...are the ones that make the biggest difference


New job - Opportunity to follow...

I started my new job today. Actually, I started a new job on Friday - just orientation and paperwork - but was offered a better job on Monday afternoon, which I accepted. I started that job today; I quitted the other job, though I don't think they know that yet. I tried calling them yesterday afternoon but they don't have voicemail. So I tried emailing them last night; I found it returned in my inbox today after getting home from work. I will have to call them again tomorrow morning as they are already closed today.

So my second new job in as many days started today. I'm working as a nursing assistant in a long-term respirator care facility. These patients are all on respirators or are in the process of being weened. Some will successfully make the transition to breathing on their own and some, perhaps most, will not. Most of the patients I saw today were older and were afflicted by any number of diseases requiring isolation protocols (gown and gloves, and a mask in some cases). One man had lost his lower legs, presumably from diabetes. Another had been in a severe motorcycle accident and had significant scarring on the side of his face. On the other side, his head is caved in - its a crater about 3 inches across and probably an inch deep starting a little below the hairline. Any desire I had to get a motorcycle took a steep dive at that sight.

Though it pays fairly well, this job is not going to be easy. Its taking care of the most basic, physical needs of these people. I need to keep saying that - people, not just "patients." The woman who training me today confided that she "doesn't know names, only room numbers." I never want to get like that, though I'm sure it will be something I have to fight. I'm sure its all too easy to slip into that mentality, especially given the good chance that some of them will die while in our care. Its a defense mechanism that I can understand, but don't want to emulate. If their deaths will hurt, I want it to hurt, I want to feel that pain, not run from it. I want to mourn their passing and pray for their souls. While they're under my care, I want to heap the love of Christ on them and to see them as Christ does - I cannot do that if I refuse to feel that pain, as well. So this will not be a glamorous job, but like the Holy Unmercenaries, I hope to undertake it with dedication and with the love of Christ firmly planted in my heart. I have their holy example to follow and I can take comfort in the knowledge that no matter how hard it gets for me, it was much, much harder for them and that they dealt with people in far worse shape. And that without the modern medical technology that relieves so much of the caregivers burden! I am not yet to the point where I feel comfortable asking for their intercession but at least I have their well-trodden path to guide me.
The Holy Unmercenaries

Christ is in our midst!


Anonymous said...

I commend your desire to give good care to the people who are the patients you will be caring for. The trainer who knows room numbers has seen too many die, and recognizes the incredible toll so many deaths cost the caregivers. Just recognize that distancing yourself may make it possible to continue in the job, giving good care, while feeling each person's pain will most certainly wear you out emotionally and exhaust your resources, which will then prevent you from giving the good care you strive to give. Ask the professionals you're working with how they handle it without burning out.

Nathan said...

I certainly hope I did not sound judgmental of my trainer! That was not my intent in the least. I know that creating such distance is the way that most people in these positions deal with the pain of losing patients and witnessing their suffering before they finally go. I'm new to this field and I know it will take me a long time to find the right balance beteen caring for them and preserving myself. Right now, though, I can't help but thinking that being too distanced will burn a person out in its own way. Extremity of pain can numb the heart, but so can intentionally creating barriers to caring. I think providing good care is intrinsically linked, at least for me, to my ability to see these people as the image of God, to recognize that Christ suffered for them and to offer as much of me as I can in helping them. I can only hope that with Christ's help that I am up to that task.