What If…Challenge Accepted

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I attend a great church, and yesterday despite being off sick I was able to attend services live via online streaming. The message was powerful and played right into things I’ve been contemplating of late.

What if…

we didn’t post a single, negative thing on social media? Our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of it was so amazingly full of good, positive things, that it wasn’t necessary to have it be private because there is nothing to hide? Only good, only things that edify and lift up, bring smiles and laughter? No politics, no news sources questionable stories (face it most cannot be trusted these days), just the good stuff, the happy stories, the zen moments in life. Could I accept that kind of challenge?

we didn’t remove folks for not believing as we do. Suppose I just removed those so full of negativity that I didn’t want to see that in my feed anymore so I kept only those as friends who spread love, peace, kindness? Could I accept that kind of challenge?

we all stopped watching and reading the news for one month and took a break from the negativity in the press and instead of sharing news on our social media, we shared blogs and Instagram posts that were filled with good, kind, thoughtful things? Could I do that for a month? And what if that became the norm, to just share what warms the heart, would the world start to see a change?

we prayed for our enemies, and those we hold bad feelings toward. Prayed for their lives to be filled with peace, love, kindness and all other good things from God. And we did this every, single, day. Make a list of those who we dislike, hate, hold a grudge towards, and pray forgiveness over them, and pray FOR them. Good things only. It would change our hearts toward those people (trust me on this I’ve done it).

we prayed for our president instead of bashing him? Pray for God’s wisdom to be given to him, for wise men and women to surround him, for his heart to be open to God’s leading, for his safety, his family’s safety, and for our nation. Instead of throwing up nasty things, we reminded folks to do this, we did it. What could happen? What could it hurt?

I wear a sterling silver ring on my one hand that says be the change you wish to see in the world and I think change begins with each of us.

Challenge accepted.

If you are on my Facebook, and post things that I find disturbing, negative, attacking, etc., then don’t be shocked to be unfriended.

It isn’t you, it is ME.

I want to let go of this type of thing in my life. Yes, evil will still be out there, but we don’t have to give it free rent to live in our hearts and minds, it is time to evict this from our lives. Hold a door, let someone merge into your lane rather than speeding up, mend a fence…mend them ALL, see the good in everyone, smile, say hello to a stranger, pay for someone’s coffee behind you in line, start spreading positive, loving kindness and see if in your wake the same is not so contagious that the world will change. It will be slow, but we can dig in our heels and refuse to be swayed from the goal.

Are you with me?

Logs On The Fire…

It is that time of the year, and our fire place is in use again. I must say, I DO enjoy that part of the cold weather so much, it just seems more homey with a fire going.

At the moment I’m upstairs in my room, so the ‘fire’ is on my TV with the cable company yule log and Christmas music, but that works for me. I have projects spread around the bed while I work on restocking the shop with some cup cozy creations. Those have been selling quite well, along with one of the blankets I made, which pleases me!

15135751_1197473407004848_4257088142922695773_nThanksgiving was great, even though I worked 6a-6:30p, when I got home I chowed on all the standards and my siblings, kids and grandchildren stopped by. It gave me and my siblings a chance to get a good photo with my mom (me sporting zero makeup and a mess from a day running by tail off). We fear this may be her last one with us so I was thankful for the opportunity.

Seems the tumor, now named Pandora, is on the grow again. Chemo might slow it, but one of these trips we will learn that it no longer is slowing it, and in fact Pandora will take off like gasoline was poured on her fire. It is a cancer we know is fatal so we are all preparing for that day. Meanwhile mom’s one knee is shot and could use a replacement that would be pointless, and the other gives out due to nerve damage from a past surgery and maybe the tumor invading that space. We take her out in a wheelchair now, which most would probably find cumbersome but to us Divas it is one splendid adventure that includes great parking opportunities in the handicap spots. Mom is pretty talented at pushing the grocery cart from aboard the mobile throne as we shop, and we find ourselves laughing a good deal while on these new adventures.

I just discovered that I’m causing myself some serious frustration because I fell into a habit that I hated from others: taking clothes off without turning them right side out before tossing them in the laundry. As if it isn’t annoying enough when things get tangled in the dryer, even though I shake the items out before putting them in, having to right them all before hanging had me grumbling for 10 minutes and no one to blame but myself. I know, if this is the worst thing that I endure today I’m blessed!

I was hoping we’d put up our tree today, but it is looking like that will be a Sunday activity because I’m due to crawl into bed in less than 2 hours so I can get up and work tomorrow. Meanwhile I started listening to Christmas music this morning, not wanting to blend the holidays but rather enjoy Thanksgiving first, then Christmas. I am excited to pull out the Christmas themed scrubs for work, these are some of my favorites! When you work as much as I do, the scrubs become a fashion issue that must be taken seriously. Now if menopause would move on to “enhance” someone else’s life I could maybe put on a bit of makeup and look more human when working.

Shop Talk: What Is New

I’ve become a tad obsessed with the endless possibilities for crocheting coffee cup cozies. My imagination ran wild in the craft store a few days back, confirming the need for adult supervision whenever I enter from now on. Right now my focus is getting Christmas and wintry ones in the shop, then I’ll add some others I’m working on. These teddy bears are my favorite so far:

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I’m going to be hooking my heart out for the next few days/weeks to load up on as many as I can.  Stop by, favorite the shop so you get updates as we stock new items so you don’t miss out on something cute. Think babysitter, teacher, group leader gifts, or stocking stuffers. We’ll even do custom orders, contact us through the shop!

 

When Work Is An Act Of Worship

Most days I pick up a coworker on my way in, because she has had car issues and is kinda sorta on my way to my nearby facility. She is also my work bestie, we rock it out together when on the unit. Today she was off, and I had a bit more time to spend on devotions. I read my daily devotion book from Kay Arthur, I LOVE her, but then at work in the parking lot, it was something else. Something that touched deep into where I am at the moment.

I pulled in 25 minutes before clock in, shut off the radio, and opened the Crossroads Anywhere app on my phone. This is the app my church is using, they put out daily devotion things Monday through Friday related to what we are hearing in the services. Today was talking about how anything can be an act of worship. “Worship can be anything in our entire life that is done in submission and love for God.” It went on to say cleaning, paperwork,  etc can be worship. I pondered that for a few before I started praying asking God to help me to make my job an act of worship to Him.

I love my job(s), caring for those who no longer can care for their own, basic needs. It is in itself rewarding. But what if I did all of it as an act of worship, how would that change what I did? I decided that I would talk to my Abba in Heaven throughout my day and see.

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My very long hallway….

Things were different. There were times where I’d be almost up to the end of my hallway and hear a call light, turn and see it was at the FAR end…and huff. OMG why didn’t they hit their call light when I was down THAT end???? But I’d hear that still, small voice say “do this as an act of worship…” and I’d feel a sudden shift inside as I headed that way. Or I’d be thinking about cutting a corner, nothing big, just a tiny thing like not picking up a piece of fuzz on the floor or candy wrapper, and realize if I do my job as unto the Lord, well picking up paper may seem small, but I can honor God by doing it. It totally changed how I perceived my day. Granted, not everything was done as worship, but I tried, and tomorrow I will do it again. My job is a gift from God, a way to honor Him through what I do, and I need to do it as if HE is my boss.

Colossians 3:23-24  New King James Version (NKJV)

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ.

Do You Know Me?

She is wandering the halls, up one side and down the other, through each hallway on the unit. Her pace is average, pushing her walker in front of her as she goes. This is not abnormal, usually after every meal she takes a stroll before retiring to her recliner in her room. But this time something is different, behind those eyes I can see questions.

“Hello Miss D____, how are you?”

“Do you know me?”

“Yes, I’ve known you for a while now.”

Relief washes over her face.

“Who am I? What is my name?”

“You are Miss D____, you live here.”

“Where am I and why am I here? I’m so confused!”

This just breaks my heart, and it is a sign that her dementia may be advancing. I put my arm around her and guide her to her room. I show her the photos of people who love her, and she begins to recognize her environment. Sadly a day will come when these things mean nothing to her, the memories she has will be from long ago and she’ll be fearful and grow less cooperative, loosing more of her current or recent memories as they die off with her brain that is slowly dying in her head, leaving her trapped in a time and place long ago that doesn’t mesh with what her eyes see now. She’ll talk about going home, that her parents will worry about her, and she has things to do before bed because she has school in the morning. No amount of effort will help her understand she is in 2016 and not 1940 something. In fact to suggest it, or tell her she is 90+ and her parents have died long ago will only upset her more and cause a complete, emotional melt down. Instead we work and “live” with her right where she is at the moment. We comfort her with the tools in our ‘tool belts’ that we’ve been given, acknowledging and validating her fears and concerns, gently redirecting her by asking her to tell us about mom and dad, who are they, what are they like, and sometimes she goes down what she has of memory lane and things calm down. And every day we will do it all over again, as we are brand new to her each morning, and have to gain her trust all over again as strangers once more.

This is what keeps me doing my job. It breaks my heart for these souls, and I cannot imagine not being there to help them get bathed, dressed, hair fixed and some lipstick on or face shaved. The smiles when I say “wow, you look so beautiful today!”, and the hugs for giving them a few moments of joy.

The pay in this job totally sucks, at or just above minimum wage and topping out in most facilities well below where we should be. One doesn’t work this profession to get wealthy. It is a calling, a ministry, for some of us, our hearts and souls go into what we do. For others it is a paycheck because they can’t or won’t pursue something better. The kind of care shown the residents will tell any observer where the aide falls as far as working for the next smile or the next dollar. There are days when it is so hard to do this, being short staffed and working with those who are only there to get paid, lazy as the day is long and unable to grasp that these folks are people, lost inside damaged minds that are shrinking day by day, they NEED us to be loving, patient and kind. They need to be cared for from the heart, because this damn disease is robbing them of who they are, were and could still be. It steals their memories, their security, their livelihood and leaves them empty and frightened.

That is why I am here, standing between the present and their past, trying to make what they have left as wonderful as possible.

I’m There

I can finally stop studying and relish in the moment, I passed my state exams and I’m a Medication Aide-Certified in the state of Ohio. *does happy dance without tripping over anything and falling on my tush*  Lots of hard work in a month of class, studying like crazy while working 2 full time jobs, and…I’m there! Now to get on the new units when they open and begin working as a medication aide. This business of career path changes in one’s 50’s is just crazy, but at the same time I feel I’ve found my calling in life. The beauty of this is while I will do all the med passes, I will also back the aides afterward and be able to work closely with the residents, the part of this I love so much!

Now that I’m not busy studying my crochet hooks are back out and the yarns are ready to be crafted into something I can use, and items for my store. Yes, this makes me very happy, as I’ve come to find hooking is my therapy and since 8/22/16 I’ve been away from my therapist! The same day I found out I passed the exams I received a request for a custom order through the shop which was a nice way to get back to the nuclear chaos I refer to to as my normal life.

Quickly, before I go, a shameless plug for my daughter’s new blog. Like her mama she loves coffee, crochet, reading, and it seems writing! Check out Kids, Dogs And A Whole Lot Of Coffee and show her some love!

 

My Bum Is Purple

I have one very sore rump today, with a large, very dark purple bruise on one cheek of my buttocks. Yes, TMI, I know. When I was getting a resident out of their wheelchair to stand at the grab bar, a rather complicated maneuver in a tiny bathroom that isn’t big enough for the 2 of us and the wheelchair, I backed into the corner of the bathroom sink very hard. Oh goodness it is sore.

Currently I can write my name in the dust on my desk and dresser, my trash can in my bedroom under the vanity is over flowing and I’m in my jammies with bedhead of gold medal standard. After tomorrow I will be able to get a grip on all of that but for now, it is study until I drop. At 9:30am, EST, if you are one inclined to pray, I need it! My MA-C state exam is tomorrow and I need to pass it in order to pass medications, get a raise at both jobs and that is of great desire to me. I have found apps to use to study, and have a huge stack of index cards with hundreds of drugs (their info, what they treat, side effects etc) and 2 very large binders of information. Hopefully tomorrow I will pass the written and skills tests and not have to retake any part. That will be amazing. I still have to take the Kentucky test once I pass Ohio’s, but that I can live with, it will be known information.

20160906_165058I also have so many projects for my shop that need to be completed. Everything went into a holding pattern 6 or 7 weeks back when I started the classes for this certification, and I cannot wait for it to be done. I haven’t done any real marketing for the Etsy shop but please, feel free to stop in, look around, and purchase if you find something you like. We now donate 20% of all sales to Alzheimer’s because it is a cause near and dear to me and my sister. These are the people I care for most in my jobs, those who live within a mind that is shrinking every day, their brains are dying and literally have gaping holes in them as they degenerate. There is no cure, but with we can hope and help by donating. We’re coming out with coffee cup cozys this week that you can use to show your support of this cause, stay tuned!

I’m looking forward to having a life again. Coming home from the 8 hour shift job to spend the rest of the day studying just sucks. I don’t mind the going to bed by 8 or 8:30p (ideally it should be 7:30p) if I have that time from 2:30p on to do what I want/need, but right now all I do is study. UGH. And the 12.5 hour shifts, I come home, eat, sip on wine while getting in my jammies and into the bed.  I cannot live that way, I need some Marvi time!!!

 

So You’re Putting Mom/Dad In A Nursing Home: Do’s And Don’ts

I know from personal experience that making the decision to put a loved one in a long term care facility (ie: Nursing Home) is tough. So let me help you with a few things I’ve learned from experience as the aide taking care of the residents. Trust me, I’m a damn good one, and I know from caring for these residents a few things that will hopefully help you and mom or dad.

This is not the place for items of great value. Yes, mother’s beloved wedding band set is precious to her, but seriously consider a simple band. No, the staff isn’t interested in taking it or anything else she has, but if there is any chance it could come off her hand, it could be lost forever. That expensive vase, jewelry in the box, etc, just doesn’t have a good place here. See, some folks may be in early to late stages of dementia. They will wander and sometimes relocate items. They do not know understand what they are doing. We the staff refer to it as “going shopping”, because they truly are not trying to steal it, they see it, and have no ability to reason that it is not their item, heck in their confused mind they may think it is their’s. Oh we do make every effort to get shopped items back to the owners but think it through before you bring items of value into the facility.

When it comes to clothing, please please please put their name in it. Use a sharpie, have special tags sewn in to the items, but make sure you have every stitch of clothing labeled, including socks. Yes, even if you are going to do their laundry and bring it back. See, sometimes in the heat of the moment when cleaning up a ‘code brown’ (a major bowel movement explosion) that is all over your parent, the floor, their clothing could end up tied in a plastic bag and put in the facility laundry. Seriously you might be thankful if it does after the first time you get to rip into such a bag that we stick in mama’s hamper. We want to be sure the clothing gets back to the correct resident! This includes lap blankets, any bedding that is personal, etc. Countless times when doing rounds we find a blanket in the activity room that does not look familiar (or it was shopped from a room and restocked to another) and we don’t have a clue who it belongs too because it lacks a label/name.

Another point about clothing, please understand this is not the time in mama’s life for her to be dressed in the latest fashions, especially if form fitting. Find nice, attractive clothing and think about the fact that she needs assistance dressing. A size larger than needed makes it much easier for us to get her dressed in the morning, and change her clothes if there is a code brown or she gets food on herself. Elderly skin is onion skin thin and a skin tear can happen even when the utmost care is taken, and these are so painful and often don’t heal quickly. Remember too, daddy is declining, that is why you are placing them in our care, so think about the fact that he is going to get food stains on his clothing. We often have shirt savers (adult bibs/dining wear) but even though we try to keep them clean, things do get on clothing. Think comfortable, practical, and affordable. Also, think extra items. Remember, they do sometimes go through clothing like they are toddlers again and we need to have plenty to change them into. We want them clean and looking nice as much as you do.  Also, think warm! Elderly folks are always cold, they cannot regulate their body temperature anymore so believe it or not sweat shirts, sweaters, long sleeves etc, really are year round attire! Shop at end of season clearance sales for these items, because they will wear them all year round!

I’ve seen families get upset over the facility putting mom or dad in a hospital gown rather than their jammies. We check and change them during the night, every 2 to 3 hours. Those jammie sets are cute, but when we have to roll them back and forth extra times to get the pants off before we get to their brief (adult diaper), it is not fun for them at all. The less movement the less they wake up and the better their night of sleep will be. And elderly don’t have the flexibility they used too. Hospital gowns tie in back making it much easier to get on and off. If mama loves those flannel gowns, then maybe consider cutting them up the back and adding ties to them. After all, in her bed, recliner or chair, no one can see her back, but she is warm and it is far easier to get her in and out of her nightgown. Velcro is also a great trick!

Want to get something for them? SOCKS! If they still wear shoes, then consider what is comfy in the shoes, but if not, nice thick socks are the way to go! So few of my residents seem to have enough socks. Oh, and write their name or room number on the bottom of each sock with a sharpie! And for those who do walk, good non-slip footwear!

Those are just a few of the tips I can think of that would help your loved one and the staff to help make this a better experience!

 

I Was Pee’d On Today

14391024_1218524028215093_3034635554576758796_nBeing piddled on is one of the on the job hazards of a nurse aide. And while it has been known to get on my hand or arm despite gloves and all of those proper methods we are taught to change people, I wasn’t expecting to have someone actually pee on me.

When you take the classes to become an aide, you learn all of the ‘rules’, laws, and ‘proper procedures’ that the state requires us to follow. I’m telling you right now, I’d bet a paycheck that those making up these things have never worked a day in this job. See, there is what is taught, and then there is the real world. In all of the books, lessons, clinical hours, continuing education training, there is the gentle approach and guidance that the resident will magically follow and once you have assisted them with pulling down their pants and ‘brief’ (aka adult diaper or pull-up) they will sit down on the toilet. In the real world, you pull down their pants and before you can unhook the diaper they are pulling the pants back up. You pull them down, they pull them up, asking “why are you doing this?” and no amount of showing them the toilet and explaining that their undies are wet and they need to sit down is going to get through to them. They even say that they know what to do, then don’t do it.

I finally succeeded in getting the pants and the pull-up down, and while trying to convince the resident, who seems to have missed the magically plant yourself on the commode memo, he pees.  All. over. the. floor.  And the pull-up that is around his ankles, and it sprays and splashes on me, and it just keeps going. Because he was in socks, he suddenly realizes that his feet are now wet and about the same time the stream of urine stops he receives the memo and magically plants himself on the toilet. “My feet are all wet, I think someone pee’d on the floor in here.” Yep, bud, they sure did. I go get a fresh pair of socks, another pair of pants, and a wash cloth and towel so I can wash the urine off Mr. Peesalot and fix the situation. I also go get a mop and clean up the floor.

Shortly after that incident, while assisting with one of the residents who requires two of us to get up because she is heavy, cannot stand or walk, and some mornings is a pro-wrestler wannabe, I got the crap kicked, punched, scratched out of me and nearly bitten. They mention ‘combative’ in school, but there is nothing like the strength of a 90+ year old woman who is not at all interested in getting out of bed, ever, and has dementia.

By the end of the day every muscle is sore. I opted to take the highway home rather than wait on the ferry. Something told me that it would be a long wait and I needed to run into the grocery store, smelling of Ode To Potty, and grab a few things. Once home I took a nice, long shower, and now I’m sitting here on my bed with my laptop, wearing my jammies (have been since 3:30pm – don’t judge me). Wine is in the near future, before I turn in for the night to do it all again tomorrow at the other full time job.

If you are reading this and thinking about CNA / STNA as a job, don’t let it discourage you. Believe me we laugh a LOT through this job, and the days, because humor is the way we stay sane. And at the end of your shift you will feel very accomplished knowing that despite the drawbacks you are making a difference if even just to get someone into dry clothes. If you don’t, then maybe this isn’t where you belong.

 

Wine Musings

10528037_661869007231960_1756530536_nI have a sleep app on my cell phone. Punch in the alarm(s) you need to wake, tell it how much you need as an ideal night of slumber, it will tell you when to go to bed. Not as in figuring the time, but as a reminder that comes up and tells me I need to be in bed in 15 minutes if I want to achieve my sleep goal, which is 8.5 hours for me. I could go with much more, I need it. There are studies that prove you can, in fact, catch up on lost sleep. Right now I’m thinking about 5 months straight sleeping might catch me up!

Today was day 5 of 21 (I miscounted and thought it was 23) working days in a row. Yes, I am crazy but that isn’t news to some of my readers (you know who you are and I know you read my blog, there are no secrets). Currently I have 2 full time jobs because one is close to home and the other pays better. The one paying better doesn’t have over time, the one close to home does but I have no time to pick up that OT because I work all 7 days of the week. On day 22 I am off from both jobs, and after I watch 2 of the grandsnugglers I will be coming home to study my butt off so it isn’t really much of what one would refer to as a day off.

I have 20 days of studying before the big state exam, and I’m trying to do that on the days I work until 2pm. Come home, shower off (because yes I DO have a clue what is on me and the uniform and we don’t care to go there), hit the bedroom with the 2, 4 inch binders full of study material and the textbook I found online. I will pass this exam and be certified to pass medications. And my pay jumps $1 per hour at the job close to home, and $4 per hour at the other. I see myself getting out of debt Dave Ramsey style!

My phone tells me what time to get up each day, 4:20am for the job close to home, 4am for the other. It tells me how many steps I log per day (over 20K), reminds me if it is someone’s birthday, allows me to do everything my laptop does, and then some. I could even write blog posts if I could find time to actually sit down and do it on the phone.

Right now I’m sitting on my bed, sipping a glass of wine, waiting for that “hey, if you really want to be awake tomorrow it is time to go to bed” reminder.

One thing I really need to keep me sane right now is my faith. I’m really concerned about that of late. Oh, I believe with all of my heart, that Christ is my Savior. But I’ve lost my desire for the Word of God. I enjoy it, need it, but lack the discipline to set aside the time to be IN the Word daily. And because of my hectic schedule I’ve not made it to church in a number of weeks. While watching online is great, it is not a substitute for the hugs and sharing with in-person connections. I’m also becoming too much of a home body, hermiting in my shell and not really interested in the whole going out thing. Too much work. I even found a small group from church of other women in their 50s who are single/divorced and last night I was too exhausted to make it to the gathering, and even forgot it was Wednesday night at all. Outside of my Divas the most meaningful conversation I have had of late was with my stylist, it consisted of discussion of how short to cut the locks, which was very short, and the benefits of regrowth when it comes to a great looking style. Yep, that was a deep one right there. Something has got to give here. Thankfully at the end of October I’m going to Woman Camp with the women from church and that will help refresh the body, mind and soul.

The funny thing about it all? I’m happy! Last night I made the comment to my mom that I love my life, it is so good. I work with some badass women who get it done, live with some equally badass women who are very supportive and loving, have terrific kids and grandkids, and at the end of the day I know I am blessed beyond measure, and feel so accomplished. I know, this is all just one chapter and soon the page will flip and things will be different. I just need to hang in here…and get some sleep.

On that note, I think it is time for a bit more wine, put my air plants back (they are drying from having a bath), and then go find the Sandman.