I’m so thankful I did not work today. These 12.5 hour shifts are rough! I have 2, back to back tomorrow and Thursday, and my small group on Wednesday evening. I should be dragging by the time I walk in the door Thursday evening. BUT it is all so worth it.
This job is not for the faint of heart, or those looking to get wealthy. It doesn’t pay well in terms of cash, but it’s value to others is priceless. When I put it all in perspective, the money matters very little.
My family was faced with the need to put my dad in long-term care a year ago this past September when he fell and broke a hip. He cannot feel his legs from the knees down and his ability to walk was rapidly depleting. While he had taken many serious falls over the years, we could not convince him that this was where he needed to be. He lived alone in a large, 5 bedroom house, and couldn’t get off the 1st floor anymore. The family room was where he slept, and he sat at the kitchen table most of the time. A walker helped him to the bathroom and back, or the front porch, but that was the extent of his existence unless someone could take him out. I don’t need to tell you how difficult that was loading him up and the walker to go somewhere and his steps are shuffled and slow at best. Winter meant he wasn’t going anywhere as we could not risk a fall on ice.
Once he broke the hip the surgeon made it clear that dad could no longer live alone at home, he needed a long-term care facility where he would have help as needed. While he was recovering in the hospital from hip replacement and in a rehab center, we had to force his hand and get him in a facility. This meant cleaning out that house and selling it. I know and understand his bitterness at losing what little independence he had left. I’ll not forget the elder lady that yelled at an aide in frustration. The aide was obviously less then thrilled to be changing this lady’s diaper and the old lady, in tears, yelled at her that she didn’t like it any better and didn’t wish to be here, but she wasn’t given that choice. No one plans their life out and desires to be living in a nursing home, wearing diapers or having someone help them to the bathroom and get their pants off in order to use it. It’s embarrassing, even humiliating for the person.
Dad has adapted pretty well, though he has his days like anyone. The outings to the zoo, baseball games, museums etc, give him more social life than me and my siblings combined each month. Lots of activities take place too, inside the facility. While there are many really bad places I wouldn’t board my dog in (if she were here), there are lots of really nice places. The one I work in, the same one dad now resides in, is awesome. They strive to make it great from the decor to the food.
In keeping that perspective, that this is home unwillingly for most residents, it makes what I do more of a joy than anything. I already love caring for these sweet souls, and love seeing their smiles when I can get them what they need or make them comfortable. It’s very physical work, I had walked several miles at a good clip by the end of my shift, turned, changed, fed and bathed a lot of folks, pushed, pulled and lifted much weight, and did it all with a servant’s heart. I know in my heart from my Brave Journey, that this is right where God wants me to be, caring for these sweet souls before they finally leave this world, and making their last years, months or days as wonderful as possible.
Nope, doesn’t pay well, but what an amazing job! And wearing scrubs all day is kinda like working in your jammies! 🙂