“When someone asks me what I did today, I think I’ll skip this part,” I annouce. I’m a bit upside down, so it comes out slightly muffled.
Mr. G grins.
It’s not really his fault; it’s also definitely not mine. The people to blame is outside the shower room, blissfully making his bed. They have no idea that I’m down on my knees and twisted so that I can reach under the shower chair. Even though I had a stroke of common sense and turned off the water, the floor is still sopping wet and therefore so am I.
It’s not helping my attitude.
“They were trying to help you,” Mr. G reminds me. He sounds like he’s enjoying this far too much. He’s right, I know. The two new aides that I’m working with tonight decided to show initiative: while I was finishing up my first shower, they got Mr. G ready and up in the shower chair. When I opened the shower door to let my other shower go out, I was surprised to see Mr. G waiting for me, already in the shower chair. Beside him was Newbie #1 with a big grin on her face.
I almost cried. Now that’s what I call team work.
Then I started giving him the shower.
I almost cried. Now that’s what I call a problem.
The Problem of course being that the geniuses out there forgot to remove the brief before they transferred him into the shower chair. They unfastened it, tucked it even, and then apparently forgot about it–because the brief is still there, hidden from view until I squatted down to scrub his bottom. The shower pads for the hoyer lift have a hole in them so…well, so that the resident’s bottom is exposed so you can clean it. Same principal goes for the shower chair. Two holes that line up so you can scrub the bottom. But when I squatted down, I didn’t see a bare bottom. I saw a brief so completely saturated that it was beginning to burst and shed crystals all over the shower room floor…crystals that had previously been bits of fluff and filler bounded to urine and soapy water.
Mr. G, a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces, gasped at my choice of words to describe the situation.
I’m completely soaked by the time I finish cleaning up the floor: what little of me didn’t get wet from the floor was taken care of by the sweat that’s pouring off me.
“They were trying to help,” Mr. G repeats. He’s said it a lot.
“I’m not going to yell at them,” I sigh.
“You better not. At least they did something without being asked, even if they did it…er…”
“Half-assed?” I suggest.
“Just remember,” he tells me, ignoring the lame pun, “that experience only comes from making mistakes and cleaning up messes.”
“Or making a mistake that somebody else has to clean up,” I mutter, but I know he’s right. what is a mess in the shower room compared to an aide with initiative? That quality is more precious than gold and I’d be a fool to squash it. If I yell, the lesson they’ll probably learn is Don’t help May. “All right. I won’t fuss. I am going to have to give your back half a bed bath, though. It’s…not what you’d call clean.”
I push him back into his room and pull the call light. While I’m waiting, I assemble the supplies for a bed bath. It isn’t long before both Newbies arrive with the hoyer.
“Er…May, why do you have all that?” they ask. “And why are you sopping wet?”
I glance at Mr. G before I turn back to them with a blazing smile. “Thank you two so much for getting him ready for me. That was really very kind. If I could offer a tip, you may want to double check that you removed the brief next time. Apparently, it makes an ungodly mess. But on the other hand, the shower room needed to be deep-cleaned and I think we can check that off the list now. Seriously though, I really appreciate your help with him.”
No team is perfect and mistakes happen. Sometimes you’re the one making the mistake and sometimes you’re the one cleaning it up. Either way, a little grace and kindness go a long way.
And everything’s better with a dash of humor.