Monday, June 11, 2012

This Nursing Home Gig

You couldn't blame Sonya for being unenthusiastic about her new job.  The last few months had been a whirlwind.  Danny's unexpected offer at the University had brought much joy but also much chaos.  Forced to quit her nursing job at an academic hospital, she searched frantically for a reasonable position in the new city.  But as moving day was approaching quickly, only one lousy opportunity lay at her door step. 

Sonya knew that Danny would be quite busy until he established himself.  Since the idea of not working and setting up house was deplorable, she begrudgingly accepted the spot at the nursing home.  She couldn't believe she was handing in her clinically superior role to become a mindless pill passer.  She braced herself to descend to the depths.  She would become a bottom feeder.

Her first few weeks on the job, Sonya found everything she was searching for.  She mentally checked off each category on her dreaded list: angry demented patients, nagging family members, bitter colleagues, and run down facilities to name a few.

But even in such deplorable conditions, a ray of light remained.  Sonya had watched as the administrator lovingly pushed a patient down to the cafeteria for coffee one morning.  She overhead the booming base of a fellow nurse singing to calm a delirious patient.  She watched as a certified nursing assistant fed a bed bound patient with exquisite care.

There were problems, like any nursing home, but there were also great moments of humanity.  Sonya found herself looking forward to seeing her patients every day.  She was especially fond of some of the custodial residents.  Overtime she was able to appreciate the strange beauty and quirkiness of life lived in a long term care facility.

One morning she arrived early to find that her favorite resident was doing poorly.  The message had come from the family to make her comfortable and to withdraw aggresive care.  Her only daughter was on a plane but would not arrive to early the next morning.  As Sonya's twelve hour shift came to an end, she peered in the room one last time before leaving.

She immediately recognized the breathing pattern and general stillness in the air.  Death was near.  Sonya grabbed her cell phone and texted Danny.  She wouldn't be home for dinner.  She pulled up a chair, sat quietly, and reached out for the old lifeless hand lying still on the bed.  She felt a faint squeeze.

No one under Sonya's care would ever have to die alone.  Her mind wandered.

This nursing home gig ended up to be much more fulfilling than she originally expected.


Molly Page said...

Sonya's story about her struggles and hardships are quite realistic and believable since I have also heard of similar stories from other people who have undergone similar downhill experiences. I just hope for the best that she'll be able to get back on her own two feet once more.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

thanks for this reminder of our common humanity and our human universals-one of which is dying while being attended.