Monday, October 6, 2014

The Chatterbox in the Convent

The first half of my senior year in high school I decided to take a CNA class. Up until that point, all I ever wanted to be was a nurse, so I figured I might as well take that first step and get some experience under my belt. By January 2007 I had my CNA certification. Although I didn't end up going on to be a nurse, working with my CNA has been such an incredible opportunity. I've been able to work in an Alzheimer's unit, as a Health Counselor, in long-term care, short-term care. The area I have spent the most time in has been transitional rehabilitation; in other words, post-surgical rehab.

I'd be lying if I said that the work was always easy and that I have loved every second of it, but for the most part I really have been able to enjoy it. Working in transitional rehab has given me the chance to meet so many different people in a wide variety of ages. We've had people as young as 26, and as old as 103. Sometimes they stay for three days, and sometimes they stay for 3 months. That's where the love of my job comes in. For most of these people, they have never had to be completely dependent on someone else's care. As a CNA I get to know people on a level that most people will never come into contact within the workplace. The fact that they are living in this new place, away from home stirs up a lot of uncommon emotions in these people, and sometimes all they need is someone to talk to. Their stories are so different from one another and having the opportunity to listen to their backgrounds, and the lessons they've learned throughout all of their different experiences has been so neat for me. That is why I love doing what I do.

For instance, earlier this week I was in talking to a lady that has been with us a couple of times after different surgeries. The first time it was her right knee, the next her back, and this time her left knee. I  was working there when she had her first knee done, but not for her back. She came back a few weeks ago after having her second knee done and remembered exactly who I was. There is nothing work related that I love more than having return patients. It's bittersweet because you have to see them go through another surgery, but the connection that comes when the patient comes back for the second time is like running into a best friend that you haven't seen in years. That is exactly how it was with this lady.

For the sake of this story, we will call her Maria, and Maria loves to talk. We talk about Africa. We talk about the Philippines. We talk about the adorable little lady down that hall that everyone loves. Well this time as I was getting her all settled into bed she wanted to know about my relationship status. The next thing I know we are talking about the time Maria, a very devoted Catholic, decided to join the convent. Understand that this lady and her chatterbox ways also happens to be a little rebellious at times, hence the reason we are calling her Maria. My mind immediately went to "The Sound of Music."

I love learning about other peoples beliefs, and the way other cultures and religions do things. For instance, did you know that the Roman Catholic convents worldwide house over 800,000 nuns and sisters? Did you know that the two are different? Or that the clothing they wear is called a "habit"? Did you know that before they have taken their vows they wear white and after they wear black unless they are Missionaries of Charity, then they wear blue? I also learned, although this could have just been in Maria's specific convent, that while there they are only allowed to talk during two specific time frames a day and that they are usually no longer than an hour. I learned that when leaving the convent you are not allowed to tell any of the other women that you are leaving. No goodbyes, you just simply have to disappear. I learned that they attend college at a typical college with everyday people. I learned that there is so much more to their devotion than I ever realized.

Maria went on to tell me all sorts of things about her life outside of the convent; how she met her husband and what their life was like together. Those are the moments that make me love what I do; the moments that I get to hear the stories of others. Am I going to be a CNA forever? No. But it is something that I will cherish each day that I am.

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