Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Not to share

Call it writer's block or just that most of what is on my mind isn't really bloggable-material, but I don't have much to say here lately.

Good news is that I finished my quarter at school with an A in my chem class!

Other than that I just have a lot on my mind, but nothing that y'all should worry about; marriage is good, work is fine, school is good.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm on it.

I'm off training and working on my hospital's orthopaedics floor regularly now, and I LOVE IT. Love, love, love it. I love that no matter what the problem is, there's always someone there for backup. Not sure how to use that whatchamacallit? Ask someone. Need a bariatric-sized something or another? Ask the unit secretary to call for one. Patient getting combative? You can always call security. We never run out of the basic stuff I use to care for patients (gloves, linens, hygiene supplies) and I'm never left completely on my own to just deal with a situation. It's great. That's the benefit of being at a facility many times over the size of the GreatRep, with all different sorts of staff available.

I've also gotten to see some pretty amazingly gross stuff, like the patient who came in with the complaint of "My toe is missing. I think maybe the dog bit it off". Sure enough, the whole thing was missing, and I could see the bone right in the middle of that toe stump. I get a lot of darling little old ladies who are getting hips repaired or replaced and who are just delighted to have a young lady being the one who helps them to the bathroom. We don't get all that many amputations, which is kind of too bad because I think those are really neat and I want to see how people get back to their regular activities after one (but that's more of physical therapy/rehab deal).

All in all, I'm being exposed to a lot of new conditions/procedures/equipment and the nurses on my floor are quite nice and pleasant to work with. I feel so lucky that I happened into a floor where patients (usually) go home happier and healthier than when they came in - it makes for such a different dynamic than I've experienced before. And I have health insurance! For myself and Mr. Polly both!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I've started training on my actual floor of the hospital, caring for real live patients. I've learned how to use (most of) the equipment there, including my first ever go-around with electronic charting and fancy-schmancy vitals-taking machines. I have yet to have a patient accept my offer of a bed bath or a shower, so maybe these people just like to be dirty or maybe they're too high to move or maybe they just don't wanna get even a little naked in front of me? Hard to say.

Tomorrow I'll have 8 patients to care for, then for my last day of training I'll have the full 10 (my normal load).

And so far, no more fainting. Not at the blood bank, not after chugging up all the flights of stairs in the "tower", not when someone was admitted with their toe already missing, not any fainting at all. Yay me!

Now if I can just navigate the whole time-management aspect and deal with nurses who are unused to delegating anything at all, I'll be golden.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

First week of hospital orientation

I finished my first week of hospital orientation, which translated into multiple 8-hour days of class, basically. Seriously, I finally got a tour of my unit the last day, AFTER everything else (except restraints) had been covered.

And how was all this class, you wonder?

Pretty cool, for the most part. We're the pilot program of them implementing CNA's at Father Sainty's, so every single one of the CNA's for my floor was hired and trained all together. So it feels like we're a graduating class together after all these days of orientation classes together, which is neat. Dayshift, swing shift, and noc shift all got trained and oriented together for the pre-floor stuff. We learned new things (bladder scans!) and slung each other around using the overhead lifts in the patient rooms. Good times!

Now for the humiliating news: I passed out. Cold. In front of every single other CNA on my floor, two nurse educators, and one of my managers. It was AWFUL. We were in the classroom and I have a needle phobia.

I do okay when someone is actually in front of me bleeding or has an IV inserted or whatever, but that's because I can move around to keep my BP up, and because I know I'm responsible for them and cannot faint. I've cared for someone through a compound fracture and been okay. But when it comes to the classroom setting, when someone verbally starts describing blood draws or the like, I get woozy. Even if I'm listening to a nursing podcast and they get too graphic, I have to change it or I'd be a danger on the road.

So not only do I have a crazy phobia, it's ridiculously specialized; a DESCRIPTION of blood and needles phobia.

So our nurse educator is merrily telling us how to do glucose checks, and going on and on about it, and about how we may not "milk" their fingertips to get more blood, and I was getting woozier by the second. I trying to hang on as long as I could, then I figured I'd better get out in the hallway where I can put my head down without anyone seeing me. So I stood up and started walking towards the door.

Who can guess how that turned out?
someecards.com - Save money this St. Patrick's Day by passing out as fast as humanly possible

Yep, I woke up flat on my back on the floor, with people over me going "Are you okay Polly? Are you okay???".

So. Freaking. Unbelievably. Embarrassing.

So now one of my managers thinks I'm going to do this while working the floor, and the rest seem undecided. All I can do is prove them wrong. And once I do, hopefully this will become a funny story about way back when I first started working at Father Sainty's.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Two Days Left

I've only got two regular days left at the GreatRep, and then my orientation at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday. I'm planning to still work one day a week at the GreatRep, because they'd like me to and I could use the extra income. Today I was looking at my residents and thinking about how much I'll miss some of them.

And then a call light went of because Mr.UberCombative (the one who Darth Vader choked a nurse) was attacking two CNA's with a full size floor lamp and they'd locked themselves in the bathroom to get away from him then hit the call light for rescue. And then while I helped the remaining CNA from that wing hunt down our charge nurse (he ended up grabbing the DON and the Administrator to deal with that fun situation) I found the charge nurse, who pulled me into another bathroom to help hold up a 103 year old woman while she digitally disimpacted her and avoided her resulting mule kicks as she screamed "That was HURT!" at us all. Poor baby, I bet it really, really did! She was waaaaaaay backed up.

And then I hustled my butt over to where I was originally supposed to be doing what I was originally supposed to be doing (helping the less able residents drink their ensures for snacktime).


I don't expect the hospital to be a cakewalk. But I do expect to be assaulted a lot less regularly.

Cross your fingers for that, anyways!

A few minutes after all this, I saw our maintenance man walking down the hall, having confiscated said floor lamp. He looked PISSED. I wonder if he has a special room where all the furniture that's been used as weapons goes for "time out" the way I used to put toys that the kids were fighting over in "time out" for a while to let them all calm down?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yeah Buddies!

I got my first Chem exam back, and scored an A-. I'm thrilled by this! The first two chapters, what the test was on, involved me relearning all the algebra I'd forgotten since high school. Plus all the regular chemistry topics we were all learning in the class.

Now that we're past that part, the following chapter on naming compounds, Lewis diagrams, and predicting molecular geometry are way, way easier.

Plus my lab partner is really nice; she's a CNA also, and works at a skilled nursing facility. We were swapping stories about the weird residents and the most horrifying post mortem cares we've done, and it's great because we're both 'returning students' (she's in her thirties) so we're both actually motivated to do well in the class because we've got other stuff to do besides goof off.

Work today was sucky.

One of the CNA's that's been at the GreatRep for a few years was fired this week for getting into altercation with a resident. WTF? I haven't heard any details, so I don't know if she just snapped, but the resident she was yelling at is very compliant and nonverbal, and never combative. Not like it's ever okay to really yell at someone you're supposed to be caring for, but if that person had, say, slapped you across the face with their wet brief and then spat on you, one might understand raising your voice a smidgen more than your heart tells you is right. But I can't imagine that anything like that had happened, given who was involved in this. Bizarre.

And yes, the brief-slapping thing is real and did really happen. Not to me, thank goodness. But the resident who did it is alive and kicking. And told me last week that she would like to "shoot [me] with a gun and make a beautiful mess out of [me]". I just sighed and rolled my eyes. That's her horrible, horrible baseline.

I cheer myself up by talking to the adorable little lady who asks for cocoa by calling it "kokomoko". So cute!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Occupies my Heart

I'm no financial genius. I bust my ass 40 hours a week for very low pay, and go to school thanks to a state tuition waiver. My husband and I are perpetually struggling to pay off medical bills, courtesy of Cystic Fibrosis and our country's lack of socialized health care. The amount we spend every month on our health insurance premiums (mind you, I'm talking about JUST for coverage, not meds or anything else) is equal to 45% of the amount we pay for rent. Between basic health care and a place to live, that's most of our budget.

I've never invested in stock, never had a mutual fund.

I'm the 99%, clearly.

And the Occupy Wall Street protests are thrilling me. I look at the sea of people protesting that wide, wide income gap, and my heart beats faster. I feel honored that my new job is not only in healthcare, helping people, but is at a nonprofit hospital, and a union job at that.

I loved this quote from a CNN article about it: "The protest has drawn some criticism for its lack of concrete goals. But the fact that Occupy Wall Street is still going strong 19 days later means it's done what it set out to do: Draw focus to the concerns -- and anger -- many Americans have about the country's growing economic gap, plant the seed of an organized voice, and let the protest evolve naturally.

'We're showing that 'we the people' really are here, present, from all walks of life," said Tammy Bick, 49, an unemployed former medical secretary. "It's a meeting of the minds and a voicing of our issues. That alone makes it the best single experience of my life.'"

The other day, I had to go to the nearest Big Town to go get my BLS card (CPR for healthcare providers) before I start orienting at Father Sainty's. I kept Mr. Polly company when he needed to go a litle further out of the Big Town for an appointment with our accountants to get our taxes all finished up. The accountants that we use are people I've known most of my life - they work from home, and their home is on the street I grew up on.

Since we were right there, I saw my childhood home for the first time since the foreclosure. My Mother was still living there up until recently, but I hadn't been there, because of issues between me and her. I was having a very hard time setting foot in that house for the last few years, because of the condition it was in. I believe my Mother is a hoarder, although she would say differently (and does). At any rate, anyone would agree that the house was deeply in disrepair and looked obviously out of place in the neighborhood; it was the one on the block that was 'the eyesore'.

I hadn't seen it since my last visits there which were when I was cleaning and repainting the interior a few years ago.

Since it's been foreclosed, it's being renovated; pretty much gutted and redone. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about that. I think most people feel nostalgic about their childhood homes, and don't want anything changed. I found it to be a big relief to see the house being rehabilitated. I hope it turns out nicely and that the next occupants will be happy and healthy there.

I don't blame the bank for taking away the home, in this particular instance, I'm grateful that it happened. But I understand that's a rare reaction. And I would much rather that any profit from the whole transaction would be shared equally among all the workers involved.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Israeli Couscous and finding my replacement

My current job of Med Aide at the GreatRep is officially open for applicants, and there's even a job description up in the break room for current employees to apply for it. I know who I want to get it, but the DON will make her own choice there. A lot of the CNA's have told me they want to apply for it, and will I put in a good word for them, but what I've said is that the DON isn't asking for my input. If they press me on it, I've been just saying "Well, how's your attendance? That's one of the most important things" because it is. I haven't missed a day of work in months, whereas a lot of the CNA's call out at least 2x/month. We even get a bonus if you make it through the whole month without missing a shift, and they STILL don't do it. Flaky people drive me nuts.

My background check, UA, and all that other good junk is complete for Father Sainty's, plus I'll go get my BLS card before work on Monday. Look out, people in need of lifesaving, I'll be ready to go on Monday. Just kidding, I don't look forward to having to do CPR and hope it doesn't come up. I'd be terrified of cracking someone's ribs.

Between all that and studying for my upcoming first exam for Chem 121, I've been a busy bee. I've been sticking to basics for cooking, so a lot of Israeli/Pearl couscous and tempeh. Tasty, and fast! I also finally got out the food processor and made more pizza dough this week, which is always fun. I like kneading and tossing and all that. I usually put spinach and olives on my pizzas, with nondairy cheeze if I have some, and without it if I don't. 'Cause I'm still vegan.

One of the teenage CNA's at work is borrowing my copy of "Skinny Bitch" aka the book that turned me vegan, so we'll see how she comes along with all that info. I felt badly, because I forgot that she is uber-wholesome and that book is full of bad language. She even brought her parents and grandparents in to tour our facility today because they wanted to see her workplace - adorable!

I bet you 50 cents she's soon an adorable vegetarian if she reads that whole book.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Coming soon, Hospital CNA Polly!

I got the job!!!

I start on the 24th, it's about a 30% pay increase, and I get health insurance for myself and Mr. Polly.

For now I'm tentatively planning to still work at the GreatRep one day a week until I get busy taking more classes next semester. I'm very, very excited and nervous.

Coming soon: orthopedics floor Polly!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead

This is in very poor taste, but remember the guy who was threatening to come to my facility and kill his wife (and anyone who got in his way) and then himself?

He's dead!

He had a heart attack. Not that surprising since he kept checking himself out of the hospital AMA in order to go back home and threaten his wife and family and us some more.

I know, he was probably once a nice guy, and obviously was suffering from some kind of mental illness. But he refused help over and over again. And I think it's fine that I want someone off this planet that is wanting to come and shoot one of my demented little old ladies.

And now he is. I'm not sorry. It's a huge relief not to have that hanging over my head at work anymore.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I had my face-to-face interview over at Father Sainty's yesterday morning, and it went really well. The unit manager was the one who interviewed me, and she told me that I did really well and (with the prioritization scenario) answered it "just right". I should find out at the end of this week or the beginning of next week whether or not I'll be offered the job. I'm thinking I will be, which is wonderful - I can work 24 hours a week instead of 36 and make around the same amount of money. I'm going to need that extra time for homework if this week has been any indication ...

Going back to school hasn't been as smooth sailing as my professional life has been. First I found out that my financial aid wouldn't cover my Bio class (deadline was 0800 to register for it, but I'd been waitlisted and so I went and got the instructor's signature at the first class session at 1100. Too late). I freaked out until I realized I don't even need that Bio class. WHEW! The prerequisite for me to take Anatomy and Physiology I next quarter is Chem 121, which I'm in right now. Thank goodness it's my only class, because I'm woefully behind in the math.

We did an 8 problem assessment quiz in class to see how well prepared we were and I didn't even know how to do any of the 8 problems. Algebra was in high school, which was a long time ago. Instead of bursting into tears and running out of the room, I stuck around for the lecture, and then did the in-class group exercise (conversions using the dimensional analysis method and significant figures). Since this was new to all of us, I did fine with that. I just don't know how to write things in scientific notation, but my textbook should be able to tell me that, as soon as I go buy it. I stayed after and spoke to the instructor, who told me that if I'm willing to work hard and use the extra online resources, I can learn the amount of math I need in order to complete this course.

So I'm doing that. And trying not to freak out too badly.

But if I struggle this hard with every class, I can't imagine taking more than one per quarter, which means I'll be at the community college for a looooooong time.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I just finished my phone screening (pre-interview) for a part-time job at Father Sainty's. I feel like it went really well, and should find out soon if I'll be called for a face-to-face interview or not.

I'm applying for a part time 2nd shift position on the orthopedic floor. The base pay over at Father Sainty's is almost $4 more per hour than my CNA pay at the Great Rep (and $2 more than I make as a Med Aide there) PLUS they have shift differentials for evenings and weekends, which is what I'd primarily be doing.

The lady I spoke to was cool, and we built enough rapport during the phone interview that I felt comfortable asking her my big question:

Since Father Sainty's just implemented CNA's, were any nurses let go in the process? What about LPN's?
I wanted to be sure I'm not walking into a situation where they've fired 3 RN's and hired 10 CNA's. The remaining RN's would start off hating me and all CNA's. Which is not good news, because they're going to be my direct supervisors. Or if they used to have LPN's and decided to do away with them in favor of all RN's supervising CNA's; that would be sticky too.

But they're actually going from an all-RN model to adding some CNA's. They never did use LPN's. And had they fired any RN's for this change?

She said no, that wasn't the case, and that while they had let some people's contracts expire without renewing them, they mainly freed up the budget by letting nurses retire. I hope that's the truth. I should try to get the scoop from my next door neighbor, because she's an RN over there.

Anyway, she didn't seem to be put off by my asking that, and answered as though it were a very reasonable question, which I think it is.

Now I just have to hold my breath for a couple of days to find out if I go get interviewed by a panel (!!!) at Father Sainty's. If I'm offered the job, I need to get details about their health insurance and how much it costs for employees, and then tally up whether I can afford to work part time there with benefits or if I need to stay full time at the Great Rep without benefits (which I'm currently paying the entire premium on).

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simplicity of success

After 3 long shifts as a med tech at my facility, I went and worked my once-a-week evening shift caregiving, and for the first time, it felt like a relief. We've got multiple residents on a lot of medications right now, many of which would normally be PRN's and therefore not my department. However, one of the nurses wrote them in our book as nursing orders, so for the first time we're giving medications that absolutely must be given at a certain time and that is really stressful with this population. You just never know if or when these people are going to cooperate with you.

So anyway, we've still got the Darth Vader Choker running around. He's a reasonably nice guy a lot of the time, but when he gets combative, it's scary. He's a big man (and remember, he lifted one nurse clear up off the ground by choking her). During report today we were told to "keep a close eye on him" and perform "frequent checks" because he's been peeing everywhere. And housekeeping is getting mad because he peed on the drapes and it's expensive to clean them. I'll file that under "not urgent". If it's that expensive to clean the place when he pees all over stuff, how about NOT ADMITTING people that we KNOW ahead of time are going to freak out when toileted and have a pattern of voiding inappropriately? Duh.

Anyway, Mr. Vader has been on a streak of bad days lately. So when we spotted him dozing on a couch in the hallway after dinner, I suggested to the other aide who was assigned to him that we go try to put him to bed right away, before his meds wear off. We got a wheelchair, because he was all zonked. We gently woke him up, told him we would help him get to bed, and plopped him in the wheelchair.

Once we had him in his room, I started with "Let's take a look at your feet." because apparently that's how his daughter would start his care. He was a contractor for years and years, and for all I know, he thinks he did it today. So I acted as though he had. I said "We want to make sure you didn't step on any nails or anything. Construction sites can be tricky." he was awake now, and agreed. I took off his shoes and socks. I continued "All right, those look good, no problems there. I think we better check your knees too, make sure they didn't get roughed up at all. Can you stand up?" He could, with our help. He didn't even notice that we were taking his pants off to check his knees, was just glad that his knees were okay. We continued like this until he had everything off, used the restroom, washed himself up with a washcloth, brushed his teeth and laid down in bed wearing only a brief. It was amazing. Such a change from his other days. I think if he could be appropriately medicated, he could be compliant like this all the time - he was aware of what we were doing, was doing most of the work himself, and was pleasant to be around.

It was the most successful moment I've had with this guy since he moved in.

And after all the stress of the last few days, it was a really pleasant change - sometimes it's nice to go back to basics.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not a 9/11 post

I don't have anything special to say about 9/11 except that death really really sucks. I feel terrible for people who lost their families on that day, just as I feel terrible for the resident at work who's slowly dying from a series of strokes. She had another one today, vomiting beforehand even though I'd given her an anti-nausea drug by mouth before dinner, and the nurse had given her an anti-nausea suppository after the first time she threw up. She vomited a few more times, and then there was that telltale lean, the inability to control half of her body. A different half than last time. And she was so baffled about what was happening to her, and how could she get to feel better, and there isn't any answer.

This woman is a sweet lady with a devoted family.

And it makes me sad, trying to brush her teeth after she vomits and she cannot control half of her mouth while I do it. And it makes me sad, listening to her struggle to slur out that yes, she wants her daughter to come see her now.

Maybe it's easier for religious people once someone is actually dead - they usually say they're "in a good place now". But I don't know if watching the slow, steady decline is easier with a God around or not. I don't know if anything could make that easier; it's just so, so sad sometimes. And sometimes it's not, and I can't make reason of why sometimes it really gets to me and sometimes it doesn't.

If I do end up getting that hospital job, I'll be hoping that having patients for such a short period of time makes it harder to get very attached to them. A lot of the people I take care of now, I've seen nearly every day for about a year now.

And just to top off my bad mood, I got bitten right before the end of my shift, trying to scoop some non-food stuff out of a resident's mouth that she was trying to eat. I knew (obviously) that it was likely I'd get bitten, but I didn't want her to choke or get sick from this. I really hate getting bitten.

So that's my important thoughts for the day: I hate death sometimes and I hate getting bitten all the time. My sympathies for all of you that are dealing with either one.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why Not?

Things have been about the same at work; there's a restraining order against the husband of one of my little old ladies, because the husband has been threatening to come to our facility and kill his wife and then himself. He states that he has a gun and is ready to do so. He lives within walking distance of our facility.

It's been stressful.

The new admit, the very combative one, continues to be that way. Some of it is kind of funny, like how he walked around with his underwear outside his pants for hours the other day. But it wasn't funny that he started shoving away anyone who tried to talk to him or help him change them to inside his clothes. And it's not funny that it takes 3 or more people leaping on him in order to complete any sort of care.

My classes start very soon, the week after next! I can't wait. I'm still waitlisted for one of them, but I'm #2 on the waitlist so it should be fine. I'm just nervous about the delay screwing up my financial aid, but I've been in touch with the financial aid office and they say it should be all right.

The biggest news is that I've applied for some jobs at our local hospital. We'll call it Father Sainty's. Over at Father Sainty's, they'd cut pretty much all CNA positions in an effort to save money, which has been a common trend among hospitals these days.

I don't understand it, because why would you pay a nurse much more money per hour to do something an unlicensed person like myself can do - take vitals, reposition, toilet, check blood sugars, etc.? Maybe it's because administrators assume (wrongly) that nurses can do all that AND do the jobs that only they are allowed to do at the same time. Crazy.

At any rate, Father Sainty's must have figured out that if you expect nurses to do everything, everything doesn't get done or at least not very promptly. And I'd expect that patients were unhappy with that. So they're adding back a LOT of CNA positions, and I've applied for every single part-time benefits eligible job they've got.

I have no idea what my chances of even being interviewed are, but I figured it's worth a shot. It'd be great experience, better pay, and include benefits. Which I don't have now.

I know, I know, all CNA's seem to think they should work in a hospital, as if the change in the type of facility is somehow magical and going to get rid of the worst parts of our jobs. I don't think that. I know it'll be at least as hard as what I do now, probably more so. But I've got a couple of years experience under my belt now, so I may as well try to be paid as much as possible at this while I go to school. And I won't be shocked if a patient tries to take a swing at me, or eats their own poop, or does any of the million disgusting things that I've gotten used to working with my current population. I'd miss the consistency of working with the same residents all the time, for sure, and I do still genuinely enjoy and get a kick out of people with dementia. But feeling actually in danger at work has taken away a lot of my daily happiness at the GreatRep. So leaving there wouldn't feel like as much of a loss as it would have in the past.

So, yep, I'm not holding my breath, but wish me luck anyway!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In over my head

This has been a tough, tough week over at the GreatRep. We got a new admit, and he arrived under less-than-ideal circumstances; his daughter, the primary caregiver, was out of town. His wife brought him in and dropped him off, not wanting to visit because he'd been hurting her whenever she tried to toilet him. He had orders for meds, but had been refusing all of them.

So he comes from living at home with his wife to us, a decent-sized facility (around 65-70 beds) where we expect him to take his meds, use the toilet, and not hit us.

None of that happened. We quickly realized, after he had one of our charge nurses pinned up against the wall, choking her and lifting her off her feet, that he was going to require at least 3 people to change him out of his soiled clothes when he was incontinent.

In a hospital setting, or a psych ward, when a patient does something like that, you can medicate that person by any means necessary. In our assisted living facility, they must agree to take their meds orally (unless they have an order indicating otherwise, which this guy does not).

Things seemed to be calming down a bit after that, and he even cooperated with care in the evening one time, after the nurses began putting his evening meds in his desserts so he would actually take them in.

Then, randomly, on day shift, he punched a female caregiver in the face, and then in the back of the head when she tried to run away. Knocked her down, cut up the inside of her mouth from her teeth. She didn't quite black out and yelled for help, dragging herself to the door. It was awful. If I were in charge, that would have been the point where I'd have sent this guy on his merry way to the hospital with police there to assist the medics during pickup.

Instead, they updated his care plan to require and assist of 2+ people with all care and implemented more behavioral meds.

I was livid.

We had a meeting, and the DON was able to state her case and change our minds, even mine. I swear that woman is tricky as all get out. Plus she personally had been doing his care all day long by herself and will continue to do so, which gained her a lot of respect from the rest of us.

She laid out a specific, comprehensive plan to help him acclimate to our setting, and promised that we are NOT expected to stay in a situation where he'll hurt us, and if that means something doesn't get done, then so be it. I also understand that a gero-psych eval is not out of the question if we're not able to resolve the combativeness in our setting. Okay. Stressful, scary, unfortunate, but okay.

Then the bad news kept coming; another new(ish) resident of ours, "Linda" has a husband who lives independently but within walking distance of our facility. And he's telling anyone who'll listen that his plan is to come to our facility, shoot his wife, and then shoot himself.

This is about the time when I seriously considered just getting up from this meeting and going home.

Apparently Mr. Murderer may or may not be hospitalized right now, but of course he can go home, and then to our place, at any time. The good news is, he can't figure out how to use the keycode to enter the building, even though from the outside, the code is posted right above the keypad. So that gives us a grace period in which to see that he's the one knocking on the door trying to get in and call 911. Unless another visitor is being helpful and just lets him in.

Working in dementia, there's a certain amount of "I'm tough" attitude that comes with the territory - we deal with people who get combative for no good reason. That's just how it is. And usually the benefits outweigh the occasional injuries.

But this week has been so screwed up I didn't want to go back to that place. I don't want to be punched and knocked out, or choked, or shot. And I feel about 88% sure that I won't be. Which isn't really sure enough to make me happy about going to work again on Friday. Ugh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Belated Day 10 - Sporty Spice

Day 10 - Do you play any sports?

I did so well on doing all the rest of these topics right on time, it's a bummer the last one can be answered in one word: nope.

I was the kid that always got smacked in the face with the volleyball in PE. I'm the adult who cannot toss keys to my husband without either winging them directly at his face or sending them four feet away from him. I just don't have that kind of coordination. Especially with any sort of throwing and catching. And those are kind of a sports mainstay.

The only sports I've ever played or liked were the ones that didn't work that way. In middle school, I did martial arts classes with my Dad. In high school, I ran track. I've always loved to swim, and started swimming laps and (almost never) going surfing as an adult. I still like to go running around the lake near my house. And do yoga. But I wouldn't call any of that playing a sport.

You know what sport I wish I could play? Football. I want to see what it's like to strap on all that padding and really, really tackle someone. I bet it's awesome. I think it would be really fun to go running around pretending to be Drew Brees and bragging about how quick I get the ball out of my hands when I'm in the pocket.

But in reality, I'm much more of a Marcia Brady than a Tom Brady.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 9 - things that make me go gray

9 - What's something that you worry about for the future?

This is embarrassing, but the idea of global warming makes me so scared I want to go hide in my bathtub with a blanket over me, as if it were a tornado. I know I already do pretty well on not making a gigantic carbon footprint (I'm vegan, drive a low-emissions car and don't travel much, live in a small apartment, walk to most of my errands because I live downtown, and will be taking the bus to and from school once I start classes, and buy most of my clothing secondhand). But it's never enough. If I think about it in depth, I get an overwhelming terrified feeling and get dizzy. That's dumb, I know.

The other thing I worry about often is whether I'll be bitter and burned out by the time I finally finish my prereqs and get to apply to nursing schools. My financial aid/tuition waiver has been reduced from up to 18 credits a quarter to down to 10. So I can take 2 classes a quarter for the next 3 quarters. Upside, this will make working full-time totally possible. Downside, I won't finish all the needed courses in three quarters. So I'll be working and going to school ... indefinitely. I like my job still, but I have days when I think "I'm so glad this isn't what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. I couldn't spend every day forever in here". Or days when I just want to hide from the sundowning residents that are yelling at me when I tell them they can't go home, because home isn't there anymore. I want to keep my drive and keep my enthusiasm. I worry that I'll get worn out before I even get a chance to finish my schooling.

But whatever, right? I mean, worrying about it isn't going to prevent it, and I'm doing the best I can right now. So I'll keep finding those funny moments every day, and concentrate on keeping my GPA as high as I can make it, and suck it up. I can do this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 8: Drifting

8 - Who’s someone that you used to be really close to, but you’re not anymore?

All through middle and high school I had two close friends. One of them I'm still close to, the other I recently "broke up" with. The one I broke up with, 'Erin' has issues, y'all. She and I were both way dorky in middle school, and originally bonded over being teased and being in the gifted program together. In high school I became more outgoing, and though I was still definitely a weirdo I didn't get picked on or made fun of anymore. I didn't hang out with cheerleaders or anything, and I was still in honors classes (as was Erin) but I had my own social life and was content with it. Erin stayed a little more on the awkward end of the spectrum, and continued to catch some flak for it.

After high school, Erin and my other close girl friend went to the same university, while I took a year off to work, get healthy, and save up money for college. I visited them on their campus, and Erin formed her own social circle there, which was great to see. She got a first boyfriend, and graduated school, and moved across the country for grad school. We stayed buddies thorughout all this, although Erin would have periodic freak-outs where she'd do stupid stuff like randomly send me a letter bitching me out about something I did when we were, like, 15 years old. But I'd shrug them off and she'd get over it until the next time.

We stayed buddies after I got married, and after Erin dropped out of her second go-around with grad school.

Then when she was home visiting her parents one Christmas, Erin had another one of her weird freak-outs where she said she was going to stop by and see me and my family at my Mom's house, then didn't. When I called her about it she was all twitchy and strange and defensive. I dunno. Not that out of character for her. When I told her I thought it was rude to say you would be somewhere and then not show up, she got mad, and that's pretty much the last time we talked. I tried to engage her about what it is she was upset about and what she wanted to happen, and her response was that we aren't close and the only way we would become close again is if I lived in her town (across the country) and we saw each other daily and since that's not going to happen we've got no chance.

Um, okay? Because that's how most adult friendships work, right? You live down the street from one another and go play after school I mean work? Whatever, Erin. It's entirely possible to keep friendships going after you grow up and move apart. My other close friend from high school lives about an hour away from Erin and she and I still talk often.

So yeah, Erin's little freak-out periods got to be a bit much and I didn't feel like chasing her down to apologize over nothing, so I didn't. Our other mutual friends say it's basically the same streak she's always had, plus that she's got this serious boyfriend that she apparently doesn't want to know that she was a geek in her past (I think he'll be able to figure that one out, people) and so perhaps that's why she's avoiding childhood friends. Lame.

I hate girl friend drama. I'm so glad that my other friends and I can have arguments and work things out like normal people.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

7 - A rarely covered topic

7 - What's something you don't usually blog about?

There are millions of things I don't usually blog about. Like why I take my showers in the evening before bed instead of in the morning before work. Or the time I made cinnamon rolls from scratch and then ate nothing else for half a week. Or that I saw someone chug dish soap and beer until he vomited bubbles once. Or that on my honeymoon at Zion National Park in Utah, we saw a tarantula and Mr. Polly was thoughtful and had me cover my eyes then picked me up and carried me past it so I wouldn't freak out and be stuck in a corner, unable to walk near that big, foot-eating sucker.

I don't often blog about my collection of paperback romance novels penned by Fabio himself - I have three of them (Viking, Pirate and Champion). Or about how it's really awful to work in a nursing home if you or your coworkers have gas, because there is no politely ignoring it - everyone starts sniffing and saying "Uh oh, who needs to be toileted?" until someone cops to it ... unless it really is a resident who needs to be changed. Or about how mole is one of the worst things I've ever tasted and I can't belive people like it (I can't figure out how to do the accent over the 'e' in mole but rest assured I mean "mole-ay" not the animal we call a mole).

I was thinking perhaps I'd take this opportunity to brag about how I exercise on a schedule now, but that's boring to read about. I will share this, though - it's my favorite yoga DVD to do. http://www.yogaforsurferstv.com/ I like the second DVD. Seriously, if you're thinking you want to go surfing but don't think you're strong enough to be able to pop up, do this DVD for a few weeks. You'll be able to. It's fun, too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 6: Picture

6 - What's a picture of yourself that not many people have seen?

Oh man, this one was a lot of work! The monitor of my regular computer is broken right now, and I'm posting from my laptop. I'm also pre-writing these and scheduling them to go up on each day of the challenge because I'm going camping this weekend (yay!) and won't be near a computer.

So. Trying to find a rare photo of myself without being able to check my computer to see what's on there? Not very easy.

Then I remembered I had a photobucket account from years ago. And I found an old picture of myself from back when we got our first digital camera! It was all big and clunky and had hardly any memory, but I thought it was awesome and was praticing with it to learn how to use it. So of course I took a picture of myself in the bathroom mirror. It was taken at the first house the Mr. and I lived in all by ourselves (we were roomates in a big house when we started dating) which was also the house where he proposed to me. Awww.

Here I am at age 22 or 23, I think. And yes, that's a tattoo on my arm. I have one on each.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 5: Bedtime

5 - What’s in your bed right now? Take a picture of your bed.

In my bed right now? Not much. My stuffed animal(s) which are a dog and a teddy bear (shut up. Just shut up), and underneath it are lots of plastic storage tubs because my apartment is fairly small and I gotta put stuff somewhere. The only one you can really see in the picture has my bathing suits, rash guard, swim bag, and goggles in it. And no, a rash guard isn't some gross thing, it's one of these which you wear surfing to keep the sand and surfboard wax from rubbing your belly and chest raw. And if you're modest like me, to make sure nothing comes out that should be staying in.

See, Kate knows what's up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 4: Hell yeah I have a J-O-B

Day 4 -Do you have a job? If you do, what is it and do you like it? If not, what job would you like to have?

I have a job or two. Actually, technically I have three: I'm a CNA and a Med Aide at my facility, and I work in homecare on the side on-call.

I like my jobs. My favorite is working as a med aide, although that's the most stressful because I'm expected to juggle a wide variety of responsibilities as I'm doing my primary duties. But it's the most fun, too. My regular CNA days working the floor are usually fine. There's a few residents and coworkers I don't like dealing with, but that comes with the territory, right? And homecare is a mixed bag; it tends to be either spectacularly easy and pleasant (am I really getting paid? Right now?? To sleep in a bed in a waterfront condo and wake up for q3hr turns?? WOW!) or horrible and making me rethink my life choices (I drove all the way out here to BFE to take care of a woman in this filthy scary house and her son is showing me how to stand her up and telling me not to "play with her butt"? I clearly took a wrong turn somewhere in my past to end up here. For the next 6 hours. If I ever survive this and get home again.)

If I didn't want to work in healthcare, other jobs I would enjoy:

1. Vacuum technician at a vacuum cleaner store. I loooooooove tinkering with vacuum cleaners and seeing all the different kinds that exist in the world. I did hours of research before buying each of my (2) vacuums that I've ever owned as an adult. I can change the belts, clear clogs, etc. in no time flat. I'd be so enthusiastic about this job, I bet I'd get tips.

2. Mortician. Turns out I'm not at all afraid of dead bodies. And I'm getting better at telling family members bad news every day.

3. Working for the phone or power company to be one of those people that climbs up the phone poles or goes up in a cherry-picker to work on the transformers and to cut back tree branches that are threatening to knock down the lines. I like heights, and like being outdoors, and would like learning to work with electronics, probably.

4. Police officer. I haven't done any of this, although I did intern at a couple of juvenile detention centers and used to work with frequently incarcerated teenage boys. I can be authoritative and set clear boundaries, and am not one to panic when a violent situation breaks out. I think I'd really enjoy feeling like I was serving and protecting those that needed it, but then again, most people that get arrested are usually really, really annoying - trashy, long-winded, refuse to accept responsibility, etc. Also, just because I can keep calm during an emergency doesn't mean I'm not disturbed by it later. Like when one of my boys stabbed the other through the arm with a fork at the dinner table. Yuck.

All in all, I'm happy where I'm at. I never, ever want to work a desk job. I want to be up moving around and using my hands.

Zip It (day 3)

Day 3: What's something you think of all the time but never say?

I wish I were a mother. I know I will be some day, and I know I'll be good at it. The kids I nannied for four years are good kids, and they still like to talk to me on the phone, ask their parents to drive them to my town to visit me, and write me little letters. I know I have the patience to deal with children all day every day, and I enjoy being around them. I know I can teach them to be considerate and to love learning.

It can be hard working in a nursing home, because the staff is 90% female, and there's always someone pregnant working there. Right now there are three. It can be hard hearing the same questions over and over again - "You've been married for 6 years and no kids yet?" or "How old are you? 29? And no kids so far? Do you not like them?". It's really hard when there's someone like "Calliope" who has 3 children at home and just lost her job for showing up at work high on meth.

I haven't always known I wanted to get married, or work in any particular field, or be vegan, or any of the other things I do right now. But I've always known I wanted to be a mother.

And I think about it often.

PS New readers - I do intend to have children some day, but it's complicated because Mr. Polly has Cystic Fibrosis. Google it if you're curious, or visit www.cff.org for more information.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 2: Last Movie I saw in the Theater

The last movie I saw was Thor. Hazards of being married into the comic book business, right? Although I missed out on Captain America and am not planning on going to Conan, either.

Thor was pretty good! I liked his character, I freaking LOVED the Rainbow Road (me and the Bestie that lives far, far away are wishing we had one so we could pop in and visit one another) and I thought the Frost Giants were pretty awesome. Natalie Portman was decent, the actor that played Thor was handsome and funny.

All in all, thumbs up.

Man, writing about movies on here makes me miss Bev (the little old lady I used to take to a movie every week). Do yourself a favor and click on the tag at the end of this post that says "movie reviews" to find out what Bev thought about Eclipse: The Twilight Saga and Dinner for Schmucks. She was so, so great. I miss her! She's dead, and if I weren't protecting her privacy, I'd link to her obituary - it's very, very sweet.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 1: First Crush

1 - Write about your first crush. Who was it? Do you still talk to them?

My first crush (you'll remember this one, Dad) was my neighbor Brennan. He lived a few houses down the street, and I was friends with his big sister too. He and I were inseperable; he'd come over in the mornings sometimes to watch cartoons and eat cereal and yogurt with me before school. We went to preschool together, and kindergarten too. We used to sneak out over his back fence and play in the abandoned, crumbling barn that was slowly sinking into the wetlands behind our street - we thought it was the coolest thing in the world. One time we decided to make a parachute by taking a sheet and holding all four corners of it, then jumping out the 2nd story window ... luckily we tested it by jumping off the top bunk of his bed first and realized it didn't work. We used to tell everyone we were going to get married when we got old enough. Like 12 or so.

When we got older, we went to different schools but still played together in the afternoons. At some point his family moved away, but near enough that we still got together fairly often, but that was when we were at the age where boys and girls aren't usually friends so I spent more time with his sister. In high school he did some things I disliked and that freaked me out, and I told him he had gotten mean and I was disappointed in how he was turning out. We haven't really talked since. I keep in touch with his sister, but not him. I'm sure he's probably over that phase now, and is a decent guy and all, but he probably didn't like being judged by me back then (I don't blame him for that) and so he's probably not a big fan of me.

And no, we didn't get married at 12. Or ever!

A Shorter Blog Challenge

I liked doing that other challenge that went around earlier this year (even though I totally didn't finish it in 30 days). So why not do another one?

10 Day Blog Challenge (source: HeckYeahTumblrChallenges)
1 - Write about your first crush. Who was it? Do you still talk to them?

2 - What was the last movie you saw in theatres?

3 - What’s something you think of all the time, but never say out loud?

4 - Do you have a job? If you do, what is it and do you like it? If not, what job would you like to have?

5 - What’s in your bed right now? Take a picture of your bed.

6 - What’s a picture of yourself that not a lot of people have seen?

7 - What’s something you don’t usually blog about?

8 - Who’s someone that you used to be really close to, but you’re not anymore?

9 - What’s something you worry about for the future?

10 - Do you play any sports?

Anyone want to join me for this one?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cooking every night? Just crazy enough to work.

I've been making an effort to cook healthy, especially things from my new favorite cookbook, "Appetite for Reduction". So far, everything I've made out of there has been a winner. This is saying something! I'm one of those people who writes in my cookbooks, so I can remember what I thought of a recipe or adjustments I think would improve it. I forgot that I did this until I lent out my copy of "Deceptively Delicous" (that one Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote where you puree fruits and vegetables and sneak them into everything under the sun) where I'd written "NOT GOOD. Tastes like wet bread. Not enough marshmallows in the world to save this." on her coffeecake recipe. This was before I was vegan. Anyway, my lucky friend Jessica knew not to try that recipe, for sure.

Now I've traded in this

for this

I bought a huge amount of "great northern white beans" (aka those white beans that are bigger than navy beans) from the bulk section of my grocery store the other day, and cooked up a gigantic pot of them. I usually make hummus out of them, since they puree up easier than chickpeas and I like them that way. I got a really easy recipe for that online, and I go by it, basically, adding or subtracting whatever I feel like. Here it is, if you're interested:

Take about 3 cups white beans, 1 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, a few shakes of thyme, 3 TB olive oil and 2 TB lemon juice, and 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced. Puree that in your blender or food processor, adding warm water as you need it to make it smoother. Usually 1/4-1/2 cups of it.

pretty easy!

Anyway, I've been coming up with ways to use all these cooked beans, now, and there's a great recipe for Pasta e Fagoli in Appetite for Reduction. I tried it out and took some pictures.

It starts with a pretty basic tomato sauce (I even found some old sherry cooking wine in my cupboard, so I did it like a big girl instead of with vegetable broth like usual - score!).

I picked tricolor shells from (natch) the bulk section for my pasta.

Added the beans to the sauce ...

and when everything was cooked, mixed it all together with a bunch of spinach while the sauce was still hot enough to wilt the greens. Hooray!

Very good, and it's got everything all in one bowl, which is awesome. Less packing for me in the morning. I'm one of those dorks that literally packs a lunchbox for work. And it's a pink one, too. I usually bring some leftovers from the night before and some fruit. I might be one of the only people in the world that works in a nursing home and actually still likes and eats applesauce. I even pack it in my lunches sometimes. Even now that I sometimes give people meds crushed into it.

Me and my applesauce are freaky like that. And me and my kitchen are BFF these days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oh, yeah, you're so special.

Right after I go on about how happy and pleasant I am, here I am hopping on my computer to rant about a new employee at the GreatRep. Already, I'm a little iffy about the activities department. You might remember a while back about how I had a run-in with a homophobic employee who used hand gestures to demonstrate how she thought gay sex "doesn't work" and that the best she can hope for the gays is to "hate the sin but love the sinner"? And you might remember how I went over this person's head and discussed it with her bosses, who let her know that it will never, ever happen again. Ever.

Anyway, said idiot is in charge of the activities department and has hired some real winners in the past. Looks like she's done it again. She hired a delicate flower named "Daisy" who is home on summer break from college. Daisy's aunt has volunteered at the GreatRep for years and wants her to work at the GreatRep for a month to get "life experience". Daisy is one of those people I just want to throttle. Why? Because I hate it when people say they can't work with elderly, sick or disabled people because it's sooooooooo sad. Screw that.

What, you're so terribly amazingly compassionate that you can't find it within yourself to do anything to help these people that your heart is bleeding buckets for? You're so fragile and sensitive that your feelings of boo-hooing are more important than doing your damn job? BS.

If you don't want to work in dementia because it's hard, underpaid, involves bodily fluids and very rude people, or it's just plain not your thing? That's FINE. But don't insult all the residents and employees by saying that you're somehow too compassionate to do this job.

It makes it sound like you think the only way the rest of us could be doing this work is by not caring at all. And that's not the case. It makes it sound like you think being old, sick, or disabled is the worst thing in the world and they have no quality of life and should all just die, apparently, because what do they have to live for and why would anyone spend their time helping them live?

And to top it all off, Daisy confesses that she's "terrified" of this place, after watching a caregiver transfer someone with a sit-to-stand. Really? You find moving someone from one chair to another terrifying? Stay far away from children's birthday parties, then. They might play musical chairs, and you'll have an aneurysm.

Daisy, I hope you don't even last the one month you're slated to be here. You're disrespectful of everyone in that building and you just don't get it and if you come up to me looking like someone had a stroke and is dying and then all you want is to say tremulously "Ummm... Millie says... she needs to use the bathroom??" I might have to slap you.

I hope you're going to college for something with no human interaction necessary.

Friday, August 5, 2011

And on my day off, I talk about ... me!

I've got several friends right now who are online dating, and one who just married a man she met that way. One of these friends is very, very smart and keeps an interesting blog about her process of going from newly-divorced to dating at: Struck by Lightning 2.0. Her recent post about statistics reminded me that she'd previously linked to a really interesting site where you can participate in positive psychology research by taking some inventory questionnaires about your own happiness: Authentic Happiness Tests.

I generally score pretty high on happiness, which probably won't surprise those of you that know me or read this blog regularly. Even though there are some really difficult aspects of my life, on a day-to-day basis I'm very happy. I love Mr. Polly tremendously and have a great time with him, I feel that I'm doing the sort of work I'm meant to do and that I'm taking steps toward being where I want to be (in nursing school), I love the town I live in, and have good friendships. I do have some troubled family relationships at time, worry about Mr. Polly's disease, and am constantly frustrated by our neverending medical debt. But overall I feel that most of that is something we can overcome.

But my positive psychology scores aren't really the stuff I'd put on a dating profile, or anything that I lead with when I meet new people. I just took a Briggs-Myers test again and scored as an ISFJ (Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging) type. Apparently I'm a Guardian Protector type. I don't know if my reserve is actually very obvious to others, but I feel it. I've been at my current facility for 6 months and, although I like a lot of my coworkers, I only have the phone number of one of them, and he's the only one I've considered socializing with outside of work so far. I've gently turned down other invitations because I just don't know if it's worth it to me since nursing homes are often such little drama hotbeds. So I wait a long time to see if I hear someone gossiping or being a jerk before I decide if I want to hang out with them. That's pretty reserved, I know, and sometimes I wish I were less so. But I'm cautious that way.

One of my friends that's online dating has her type on her profile (INFP) so maybe that's a decent way to give someone a shorthand of who you are. I'm partly thinking about this because down the road I foresee some "I want to be a nurse because" essays in my future for scholarships. And no one wants to read "because I want to help people" over and over again. So I could say "because I 'have an extraordinary sense of loyalty and responsibility in [my] makeup, and seem fulfilled in the degree [I] can shield others from the dirt and dangers of the world' but also because I find it funny when old ladies come up and try to hand me a handful of poop and I can look at a stage 4 tunneling wound (and smell it) without vomiting. Give me some money for education!"

That'll go over well, don't you think?

Or "Our premarital counselor told me that even though I seem sweet as can be, I'm secretly made of cast iron."

On second thought, it's a good thing I have a long time to work on these pitches, and it's a really good thing I'm not trying to find a husband online. Although, wealthy gentlemen of the world, if you are reading this right now and thinking "I wish I could marry Polly and pay her way through school then let her divorce me and remarry her own Mister" send me a comment and we'll talk. This applies to well-to-do ladies living in states where gay marriage is legal as well, of course.

Maybe this blog is the best scholarship app/personal ad ever in life. Ha.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Codger Whisperer

Just got home from my shift with the combative ex-alcoholic that lives at the CrapDorable facility that I used to work at and hated. Whew!

Let me tell you, walking into a place, saying "I'm here to pick up Mr. Codger for his doctor's appointment" and hearing "Ohhh, yeah, he's in a really bad mood. He was out here in the lobby but they took him back to his room to use the bathroom because he can't use the main one." (??) That's not how you want to greet any outside providers that come into your facility. If I hadn't known what I was getting into, I'd have been tempted to walk right back out.

The receptionist remembered me from my brief and hellish stint there months ago, and gave me her key so I could go find Mr. C myself. Which I did. Sitting in his wheelchair in his room with 2 aides trying to pee in a urinal & yelling at us all to get the hell out. I grabbed the paperwork I needed from his room and did so, waiting out in the hallway to work on it there. After his urination, Mr. C seemed in a better mood, and he and I sat in the lobby of the CrapDorable facility chatting while we waited for Dial-A-Lift to come pick us up (you know, those bus system buses that will take you door-to-door if you're disabled and have a wheelchair lift on them). Bus came, we went, he crabbed the whole way there. Arrived, read to him from a travel magazine in the lobby (his favorite topic) and got him all cheerful and pleasant for his appointment.

Then the doctor, who looked to be my age or younger, walked in. And told Mr. C he was there to consult on whether or not to remove his toe. OMG. They pulled out the offending toe, and I'm no expert but it looked like a good candidate for removal to me; lots of necrotic black flesh, and ooze, and bleeding. Yuck. Apparently Mr. C didn't have any pain from it though. Then came the awesome part, in which the doc said we needed to transfer Mr. C to the exam bench, Mr. C refused, the doc seemed completely unaware that his patient had dementia, and I pulled the MA and the MD out into the hall.

"Look, I just met this guy today, but I picked him up from a dementia care facility. He has dementia. He also gets physically and verbally combative. He is a 2-person transfer and can't walk or really bear weight. So we can transfer him if it's absolutely necessary, but he may not like it."

They came back in, we tried, Mr. C grabbed on to his wheelchair, refused, and started swearing at us all. At this point, I figured we were just going to have to do it anyway, but the MD backed down and said never mind, even though he was supposed to be examining the codger in other areas for cancer. Some people might consider follow up to a biopsy a little bit IMPORTANT.

Instead, he chickened out and said "Uh... well, we won't make any decisions about that surgery, and I'll have you come back in 3 weeks so we can take another look at that toe." and he and the MA rushed us out of there as fast as possible.

Sheesh. So the codger just spent a bunch of money for this appt. plus someone to shepherd him there and back, and all he got was a clean dressing for his horrible toe. Great.

We then had a half hour to kill before our ride back to the CrapDorable, so I chatted and read to the codger until then. He freaking loved me. Just not anyone or anything else, today, unfortunately.

I brought him into the facility with an admonishment to behave ("I find it difficult when you aren't here, dear") and watch his language, and then set about coordinating his follow up appt. I told the homecare agency CareCo that I'm happy to take him BUT
1. He needs to be premedicated, because clearly dermatologists are afraid of pissy old men who swear at them. If he gets premedicated, he probably won't do that.
2. I want CareCo to call ahead to the doctor's appt. and make sure the physician understands what's happening and what needs to be done.

Jeez, people. How scary can one wheelchair bound old man be?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Phoned it in, in a positive sense

Yep, that's right, I called Child Protective Services about my ex-coworker Calliope. They do prefer that you be able to give them your name and number, and the names/ages of the children you're calling about, as well as the parents' names and address. Luckily for me (as an abuse reporter, not as a taxpayer) Calliope's family is on "medical assistance" (ie her husband's on disability) so the person I spoke with was able to pull up her address easily. Since I haven't witnessed any direct child abuse, all I could report is that she is clearly a meth addict, and I know for 100% certain that she drives while intoxicated, both with and without her kids in the car.

As the case worker I talked to said, that's not enough for them to go and investigate the family. However, when something else inevitably happens, this will go a long way toward building a case for intervention. No one can be an adequate parent and a meth addict at the same time. I'm just so sorry for those kids that they have to wait for someone else to call it in again. I hope their teachers are being alert for signs of abuse and neglect.

As a reminder, if you have any reason to suspect child abuse or neglect in any kids you encounter, a national number is 1-800-4-A-Child and you can easily find the local numbers with google. If you're wrong, nothing bad will happen. No one goes and snatches kids away for no reason; they don't have the resources for that, for one thing. At worst, they'll do a check-in and find that everything's okay, and the family will be puzzled. At best, they'll do a check-in, find that things are not okay, and those kids will get the help they need.

The current trend with child welfare services is toward "family preservation". The goal is to give malfunctioning families support services (counseling, food stamps, respite care, medical care, etc.) in order to rehabilitate them and get them to be a decent place for their children to live. Even the agency I used to work at (theraputic group home for teen boys with multiple failed foster care placements) provides preservation counseling/coaching. It's pretty cool. Especially with the lack of people who want to foster parent. It's hopefully easier to fix the parents that already exist than to find new ones.

I guess we'll know in a few more years after the next batch of longitudinal studies come out.

In the meantime, screw you, Calliope. I hope your kids have other caring adults in their lives.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Um, what??

First, my favorite thing a resident said to me today:

I was at my cart getting meds out for the dinnertime pass when Wendy sidled up to me and quietly asked "So, have they reserved a rope and a tree for me yet?" I immediately burst out laughing and asked her where that question came from, to which she replied "I don't know, I just thought it up." and laughed as well.

Secondly, this is a note to myself:

Before accepting home care shifts, ASK A FEW QUESTIONS! I agreed to chaperon some dude to his doctor's appt via the local bus system's Dial-a-Lift on Monday. Then I got home and read the plan of care and ...
a) he lives at the CrapDorable place I used to work at briefly! Oh no. I hate that place. And the staff there, if they haven't all turned over by now, know it. So that's awkward.
b) his plan of care makes him sound like a freaking nightmare. Recovering alcoholic, combative toward staff at the crapdorable facility he lives at, multiple divorces ("DO NOT DISCUSS SPOUSES WITH CLIENT") and has threatened to kill his adult child and said child's spouse ("if this comes up, caregiver to redirect"). Oh my lord, this is going to be the longest few hours of my life.
c) he's wheelchair bound (hence the dial-a-lift) and apparently continent but is a 2 person transfer. So should he get the urge to go to the bathroom during the 4 or so hours I have him, I have to tell him ... what? "I hope you just have to pee, here's a big gulp cup you can use for a urinal." "Go ahead! All wheelchairs are destined to be pooped in anyway." "Let's see if I can get the nice receptionist to help me transfer you." Plus, given the quality of care at the crapdorable facility, chances that he'll be recently toileted and ready to go when I arrive are slim to none.

So, yeah. Polly, in the future, ask questions, you dumbass!

but yeah, I'm too broke right now to cancel this shift, so I'll just be crossing my fingers and counting my money in my head while I'm doing this terrible job

Monday, July 25, 2011

And then my night went off the rails...

I was all set for work today; I went to bed early last night and slept in late today, so I was finally rested for the first time in days. I showered, did my hair, watched the news.

And then I got to work and one of the two coworkers I was sharing the wing of the facility with was clearly high out of her damn mind. Ugh. She's been showing symptoms of drug use for a while now, and one of our charge nurses has been trying to figure out how to get her in for a drug test. This coworker, "Calliope" (her real first name is weird too) is always screwy after our paydays, then exhausted in between them.

Today it was just beyond obvious. A few of our more alert residents asked what was wrong with her, even. She was twitching, scratching, chewing on her lips, forgetting what she was doing mid-action, dropping things, smelled like burning ass and hair, and then to top it all off she fell asleep at the table when she was supposed to be feeding a resident. Dude. That's horrible. Let's pause to think about that and take a look at some faces of meth, shall we?

So my poor charge nurse got the honors of being the one to say "Hey, you need to leave right now. Don't come back until you have a clean UA. Here's the paperwork for that." Chances of that ever happening? Very, very slim. I'd be kind of surprised if she ever shows up at the facility again. But you never know. I think we should have taken her keys, but whatever.

So then after all that delightful excitement, me and my remaining sober coworker had 3.5 hours to give 5 showers and put 30 people to bed. Awesome. Thanks to other sober coworkers from the other wing who hurried over to help, we got it done.

And I'll be coming in to cover Calliope's shift tomorrow, I'm sure.

Here's the part where I need advice, dear readers: I want to call child protective services, because Calliope has three kiddos under the age of six. And it's not their fault that their Mom is a mess. Another sober coworker lives in the same neighborhood as Calliope and has seen her husband out and about, and reports that he seems to have a drug problem too. I don't have Calliope's home address or recall her children's names. I miiiiiiiight be able to get that from work, though probably not without breaking some rules. Which would be worth it, because there's no freaking way that these people are decent parents.

What info do I need to have before I call CPS? Is there another agency/route I should try instead or along with this?

Tell me, what have you all done in that kind of situation?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I wear a lot of hats. Today, literally.

The funny thing about working as a med aide at my facility is that I do a lot more "side work" (as it used to be called when I worked at Denny's back in the day) than I ever anticipated. My primary job is, and always will be, to complete my 3 med passes per day. But in addition to that, I basically fill in any gaps that need filling. I take phone calls from irritated family members who for whatever reason would rather talk to me than the nurse. I handle all the non-prescription type treatments that need to be done in a day (anti-itch lotion on one lady, mouthwash at a certain time of day for another, etc.). When the caregivers can't get a resident to do something, they ask me to do it. When the nurse can't get a resident to take their meds, they have me try it. And when, like today, someone calls out and we're understaffed, I run around like mad trying to get as much done as possible while still medicating all my old folks.

My notes to myself, on days like today, probably look like I'm delusional.

"Violet can't figure out chair - get urine?" then "UA neg. watch for more hallucinations. No bears this time."

"Confiscated several forks from Sally's pocket. ↑ Aggressive?"

"Spoke with Mildred's granddaughter via telephone from 0930-0950. Same old crap."

"Velma requests I cancel her flight to Copenhagen. Give her paper and pen for anxiety?"

"Beth finished her antibiotics. No luck. Still a mess! Is it her birthday?"

Luckily for me I don't have to file these notes. I distill them into something coherent and get others to follow up on what I actually meant by all that.

Today my main "side work" was to do something we call 'out to lunch bunch' which I think is pretty ironic given that it's a dementia facility. They're ALL out to lunch, permanently, right?

But anyway, now that it's nice weather out, we take a small group (who're able to and will enjoy it) out to the courtyard for lunch every day. Since the rest of the staff is serving/feeding/cueing in the main dining rooms, what the med aid does is start noon pass a little early, then go outside with a cart of food and beverages and serve the meal to the lucky bunch.

It's actually really pleasant, and a lot of the residents do really well out there; they like being outdoors, it's quieter, a smaller group, and I have time to really sit and talk with them as I help them eat their meals. Pretty sweet. The cutest part is that, in addition to sunscreen, we've got all these big floppy sun hats with fake flowers on them (the population is about 97% female at my facility) to also help protect them from the sun. Yesterday one of the ladies didn't want to wear her hat, but she really, really wanted me to. So I did. And when I popped inside to pick up some more milk, my coworkers threatened to take my picture in the hat and post it all around the facility. And the internet. And in our facility newsletter. So I wore one again today, just to teach them all what cool really is.

It's pretty much this:

There. Now you know what cool is, too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye, days off

I had a meeting at the college with my new advisor to put together an educational plan. This was necessary because some genius thought I could finish all my prereqs in 2 quarters instead of 3, and even if I did max out my aid and do 18 credits per quarter, I still wouldn't finish them all. Sheesh. So I had to submit a plan showing that it is indeed going to take me 3 quarters.

My schedule for fall quarter is to take chem, bio, and first aid. 12 credits total. And work full time. School Mon-Thurs, one evening shift after school (1400-2200). And then three 10 hour days Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays over at the Great Rep. Wash and repeat for the next three months.

I can do this. I will do this.

Winter quarter will be much the same.

Spring quarter, I really need to try to work less because I'm taking 15 credits, and my advisor recommended against me taking two of the classes I plan on taking simultaneously. She's concerned about the workload causing me to get bad grades. But I don't have a choice, I don't have unlimited time on this tuition waiver and who knows if I'll ever get a chance like that again. So I figure some time before spring quarter we'll have to figure out another source of income so I can cut back and work part time.

I know I can make it work. I worked 2-3 jobs simultaneously for almost a year in order to keep us afloat long enough to buy our comic book store. I had to schedule my sleep in blocks between jobs. And I did it. I've been through school before, and I'm comfortable enough at the GreatRep that it doesn't take a lot of mental energy now for me to make it through my shifts there. I'm tough. I'm not afraid to work hard. I'm just afraid of failure.

Pardon me while I go get my teddy bear...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Butt-Sized Bra and other stuff

Things have been pretty busy over at the GreatRep, what with activities department people quitting by pulling the ever-popular no call/no show, and caregivers getting pregnant and then never staying through a shift. I laughed and laughed when one of my charge nurses got snippy about that, saying "I worked here throughout both of my pregnancies. I've vomited in almost every room in this building! She needs to get her butt in gear and work through it because this illness? Is SELF INFLICTED!"

So we're all pulling extra shifts down there to try to keep it running smoothly enough until we can get more staff hired. And I'm tired, but I still like my job.

Highlights of my week: I have this resident, Mildred, whose children do not speak to her. I don't know why, I assume she did something to them to make them dislike her back before the dementia, and she's certainly a handful now. I genuinely like Mildred and find her funny, which is lucky, because as one of the two Med Aides at my facility, it falls to us to help Mildred wash her panniculus daily. Panniculus is a fancy word for "apron fold" or, less politely "big belly that hangs down enough to make a crevice that gets ouchy unless kept clean and dry at all times". Mildred's Granddaughter is a huge pain, and refuses to get her Grandma any new clothing that is the correct size for Mildred and her panniculus to fit into. So I'm at Goodwill the other day, looking for scrubs (found a cute pink top, too!) and I see a GINORMOUS bra there. Big enough that I could almost fit my butt into one of the cups. Perfect for Mildred! So I spent the $2.99, bought it, embroidered her name onto it, and brought it into work. Then, not wanting the buttsized bra to fall victim to our industrial washing machines, I wrote the following note, complete with illustrations of the bra, and taped it into Mildred's closet:

"Attention Caregivers! I got lucky and found a Mildred-Sized bra at the Goodwill. Let's only wash it on shower days so that the hooks can survive longer; I bet I won't find another one this big at Goodwill again. Thanks, Polly"

So hopefully it'll survive and Mildred will start being a little more ... contained. By her garments. Speaking of which, if anyone has maternity pants with those giant elastic waistbands, size 18-ish? Send 'em along. I'll embroider those with her name too, and then she'll be comfy and modest, both of which would be a welcome change to all of us over at the GreatRep.

Then the very very best part of my week was that the visiting wound care nurse came, and very enthusiastically showed me the pressure sore she's treating on another one of our residents, and the stuff she's using to treat it, and all sorts of awesomely disgusting and wonderful things! I told Mr. Polly about this, and his response was "There's such a thing as a wound care nurse? Why aren't you that? You would be in heaven. You should go be that." And he's right. I frickin' love that stuff. I googled the Tree Man (have you?) and am fascinated by burn treatments, weird rashes, deep pressure sores, etc. We don't get much of that at the GreatRep because really, there's no excuse for our residents to be developing pressure sores that get beyond a stage 2.

The wound care nurse was in for a lady whose pressure sore got deeper than we'd have ever let it get because she had MRSA. Not because we didn't position her correctly, or use cushions, or any of the other stuff we did. Just so you know.

So much as I'd like to see pressure ulcers that go down to the bone, and wound-vacs, and tunneling wounds... where I work isn't the place to get all that.

But I looooooooove when the wound care nurses come in!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This Place about to Blow

Work has been fairly humdrum lately. I still like passing the meds, and still don't like doing the caregiving as much. It's just so hard, and always such a time crunch. One of my favorite old ladies has been a real handful lately; her arthritis has gotten so bad she has a hard time walking but she just hates to let any of us physically help her up or down and will holler and swat us away. I had her on my assignment last night, when I was working as a caregiver, and I just kept telling her "Mama, I know you're used to doing things for yourself, but your arthritis has gotten too bad for that now. You need to let me help you, and I need you not to yell. I want to take care of you." She seemed relieved. She was cooperative. I love that crazy old nut.

The hardest part of my day is the 5pm med pass, because they're starting to sundown at that point. If I can stay focused and not get pulled away from my tasks, I can finish and get out of there at 5:30 like I'm supposed to. If I get interrupted a lot (by, say, a coworker yelling "Polly! Help in here!" because a resident suddenly decided the shower was a no-go and is attempting to RUN out of the room completely naked without her walker) I don't make it out the door before they finish their meal. And from 5:45-7pm pretty much all of them walk around going "Where am I? How do I get out of here? When am I going home?" and riling each other up. It's a stressful time of day. I often get the Ke$ha song "Blow" stuck in my head on those days. Speaking of which, have you seen the music video? It's AWESOME; so funny and so weird.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ha HA! Triumph!

I'm so on top of this whole going-back-to-school thing, I'm giving my nightmares bad dreams; no more anxiety dreams here! I'm kicking ass, taking names, and chewing bubblegum all at the same time.

This whole being poor thing? Not so bad when it comes to financial aid. I am getting a FULL TUITION WAIVER at the community college for the next 3 quarters! Plus $250 for books each quarter. Yessssss!

This means that I'm planning to take 10 credits per quarter and haven't figured out how much work that means I'll do. If I can afford to cut back to working 3 10-hour shifts, I'll do that. If not, I'm gonna have to keep working full time, since my awesome financial aid does nothing to help me pay rent or get food to eat.

Nonetheless, I'm very, very excited. It's looking like I have about a year's worth of prereqs to do before I can apply to the Accelerated BSN program at my state's university. So I'm going to need to get myself some very good grades in chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and the like.

I can't wait to get back to school. I frickin' love science. And science classes. I'm so excited!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dreaming about pills

I think my subconscious is getting anxious about going back to school in the fall. Or maybe just about my upcoming meeting with the advising person who'll look over my past transcripts and tell me which classes I need to take, which should then give me a rough estimate of how long I'll be at community college before I can apply to nursing school.

Last night my anxiety dreams were:

1. I'm enrolled at a med aide course at the community college, complete with practice med carts. I'm aware that I'm not supposed to pop the pills for all of the patients ahead of time, but since I don't know these patients I'm afraid I'll run out of time and do it anyway. The entire bottom drawer of my cart is filled with painstakingly organized little med cups with the correct dosages of pills for my med pass. And then I run it down a couple of stairs and when I open it I've got a huge mess of pills all out of the cups and it's going to take me HOURS to sort them all out so that I get the right ones to the right people.

2. One of our family friends that's just finished her freshman year in college is complaining of butt pain, so I offer to take a look at it and discover a huge stage 3 pressure sore on her butt cheek. I decide to measure it by pouring water in it to check the fluid volume of it and she screams in pain. ACK!

Yeah, not very realistic, are they? Anyway, at least it was easy to realize they were just dreams when I woke up.

My meeting with advising is next week, so I need to go tally up which subjects I have credits in from my first go-round at school. In real life, I'm very excited to go back to school, and have gotten some hopeful news about financial aid. If I can afford to, I'll go to school full-time and cut back on my work schedule. That way I can get my prereqs done more quickly and start applying to nursing schools.

If not, then I'll keep working full-time and go to school as much as I'm able to. Either way, it'll be me taking steps in the right direction!

Friday, June 17, 2011

How To Make Polly Mad

Here's some useful tips brought to you by people I dealt with today. Many were really good at pissing me off, so let's all learn from their expertise:

1. Management
Got a daycare resident with a very annoying specific fixation on another resident who gets combative and will kick doors for hours when you try to redirect him so he doesn't get punched by the object of his obsession? Move him in! Make sure not to have a plan in place to prevent problems so the whole joint can come to a grinding halt thanks to one person. Bonus points if they don't have orders for Ativan!

2. Coworkers
Keep saying "sorry!" and then grabbing my back and muffin top while I'm crouched down trying to put someone's stiff, heavy legs onto their wheelchair footrests. Not at all annoying go me or dangerous for my fingers. How did you know I was dying to be groped by a woman 15 years my senior at 0715? My favorite morning activity! And yes, please put your sweaty head on me while I parcel out meds and ask "is it time to go home yet?" over and over.

3. Residents
Keep pretending to be nearly deaf so you think you have an excuse to scream at me and everyone else. We'll never figure it out when you magically hear your name said in a normal tone of voice 10 feet away. I love having you grab my arm, drag my poor head near yours, and having you yell "WHAT?!? SAY IT SO I CAN HEAR YA FOR GOD'S SAKE!!" over and over.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gotten Spoiled

Now that I do three 10-hour shifts weekly as a med aide, I typically just do one caregiver shift per week in order to stay full-time at my facility. This week I'm doing two, since I covered for one of my least favorite coworkers on Monday while she got all her top teeth pulled out.

Sidenote: a surprising number of my coworkers wear dentures. And the ones that do all smoke and have all been very poor their whole lives. Lesson? If you cannot afford routine dental care, don't spend your money on cigarrettes. I just went to the dentist for the first time in years and I had a couple of cavities but I'm keeping all my teeth. And I don't smoke.

Back to my original point, though, which is that I'm feeling sorry for myself for working 2 regular CNA shifts this week instead of just 1. I've gotten spoiled really fast, apparently, and would much rather pass meds than wrestle people into attending meals, using the bathroom, and going to bed. Also, I'm noticing more and more that the way evening shifts are structured is really not conducive to teamwork. Since one person must "watch the floor" ( meaning be out in the common areas to prevent falls, elopements, and altercations) and our dinner breaks go from 6pm-7:30pm, during that time whoever is doing care in the bathroom or a resident's room is on their own. One coworker is on break and the other is watching the floor. Not handy at all!

So, poor me, I've got to get ready for work now. Happily, my Certification raise should kick in today!