Friday, October 17, 2014

I don't have TB, and other good news.


Finally, I'm not tired!I slept eleven hours last night––really slept, didn't just lie there worrying about my new job. I woke up at 6:30 AM, refreshed.

I'm starting to trust that things are going well at work.

Yesterday we water colored pictures of pumpkins.  This one here was the only round and orange one. It's cheeriness, I think, is accidental, but I like it a lot. 

[Me (to resident who usually wears pants): You look lovely--you're wearing a skirt today.
She: It was an accident. ]

The woman who painted the cheery pumpkin paints like a careful child. She's the most well-intentioned of the people on second floor--always offering to help me do the dishes or move furniture.

"It's better than sitting around doing nothing," she told me.


Boredom is a real problem, I see: it's as if people with Alzheimer's have lost their start switch. If someone else (me) starts a project, they get going, many of them; otherwise they are often lightly agitated but inactive, like moored boats.

Already coworkers, family members, and the residents themselves have let me know they're very happy, even relieved, I'm there. 
One coworkers told me that the activities assistant before me didn't do anything, which is weird, because when people can't rely on words, communication becomes all about actions, including simple touching and looking.

I try to start and end each of our activities by gently touching each person's arm (if it seems welcome), looking them in the eye, and saying I'm glad they're there.
Though, in fact, activities don't usually have discrete beginnings and endings--one thing flows into another, so I have to remember to tuck that acknowledgement in, here and there.

Like finding a nurse to give me the Mantoux test for TB--they are here and there, out and about on the floors, but finally I coordinated with one, got injected, and the result is negative, which relieved me.

The nurse seemed surprised I would be worried about it.
"Do you live with someone infected who coughs on you?"

"No," I said, "but I live in a crowded neighborhood with lots of people from other countries, and I ride the city bus, and that feels like a big Petri dish."

She laughed and agreed.


At the end of my shift yesterday, my boss mentioned that one family member (f.m.) complains to her that when f.m. calls her mother from across the country, her mother tells her she's done nothing all day. 

The f.m. doesn't factor in that her mother forgets what she's done five minutes after she's done it. 

It just so happens I'd taken a photo of her mother and me, out on a walk in yesterday's weirdly warm weather. I sent it to my boss to forward to the daughter--maybe it'll comfort her.
Here it is, cropped for privacy. >
The full-size shows her grinning mother holding up autumn leaves.


Other good news--my sanitation book is getting great reviews, which makes me happy. One blogger wrote, "It’s like a lite version of a Mary Roach book!
(I haven't read any, but Roach writes popular science books, such as Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.

It makes me happy partly because my brain is far away from words in my new work. Once I'm not so wiped out by it, I'd like to write more in depth about what I'm seeing. Or not. I could just keep jotting impressions down here.


deanna said...

This picture of you says a lot; this job seems to be a very good fit.

Glad to hear you got a full night's sleep! That can make the difference.

And your sanitation book -- yes!! It deserves good reviews. I don't know why, but it comes up in conversation with friends somewhat often: "I have a friend who wrote a book about toilets, and it's great." Interesting, huh?

Zhoen said...

In nursing school, I heard a story of a severely demented woman, who loved to fold towels. So, they'd give her a big basket of towels to fold. When she was done, they'd take it away, rumple them up, and bring her the same towels to fold. Kept her busy and contented all day.

Boredom gets us all, really. Having something to do is wonderful. Hell is nothing to do. Ever.

Fresca said...

DEANNA: Funny what one becomes "famous" for, eh? :)

ZHOEN: Hey, that's just what I did today: brought the residents the same pieces of fabric to fold, and indeed they were very content and even happy.

Zhoen said...

Mary Roach is very much worth reading.