Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Today I participate in a blog hop hosted by Michael D'Agostino of A Life Examined. Please visit Michael's blog to sign up. Now let's go to the hop!
Michael's question for September is the following: What’s the best job you’ve ever had?
The best job I've ever had was when I worked in a nursing home as a geriatric nursing assistant [GNA]. I've written some blog posts about the nursing home. You can read one of them HERE (please note that I've changed the names of the people involved, but the story is true).
Money was tight at our house. Someone needed to get a job. I knew that someone was me. Working as a GNA paid better than my job as a newspaper reporter, but it was hard, physically demanding labor, from 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. three or four nights a week.
I changed diapers; cleaned whatever needed cleaning; fed people who couldn't feed themselves; lifted heavy patients out of their wheelchairs and put them to bed in a clean gown; emptied catheter bags; and assisted the nurses with procedures. If someone who had dementia peed next to the toilet instead of in the toilet, then I cleaned it up.
When death was imminent I held the hands of patients who told me stories of childhood play in the woods, pets they loved, children who didn't visit, where they were when they heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, service during World War II, their regrets, their triumphs.
Working as a GNA probably doesn't sound like a good job, but I loved it. I danced into my patients' rooms to make them laugh. I made sure they had what they needed.
The most important part of the job was that I treated my patients and co-workers with dignity, sympathy, and a smile. They returned what I gave to them a thousandfold. I've never felt as respected as I did when I worked in the nursing home. I was somebody.
I was somebody who was loved.
Thanks for the great question, Michael.
Sing us out, please, boys.
Infinities of love,
Hi, dear Janie! You are somebody. You always have been and always will be. Another thing that I can promise is that you are loved. I admire and respect you for doing the type of work you described. During her years as a nurse, Mrs. Shady used to come home from her shifts and tell me similar stories about lifting heavy patients and cleaning up the messes they made with their bodily fluids. She also told me how grateful her patients were when she lent an ear and allowed them to talk about their lives. Mrs. Shady gave them the gift of her time and attention and that was the best medicine of all. Obviously, Janie, you were equally dedicated. Think of all the people you helped at the end of their lives. Bless you. Bless you, dear friend, for caring. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to others.ReplyDelete
Oh, Shady, that's such a nice comment that now I have to go to bed to whimper with joy. The patients blessed me with the trust they put in me to take care of them. They blessed me with their love. They blessed me by appreciating all that I did for them. We were truly a family. Staff members became the children of the patients whose children didn't visit. I quite often had a patient who was in pain because of arthritis, and she was lonely during her sleepless nights. She was a fussy, angry lady who literally turned on her call bell every 5 - 10 minutes throughout the night, but If I told her I hadn't eaten my supper yet and asked her not turn on the bell for half an hour, she always lay in bed quietly so I could eat. She worried about me when I was tired and would insist I sit in her recliner to rest for a few minutes. The patients had so much love to give. Few had relatives who came to visit, so they lavished us with love. I would tuck them into bed, kiss their cheeks, and say, I love you. So now, Shady, imagine that I've tucked you into bed and sung a lullaby to you, and you'll fall asleep with your arms around Mrs. Shady. Goodnight.Delete
What a beautiful re telling of a difficult, but very rewarding job. I've always thought all nursing staff at assisted living or nursing homes are such special people!ReplyDelete
We were just doing our jobs. Lots of people have difficult work to do.Delete
Hey Janie, I could see where you would find that work enjoyable. Obviously some things more than others, but adding a little joy to lives where so little joy exists must have been rewarding.ReplyDelete
I felt that if someone couldn't get out of bed to go to the kitchen for some juice, and I brought the juice, then I was doing something small but very important. People in nursing homes have virtually no control over their lives.Delete
Janie, your post was wonderful, and you and Shady added yet more to it. When my hubby's mother was in a nursing home, we lived many miles away, and when we visited her we felt she wasn't getting the love and attention she deserved. Yet we couldn't get her to come closer to where we lived. Certainly the world of nursing homes needs more dedicated people like you. God Bless.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Linda Kay. Sadly, the people who have families visiting regularly--daily if possible--receive more attention. All the patients deserve to be treated equally.Delete
My friend and I were discussing this just last weekend, sitting in her swing. She's still a working weaver, which means what she makes she takes to a show to sell. We talked about the relationship to customers, about knowing our trade so well from thirty years experience, about answering all questions about the craft and keeping the skill alive by passing knowledge. As we were talking I thought about pulling into a fairground on a hot Friday afternoon, pulling up to my assigned spot, hopping from the truck and simply shouting to the heavens "I love this show." People come to the fair to have a good time, and it is the chief job of every exhibitor to be sure they do. And those of us who did were the successful ones.ReplyDelete
Loving one's work is a great feeling. The love spreads and spreads.Delete
That does sound like a physically demanding job, yet so rewarding. I would have loved sitting next to the residents, listening to their stories, showing them love, in their final days. You are a blessing to them.ReplyDelete
Play off the Page
They told me many amazing stories.Delete
What a humbling job. It takes a special kind of person to do that without being patronizing, or becoming bitter. To show up with a smile and truly put the patients first. Yeah, that's right, I called you special. No take-backsies.ReplyDelete
Special as in takes the short bus to school?Delete
My mother had a severe stroke and now resides in a long term care facility. Fortunately, we have a large family so she gets a visit nearly every day of the week but I can tell there are some of the caregivers who treat her special. I wish there were more and I wish they were paid more for such an important job.ReplyDelete
Our pay in Maryland was pretty good, and we got a lot of vacation and sick days. Then I tried doing the same work in Illinois. The pay was $3.50 an hour less. We received one week of vacation after a year. I tried jobs at two homes. Both had abusive practices that were allowed by law.Delete
You know, I've always thought I'd like that job myself. I always spent a lot of time with Nan and part of the time spent was visiting people in nursing homes. I remember one Christmas when my great aunt with Altzheimers was living in a nursing home. We went to visit her and one of the residents couldn't speak a word of English. She could speak German. She had no family here. I remember talking to her and writing a list (and pronunciations) for the nurses to speak with her. She was so happy I was talking to her. My great aunt passed away in August 2010 and after that, we didn't go anymore.ReplyDelete
I admire you for the work you did. It is very important work and I wish more people cared about seniors.
I know you have a degree already, but if you feel the call, perhaps you should consider becoming a nurse.Delete
You are a very special person from what you've said here. This is a very difficult job in my eyes, but, as they say, someone has got to do it and thanks to God that there are people like you.ReplyDelete
I get so depressed when I go into a nursing or rehab facility, but I really have to psych myself up to put on a good face. I would hate to be in a place like that, but I know that someday I could end up being under care such as this. I only hope that if I do end up in a facility that the people caring for me have the attitude that you have. But I hope I never have to be in that situation.
You are a working hero.
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out
Doing one's job isn't heroic. It's just the way it should be. I have told my children and Willy Dunne Wooters that they must not ever put me in a nursing home. I would prefer to die. All my co-workers felt the same way.Delete
Oh, it takes a certain person to not only be a nurse (or assistant nurse) who cleans the patients up or tidies around the area but to show empathy, caring and a true invested interest in that person, well, that is rare. You are a rare, gifted individual who has touched more lives than you even realize. My mom is in long-term care and whenever I see people who never seem to get a visitor, I feel very sad for them. Some nurses and PSW's do what is required but I see a select few who go that extra distance. Each person's life is valuable and should be treated with dignity especially when they are nearing the end of their life. I tip my hat off to you and actually wonder if you ever thought of volunteering at a long term care home? You are valued and would be a benefit to anyone.ReplyDelete
I can't volunteer at a nursing home. I can't take it. If something needs to be done, and no one is doing it, it drives me insane. I want to do it myself, and I can't.Delete
Oh yes, I see what you mean. You care so much and you have such a talent, I wonder if there are other places that could use your gift. I'm glad you have been there for so many peopleDelete
That sounds like it would've been a difficult job, but the things you did for the patients when they needed you was amazing.ReplyDelete
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.Delete
I've had several jobs I loved. They were so different that it's like comparing apples and oranges. I loved working small independent pet shops and was an assistant manager at one where I had a manager I adored and we all worked as a team. It was a joy to go to work. I could lift 100 pound bags of rabbit pellets and 30 gallon aquariums. I ran the fish department, supervised the employees, and made prioritized lists (no surprise, eh?). The kids on duty were always excited to show me if they finished the whole list. I was so proud of them! We laughed all the time, but worked really hard. There's nothing better than when the other workers tell you that they love coming to work and give you hugs.ReplyDelete
I was a waitress at a truck stop and worked the night shift till dawn--just myself and a sweet lady cook. It was like the whole place was mine to care for and the regular truckers were like a mass of big brothers who were there for backup should I need it with a belligerent drunk. I always had a smile for them and they had stories for me. Sometimes the place was almost full and I was scrambling like crazy...and one of the truckers would quietly take the coffee pot around and do refills for me. Almost brings a tear to my eye right now.
I wrote a response that was too long, so I'll split it up.
I worked with handicapped and emotionally troubled kids. One time I became a one-on-one aide with a young teenage girl who had left permanent scars on her last aide (she went for faces and necks). She had been released (kicked out) of the state hospital for being too violent and uncontrollable. She didn't speak so I had to quickly learn American sign language...and the official take-down method for the state of Wisconsin. I think Melissa was treated like an animal her whole life. She was not stupid. I spent evenings making up my own sign language flash cards with pictures from magazines and she absorbed them like a sponge. I truly liked her and she knew it. But, I'll admit, it was truly terrifying the first time she came running at me to give me a hug--which they said wasn't allowed with her because it was too dangerous. I hugged that girl every day after that. Incorporated her so well into the classroom that I didn't have a job the following year.ReplyDelete
I worked in the office of a senior apartment building (yes, I know--now I live in one--LOL!) and also lived there as the overnight emergency service person. Two jobs. I got the first job for the free apartment and when the social worker left I was hired to replace her (even though I wasn't a social worker--she could get me for $8 an hour vs at least $25). I did all the social work except for things outside the building--even dealt with family members and helped with relocating to nursing homes or rehab and kept records of residents. I was also the head of marketing, entertainment, and transportation--was the receptionist--and put out a newsletter. That was my day job. And because I was the emergency service person during the night and had an alarm over my bed--any emergencies that came up during the day were left to me, too--from heart attacks & strokes to spiders in the bathroom. At night I also dealt with leaky pipes and plugged toilets--simple maintenance issues. Made calls to electricians, plumbers, and a lot to the ambulance. I had two overnights off a month--but the alarm still went off over my head whether I was on duty or not. I averaged 113 hours a week between the two jobs. (It's no wonder I ended up with mono!) But I loved that job because I loved all the people. They were like my extended family of 150 people--brought me food when I was so sick. :) I used to have a good mind and loved having 20 irons in the fire and getting everything done well. I left there in 1999 to come up to Fargo/Moorhead to go to college and even though I was only there a little over two years I got letters and calls from residents up until a couple years ago. Sadly, I think they have probably all passed by now.
My life has changed so drastically. You'd never know I buzzed about like I did and could remember orders for eight tables and 14 stools--and get them all to the correct person. That I could juggle so many balls in the air...and now I forgot where I put my bluetooth--ROFL!! And what really cracked me up was that I had forgotten about that song--and I am 64!! :):)
What interesting jobs, RitaPitaPan! I swear you've done just about every job there is.Delete
It would be wonderful to have a job that made you feel like that!!ReplyDelete
It was wonderful. I still miss it.Delete
The best job I ever had was when I quit retail and began my own illustration business. I never felt more scared, empowered and alive.ReplyDelete
I was frightened out of my wits when I started working at the nursing home. I never would have done it if it hadn't been absolutely necessary.Delete
Your best job sounds a lot like my current job working with special needs students, but not as intimate and extensive. I do it all for them. I get it, it is a matter of self-respect and sense of gratification from your patients (my students).ReplyDelete
Oh, it's great that you work with special needs students. I don't think I could do that.Delete
You seem to have attracted a strong response with your answer. Clearly people respond to the fact that you genuinely care so much.ReplyDelete
That's very kind of you. Sometimes people think my sincerity is fake. It always shocks me.Delete
It takes a special type of person who can work with the old and frail and those people are earths angels.............just so you know.ReplyDelete
The only job I have had is that or mum and nan and have to say I love it
No job is more important than raising children. Thank you for your kind comment on my post about "Raymond."Delete
That was a demanding job. My mother lives with me and the thing I do the most is just being there. I'm glad to know you were there for so many.ReplyDelete
There is nothing better and more valued than a great nursing assistant. Lord knows, they are rare. And when you find one, everything is better for the patients, families and nurses. YOU were a great one, I'll bet. And you're right...you were loved.ReplyDelete
That sounds like a tough job, and it is great that you found enjoyment in it through the patients' stories and their respect for you. I think that finding the joy in the things we do is the best way to truly appreciate them, and sadly, I've failed to practice that with my current job.ReplyDelete