“Owwww! Ow! Stop!” I scream on Friday night as a resident attempts to break my wrist. As soon as the resident lets go, I burst into tears from shock and the fear that I would hear my wrist snap.
Ever since I started working as a CNA three months ago, my perspective has changed in many ways. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my time with 90 year olds who can’t even remember their own names some days or maybe it’s because I have more at stake than the average high school student who works in food service. Whatever it is, its changed me.
I spend eight hour shifts toileting residents, cooking or cleaning, and interacting with my residents. I’ve been peed, pooped and thrown up on. I’ve had my butt grabbed multiple times as well as called a bitch, asshole, and motherfucker. I’ve been swung at, bitten, and spit on. It’s just part of the job.
The unforgettable moments with my residents are the reason I decided to be a CNA. Life is never boring with them. I love to hear their stories about their lives and they are constantly making me laugh. The wisdom that I’ve gained from my time with my residents is priceless. You can’t beat those moments when you make a resident’s day just by simply taking the time to sit down and talk with them for 15 minutes.
It’s not an easy job though. Physically, it can be debilitating. I spend a large portion of my time at work transferring residents. Sometimes I come home with back aches or I wake up in the morning sore from the night before.
The hardest part about being a CNA though is the mental aspects. You have to be extremely patient and when you deal with difficult residents day after day it can be exhausting to stay patient with them. It’s extremely depressing at times as well.
I will always remember waking up at five a.m. with a text from my boss saying that a resident died. I hadn’t been working as a CNA very long and I didn’t know the resident’s personality hardly at all which made the death easier on me. I was still in shock though. It was my first death as a CNA.
There are things that only a fellow long term care worker can understand. Like why we joke about death or laugh at the most inappropriate times. We have too. If we didn’t, the emotions associated with the work would destroy us.
Being a CNA has taught me so much about life. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to make a difference in someone’s life even if it isn’t very glamorous. I wouldn’t give up my time as a CNA for anything.