Certified Happiness

I finally, after prolonging the process, received my certificate in CPR training and basic First Aid! This was necessary to obtain before being able to enter my clinical placement (Which was totally today, by the way!) I tried to take a picture of my certifications, but it turns out taking pictures of little cards is rather tricky, especially considering the only form of a camera I have for all of the photos you see on this blog is my cell phone! The picture didn’t turn out so great, and I blurred out my last name with MS Paint, but this is the beautiful product that takes me two steps closer to my dream of becoming a full-fledged nurse!

Today I had my first clinical placement at a long-term care facility. Let me just tell you, I have been waiting for this day since my studies began two months ago. As I approached the building in my brand new, navy blue scrubs and white shiny shoes, I thought to myself; this is it! What I’ve been waiting for!

I walked into the lobby of the nursing home and found my way to a small room where my teacher and a few other students were waiting for me. We started with a brief tour of the facility, and then myself and one other student were placed on a specific unit to have our first hands-on experience. We encountered a personal support worker who was about to get a man out of bed. My partner and I eagerly awaited as the PSW lead us to the man’s room.

Once we got inside, my heart dropped. There was a man crumpled up on his bed, his eyes staring into the distance, filled with terror and sorrow. He was shaking and mumbling to himself. He couldn’t have been much older than 60-years-old. I wasn’t sure if I should ask what the patient’s condition was in his presence, so I didn’t say anything. I looked to the side of his bed where pictures of him, pictures that could not have been much more than five years old, of him looking happy and healthy, holding his grandchildren in his arms, smiling. I looked back at the man on the bed. We assisted the PSW in giving the man a bed bath. We removed all of his clothes and helped to hold his flailing limbs still while she wiped his entire body and changed his brief. At one point, she asked us to help roll the man over.

I took his hand as I held him, and I felt his body become less tense. Could you believe, my warm compassion actually made him stop shaking? I felt sad because the experienced PSW obviously did not look at this man as another human. She was very rough with him and offered very little comfort. I’m not judging and I have very little knowledge on how things work in nursing homes, but I know that when I held that man’s hand, no matter what degenerative cognitive condition he suffered from, I felt his fear dissipate with my touch. And it felt amazing.

There wasn’t much else to do after that. We walked around the facility for an hour and reviewed nursing care plans of the patients until lunch time. This was my favourite part of the experience, as I was able to bib the patients. Even though half of them didn’t seem to know what was going on, it was really touching to kneel down, say hello to them, look them in the eyes and smile, and ask them if I could put the bib on them. Luckily they all obliged. Next we got to feed a patient. I chose this woman with a Winnie-The-Pooh bear in her lap. The nurse told me she had suffered multiple strokes and was unable to speak or move very much. I fed her a completely pureed meal, very…. very slowly.

As sad as I felt about most of the things I witnessed today, I have to say I’m very intrigued. A nursing care facility never was, and still isn’t really, my ideal setting as a nurse. I honestly want to work in a hospital. But we all have to start somewhere, and I’m glad that I got to experience the most important point of nursing in its entirety…

Compassion for others and the warmth it makes me feel to make someone in the world feel good.