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9:06 p.m. - 2012-05-17
OK, three weeks in, I think I can safety say that I really love clinical. (For anyone unfamiliar with healthcare jargon, this is the part of CNA/nursing/whatever else training where you actually work with patients.)

And, although I don't have to work very hard when it comes to studying for written tests, I have to say I absolutely bust my ass in clinical. Tonight I ended up taking care of two other patients in addition to the one I was assigned to; I was the last one out the door and exhausted and happy.

I realized halfway through the shift that I am going to be exactly the same kind of CNA as I was a reporter -- damn good and almost always the last to leave.

I've discovered that I have this incredible feeling of compassion and empathy for the patients that is far stronger than the aversion to the dirty diapers, the smells, the teeth on the bedside table, the embarassment of washing someone's genitals and diapering them ...

Nothing is all that revolting when you think about how it must feel for the patient -- to have strangers witnessing his most private acts and washing his most private parts; to know that your body is shriveled and misshapen and ugly to most people; to know that you drool and get food all over your face when you eat but be unable to change that ...

The first woman I worked with tonight, Cheryl, had advanced ms??, was twisted and bed-bound, could barely talk, and had to be spoon-fed pureed food -- one small spoonful, a sip of milk, another small spoonful...

It took forever to feed her; with each spoonful she bit the spoon and turned her head to the side to swallow. I'd know when she was ready for the next bite because she'd open her mouth (with about five teeth total). Several times she tried to tell me something but it just sounded like, "mhhhh!." But she was smiling at me now and then and kept eating, so maybe she was just saying she liked pureed chicken.

I had thought she was completely non-verbal, but when my instructor stopped by to check on us, I discovered that there are at least two words Cheryl can say intellibly: "Fuck you!!"

The instructor decided to reposition Cheryl on the bed -- that's what prouced the outburst. I don't think it was about the repositioning, though -- my instructor is a real bitch, and I guess Cheryl concurs.

Because she didn't say "fuck you" once; she said it seven or eight times. God knows how many students' sentiments she's expressing.

So far all of the patients I've worked with seem to like me a lot, which is kinda good for my self-esteem.



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