilitating illness or injury, but because one day, something hurt and they stopped doing the thing that hurt. Then, one day, another activity hurt, so they stopped doing that, too. Pretty soon, the things they didn't do anymore outnumbered the things they did do. Now, they sit in chairs until someone can help them to the bathroom and they cry because it hurts to move from the wheelchair to the toilet.

Recent research indicates that learning new things prevents Alzheimer's Disease. Whether it's true or not, it never hurts to gain knowledge. Educating yourself may help your brain stay young just as exercising helps your body stay young.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about folks who've had cancer or a stroke or a broken hip. I'm talking about folks who just let themselves decline until they have limited themselves to recliners, wheelchairs and crying because they hurt so bad all the time.

Friday, May 30, 2008

We're off to see the Wizard

Last night one of the ladies with dementia had fallen asleep in the dining room. This isn't unusual for her. One of the other residents (who also had dementia) convinced her to go to her room. Also not unusual. I saw them at the end of the hall and as the sleepy woman was having trouble walking, I went to help. I held one hand and the other resident held the other and we started walking. Then the sleepy one's roommate came and held the other residents hand.

The Wizard of Oz suddenly popped into my head.

I didn't start skipping, but I'm not sure which character I was, either.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

As a general rule, I let my residents do what they feel is best for them. If it's not hurting them or anyone else (including me) I let them have their head. However, I've had several situations where the choice has been causing them pain or getting hurt myself. I'm sorry to say I had to choose causing them pain.

The goal is to let the resident do as much as they can themselves. This means getting up from their chairs with just enough help to keep them safe. I'm willing to do it in several small, slow steps and to ease them down gently into their new space, whether this is the bed, the toilet or wherever else they want to plant their fannies. But when they stop midway between the Scylla and Charybdis, I'm going to move them as quickly as possible.

I had to muscle a resident last night because they did just that. They stopped and I was stuck between them, the bed and the recliner. Either they were going to fall or I was going to get hurt trying to hold them up. So, I got them seated on the bed and rolled over onto their side (which is how they like to sleep) while listening to them scream. Ugh. If you've ever had to do that, you know it makes you angry. At them and at yourself. After I got them settled, I apologized and explained why I had done it, but I know it didn't comfort them much. And my voice was sharper than normal, I know. My only comfort is that they likely forgot it as soon as the pain subsided. They were sleeping quietly when I left, so I believe all was well.

I accept the fact that I'm going to be sore after work. But if I get seriously hurt, who will care for them? Given the choice between hurting them or hurting me, it's going to be them. And it's a crappy choice to have to make.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"A horse crawled up my butt...

...and pooped!"

I'm not sure if the resident was proud or distressed about this. I'm voting for proud. It was "an extra large" after all.

(We have to record the size of resident bm's at the end of shift.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Searching for Bobby Fischer

There's an old movie called Searching for Bobby Fischer about a chess champ. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever watched the movie, but I've been told about it. In one scene, Bobby tells his opponent that he's going to lose and offers to let him concede the match very early in the game. Apparently, Bobby could "see" enough logical moves ahead in the game to know the outcome before even his opponent did. I'm finding that being a CNA requires this kind of mind.

The ability to anticipate the next move and be prepared with a response is a great thing. How many times have I gone into a resident's room, only to find that I don't have the supplies I need to get the job done? I'll bet it's been a thousand just since February. How many times have I found myself rushing around trying to accomplish a task by a certain time? At least five-hundred. Last night, I was thinking that if I could anticipate the next "logical move" then I could be prepared and therefore, efficient and timely.

This morning, of course, I realized that I'm not dealing with chess, which has order and method. I'm dealing with people who sometimes think it makes perfect sense to dance down the hall with no pants on. On the other hand, I could (and should) take a moment to gather my supplies before I start a task, if it's not an emergency situation. I should also take time to plan my day as far as I can, so I'm not rushing around at the end of a deadline. If doing this makes even one task go smoother, it would be worth the minute it would take to think it through.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Privacy Policy

We went over our privacy policy at work at the last In Service. I guess this is a good place to say that I don't divulge personal information about any of our residents. My stories are composites of things that have happened to me at work.

In real life, the incidents are more watered down. Kind of like the difference between sap and maple syrup.

Friday, May 23, 2008

OT Drink Recipe

My time off was fruitful, if only because we made this yummy drink:


2 oz. Bacardi Select
2 oz. Bacardi Light
3 oz. Cruzan Mango Rum
1.5 c. Hawaiian Punch
Blend for several seconds until frothy.
Pour over ice in 3-16 oz party cups.
Top with
Seven Up
and a shot of
Bacardi 151.
Makes 3 servings.

Sounds like it would taste terrible, but you can't taste the alcohol. Kind of the same idea as Long Island Iced Tea.

Now it's back to work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Few days off

I've got company coming in to town. I plan on being too busy to blog for the next few days. Of course, since that's the plan, something else entirely will happen. At least I'm looking forward, right?

In any event, I imagine I'll have something to say when my schedule gets back to normal.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Thank you...

...for taking good care of my boyfriend."

This is the kind of thing that does your heart good. The even cuter part of it is that this is one resident talking about another. She eats her meals in his room because he can't often go down to the dining room. When they play bingo, she picks prizes that she can give to him as gifts. When he's cranky and yells at her, she just leaves quietly and comes back when he's on a more even keel.

She said this to me last night as I was rushing between halls.

"Oh, he deserves it," I said while hugging her.

"Yes, he does."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


One of the things I discovered right away is that folks with dementia have almost no sense of humor. I say "almost" because every once in a while it will shine out through the darkness.

One night I caught a resident mimicking of one of the nurses. Funny in itself. Even funnier that that other two girls with her caught it and giggled.

I also have a resident who's been refusing to go to bed before the end of my shift. I can persuade her to let me help her into her pajamas, but she'll have no part in going to bed. Her roommate tries to mother her constantly. Last night the roommate said "You cannot make a habit of this!" The resident caught my eye and busted out the biggest grin. Ha! Oh, yes she can. And will.

On the other hand, you can't tease them. Either they don't hear you or they don't get it if they do. Better to let them take the lead and then just laugh in response. Of course, you'd better be sure they're teasing you and not being serious. Sometimes what sounds funny is not a joke to them at all.

Every day, I smile big at least once. Sometimes it's accompanied by a shake of the head, but it's a smile nonetheless.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

OK, so I'm a day late. I'm guessing no one reads this every day anyhow.

I was thinking that even if you've never had children, if you are in the field of nursing, you're a mother at heart. The desire to nurture and comfort seems very motherly to me. And really, what else are we doing as CNA's or LPN's or RN's? Well, the LPN's and RN's are mothering and doing loads of paperwork, but still...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Oh, bother.

I can't decide on a subject. Should I talk about DNR orders? How hard that must be for a person to sign that paper that says "just let me pass on". Should I talk about how I might react the first time I find a resident unresponsive? I've touched dead bodies before, but they've all been relatives. Or maybe I should talk about getting training to become a CMA. Why would I want to? Is there a good reason not to go for it?

It's windy here today and all my brainwaves are scattered everywhere like garbage when the lid of the can blows off. Maybe tomorrow I'll gather my thoughts and try again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The chair-sitting ghost appears again...

A couple nights ago, one of the residents asked who was sitting in their geri-chair. No one. Well, no one that we could see with our eyes, anyway.

I'm not sure if I'd want to be so "open" that I could sense the spirits wandering around my workplace. I'll bet the joint is overflowing with them. It does make me wonder what conditions change that make it possible for me to catch a glimpse of them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Everybody talks about the weather...

but no one ever does anything about it.

I don't know who said that. Maybe one of y'all does.

In any event, we've been waiting for the spring storms to start. In March and April, the weather seems to set up one or two counties east of us, so that the storms miss us, but we still get the swings in barometric pressure. For the last two or three days, the weatherman has been telling us that it was going to storm, but we didn't get anything but clouds and a swinging barometer. Do you know what that does to folks with dementia and arthritis? Wrecks them. The poor residents have been far more confused than usual and taking every tablet and capsule of p.r.n. pain medication that they can get their hands on.

This morning at 3:30, I saw the lightning. If I hadn't been suffering with a migraine myself (somehow my hormonal cycles always line up with the screwy weather), I'd have done a jig. And according to the radar, we're in for hours and hours of it. Good. So today will suck, but tomorrow everyone should be back within normal range. Hopefully this will include myself.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thoughts and words are things, too.

You really do have to be careful what you say. An offhand comment can come true faster than you can blink.

Last week we had a resident who insisted on walking around when they really aren't able to do so without help. We spent several discussions last week talking about how they were going to break a leg or something before it was all over. Now they're in surgery after taking a bad fall.

Now, you may say that we were just predicting the obvious. Still, I wonder if our talk calls things into being that might not have been created otherwise.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Body function alert!

It's really funny how excited my residents get over their bowel movements. They're so proud that it cracks me up.

Comments made to me:

"Well, would you look at that!"

"It's just a little dumplin'."

"I haven't had a bowel movements like that since I don't know when!"

"Hers was so big this morning they had to bring us a plunger!"

I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to the day when something as simple as a normal body function brings me such joy or not.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Strange experience.

I suppose everyone that works where people have died has a ghost story. I imagine that I'll have more the longer I work in the Nursing Center. But, yesterday was the first time I experienced anything strange.

We were using a lift to transfer a resident from her G-chair to the bed. The roommates wheelchair was sitting facing the shelf that holds the television. As we were working, out of the corner of my eye it looked like a man was sitting in the chair with his head turned and looking right at me. Of course, when I looked full on, the chair was empty.

The odd thing was that just a week or more ago, in another room on the same hall, one of the other aides told me that she thought someone was sitting in the wheelchair in his room as she walked past the door. When she backed up to see who it was, there was no one there.

Power of suggestion? I was not actively thinking about it at the time that I was moving my resident. It could have been my subconcious mind working, but why in a different room? Wouldn't I have gotten that impression in the same room as she had?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Off-Topic: The swallows are back

Last year, a pair of swallows had built a nest right above my kitchen window. The babies grew up and the nest blew down over the winter.

Yesterday, we saw another pair (or the same one?) building another nest above the kitchen window again in a different spot. Just another sign that summer is nearly upon us.