Look For Silver Linings

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tonight is my last night of "work." I hesitate to call it work because aside from the awful sleep schedule, I'm in a position where what I'm doing doesn't seem much like work anymore. I function more as a companion than as a nursing assistant (as well as light housekeeper and personal shadow). While I wish I could share all the stories and details of the people I have cared for over the past year, I cannot. (Thanks, HIPAA.) I can take a step back from the personal details and share a little wisdom from the last few months.
Over a year ago as a new college graduate and fresh out of my CNA class,  I was assigned to a terminally ill patient who I ended up working with for just over two months before she passed away. It was a rough first experience.

After that experience, I decided to get a job at a local nursing facility. Talk about an eye opening experience. I've shadowed doctors and volunteered in the ER. I've spent a lot of my childhood visiting nursing homes and I continue to help my mom and aunt take care of my grandpa who has MS. I'm no stranger to the healthcare field and I'm completely comfortable in these settings but working in a nursing home was my first time seeing the down and dirty daily operations of healthcare facilities. And it isn't always pretty. You can read more here.

Finally after about six months in the nursing home setting, I found my current job working in home healthcare again. I like the one-on-one interactions and personal time I can give to the couple I help out. I love that I've gotten to know two extremely interesting and civically active people in my city. 

I wish I could share the stories they've told me about their adventures in 65+ years of marriage. I wish I could tell you of all their accomplishments and their commitment to making our city and country a better place. I wish I could share everything they've shared with me - sometimes I wish blogging worked like osmosis. There's no way to put into words how this couple has impacted my life in such a short time. Even if I were allowed to share these details, I still couldn't accurately describe them.

I can tell you that time and time again, these people have opened their hearts and their minds to me. They've shared their struggles and triumphs from living full, rich lives including serving during World War II and witnessing historical events such as the Civil Right Movement and the beginning and end of the Cold War. I've read books they've written together and looked through albums of memories - it's truly amazing.

I hope one day I can look back on a life full of love, excitement, and adventure, just as my favorite couple can and do. It makes me realize how little all the trivial drama matters in life and how important it is to surround myself with quality people - I think I've succeeded so far. This couple has reminded me that pursuing a medical degree creates a tremendous opportunity to help others and to do work outside myself. (The wife does a lot of work with underserved populations in rural and urban areas - something I'm very interested in and something we have talked at length about). 

I've complained a lot over the past year about working and not sleeping and wishing I was back at school, etc. Let's face it - it's easy to complain. It's comfortable and it's usually pretty well accepted by others because they have just as many things to rant about too.  

I urge you to take a step back and see the silver lining in whatever situation you are in whether it's work, family life, school, or personal struggles. Tonight when I say good-bye to my life as a nursing assistant and to this couple, I'll do so as a more well-rounded individual. I've had the privilege of caring for people when they are their most vulnerable and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I hate good-byes. So let's end this on a positive note. I've been given a lot of unsolicited advice and bits of wisdom from the people I've cared for. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. The key to a long marriage is to fight. Fight for your marriage and fight for your spouse.
2. Another marriage lesson: Do everything with love in your heart. Take the ego out of your marriage. ( I heard this at a wedding recently too)
3. Keep reading and be a lifelong learner.
4. You're only as old as you feel. Keep going and doing until you can't go and do anymore.
5. There's a time to be serious but you must have a sense of humor about life. Don't forget to laugh and laugh often.
6."You'll make a fine doctor...but use contraception until you're out of medical school." (This is my personal favorite).
7. A strong handshake is your best first impression.
8. Everything is better with bacon.  

If I think of anymore, I'll be sure to post them on Twitter. In the meantime, go talk to your grandparents and old ones in your life. I bet they have some exciting stories to tell! 

My favorite Grandpa!


  1. This is just amazing. :)

  2. This is so fabulous. I get all teary when I have to stop taking care of my favorite patients after just 12 hours. I can't imagine how sad you are to leave this couple! Taking care of people like this make it all so worth it. Love LOVE LOOOVED this post!


  3. "everything is better with bacon." haha by the way, my favorite wisdom is marriage lesson no. 2. Marriage problems come largely from ego. Ego is proving yourself right, comes out of fear of losing control. Marriage demands you to leave ego to make it last.


  4. Heather Pretty Strong MedicineJuly 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Thanks, Emily! I know what you mean about favorite patients - when I worked in a nursing home I always missed them and worried about them while I was gone!

  5. Heather Pretty Strong MedicineJuly 10, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    I feel like the marriage advice make sense for any relationship you want to be strong and last, even friendships! Thanks for stopping by :)

  6. Hey, I am not sure about his whole process...honestly, I was nominated by someone else. I nominated you for a Leibster Award. Come check out the post to find out what to do.

  7. Hey, I am not sure about his whole process...honestly, I was nominated by someone else. I nominated you for a Leibster Award. Come check out the post to find out what to do. The guest comment blow was me and I didn't sign in before trying to make it...sorry.