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When resident frustration builds

April 4, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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I am halfway through radiation treatments that should end my intense cancer treatment for awhile. During these past few months I have had to keep myself together mentally. It is almost impossible to go through chemo and radiation without getting a bit down because of the process. I had so many medical appointments that after some time they seemed to be all that I did. So last week for a break I went for a ride in my van. It was great to just ride and not worry about any medical appointments or treatments.

To get ready for radiation, and not be dropkicked into my day, I get up at 3:45 a.m. ... that means the night shift aides exercise, shower, and dress me before 6 a.m. Then I work at the computer until I leave at 8:45 a.m. The earliest I have returned was 11:30 a.m. So 21 hours a week are spent traveling to and from treatments.

My radiation oncologist wanted me to be transported to treatments by ambulance. She feels it is easier to transfer me from an ambulance cart. It has been difficult to mentally prepare myself to travel in an ambulance and not feel sicker than I am. To keep myself relaxed I bought an iPod Nano so I could listen to my favorite music. Riding backwards, looking where I have been instead of where I am going, messes with my brain. I get very stiff, somewhat nauseous, and I am dizzy for three hours afterwards.

This past weekend an aide not familiar with my morning routine was assigned to me. I was already tired from my treatments and apprehensive about explaining my entire shower routine. I was soaking wet before I realized a shower item was missing. We had to send another aide to my room to find it. While handling the shaving cream, the new aide accidentally got some into my eyes, which she had to rinse to get out. My legs were also blue and throbbing from me sitting on the shower chair for over an hour. I was quite frustrated and very uncomfortable.

I lost patience with the new aide. I told her that I needed to get off of the shower chair as soon as possible. But at that point she was frustrated too and she left me in the shower room to get some help. Another aide who knows my routine came to our rescue. I was grateful that she was able to lead the way, assisting and to get me dressed and out of the shower chair.

On many days I act much better than I feel. But when I am tired from treatments frustration builds up more quickly. I use Eastern philosophy’s methods to calm me as well as identifying with the other person's feelings. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, my frustration spills out at an inopportune time, and the only thing that helps is if someone else provides me with a time out.

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Kathleen Mears

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