Wednesday, October 27, 2010

St. Vincent Strambi’s Home for the Aged

Situated near the Mindanao Medical Center and with cemented roads surrounded with tall grasses of some sort, there stood an institution specifically meant for the neglected old and which was founded and run by the Passionist priests once again. This had become our 5th and final exposure. Coming to this place was very downtrodden. One would ask why they’re here when supposed to be they should be in their respective homes encircled by their families.

This place was never out of nursing/healthcare/caregiver students. Hence, we were about 27 there coming from 4 different schools. We didn’t have any CI or co-students here once more and our duty was as usual: 8am to 4pm.

After a short briefing, I was assigned together with 2 others to an old woman who cannot walk already and has a separate house (a small hut) as well. She lives there since she always yells and says vulgar words and sometimes annoys the other elders. In short, she seemed to be always wanting her ways to be done. The supervisor even told me that I’d be challenge with her reputation. It was indeed hard to manage her and somehow I was afraid of her. She uses her stick/rod as her defense against people she doesn’t like. At first encounter I thought of taking it away but it would deprive her of something that might cause her health to deteriorate even more. Plus, she was always shouting at us no matter how much we tried to explain that we’re there to help her. Her anger wouldn’t give her any relief at all. And this could be another cause that might trigger her health. Hence, I decided to ask for a replacement as it seemed hopeless dealing with her. I explained everything to the supervisor but she assured me that the old woman wouldn’t get any worse with our presence. So I followed her advice and stayed with my patient. After an hour or so, I felt comfortable with her already. The supervisor was right. I was indeed challenged but it’s just a matter of getting used to the old woman’s life. I also learned beforehand from other CIs that this person has a TB before. Thus, I’ve to wear face mask whenever I came to her hut. It’s not actually required and the 2 others didn’t wear one but with her usual spitting inside her hut, it’s best to have precautionary measures already.

Lunch was served to the elderly by us. After their eating, we were obliged to wash our patient’s dishes and also clean the dining room. Usually, by the time we finished our duties, it’s already 1pm. And here we begin our own lunch and break. By this time, the elders take a nap or rest while others watch TV. After lunch, we had a get along with each other as this was our only time for us. But from time to time, we never forget our given tasks. As for me, I get to check my patient in her hut every now and then to see if everything’s fine or any untoward incident that I need to report.

During our 2nd day, we’re almost late. It’s just a 2 minutes before 8 when we looked to our watches before writing it in the log book! Good thing we made it. Anyways, our day was still the same. Sometimes, I saw that the elders argue among themselves. Here, we tried to reconcile them and act as peacemakers. If things didn’t work, we always report to the people out there e.g. cook, supervisor.

I was informed by the stay-in caregiver that my patient would be taking a bath. No, she couldn’t do it by herself and it kept me wondering how I can do it. My patient is always mad and knocking us with her stick. Plus, as I’ve said earlier, she’s immobile already. Nonetheless, my nervousness was cleared away when I learned that the caregiver would help us. It turned out that we simply assisted him in giving the old woman a bath. Deo gratias! Afterwards, she was taken on a wheelchair and was out from her hut for quite a few minutes. Then the caregiver asked us to clean the hut’s grounds and I thought of undertaking that chore.

My sister and I were anxious for our 3rd day for we’re already burnt out too much. As I said from my other previous blog, we only get a few hours of sleep. Finally, the last day came and as usual, my mother brought foods and religious gifts for them. We had a culmination day together with the other school and each of us bid adieu to our patients. As for me, I just thought of making a card since it’s not possible talking to her.

This doesn’t mean that our concluding day wasn’t out of hard and tough duties. I was asked by one of the students there to assist them in bathing her patient. We were 5 all in all from 3 different schools. And this patient is still strong, mobile, and restless. She resisted us with all her might and it wasn’t easy to cope with her. We had to hold her hands and feet while at the same time calmly bathe and explain to her the reasons behind it. She was adamant and once managed to kick the pale of water at us. Nevertheless, it was okay since we also needed to make sure that she’s not hurt and that her whole persona isn’t being affected with our actions.

Anyways, this had become my experience with the elderly. When I think of them, I always remember my grandparents who all died so soon. They were just in their 60’s - 70’s and I only had quite a few bonding with them. I completely lost all 4 of them when I was 18. Actually, I never really longed for their presence before since I got a big family enough to keep me from getting bored. But as I grew up, I realized that it’s not just about laughs that you’d always want from others. I also need the wisdom of old people and to give the respect they demand. It’s not that I maltreated them or what but it’s just that I never had the opportunity to show them the love and respect I gave to the people I’ve encountered throughout my exposures to various institutions and places. Somehow, I felt weak and needed meditation. Anyway, it was Maundy Thursday the next day and it was indeed time for me to reflect seriously on my life and on how I can often put God in it. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a confession before the Easter Vigil Mass and was again strengthened during my reception of Holy Communion.

Oh Blessed Virgin Mary, have pity on my sinful soul. Grant me always the grace of true repentance so that I may cease offending thy Son Who loved us most dearly! Oh my Christ and King, may Thy reign come soon! Amen

1 comment:

GabrielIreneus said...

So you're a nursing student? It's a hard work. But if you're inspiration is Jesus it's consoling to a soul wanting of charity.