If you read my second blog, you’d know I graduated high school. You’d also know that each blog is a long read. Enjoy!
Most of the time, once you graduate high school, you take the summer and hang with friends, get a job, get ready to leave home for college. Or maybe you didn’t go to college and just found a job you were passionate about doing and started it off. I did something different.
Weeks before finishing my senior year, my parents and I were trying to find an LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant) course I could take. We found one that started two days after graduation. I wasn’t a perfect student for grades, but I won a couple of scholarships. I also won some awards from bowling tournaments. Those scholarships we’re enough to pay for this LNA course. The course was two and a half hours away from home.
I had a small graduation dinner with my family. I received one of the best graduation cards from my mom. I still have the card. I will leave the quote at the end of this blog. My dad gave me my first pepper spray and bungee cords. The pepper spray hasn’t been used in over ten years because it’s still in its package. That Sunday, I packed my bags, packed my car, and followed my mom toward southern NH. I was going to be staying with my brother while I completed the course. It wasn’t a dream to sleep in a small apartment with three other people. To sleep on an air mattress, to not have my own space or privacy. I am grateful that my brother and his two roommates let me stay with them.
Monday morning, I showed up an hour earlier than the class started. I was so nervous. The course was tremendous. There were 24 people and one teacher. I was 18 years old and a recent graduate. I wanted to do this course so badly and be good at it. I was transferred early on to a smaller class with additional students. The smaller class had seven people in it. I’m so happy I was moved. There was more one on one with the instructor. I learned so much in a short amount of time. Monday through Thursday, we were in class. I learned how to speak first. Yes, that’s a thing. I was always a shy girl. When being an LNA, you need to knock on the door and introduce yourself first. The patient won’t most likely do it first. If they do, great, but you still need to speak up. I learned to listen, to hear the patient without being ready to have the answer. To fully understand an individual, you need to listen to them, not to react to what they’ve said.
Throughout the course, I was completing tests and trials, and I was successful. I was successful, just like my grandpa told me a couple of days before he passed away my sophomore year. I was smart. I felt smart. I felt alive. I felt so good, so happy. The person I was, was able to come out. I am a kind, considerate, loving, listener, passionate, big-hearted person. This career was perfect for a person like me. During clinical, I felt alive. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to graduate and pass the test. About four months later, from the day I started the course. Four months and two days after I graduated high school, I was completing an LNA course.
About a week later, I was sitting in a room with those same classmates and taking a state test to have my license finally. I passed, of course. I passed with a 99 out of 100. I started to apply for jobs all over. That was so scary, so so so scary. It’s one thing doing clinical its another when you do the job. I applied to lots and lots of places. I got hired on the spot at a nursing home. I was on training with another LNA. The floor I was on was a rehab floor. The hall I worked on was filled with C-diff patients. I took care of people until they passed away. I enjoyed my job. I worked the second shift, which was 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eventually, I moved from my brother’s apartment to my own apartment.
Sidetrack! My first apartment was small. I had 3 of the BIGGEST closets I’ll probably ever have in my entire life. I was on the second floor above a lovely Italian family. This apartment was a studio apartment. I didn’t have a kitchen. My bathroom was the size of one of my closets. I had a mini-fridge and a microwave. I rarely ate at home. I rarely eat breakfast. I didn’t ten years ago. I ate at work. The work was excellent. I overworked myself though. I worked an illegal amount of hours in a week. I eventually couldn’t work some nights. I did my job, but I was tired all the time. It was one of the first times I would have overworked myself until I was sick. But certainly not the last. When I say the illegal amount of hours, I mean there are 40 hours a week people work. I had worked 80 hours a week- that was 16-hour shifts, five days a week. I was dead. My compassion left my body. I was so tired. I was thinking back to that moment. I was scared. When you’re in an LNA course, nobody talks about burnout, or how to pace yourself. I drank so much of Monster energy drinks in a shift that I actually passed out in the hallway during a 16-hour shift.
I eventually left that job. I burnt myself out. I made good money starting as an LNA, but I couldn’t afford to be sick all the time. I appreciated all the work and help I had for my first LNA job. I held on to it, I still do. I eventually moved back home; I applied for my Vermont LNA license. I didn’t have to retest. There was a total of 5 or 6 nursing homes and a hospital. I did not get an LNA job right away. I did get a job at the local motel. I did pretty well for cleaning the hotel rooms and making hospital corners. I believe it was about two weeks later I accepted employment at a nursing home.
I stayed working in nursing homes throughout the state. The nursing home I worked at was small but was perfect for my second LNA job. I worked 2nd shift mostly and loved every minute of it. I was making acquaintances and working hard. I did my best at not overworking myself. I was especially careful about not drinking any energy drinks. A year had passed and I had gotten hurt on the job. For specific reasons, I cannot discuss this part in the blog. A big workers’ comp claim had to be started. To this day, my foot still hurts. I have limited movement to my toes and I can’t wear certain shoes.
I worked a lot more jobs after those two. If I go through each one, I could write a book. Haha. At the seven-year mark, I was burnt out. I started to struggle with going to a job and giving my all. I had to be done. I am proud of those who can continue working. LNA’s will agree with me on this. LNA’s do the majority of the work and don’t get paid enough from the care they give. There should be more support for LNA’s when they are burnt out, overworked, overwhelmed, and overall the work they do for the people they take care of.
For those 7 years of my life, I committed to making other people’s lives better. I loved most of the places I worked. I didn’t make a lot of long term friendships but I did make sure that I did my job to the best of my abilities. I am proud to be known for the work that I did, the care that I gave, and the happiness I put onto patients and families’ faces. I was the one who helped families overcome the loss they had just gone through and help them realize their family member was no longer in pain. They say as an LNA, you don’t connect with patients, and you shouldn’t have favorites. I wonder how those people did that. I loved my patients. I had favorites. I had connections. I remember those when I wrote this blog. A lot of them have passed away, they aren’t in pain. I will forever think of them and love them.
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