Monday, September 29, 2008

He tried to bite me!

Last night when I was passing out snacks, I was chatting with some of the residents who were sitting out by the nurses station. At one point, one of them grabbed my hand. I didn't think anything of it because I hold hands with anyone who wants to (and probably some who don't). Pretty soon I noticed my hand being drawn closer to this person. When I looked down, the resident had his mouth open and was drawing my hand in for the chomp. When I squealed and pulled my hand away, you should have heard them all laughing.

The amount of joy that I get from hearing them laugh more than makes up for the bullshit I have to put up with from management.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stress at the Rest Home?

Seems to me that Nursing Homes were once called Rest Homes. Maybe they still are. I'm pretty sure that anyone who has ever worked at one feels that this is a misnomer. There isn't anyone at a Rest Home who is actually resting.

My stress level has gone so high that my migraines are increasing and this morning my stomach is hurting so bad that I'm seriously thinking about going to the doctor to get something stronger than OTC meds for it.

Knowing what work is like, I'm going to try a few changes starting today to reduce my stress level:
  • Taking two fifteen minute breaks and a thirty minute break is often impossible. (We were short again last night. I sat down for seven minutes all night.) What I'm going to try to do (which the smokers have perfected) is taking a five minute break once an hour. And I'm going to go somewhere peaceful to do it. Doesn't matter if it's the courtyard or the bathroom, I'm going to go.
  • Drink more water and less coffee.
  • Take fifteen minutes to eat either while everyone is at supper or after everyone is settled after supper.
  • When I get stressed, I'm going to smile. They say they act of smiling actually does make you feel better.
  • If I get a chance to take normal breaks, I'm taking them. Sitting on the hall watching for lights does not count as a normal break.
  • I'm working on adjusting my diet anyway, so eating healthier at work is a good goal. Candy bars and pop are not good stress reducers. In fact, they just make more stress.

If any of this actually works, I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

First race after a layoff.

OK, so I'm not a horse and two days can hardly be considered a layoff, but I know that tonight is going to be a challenge. You wouldn't think two days makes that big a difference, but it does. By the time ten o'clock rolls around, I'm going to feel like a wet dishrag with little pieces of food stuck in it. New shoes not withstanding.

On the other hand, after two days off, I miss work. I get a charge out of helping people even if I always feel like I'm not doing enough. Every once in a while, one of the nurses will tell me that a resident has said something nice about me and it makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vertically challenged again and other stuff.

Yes, we were short last night. And first shift had been short, too. When I came on shift, there were four call lights on down my hall and three of them were people needing to be cleaned up because they had had diarrhea. Not only did I get the short end of the stick, it was shitty, too. (Please wait while I laugh at my own joke.)

Anyway, to compound this, I had a migraine yesterday. It came complete with a visual aura before the pain hit. The last time I had a visual aura was before we left Illinois, so previous to October 2002. For some reason my migraines are increasing in both number and intensity. I'm not sure if I'm feeling more stress or if my hormones are out of whack. I'm fixing to make some adjustments in my diet in an effort to lose 17 more pounds by the end of the year. Hopefully the change in diet and the weight loss will bring the migraines back down to one or two a month instead of however many I've had in the last month. (It might be five.)

In any event, today is payday, so tomorrow I plan on buying a much needed pair of work shoes. The support hose I bought seem to be helping lessen the leg pain I feel at the end of the night. The addition of new shoes should make me even more comfortable. Then maybe working short-handed will hurt a little less.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reporting back

The resident I dreamt about three days ago was still alive and kicking yesterday. However, we did lose a different resident on the morning I had the dream.

Of course, I didn't find this out until I had been at work nearly six hours yesterday. It's strange how you get isolated when you work on a hall and aren't aware of what is going on down the other halls unless someone has told you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

O/T Powerful Woman's Motto

My sister emailed this to me this morning.

Powerful Woman's Motto:

Live your life so that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, shit. She's awake."

Initially I laughed at the thought of "out-Sataning" Satan. But then I realized it could be taken another way. You can live your life so that you are blocking Satan's every move and making the world a better place.

Now, I don't believe in Satan (another discussion for another day) but it's making me think and that's never a bad thing.

Dreaming about work

I know that work is getting to me when I start dreaming about it. I'm also concerned because the dream involved one of the residents and I'm hoping that it's not a portent of death.

This morning, sometime between 7:30 and 8:00, I dreamt that one of the resident's came up behind me, touched my shoulder and walked past me, laughing. This resident is wheelchair bound, so them walking is odd in itself. Even odder is that the feeling of them touching my arm was so real it woke me up.

I have the night off tonight. I'll have to report back on their status the next time I work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"They don't appreciate you, but we do."

The charge nurse told me this last night. "They" meant the nursing center's administration.

"I don't care about them. I only care what you think. And the residents. They seem to be happy, so..." was my answer.

I work for the residents. Granted, I wish I was faster and yet could still make everyone happy. Instead, I settle for doing right by the ones I can touch and hope that later I can make it up to the ones I don't get to quick enough the first time around. When I go into a resident's room and they say, "I'm so glad you're working here tonight," I know I'm doing OK.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How things change.

Funny how your perceptions change.

I used to try to grow my fingernails out. I'd file and paint and buy new products that came out to help them grow long and beautiful. I'd lament a broken nail and then have to cut all my nails back and start over.

Now, I get upset if they get too long and lament the fact that I have to keep cutting them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

First night passing meds

I did my first shift passing meds unsupervised last night. I did just fine, thank goodness. I did, however, smash my fingers in the narcotic lock box twice. As bad as it hurt, my fingers ought to be black and blue. I don't even have a red mark this morning.

I think I'm back on the floor tonight. I'm not planning on anything. I'll go in prepared for both jobs and just do whatever they tell me. No point in getting hung up on it because what will be will be.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I'm forty. I have little aches and pains and sometimes have to take a deep breath before standing up from a chair or getting out of the car because I get stiff if I sit for too long. I need new glasses (possibly bifocals OMG!). I have relatively frequent bouts of CRS (Can't Remember Shit).

But you know what else? I can walk and talk. I can read, type and diddle around on the Internet. I can write in this blog, write stories and write notes for myself so I can remember things. I can get up to go to the bathroom whenever I need to go and wipe my own behind when I'm done.

I'm grateful.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

O/T Reprieve rescinded.

Patrick's best friend Andrew Haden left for Fort Hood yesterday. He'll be shipping to Iraq in the next 30 - 60 days. All prayers for his safe return are appreciated.

Glad that's over.

Six shifts in four days is officially too many for me.

Yesterday, I came in to work to find that I could not be in the med room, I had to work the floor. I don't have a problem with this, except that on Wednesday, our big medication order comes in and now I don't know how to deal with it. So, now I'm picking up yet another shift next Wednesday to learn how to do it. Also, the reasons that I could not work the med cart are as follows:
  • They left a person on the schedule who has never once shown up to work.
  • One person was out sick, but they didn't call in.
  • One person's spouse was in the hospital, but they didn't call in.

I heard "no one told me anything" so many times yesterday, I thought I would lose my mind. Our communication is horrendous.

And they asked me to work this morning. It's 10:48 a.m. I am not at work. I told them I needed my two days off. They are working short this morning and I'm sorry about it, but there's nothing I can do. I need to have my recuperation time, or else I'll be calling in sick and becoming part of the problem.

So, here's the bottom line: every time something happens that I think management needs to know about, I'm leaving a note. If they want to use them as kindling to set themselves on fire, that's fine with me. I think it's about time someone stopped bitching in the break room and started filling the suggestion box.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Well, that was quick and other stuff

I just noticed that this is my 101st post. Boy, those added up quick.

My elbow is feeling good today. The goal will be to not hurt it at work tonight.

And just a "heads up". On Monday and Tuesday I'm working doubles: 6-2 as CMA in training, 2-10 as CNA. Wednesday 2-10 I'm working as CMA in training and that's the day our big drug delivery comes in. Consequently, I may not blog again until Thursday or Friday after I've recovered.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mechanical lifts are your friends.

I might have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Use the mechanical lifts.

One of our larger residents has been suffering a decline in strength. It used to be that I could help them on and off the toilet without a problem and putting them to bed was easily doable by two people. Not any more. The other night their legs gave out before we could get them on the bed. Fortunately, I'm pretty strong, so I was able to pull them over and get them on the bed. Unfortunately, I pulled the tendon by my elbow. The resident is fine and I'm OK, but I'm going to have to baby my elbow until it's fully healed. Not an easy thing to do as a CNA. I'm hoping that I'll get more CMA work than I previously thought.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I passed my CMA test yesterday with a 94%. I wanted 100% but I missed two drug pass questions, one ethics question (because what is "ethical" and what is "right" are not always the same thing to me) and one safety question.

I get oriented on the med cart next week and then I'll be doing the cart a couple times on my own. Come October 1, I'll be a CMA/CNA and will probably be doing a little of both jobs for a while.

Love / Hate Relationships

I find it interesting how many of my residents have love/hate relationships with their roommates. Mostly the women. With the men, they just kind of tolerate each other or ignore each other altogether. But the girls. Oh boy.

Every time Resident A says anything, Resident B (on the other side of the curtain) makes a face and shakes her head at me. But when Resident A was in the hospital, Resident B asked about her constantly and was upset until she got back.

Resident C just moved in with Resident D. They are constantly telling me that the other one needs a sleeping pill. Resident C tried to tell me that Resident D needs "special services" which I interpreted as "mental hospital". But the other night, Resident D had kicked off her sheets and Resident C had to call me in to ask me if she was OK and if she was warm enough.

Is it just that they can't throw off that caregiver role or do they actually love each other? We may never know.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I guess I'm just lucky.

Over at, there's been a lot of negative news lately: lack of funding, mistreatment of residents, lack of nursing home reform.

Granted, I've only been doing this for six months, so I'm not suffering from burnout. My facility is pretty nice compared to some that I've been to while growing up. I don't think of myself as working in an "institution" because I don't think it looks or feels like one. Since I've started there, there's been enough turn over that some of the CNA's who weren't doing a good job, weren't being kind, or weren't showing up for work have weeded themselves out. I'm hoping that the new folks coming in aren't more of the same, but I guess we'll have to wait and see on that.

My point is this: I became a CNA because I wanted to, because the one thing I've always been good at is helping people, and because my life path led me here, thank goodness.

Some days suck. Some days I can't do as good a job as I want to do because we're short-handed or the shift before was short and I'm playing clean-up. Still, all in all, I feel proud to be a CNA. I like my facility, my residents, and most of the staff. I know that on most days, my resident's are as well or better off when I leave than when I arrived.

Maybe I'm just lucky. If that's the case, I hope my luck continues on for the next 15 years or so.