A special shelf

May

It’s a crazy morning and my pace is set accordingly. I’m practically running down the halls, answering call lights, changing people, fetching things. Just another day in LTC.
I’m trying to get some of my documentation done when I see the call light going off again in Room ____. I groan–I’m never going to get all my documentation done at this rate. As I’m walking to that room, I can’t think of anything else he could possibly need: I’ve changed him twice, gotten him hot chocolate, repositioned him…what else is there?
Blanket adjustments around his feet, apparently. I try not to sigh, reminding myself that he really can’t do this for himself. I have to swallow another sigh as it takes me three tries to get the blankets situated to his preferences.
“Anything else?” I ask, already edging towards the door and my not-even-halfway-done documentation.
“Don’t run off just yet, little girl,” he chides, reaching over to his bedside table, where he has an unbelievable amount of stuff crammed. He wiles away most of his time watching soap operas and making nick-knacks from cheap plaster kits that his family brings him. He’s quite prolific, but I’ve heard that he only gives his creations to his favorite staff members.
“Here, this is for you,” he says, handing me what is possibly the most hideous plaster flower I’ve ever seen. It’s not at all my taste in nick-knacks…and yet I’m moved almost to tears.

When I get home, I carefully place the plaster flower on a special shelf. There were only two items on this shelf before; now there are three. A framed picture of me with a resident, given to me by my previous facility for being named Employee of the Month, a leaflet from a resident’s funeral with her picture on it and now this flower. Because of HIPAA and the nature of my work, I don’t have many items to remember my residents by. So far, just these three.
It’s not much, but it’s enough. Enough to remind me of all my people.

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