When I was a little girl, I used to play nurse with my stuffed animals. I never believed that there would actually be a time when I could carve room out of my busy life to go to nursing school.
But here I am, in nursing school. I just finished my block one clinical assignment at a Long Term Care Facility. So no, I am not a nurse (yet), but I played one at a LTC.
I had the privilege to be assigned to a patient who lived in this facility. I was there because I had to be; I needed the experience, and a good grade. I was not sure how I felt about this assignment going in. Now, I would not trade it.
My duties included waking her up, and helping her into her wheel chair. I would then encourage her to do as much as she could for herself; while she and I washed her face and hands. I then helped her to the bathroom and get dressed for the day.
I chatted to her while we were getting ready, and pushed her chair to the dining area for breakfast. Once I pulled her wheel chair up to her favorite spot-at a table with her friends- I went in search of her ticket. The ticket had her name on it, and gave her choices of meal items that were within her allowed diet.
I helped her order her breakfast. She did not need too much help with that, but she did need to be encouraged to eat her food. So I sat near her, and when she forgot that she was eating; I reminded her. I made sure that she drank all of her juice, milk and coffee. I was satisfied only when she had eaten most of her food, and told me that she was full. Then we went to her room to wait until it was time to take her to play Bingo.
I was able to give my patient her medications under the supervision of my instructor, and then I did her physical assessment which I actually get graded on.
Once the assessment was over, I sat face to face at eye level with my new friend, and asked her some questions about her life.
She told me that she was an educated woman. She completed the 8th grade. Soon after she completed the 8th grade; she and a certain boy kissed each other. When their parents found out, they decided that the two young uns were to marry. It was decided that these two would get along just fine, and that getting married would keep them out of trouble. The marriage lasted 60 years-until his death-and she misses him very much.
I asked her if she had any advice for those of us who would like to have a long and happy marriage. She clasped her hands together and rested her chin on them. She looked at me and said “Whatever made me happy, made him happy. He was older than me and very patient. I truly felt his love, I was grateful, so I then learned to give the same back. Whatever made him happy, made me happy” I said “and what else?” She shrugged her shoulders and said “that is about it” and she smiled. She did say that she was very lucky because “he was a real peach”.
We went to play bingo, and then back to the dining hall; to make sure that she ate lunch. It took longer, and I had to help feed her because she was tired now. Her medications had kicked in. I had to keep waking her up, and put the spoon to her mouth; being careful to make sure that she swallowed her food.
Once she finished; I wheeled her to her room, and helped her into bed. As I helped her “cuddle up just right” she said to me “I am very lucky because you are a peach” I was fighting back the lump in my throat when she said “Will you come back and visit me again soon?” I told her that I would.
When I left the care center that afternoon, I knew that my “required” time here was done. I had received the grade that I wanted and there was no need for me to return. But I remembered my little lady, and thought about the silly words that “The Terminator” says-
I’ll be back.