Well yesterday I went to my first clinical at a very exclusive and pricy nursing home. I was extremely nervous and was praying that I would get the independent residents; however, I was placed in the more dependent Alzheimer's and Dementia unit. The CNA I shadowed was amazing; she helped me as little or much as I wanted, gave great advice, and answered a lot of my questions. My first task was to feed a patient with Parkinson's Disease. I've never met anyone with Parkinson's so I was intimidated and a little scared. As I was feeding this man I was looking around the room at all the pictures. There were drawings from grandchildren, photos from weddings, and of course UK posters everywhere. They made me smile but they also made me sad. Obviously everything went smoothly and throughout the day I became more confident in what I was doing. At the start of the day I was viewing the patients as simply that, patients who I did not want to harm, not people who just want love and care. Towards the end I saw them as grandparents, moms, dads, brothers, and sisters. Although this was quite the breakthrough for me it made it a little more difficult. I couldn't help but realize that someday that might be my parents, brothers, and even me.
I gained much more than new nursing skills. I gained confidence in my abilities as well as a new found compassion for those who are old and can no longer care for themselves. I loved talking to the residents about their families. One woman is living the real life version of "The Notebook." When she was a newlywed her husband asked her to keep a journal of their lives together. She is now 96 and has kept a journal for over 70 years. Now that her Alzheimer's is developing she is going back and rereading her life story to help her remember.
Some of my other favorite memories:
--the couple that literally held hands the entire time I was there. I checked on them while they were napping and they were still holding hands in bed.
--the old man who lives in a duplex across the complex and comes in all day everyday and stays with his ailing wife.
--and despite the fact that most of these people can't remember where they are, who they are, and even who their children are they can still remember that they are in the Big Blue Nation. And you best believe that every tv was blaring the UK vs. Vandy game at noon.
After caring for all these people I truly believe that through all the challenges life throws at us we all just want one thing, love.
A fitting song: