If someone calls me an “angel” one more time today, I think I’m going to puke all over their shoes. Really, I mean it. I am not a messenger of God dressed in a long white robe with wings. I am a CNA: a certified nursing assistant, a trained professional. I am a person who chose this career field. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a neighbor, a voter and a human being. I am not an angel.
I have a full set of emotions and thoughts that you, the family of the residents I care for, will never see or hear. You will never hear the cuss words that run silently through my brain as I discover your delirious wife smearing her feces all over her bed, the floor, herself and anything else within arm’s reach. Instead, I face the task at hand; cleaning up your wife and her room while calmly interacting with her. You will never hear me sharply respond to your mother’s cruel, untrue words concerning my work methods. Instead, I redirect the conversation in a quiet, soothing tone. You will never see the frustration I feel showing on my face when your husband refuses to walk even though he is able to do so. Instead, I continue to encourage him to keep trying. You will never notice as I slowly inhale and exhale to calm myself after your elderly father just threw his meal tray across the room because the cook accidently gave him juice instead of coffee. You will never see the tears I cry while I apply ice to my bruised cheek after your aunt, in her dementia, punched me while I changed her urine soaked clothes. You won’t know the feeling of disgust that runs through my body like an electric shock when your aged, confused uncle grabs my crotch while muttering sexually explicit phrases as I help him out of his bed and into his wheel chair. No, you family members of the residents we CNAs care for will never really know these things. You see us working and instead of respecting our professionalism you call us “angels.”
These are not the behaviors of angels; this is a professional CNA in action. We are trained, licensed and trained some more to be CNAs. We work very hard to help other people’s family members. I would much rather hear someone exclaim with pride, “She is one hell of a CNA!” than call me “an angel” any day of the week. I won’t even feel like puking because I’ll be too busy smiling.