Stepping behind the veil

We were told early on that our journey would not be one that most wouldn’t understand. Stepping into healthcare is stepping through a closed door into a world of both beauty and torment that most aren’t privy to.
It was my day to work in the shower room. I was greeted by middle aged woman with a bubbly disposition. She was a veteran CNA and obviously had wonderful report with her residents. This was also a second if not a third job she worked to support her houshold.
She showed me around the room as it began to fill with steam. She revealed me a tub of body wash, deodorant, and lotions. She explained that she liked to give them a little something special when she could. She winked and I realized she had purchased these things with her own money.
It wasn’t long until the stalls started filling up. I was directed to one and we worked assembly line style. Once you got to me you were already disrobed and ready for washing. The room got hotter and wetter by the minute as I got more somber. There were those with diseases of the mind which had stripped them of their logic and sometimes even their speech. As I washed, I couldn’t escape the notion that their healthy and unaffected self was just under the surface, scratching and begging to be acknowledged, to be valued, and to be loved. There were also those whose ailments were physical. They would often apologize for the burden they believed themselves to be or say nothing at all. they’d just stare at me, eyes begging for any shred of dignity I could offer. Did they know I was nobody? Little more than a stranger off the street who was given some cloths to wash with, I had no credentials and no experience. I felt I was doing these men and women such a disservice with my clumsy hands and terrified expression. I don’t even think I was able to conversate with them as they probably truly needed. I was far too stricken.
That day I left in soggy shoes that I barely noticed. It was my first peek into a world that most are shielded from. I was quite brokenhearted, yes, but it was more pride I felt. Not pride for my performance that day, far from it, but pride in the profession that I had chosen that is filled with people who really want to make a world of difference even in the smallest ways.

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