After a 12 hour night shift that ended at 6am, an hour drive home, a hot bath, and a couple hours of sleep, I rolled out of bed around 2pm today. My sleep schedule has been pretty screwed up this summer. As a nutrition/play therapy aide, I usually work a couple hours Monday to Friday in the evenings, but I’ve picked up a few 12 hour shifts on the floor . I doubt I’ll have time to make extra money when the semester starts. Plus I love my job, who wouldn’t?
As soon as I walk in the door, I’m greeted by a resident: “Excuse me. Gimme hug!” After squeezing him tightly he looks at me and shouts: “You’re beautiful!” I guess a little makeup went a long way, and it’s pretty common for residents to comment on how I look each day, good or bad! Brutal honesty is one of the many perks of working in a pediatric facility.
After gathering my usual groups of kids, feeding them dinner, and charting their intake, I head up to my other office, the playroom. Dinner can be exhausting so this is always a nice place to decompress. I snuggle up with one of the kids and ask her if she’s excited about her birthday: “Wow! I can’t believe it, you’re turning four?” “Yes!” she giggles. “Are you so happy?” I ask. “Yes!” she beams. “What do you want for your birthday?” I was hoping to hear about a favorite TV character like Doc McStuffins or one of the PJ Masks. Her reply? “I want my mommy.”
The tears were definitely welling in my eyes after that one. One of the saddest complaints from residents in long term care facilities is that nobody visits, but usually it’s a grandma feeling lonely, not an almost four year old girl. Tons of volunteers come by to visit with kids, but you know it’s just not the same. I didn’t have long to be sad with all the other children to look after. Watching after any group of kids is challenging but factor in two of them popping off their ventilators, someone throwing his HME at somebody else, and making sure nobody pulls out their G tube… well then you’ve got one sweaty CNA!
As the aides and nurses on the floor come by to take their kids back to their rooms, I check the clock. Just ten minutes to go and I’m starving for the other half of my sandwich. I’m sitting there trying to convince the pickiest eater to finish some of his snack. “I’ll let you watch a video on my phone if you finish that cheese!” He tried hard, he really did, but after his last bolus feed I guess he just didn’t have room and he vomited all over the living room rug. His aide took him back to get cleaned up for bed and I tried to clean up what I could. Then I called housekeeping to take care of the rest, washed my hands, and ate my sandwich. Yup, just another Monday.