Imagine a frail, elderly lady lying at the foot of a hospital bed. After rushing to catch her and pull her back up in the bed, you realize your arms are wet. You notice this is coming from the urine that has saturated her night gown, along with her sheet protector and sheets that lay askew on the bed. She is sweating, and soon you realize that you are sweating too. The temperature in the home was always kept at 85 degrees F. This was the moment I understood how important hospice and health care was—and will continue to be.
My first experience with hospice came during my grandmother’s long battle with cancer. As I observed the delicate way the nurses and aides handled her, I could only shake my head as I thought to myself, “I could never do this job.” All of that would change in November of 2012 when I began working as a CNA for hospice. During this time, I was taking a full course load at Francis Marion University. I was in financial need of a part-time job, so I applied for the job.
As I looked at my patients’ care plans, I closed my eyes and envisioned my routine. I saw myself saying, “Good morning,” and exchanging words about the weather as I completed each task on the list. The very moment I stepped foot into my first patient’s home, my naive expectations diminished, and I began to develop a more realistic insight into working in the health care field. Not only does health care provide comfort, but it also provides services for both the patient and the family.
Every time I went to visit this woman, these conditions never improved. If anything, they got worse. It did not take me long to realize that although she lived with two other people, I was the only person who provided any care for her. In fact, I was the only person who gave her any company during the day. My dread of going into this hot, locked away room rapidly turned into a desperate attempt to make this woman’s living conditions better. The longer I spent time with her, the closer we became....