I was basically living in a bubble, thinking that I was getting old and going over the hill. There is no way that I can think of myself as an old person now. I feel incredibly young and healthy instead. I don't say this in a stuck up way, I say this because that's how the patients view me. I'm just a child to them. They are constantly telling me I'm too young to know such and such. It's beautiful.
But back to growing old, I discovered that elderly people get incredibly wrinkled. They don't get wrinkles from smiling, like young people. They get wrinkled because they lose most of the fat under their skin. Their muscles are shrunken as well. If you can imagine what would happen to you if you sucked all of the fat out of your body, including under your skin, and deflated your muscles, you can imagine a little bit of what your skin might look like afterwards. The skin is very thin too, like rice paper.
I felt sad looking at these elderly patients because I wished that they could run around and dance and do things that young people do, but they can't. One of my patients looked into the mirror one morning and groaned. "I look terrible," she said. I told her she didn't look terrible at all, but I wondered what it must be like to look into the mirror and to see an old person looking back one day.
In some ways, working with elderly people makes me not want to grow old. You become so fragile and if you get sick you depend on nurses for even the most simple tasks. However, some of these patients warmed my heart.
One patient told me that she thinks of me as "Nurse with a #1 beside it". I'm sure she says this to everyone, but I beamed anyways. Others regaled me with stories of their youth and they had done so much! Some had even been nurses themselves! They told me how different things were back then. Others were simply polite and sweet, never taking any of your actions for granted.
I was amazed at being able to help people, just like I had wanted, all day. It was amazing and special to me, and I liked it very much.
We were shadowing nurses this past week, helping them wherever we could, but this coming week we'll be taking care of a single patient in pairs. I am excited to meet my new patient, and I look forward to learning more about nursing and about these wonderful clients!
I wish you all a lovely week!