Magical Mystery Tour…

Posted: June 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

(friend locked for privacy…)
I wasn’t going to talk about New Job being as this is a writing blog and all, but it’s turning out to be much more interesting on so many more levels than I thought it would be.  Today was day three working as a dietary aide at a nursing home.  I’m amazed how much I’ve already learned about the residents…their personality traits, little details about them.  They’re all SO interesting and complex.  I thought I’d just be like, slamming gruel onto cafeteria trays or something, but this place is run like a country club.  Fine cuisine made by executive chefs…yadda yadda.  And let me tell you, we aim to please.  The residents basically get their every wish granted with a smile.  I’m having quite a grand time.  The most hilarious thing is when they talk about me to each other.  I think they think they’re whispering, but they’re screaming loud enough to be heard across the room about how sweet and cute I am and how they just can’t believe it’s my second day (it was actually my third lol).  They’re so kind it makes me blush.  It’s so rare to get to hear what people would be saying about you behind your back lol. 

But something happened today that made me feel…I don’t know.  I met this lady my first day as she cut through the dining room.  Everyone seemed to love her.  She’s such a spark plug!  Never eats in the dining room because she’s always on the go, taking trips and visiting people.  Yesterday she was so excited to tell me about the trip she was leaving for that day- North Carolina and then headed to Florida, just beaming about it.  I thought, when I get old, this is exactly how I want to be. 

So when Happy Hour rolled around after lunch and she was still there, I asked her when she was leaving.  It was already 3:30 and I was worried that maybe she’d had to postpone her trip.  She said there was no rush, she’d leave in a bit.  I kinda wondered about it and asked some of my coworkers.  They all seemed excited about it, no worries.

Today I found out that last night she was admitted to the psych ward.  There was no trip.

I’m more bummed than I should be.  One of the first bits of advice I got was the sane ones are crazy, and the ones who seem completely lost usually know exactly what’s going on.   The ones you’re not sure about usually change from day to day. 

Finding out that she…well, I know she didn’t lie.  I mean, she’s sick, right?  But  I was really let down and then I felt bad for feeling let down…  Another lady was really really confused at dinner.  She kept asking me if this was her group that she’d come to this place with.  I tried explaining that she lived there, and all the people around her lived with her and she was in the right place, but I just felt really helpless. It was just so sad.  She seemed so scared, and everyone just kind of smiled like it was okay…but, it wasn’t ya know?

I’ve only known these people three days and already they’re having such a profound effect on me.  I’m not good at not getting attached to others.  I’m a people person.  I love to talk, and hear people tell stories.  Just listening to their idle chatter…like today at lunch when one table was reminiscing about the Depression and borrowing radios and what a treat it was to eat fruit…it’s so entertaining to me.  But there’s such a dark side to it.  I hope I’m cut out for this. 

  1. doortoriver says:

    Wow. I’ve volunteered in nursing homes – which, admittedly, is hardly the same thing as what you’re doing – but I know exactly what you mean. I think it can be easy to forget that the elderly are… well, just PEOPLE. As much people as those our own ages.
    It’s an absolutely wonderful thing to be able to get to know them; it can be utterly heart-breaking – but very, very worth it. Whether you can do it long-term is honestly something that only time will tell.

  2. notalama says:

    Since you care so much, you probably are. People tend to look at people in nursery homes as ‘less-than’ and anyone who can really see them as people is as rare as chicken feet in Soweto.

  3. What you’re doing is tough work. I’m sure if you haven’t been whomped by the reality of it before— by now it’s painfully obvious.
    Anything worth doing is going to have heartbreak attached to it.
    Just don’t become jaded or burnt out.
    You have an opportunity to learn a lifetime’s worth of experiences (many peoples’ lifetimes)… take it. It will make you a better person. But when you start to feel bitter — or the emotions run dry take a step back. There’s no shame in saying, “I can’t handle this type of work.”

  4. fandoria says:

    My dad is a physical therapist at three nursing homes, one of them an Alzheimer’s unit. It’s not always easy and he’s had some sad stories to tell, but there have been plenty of happy ones too. He absolutely loves his job and the people he works with.
    Just from reading this post, I think you’re cut out for this. It won’t always be easy, but you’re already gaining a love for these people and that’s what’s gonna make you able to do this, even on the hard days.

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