This post is going to be a little bit different. Instead of educating you on worldwide problems or things that are debated on a regular basis, I am going to discuss my job and educate you on what I do.
You may or may not already know this, but I am a Certified Nursing Assistant. You may also hear me called a “professional butt wiper,” but there is so much more to it.
I work in a Nursing Home and take care of 19 residents, all with different medical diagnoses and illnesses. Some have Alzheimer’s, some have cancer, some have had falls at home and they have caused them not to be able to live alone anymore. But every one of them has something in common; they are all loved by their caregivers. I help them wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, get them dressed, brush their hair, use the restroom, make sure they are properly bathed, help them eat, and anything else they may need in between. Besides helping them with things that we all do daily with no help at all, I support them emotionally. Many of my residents wonder why they need to be where they are, why their family never comes to see them, why they hurt all the time, and why they can’t just go home. It’s not easy hearing them say these things. It’s hard to explain the answers to their questions to them in a way that they will understand, and sometimes they just have to cry it out. Sometimes I’ll cry it out with them even.
I want to share an experience I had recently with a friend. For his privacy, I will call him John. There were many of my other friends there, but John and I were not seeing eye to eye this night. I am not sure how my job got brought into the argument, but it did. John said to me, “And what do you do for a job? Wipe old people’s butts?” This offended me, and I said some things I will not repeat, but some things I will repeat. I replied, “I may wipe their butts when they need help, but I also hold many of their hands while they take their last breath, give them a shoulder to cry on when they need it, help them better understand their condition, all while keeping it together so they don’t suspect something else. I’d like to see you do that everyday!” It is not easy watching someone decline. Some may think it is easier because you don’t really know the person, but that’s the thing they don’t understand. I know all of my residents and I have a connection with each of them. I have so many days that consist of smiling and laughing with my residents at lunch, making jokes and asking questions about their earlier days. I could tell you their jobs, where they lived, their spouse and children’s names as well as what they do for jobs, almost anything! I love them all.
My residents are family to me, and I am family to them. I see them on their worst days and on their best days. I see them when they’re in great health and I see them when they are in poor health. It may seem like all I do is wipe their butts, but there is so much more to it that many people don’t see or know about unless they are there. It takes a special person to do what I do, and I am damn proud to be a Certified Nursing Assistant.