Archive for April, 2010

Never A Dull Moment

When I became a nurse, never did it crossed my mind or planned to bear the direction of my career towards taking care of the elderly. But, as years went by, I realized that all along, the road map of my professional career as a nurse, has been laid in front of me…and that is to be one of the team of nurses who play a salient role in making the lives of the elderly worth-living with dignity, until they pass on to the life hereafter.

We think they lost it. We presume, they are on that stage where lucid memory and cognition have left them. We may wonder, even question: what kind of life are they living? Are they living, or just existing?

We call them Residents, not Patients. The reason being: this place is where they stay for the rest of their remaining lives. They live in a skilled nursing care facility, their Home.

They do some unexpected things, and say some unexpected comments, although in the most part, they are confused and disoriented. The common questions that they ask repeatedly are: “Where is my room?” or “What time is lunch (although lunch has just been served)?” or “When is my daughter/son coming (although they just left)?” One resident thinks that she owns the apartment (her room) and she is renting a space to two other tenants (her roommates), and she needs to collect their monthly rental dues.

You will be amazed, because in a least expected moment, they will show sense of orientation either to time, place, or person. One resident approached me, asking where her nurse is, and when I asked her why, she answered: “because I want to turn in my hearing aid. I want her to keep it before I go to bed.” Bingo time is the most awaited event of the day, and many of them could still play it right!

They also enjoy each other’s company, talking about special occasions, like the monthly Candle Light Dinner. I can’t help but over-hear an excited group talking about it. “Candle Light Dinner is tonight.” One resident commented. “I know. We have Elvis as the entertainer.” Said another. “Do you know why we have candle light dinner?” Asked another. The group answered in chorus: “No. Why?” Her answer made me laugh: “So we will not see what we are eating. Left-over food.”

Every day, for the past 18 years and counting, I am in the midst of this so-called “geriatric” population. Yes, it was a choice, not a force of need for a job. And, all these years, I love and enjoy doing it. There hasn’t been a single boring day at work, and each night when I go to bed, I look forward to wake up the next day, prepare to go to work, and be with them.


April 2010

(updated: May 2014)


Just Like Everyone Else

     I have heard and read about a neurological condition called Tourette’s Syndrome, but I actually have not seen anybody who is affected with it, until one Saturday afternoon, at the mall.

     A little boy, about 8-9 years old was frantically pacing in one of the aisles in a bookstore. I was observing him from a corner where I sat. He was looking at some books, took one from the shelf, scanned the pages, then returned it. While doing this, he was repeatedly clearing his throat, and made “barking” sound. By the look of him, he seemed excited to see those children’s books in front of him, and wanted to read all of them. I also could see jerky movements of his head. Sometimes, he puts a piece of stick in between his teeth, and bit it.

     It was not only me who observed him, but most of the people inside the bookstore were looking at him, some, throwing an irritated glance because of his pacing and the noise he made. His mother, who was following him, felt so embarrassed, and guided him out of the bookstore. I called out: “No! let him find his book.” And then, I asked: “Tourette’s?” The woman looked at me, her lips bore a smile, and nod. Then, she whispered: “Thank you.”

     I don’t know if the people around will check out what is Tourette’s Syndrome, but for sure, it is something to know about and understand. Because of people’s judgmental attitude and being insensitive, this condition is oftentimes misunderstood as a disruptive behavior.

     It is just unfortunate though, because there is still no cure for this disorder. The person affected will have to live with it, and be emotionally strong to conquer the difficulties he or she will encounter. What we can do, is to be compassionate, because what these people need is to be accepted and should be treated just like everyone else.


April 17, 2010

Code Blue

     April 2, 2010  – Good Friday, was no ordinary day at work. My exciting day started as soon as I put down my briefcase and purse on my table, I heard from the over head paging system: CODE BLUE, to room 22, three times. This is our signal for a medical emergency: somebody is in distress, or stopped breathing, or a cardiac arrest.

     I ran towards the said location, and so did the nurses on duty. Each one responded with precision, knowing what to do in case of emergency. While I was at the bedside assessing the patient’s condition, I called out: “Code Status?” Somebody answered: “Full Code.” The Emergency CPR Cart was already wheeled near the bedside, someone was checking the vital signs, another nurse started Oxygen inhalation, and while I initiated CPR with another nurse, yet another nurse called 911. The patient resumed breathing and cardiac function was restored when the paramedics arrived.

     Three days later, we received the patient back from the acute care hospital. Yes, she is already old, but she surely deserves to be given the chance to live, she deserves to have a quality of life as everyone else.

     With team work among professional nurses who have the knowledge and ability to respond in case of emergency, a life was saved.

Beyond the Safety of the Familiar

     I was browsing a magazine about Great Rivers and Lakes. While flipping through the pages, and as each picture unfolded in my eyes, I was transported back to my childhood home in Lezo, Aklan.

     At the back of our house is the Aklan River. This river has  a special place in my heart. I spent hours sitting by its banks, watching the flowing water. Every year, after the flood, its course changes, and the banks steeped. But, it is the same river that has been a part of my childhood memories.

     Once, I saw a floating twig, that was carried on swiftly by the flow of the water. I wondered…when did this twig left the shore, found its way in the middle of the river, and let it be taken somewhere?

     That was just one of the many ordinary(or so I thought) sights, while I sat on the bank and watched the river.

…and, four decades later, it struck me. I remembered the Hopi Indian poem that I once read (in part):

There is a river flowing now very fast.

It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid,

They will try to hold on to the shore.

They will feel like they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination.

The elders say we must let go of the shore,

Push off into the middle of the river.

Keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.

     At some point in my life, there is that fear. Fear of the unknown, that I just wanted to hold on and be within my comfort zone. But life is never that way.

     Not realizing, I made the Hopi Indian poem be a part of my quest for the real meaning of life and living:  Leave the shore – don’t be afraid to be in the middle of the river – let the river take you in its course.

     In life, there are things that we can control, and things that we can’t. But, whatever consequences prevail, we stepped out over and beyond the safety of the familiar, to make our choices.

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