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Thanks to The Dabbling Speechie
This story begins during the last few weeks of my externship at a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). By this time I was in the swing of things and felt like I knew what I was doing. My supervisor Bonnie pretty much left me alone to do morning rounds.
I worked from 7:00 am (sharp) to 2:00 pm everyday. I would get in, check my client list on the whiteboard for the day and make myself a schedule. Then sprint upstairs to start breakfast rounds and ended my day with lunch rounds. I typically saw between 7 to 8 clients a day.
One of my morning patients for about two weeks was an elderly religious woman (let's just call her Ruby) who was very frail as a result of pneumonia. I spent my mornings trying to get Ruby to drink her ensure (which she hated) and she tried tirelessly to convince me to give her more chocolate jell-o pudding (which she loved). I had this feeling like I had met Ruby before, but not sure where.
During my time with Ruby I never met any of her family members, but I could see their presence in her tiny hospital room. Ruby could talk and talk bout her church, the baptism pool she designed, showing me the cards and messages her family had left. Her bulletin board just overflowing with love.
Toward the end of the second week, I could tell Ruby was not her usually perky self. Something was wrong, I could tell the instance I walked in the room that morning. I asked her if she was alright, to which she quietly responded yes. I grabbed the pudding and began helping her eat. After the first spoonful I heard a cough, and another cough. We moved onto the thickened coffee, that produced another cough. I stopped. No more breakfast until we figure out what is going on. Ruby's nose was runny, the nurse said she was running a fever. Ruby continually coughed for a while longer, I suspected the pneumonia was back.
I told my supervisor that I think she needed to go back to the hospital. She needed more advanced medical attention than we could provide. My supervisor agreed. That was the last time I ever saw Ruby.
My supervisor and I would make a habit of checking the obituaries every morning. Sounds morbid, but when you work in a SNF you don't get to find out what happens to your clients. Also if one happens to pass away, then you can send a card to the family. We checked the obituaries like we normal do, and Ruby's name was in there.
I start reading. I was suddenly dumbfounded. Ruby wasn't just a client. She happened to be my oldest friend's grandmother. It was like every memory started flooding back. Since we were born, my friend and I lived next door to one another. I attended many family gatherings and parties at her house, I mean we were practically family. I had met Ruby many, many times. However, when I saw her in the SNF, she didn't look like the Ruby I remembered as a child.
I immediately called my friend to tell her I had been feeding her grandmother breakfast every morning during her last weeks here on this earth. My friend couldn't believe it. "How did we not run into each other?" she said. Remember I leave at 2:00 pm, my friend didn't come to visit until she got off work around 4:00pm. We never crossed paths. My friend was so grateful and felt at peace that someone she knew was spending time caring for her grandmother in her last days.
In this field, you honestly never know who you are providing therapy for and the impact it will have. Although we don't always get to know the outcome of our clients, we can take pride in that we touched their lives, even if for a little bit.
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