Friday Confessional

Yep, it is Friday.  TGIF and all that associated hoopla that says we are so grateful for the end of the ‘normal’ work week.

I confess…

I am thankful that today is Friday but only because this is an off day for me.  My schedule is far from normal.  I worked 5 straight days, was off 2, worked one, and now off today before headed back tomorrow to work 2 again.  I’m not a normal person so why have a normal schedule?  I could have worked in a facility that was less physical (in an assisted living facility) and had normal, 5 day, 8 hours a day, but it wasn’t close to home and I love being closer to where I live.  5 minute drive to work and that means less gas.  I see it as a huge financial savings.

I confess…

It is 10:10am, I just got up an hour ago and other than making coffee and having the first cup, I haven’t done a darn thing that is the least bit productive.  I think I am just mentally and emotionally exhausted.  There is the whole thing with mom’s cancer and such, and yesterday we sent dad out 911 from the facility with issues that may or may not be related to his recent back surgery.  I’m struggling financially to get caught up on bills that mounted while I was unemployed, trying to wrap my head around what to do when mom’s gone as far as do we keep the house, down size etc.  My faith is already stretched and I’m trying to get back to regular prayer and bible reading, not easy with this abnormal work schedule.  I’m building my Avon business for the umptenth time, and started a new direct sales company, Jordan Essentials, and well I’m just ready to curl up in a corner and suck my thumb.  Not because it is so much, but because it is so much not working out and the future is a big dark unknown right now.

I confess…

I have allergies or a cold or come such combo of the two.  Residents and aides all seem to have come down with it in the past few days at work so it’s either a bunch of us have serious allergies or we’re all fighting a cold virus.  Oh the joy of working in the open air with lots and lots of people.  You can bet I’ll not miss my flu shot this year.  Stocking up on various essential oils so that during flu season I can boost my immune system and keep the airways clear.

I confess…

I lost yet another pound, 21 down. Loving that little side effect of this job.  It is hard to not shed the pounds when working where I am averaging 17,000-20,000 steps a day.  I still need to utilize the gym the other 3 days a week but lately I am in that “hide in my corner” mode so really not all that enthused with the idea of going anywhere.

I confess…

Despite all the ‘negative’ circumstances I am happy.  Terribly confusing I know.  But I find the silver lining in just about any situation and as soon as I look at the blessings in my life I’m smiling.  The window is open and a cool breeze is blowing across my face while I write this, the coffee is hot, the mailman just came and he scanned a package so someone got goodies in the mail, I can hear cicadas and birds thanks to the open window, my new grandson is chubbing up nicely as he is a good little eater and cute as they come, it is still summer even if not for long, I’m surrounded by strong women who love me and cheer me on when the going gets tough, I’m losing weight and getting fit, we still laugh every day in this crazy household…it’s weird but I’m really very happy.  Maybe now is a good time to go curl up with God and His Word?  :)

Y’all enjoy your Friday!

Just Me, My Cat, And My Coffee

Close up of cup of coffee with pink roseIt is 10:30am on Tuesday.  Last night when I walked out of the facility at 6:30pm, I ended a 5 day stretch of back to back 12.5 hour shifts.  I felt energetic, accomplished, and really felt as if I had made a small difference in the lives of my residents. This morning, I’m beat. My back took a bit to relax as I stretched those sore muscles, my hands hurt, my feet hurt.  And I’d not trade a single moment for being painless today.

The house is quiet, only me and my cat are hanging out in my room.  Next to me on the desk is my second cup of coffee in my favorite cup, “Crazy Cat Lady, One Cat Just Leads To Another”.  I’m kinda OCD about my coffee cups, there are 3 that I will drink coffee from, any others in the vast collection we have in the Diva Den and the coffee doesn’t taste right.  I know, that is insane but it is just how I am.  I also cannot eat Chipotle unless it is with a plastic fork, no metal fork or I just cannot put it in my mouth.  I’m weird, I know.

Baby sister is in bed sleeping, she pulled the night shift at her facility last night.  Difference is she is an RN with a BSN in nursing, and a master’s in finance, and also the D.O.N. (Director Of Nursing) at her facility.  They were short a night nurse so she pulled the shift.  Her first of several this week.  Her employees are always in awe of her, as she will put on scrubs and work next to her aides changing diapers, feeding residents, spotting when a lift is in use, even sitting on the floor cleaning wheel chairs!  She’ll pass meds, comfort weeping residents, sit with the confused soul who refuses to stay in their chair and is a fall risk so the nurses and aides can do their job.  All this and more, while her own work waits for her to get back to it.  They love working for her because she doesn’t see any task as  beneath her title and salary.  She knows her aides are the backbone of that facility, the muscle behind the nurses getting to do their job, and ultimately the reason her facility is top notch.  I wish she was over our facility.

I know that we both get our work ethic from mom.  She too will do anything to make a resident more comfortable.  It speaks volumes to me that while she works for hospice and isn’t employed at my facility the majority of her patients reside here and everyone is tearful at the news of her retirement and return of her cancer that will take her from us entirely too soon. SO many have come up to tell me how much they will miss her, that she is not replaceable, is one of a kind, and to offer support and prayers for my family as we face this part of her journey.  She kicks butt at her job, and her compassion and heart for these old people, dying or not, cannot be measured.

When I finally did decide to get into this field I pulled from that drive she instilled in me and my siblings.  It has taken me a while to adjust to this job to get done just the absolutely necessary tasks, but it has been worth it.  NO one hits the unit floor for the first time able to leap tall blow out bowel movements in a single bound, shave the men, get folks up and dressed who cannot move, clean the finger nails of all your assigned folks, change diapers every 2 hours, feed 3 meals, shower each twice a week and so on.  Even seasoned aides have trouble just doing the basics, time and Murphy’s Law work against us every shift.  But we sure try.  We complain, roll our eyes, mutter to each other and ourselves, and yet we come back the next shift and do it all over again because something inside most of us would rather do this for far less money than some of the jobs we’ve left behind or could be doing for far better pay.

Yesterday I was brushing someone’s dentures, fresh from their mouth (this one sleeps with the teeth in), all slimy with spital and food bits, and realizing that the majority of the stuff I clean off of my glasses multiple times in a day is just that, second hand spital and things I do not want to even think about.  And yet it doesn’t gross me out.  It is part of the hazard of the job of doing for someone else the very basic daily life activities that they can no longer do for themselves.  Our pay sucks, but the glowing smiles of thanks make it worth it.  Throughout the day we manage to laugh through it all (that or we’d run for the time clock and tell the place to kiss our dimpled rears) at the antics and insanity of it all.  And some days we cry, because there is no way if you have an ounce of compassion for these people that your heart isn’t totally and completely attached to them, and we see them slipping ever so slightly away each day and eventually one day they are gone.  I’ve lost 2 so far and I know the turnover will be continuous.  One I care for has my heart wrapped so tightly around her sweet self that when she goes I’m going to be a puddle of tears for days.

I’m thankful as I sit here, with my cat and my coffee, realizing just how blessed I am to have woken up in my own bed, in my own room, in this house I share with my mom, sister and niece.  Grateful that I can go shower myself, use the bathroom without assistance, and feed myself without someone else’s hand to guide mine or put the food in my mouth for me.  No call lights going off, no one yelling things unaware from their confused minds, no chaos of 5 aides getting 48 people dressed, changed and to a meal….just peace and quiet, coffee and occasional purrs.  And looking forward to my next shift.

Wine & Cheese ~ 98th Serving

wineandcheese2Welcome to Wine & Cheese, my weekly, Wednesday whine session.

Most Wednesdays I devote a blog to whining. Despite being a really happy, positive person, I do have things that annoy me at times. I never let anything grate on my nerves for long but thought it would be fun to vent them periodically in my blogs. I also feel that good things, the cheese in life, should be acknowledged as well. I’m even going to throw in a bit of dessert, a piece of virtual chocolate, something that made me laugh or smile just a bit more than normal. If you’d like to read the past editions of Wine & Cheese just click HERE for all of the past postings. Sit back and join me now for the 98th serving of some whine and cheese!

 ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

 WINE WHINE

:(  What is with allergies and my body?  Seriously the weather is such that we can open the windows, turn off the A/C and enjoy it.  But NOOOOO my allergies are freaking out on life and my nose is running like crazy.  And to think I blamed the cats when in fact it seems the great outdoors holds issues for me too. Windows open, nose running. UGH!

:(  Laundry = boo!!!! Really I hate doing laundry and I’ve had to do 3 loads today.  That may not be a lot for you but remember, I only have my own to do and it was piled up in the hamper.  Heading into 5 straight days of working 12.5 hour shifts I will need my scrubs and won’t want to come home to do laundry before bed each night.  So, making sure I have 6 sets just in case something or someone goes sideways (I do mean goes as in poo’s) and I need to change my scrubs, that extra pair will be nice to have on hand.  Living in a large, spread out quad, that laundry room is a LONG way from my bedroom, adding to my unintended workout routine.

:(  I’ve truly neglected so much like my Avon business and my writing.  It took a while to get used to the job and the physical fatigue from those long shifts.  I’m not the spring chicken that I used to be at all.  Thankfully I’m adjusted now.

:(  Nothing like thinking you bought just normal toilet paper, 24 roll pack, the cheap stuff because it IS just toilet paper, and finding out it is 1-ply.  Making that discovery after it is hanging in 3 bathrooms and not wanting to be the laughing stock of the grocery store we keep on using it.  We considered keeping it in storage to use to barter for things during the zombie apocalypse but decided anything that awful wouldn’t get  much in trade other than used tooth picks so we used it up.  We’re too thrifty to just toss it in the trash. UGH.

CHEESE

:)  We are now about to break into a 24 pack of 2-ply toilet tissue.  Was that a chorus of angels singing?  Oh the bliss!

:)  I am officially 20 pounds down now and loving it!  Pulled out a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in oh, 5 years now?  YES!!! Slid them right on.  I admit it, I did a bit of a happy dance about that, it felt good to be back in them even if they are old and worn.

:)  I have so many great books to read!  Just finished up The Drummond Girls, and now reading #GIRLBOSS.  I have a pile of them waiting for me to attack.  I also have to finish up the baby blankets, though cooler weather will make that happen as it gets a bit too warm even under a baby blanket to be hooking my heart out.

:)  Is it okay if I say again (as in so many posts now) that I just LOVE my job? Really, who would have thought anyone could enjoy what I do in long term care, but I truly love it!  My residents are special to me, I even worry about them when I’m not at the facility.  I leave work feeling like I really made a difference in the little corner of the world in which I exist.

DESSERT

There is so much truth in this one, and I cannot count the number of times!

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How Did You Do It? ~ Tuesday Morning Coffee Musings

Hot cup of fresh coffee on the wooden table and stack of books tYesterday while working, one of my coworkers got to talking about needing to lose some weight.  I mentioned that I’ve taken off 20 pounds since starting this job the first week of May.  She jokingly said “be quiet I don’t want to talk to you” before asking me, “What are you doing? How did you do it?”.  I told her, I was pretty sedentary prior to working as a nurse aide, most of my jobs were sitting at a desk or rocking babies in my home daycare.

My job is way more physical than I had imagined it would be.  To be honest, when I first started it I was SO tired at the end of the day I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep up.  But I needed steady income so I pushed myself, tried to get enough sleep, and started drinking more water.  I dehydrate really easy and working a job where you sweat buckets full means you need water.  I slack off and pay for it, like I did Thursday night into Friday morning when I was up hurling my guts up.  All food I had consumed from dinner on came back.  My body could not handle digesting food because my hydration was so depleted.  I ended up calling off work, something I hate doing because working short there is even more hell physically.

Plenty of sleep, though still not enough, helps.  Drinking lots of water helps.  And we move there, a lot.  I log on average 18,000 steps (on every single tracker I’ve tried so I know that is pretty accurate).  In addition we are rolling bodies to dress them, back and forth.  Lots of bending to put on wheel chair peddles and remove them.  Pushing wheel chairs with residents who cannot do it themselves, or Broda chairs that weigh 75-100 pounds before you put the resident in them.  Squatting over and over to hook up the leg straps on stand-up lifts, pushing and lifting laundry bags to the laundry shoots, and so much more.  Going from sitting behind a desk to this much physical activity, it was a given the weight was coming off.  And of course as the weight has come off, my body getting in better shape, physically I’m able to do more than before.

I haven’t been to the gym in a while because with this job I haven’t felt the need to go.  But I am going to return on my off days and some evenings after work, because I need to work on my upper body strength more and hey, why stop now when things are progressing along so well?

And in addition to the physical, I’m watching what I eat.  Lots of fresh, raw veggies, smaller meal portions, drinking my Spark Energy drink twice a day, and this no doubt helps.  I eat 5 or 6 times in a day just to keep up with the need I have for food supplied energy.

Today I got out another pair of jeans I haven’t worn in years, a size 10.  I slid right into them.  A few months back I couldn’t pull them up my thighs.  More motivation to keep doing exactly what I’m doing, because it is working!

Friday Confessional

It’s Friday, that means it is time to skip on over to the confessional and get everything out of my system.

I confess…

Okay there was no skipping but everything is definitely out of my system now.  I woke up at 2am with that horrible feeling of “holycrapIamgoingtohurl” and raced off to the bathroom and did just that.  Just when I thought it was safe to fall back asleep, it hit again, and again, and yet again.  It sucked.  I have no idea what was up other than maybe dehydration?  I’ve heard that can do it to you, and I do not drink nearly enough water when I work but I sweat like I’m paid extra to drip all over the place.  I’m sucking down a ton of water now so hopefully I’m past it.  Just to be safe I only had toast so far today.  I also did not go to work, there was no way I could pull out of bed, my gut was still a total mess and I was dizzy.

I confess…

This job is awesome in the sense that my life is improving in many areas.  My health for starters. I pick foods more wisely based on energy provided and healthy vs. crap.  I’m down to 175, a full 19 pound weight loss since the first week of May.  I’m very happy about that and the fact that I pulled out an old pair of “maybe some day these will fit again” jeans and TADA!!!! In them.  I am happy now.  Only 20 more to go to hit the goal weight.  I haven’t been this thin since my divorce.

Having a paycheck for doing something I love is pretty sweet too!

I confess…

My time management skills at work are amazing, but outside of there, they suck.  I really need to pull myself together and do better.  Though I admit right now the one thing I really want to do is manage several hours by taking a long nap.

I confess…

It is one beauty of a day. Windows open, fan blowing, sun shining.  And sadly if we stand on a chair, on our toes and look off on the horizon, winter is waving. UGH.

I confess…

Still cannot move to wrap my head around my mom’s cancer being back.  As my sister said this morning while we sat on my bed talking, keeping it clinical for now.  The emotional side is too hard to face.  It is interesting to me that what I thought was a great relationship and moving with the Badge to Florida and a curse when it fell apart…was really a blessing.  I’d have been miserable living in Sarasota for my mother’s final year.  Yep, funny how looking back over your shoulder things can make perfect sense.  Sis and I will move eventually, we both have had it with snow and cold, but for now, staying put and enjoying it.

I Need A Shower…SQUIRREL!

istock_000009602550xsmallNot because I’m filthy or stink, I just need a shower.  I have gold medal worthy bed head, morning breath, wearing my wrinkled jammies and sipping coffee.  All this while doing laundry, because I multi-task like a boss.  I need a shower.

My brain is processing a lot of things at the moment:

  • I need to be in bed early tonight because tomorrow is day one of 3 in a row at work (12.5 hour days).
  • I need a cute way to decorate my planner for football season (GO BENGALS) as preseason games start soon.
  • SO much laundry is piled up on Mt. Washmore that I need to attack it even though it isn’t mine, my sister will appreciate it.
  • Trying not to think too much about how this time next year mom probably won’t be with us anymore.
  • That book I am writing…still so much to do with that one.
  • Blankets, dear me I have 3 in process, one is for my 5th grandchild so I need to get it finished as he has arrived. One is for the 4th grandchild, who is nearly a year old, must stop letting the changing landscape of life throw me off my game.
  • Coffee….yes more coffee is in order.
  • Crap, time to wash the bedding, need to do that today too.
  • Library books, best check and see if the ones on hold have arrived.
  • Oh that reminds me I need to actually finish reading some of the ones sitting on my desk.
  • Baby Jace, I need to go see the 5th grandchild again, soon. Love his cute little self.
  • I need to grab a shower at some point here.

All that and one thousand other thoughts floating about in my head, all at once.  One of the most important being that I really DO need to get a shower if I hope to get many of the things on my to-do list accomplished today.

YUM…oatmeal!  Old fashioned style with a bit of dark brown sugar and another cup of coffee.  I really did go stick another load of laundry in just now, have to get the bedding washed before the cats lay all over my memory foam mattress cover and leave a mess of fur for me to attack with the lint roller.

I’m very excited that today, at some point, a delivery will arrive.  My compression socks for work.  I need those as I’m on my feet for 12.5 hours and I just know it will help my legs not feel so fatigued at the end of my shift.  And it also has my very first ever seasonal, super cute scrub top.  I bought a Halloween one.  I will get a few more too, as I plan to wear those all through the month of October.  Scrubs are so much fun, I’m thankful to be working in a facility that allows us the freedom to wear any ones we want instead of issuing a particular color.  Two of the nurses always wear ‘prison grey’ on Mondays, which is funny to me, as Monday just kinda sucks for a lot of folks.  Of course when your shifts rotate around the week like ours, weekends tend to lose any real thrill except that we work every 3rd one so we’re always happy when we don’t.  Well that isn’t really true except that I miss church, otherwise it is  just another day to me to be with and care for my sweet old residents.  Some aren’t so sweet, but I love each one in some weird way and care about them.  So anyway, I’m super stoked that I will have my first holiday top today.

Okay, time to act like I have a lengthy list that needs checking off or nothing will get done at all today.

First things first though,

I need a shower…

Headed For The Unknown: The Ever Changing Landscape

ID-10016314About a week or so ago, 3 of the remaining 5 Divas sat down to dinner after long days at work.  We are down to 4 because Diva Sarah moved out some time back and into her own place.  Diva Jeanne was not home so it was me, mom and my sister Boo.  Dinner was beans and rice, mixed with spicy corn, onions…a Diva Den favorite ever since beans & rice week at church.

About 7 years ago my mom was hit with a cancer diagnosis of cancer of the appendix.  Yes, I know, who the heck gets that anyway?  It didn’t even sound real but it was and they removed the appendix and part of her colon, did a chemo wash (super heated chemo fluid in the abdominal cavity for 45 minutes) and we prayed it got it.  This cancer is so dang rare they haven’t figured out a way to cure it.  3 more times in the past 5 years it came back, same place in the abdominal cavity.  Each time mom had surgery, they removed it, and once she actually did chemo but it was too much so she stopped.  The medical pros know chemo likely won’t do much but it was worth the try.

After beans and rice, mom informed me and my sister that her cancer had returned, there is another tumor.  It isn’t small and it came on quickly from the last scans.  This time, even though they will do some mild chemo, there is nothing left to do.  The area is so burned and scarred that there isn’t anything left and there are simply no real options with this kind of cancer.  Average life expectancy once you are diagnose with this is 5-7 years.  We’re coming up on that 7 years.  In fact the doctor said she has about a year, give or take a few months, an chemo might buy a few months just depends how mom tolerates it.

I cried that night after I let it sink in, and I’ve had some teary moments since.  But over all I’m just comfortably numb.  The women in my family generally have to get our ducks in a row when crisis hits before we will allow ourselves to feel and have a melt down.  Those ducks haven’t been gathered yet.  She had to inform family first and we’ve been kicking ideas around as far as do we keep the Diva Den or not.  My sister and I want too, but this house is not inexpensive to maintain.  And seriously 3 of us (and eventually 2 of us) rattling around in 2500 square foot of home is kinda nuts.

This morning I was talking to my mom and mentioned that it might be good to down size while she is feeling good.  She is retiring soon and we could purge like crazy and find a more manageable house that my sister and I can then easily maintain and sell this one.  We love this house but it was kind of a transitional thing.  I was getting divorced, Boo was back home with mom along with her girls, and it was time to find a place for all of us.  We knew the girls would eventually move out, and mom wasn’t going to live forever.  We just never imagined she’d be looking at a year.  Heck I care for residents who have 20 years on her so I was hoping to have her around that much longer.  But it is not to be.  So, it looks as if it is time for the next transition as far as find the Diva Den II.

It’s funny, I had already realized what a blessing the curse of the divorce had been for me.  I hated it, I loved my husband and did not wish to be released to explore new opportunities.  But I saw the blessing in that mom’s final years would be spent with me and my sister, making great memories and not many adults get this opportunity to spend with their parent.  I just had hoped for many more years and memories.

The landscape is changing on me and I’m just not sure where it will go next.  I usually like change, but this is one time I’m not looking forward to it one stinking bit.

Herded Cattle To The Feed Trough

Originally posted on The CNA Life:

Yesterday just sucked hairy donkey nads, I’m not going to lie.  We all got to work and one aide, who is fairly new, got sent home.  I frankly find her lazy beyond words and not cut out for this job.  She was sent home last week due to not being current on her TB test.  They stuck her Wednesday and told her she had to come in Friday to have it read before she could work on the floor again.  She failed to do that, showed up yesterday morning for work and went to the supervisor’s office and was sent home because it had not been read so now she was not able to work.  This left us with 4 aides and 5 hallways.  We all split up one of the halls taking on extra people to care for, which did not start my day off well.

I have a…

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My First Farewell

Marvi Marti:

A post I felt was worth sharing, about my day today at work.

Originally posted on The CNA Life:

Yesterday when I worked, one of my favorite residents was having a tough time.  Major anxiety attacks to the point where he felt short of breath.  They put him on oxygen and I stopped in a bit more frequently to check on him.  Usually he needed very little from me other than showers and a nudge if he was asleep so he didn’t miss meal time.  He was so sweet, always smiling and for some reason thought my name was Tonya and that was okay.  Even after I told him, he still called me that and I just let it ride.  He told me one day that I was a great aide, always smiling myself and he could see how compassionate I am toward everyone.

He was 90 years old, a WWII vet, and recently got to experience Honor Flight.  We all celebrated that with great joy for him.

When…

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A Sprinkle Of Pure Joy On The Highway Of Chaos

Life has been overly busy and even a bit on the crazy side lately.  Work is off the chain, the scale is moving steadily downward (15 pounds and counting are gone), and trying to regroup and get my Avon business on track has consumed a lot of my time.  I’ve turned to scheduling time to write the books I’m working on, that is how insane it all is.

Yesterday, life slammed on the brakes for a bit.  At 5:30am my cell phone began ringing, playing the ring tone of my daughter.  I smiled and said “YES!” out loud, I knew that at this hour it meant one thing, she was finally in labor with her first child, my new grandson was on the way!

The remainder of my day was sitting at the hospital with her parent-in-laws and my ex and his wife, waiting for the birth to finally take place.  We spent some time in her room, being ushered out for periodic checks of her progress, and then finally they said she was 9cm dilated and the doc decided it was time to start pushing.  We waited…and waited some more.  After a bit we moved from the waiting area to the hall outside of labor and delivery, where I saw an incubator go wheeling into the staff entrance to her labor and deliver room.  This caused my heart to skip a beat.  A few minutes later I watched it roll out of the door, past the window on the hallway doors, and glimpsed my grandson inside.  I started to cry.  My son-in-law’s mama was in tears too.  And then we waited some more.  Finally, after being with my daughter for a bit, my son-in-law came to tell us that the staff felt the baby was having breathing issues and took him to the NICU.  He was going back in to be with my daughter for a bit then would come and get us all when she was ready.

The woman I found when I entered her room was one who was cool, calm and collected.  She was at peace that God had it all under control and little Jace was in the best NICU in the country and all would be fine.  Her doctor came in and took me down later, but I didn’t get to see him as they were running tests.  She snapped some pics of the little bundle and we went back to my daughter’s room.

Today I went up and got to see my grandson in the NICU.  He is more than adorable, and doing great.  He is on antibiotics because my baby girl ran a fever and her white count was high during labor, indicative of an infection.  Her little bean was breathing faster than normal so he was on antibiotics for 48 hours and in NICU so they can keep a close eye on him.  But he is fine, and doing great.  She worked with him today to nurse, got to feed him and hold him.  I held him for a few seconds before he was back under his warmer, looking adorable.  His head is covered in white blond hair, just like his mommy had when she was born.  He was very alert and looking all around today while I was there.  We all feel at peace that he is okay and will be home soon.  This is a huge relief.

My Nana heart is swollen, filled with emotions and mostly it is joy.  Some tears because I know it is hard on my baby girl even though she is totally at peace.  But as she said, he is just perfect!

My little SnuggleMonkey

My little SnuggleMonkey