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Nursing aides: 'Entertaining angels unaware?'

December 20, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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After arriving here three months ago I dreaded facing my first weekend. From experience I knew there would be fewer staff and maybe even call offs. But on the first Saturday morning a male aide came into my room. He was short, stocky, and a bright smile illuminated his caramel-colored face. He told me his name was Larry and that he was my aide. Then he quickly took me through my morning routine.

While Larry was doing my care I was on the verge of tears and could have done the ugly cry at any minute. But Larry would not let me, because he kept talking to me.

That day I had a terrible stomachache. After breakfast the aides could not get me to the bathroom fast enough. The resulting accident caused me great embarrassment and I continuously apologized while the aides cleaned me up. Larry was ever so calm and gracious. He told me not to worry and he actually made me believe it.

Larry told me that he had finished his LPN and had his license. He was just waiting for a nursing job to open up either here or elsewhere. In the meantime, he was making my part of the world a little bit brighter. When he was feeding residents in the dining room, Larry sang hymns or Christian music. He also liked to kid the staff and residents to get them to laugh.

Several times I dissolved into tears when Larry came into my room during his shift. He had a wonderful way of anticipating when I would need a drink or to be checked on.

One time I was working at the computer without a call light nearby. When I told Larry how much it worried me, he moved my call light to within reach. I was relieved and he was pleased that he was able to make me feel better.

Larry knew that I liked to lie down before supper and preferred to eat that meal in bed. So a couple of nights he put me in bed and brought my supper to me. I was afraid that he might get in trouble but he was not concerned.

That evening Larry told me God had not forgotten me. I looked at him rather strangely. Then he told me God was watching over me. It was clear that he wanted me to listen to him and believe what he said. He did not want me to feel that I had been abandoned.

Sometimes I wondered about the stories Larry told, and the detailed recipes he told us he prepared. Everything sounded so wonderful and mouthwatering. But I thought perhaps he was an entertainer at heart and the residents and staff were his audience.

Larry never told me how long he would work here, or if he had found a nursing job. But I did hear him talk to other staff in the hallway about it. And he told them that when he left, he would miss me.

One day Larry did not show up for work. I do not know whether he quit or was fired. He was just gone and his name never came up again.

Was it just coincidental that Larry showed up just when I needed someone to help me feel comfortable? He never acted like I was a bother or that it took too much to keep me going.

Larry's stay in my life reminded me of a previous Christmas Eve sermon. In it the priest relayed the story of meeting strangers and afterwards wondered if they might have been angels. Then he quoted Hebrews 13: 2, "Be kind to strangers, you might be entertaining angels unaware."

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That was a very uplifting and comforting post Kathleen!

I have also come across many aides who help me with my care that really, truly have/had a vested interest in my well-being and take the extra step or go the extra mile to make me feel like a human being rather than a patient that they have to finish up quickly to get down to the next patient.

But, unfortunately, there are just as many aides who do the minimal amount of work possible and treat patients just a little bit above a paycheck. Yet my choice of aides are limited at best and I continually have to go with the flow always being careful not to step on their toes so that I do not lose them altogether.

May more angels like Larry come into our lives!

Kathleen, you continue to be an inspiration to me. Please continue your blogs as long as you're able. I read them to my staff so they can appreciate all the things you experience first hand. It is very helpful as we serve many nursing home residents in our area. I agree with you, CNAs are definitely God's angels here on earth. God Bless.

Kathy-I figured it outmaybe I guess, if you get the message we'll know! Chad will be so proud of me!

Larry told me that he could tell Garry was a christian that sure helped me just knowing that the spiritual part was not completely gone!

See you Friday My friend,
Sherry Casto

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...