I signed up for a CNA course when I was 26. I had only stopped going to therapy a few months prior to this.
It’s one of the best things that I have ever done.
At the time, I was feeling so small and insignificant. The world was too big to live in. Nothing mattered to me. I didn’t want to try anything at all. I thought, why try when the world doesn’t care one way or the other? Why try, when I don’t care either?
That’s how I felt then. The CNA training changed everything.
I was around residents who needed basic assistance. They were thankful when I opened their bedroom windows, because they couldn’t get out of bed to do it themselves. They were happy when I remembered that they preferred apple juice over orange juice. They were grateful when I would go down to the kitchens and change their lunch orders if ever they changed their minds. Such little things that grew into larger kindnesses. And that’s all they wanted. They wanted someone to be kind.
And here’s the thing, not everyone was kind. I shadowed people who were terrible at their jobs. Yes, they knew how to make an occupied bed in minutes. And yet, they lacked basic human decency. They didn’t care and it showed. It was a terrible thing to witness.
Even now, it is a terrible thing to know.
That course is one of the best things that I have ever done, because it showed me a new side to humanity. And it is a darker side. I had never seen anything like it before. I would have denied that it was even possible at a place where there were people who needed so much care in order to stay alive.
These people were in need, and the professionals who should have cared the most didn’t always.
They didn’t care. They checked off their boxes and walked away as quickly as they could manage. And if you looked at the paperwork; everything was in order. The resident ate breakfast. But the paperwork didn’t show that they were given 10 minutes to eat it, before it was taken away because they happened to be that last person served that morning.
Schedules. The facility cared more about schedules than the people they cared for. I’m not interested in why. There’s no justification for the injustices that I saw.
And that’s where I had a monumental breakthrough. I’ve always clung to rules. I like to know the do’s and don’ts. I like to separate everything into this or that. And I use to like that; that mentality. Even when I was shown different ways of thinking, I circled back to that first comfort. Black, white, left and right.
That facility was a bastardization of my mindset. It showed me exactly why I couldn’t keep it. Now, rules are guidelines. Laws are not absolute. I question everything. I decide how I will proceed, and I will change tactics if need be.
That wasn’t me before. I would have blindly followed a person of authority. I was a ‘you point and I’ll go’ kind of thing. Because I didn’t like the pressure that came with responsibility. I liked to follow because it was harder to go my own way.
It’s still harder to go my own way. But, I hold myself accountable now. My failures are my own. My triumphs too. There are times to follow, and there are times to walk away.
So here’s the thing,
Question who you follow and why. You had better have a good reason. You’re the one that has to live with the outcome.