A Day in the Life of a CNA, part 25




3:18 p.m.

Loose ends or not, my work day will be over in twelve minutes. I’ve done my best, no one is in any particular danger and I’m ready to transition back to civilian life. It’s time to let go of the day.

“Letting go of the day” is not always easy to do. We all have a tendency to take it with us out the door and into our cars for the drive home. And if we aren’t careful, the day will cling to us as we go through our arriving home rituals. We get the mail, feed the dog, shed the scrubs. Each step offers a degree of liberation, but only if we are willing to shut off the mind.

It’s best to allow each day speak for itself and be done with it. The alternative is to let the stress accumulate and eventually harden into some form of neurosis. And we become vulnerable to little things.

When Darcy called me up to the desk “for just a minute” I was afraid she wasn’t going to let me let go of the day without a parting shot.

“Make it quick, Darcy.” There is something about the end of a busy day that makes you a little less cautious about the tone you use with your supervisor. I soften it a bit: “I’m trying to transition back to civilian life.”

Darcy shakes her head. I’m not sure whether it’s because the thing she called me up to the desk for won’t take that long or she doesn’t want to deal with either my tone or my attempted levity.

“No – just sign the incident report. Lisa filled it out for you.”

This I can do. I even take a moment to read it. I would like to thank Lisa, but she’s already gone, mandated to work another 4 or 6 or 8 hours on another unit. It doesn’t really matter if she was ready to let go of the day or not.

I sign the thing, but as I turn to leave, Darcy stops me.

“One more thing…”

Okay, now she’s just playing with me.

“Yang, you know we got a bunch of citations from our last survey. Way too many. They are not happy downstairs.”

“We’re not happy up here, either.”

“You know we have to come up with a plan of correction, right?”

Ah, this is why she was being so snippy this morning. It’s almost always due to something going on downstairs.

“Ah, this is why you were so snippy this morning…”

Darcy ignores my feat of deduction.

“Part of the plan of correction is to analyze caregiver workloads. It’s always been a concern.”

“Not a big enough one, Darcy.”

She ignores that too and pushes a large questionnaire-like form at me. It has to be at least ten pages long.

“They’re using this as the assessment tool.”

“I don’t want it.” 

“Everybody has to do one. It’s a list of caregiver procedures. You have to write in how many minutes it takes you to do each one. They’re curious about how you spend your day.”

“I’m in the bathroom a lot.”

“Just make sure the total equals 450 minutes.”

I take a moment and do the math in my head: 8 1/2 hours is 510 minutes, minus 30 for lunch and 30 for two 15 minutes breaks.

“Hey …they did that right, Darcy!”

“There’s a place for comments at the end…. Don’t write anything stupid, Yang.”

I check the last page of the form. They devoted an entire quarter of a page for our comments. Hmmmm…

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“You have a week, Yang. Get it done or this time I will write you up.”

“Sure thing, Darcy.” I tuck the form under my arm and turn to leave, this time successfully.

On the way out, I meet Gracie by the elevator. This time I don’t try to avoid her.

“Hey, Gracie. How was your day?”

She smiles. “Not bad. Different day, same problems. How about you?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “Not bad. Not crazy like yesterday.”

We walk out the door together, just like we came in. The conversation turns to our dogs, just like when we came in.

I get into my car, crank up Rage Against the Machine’s Testify and purge the day.

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