And so my new job was a nightmare.
After accidentally setting off the fire alarm, putting a patient’s catheter on wrong (how was I supposed to know?), and making tea the American way, I finally worked up enough courage to bow before the ‘matron’ and beg her to let me do a different shift. I couldn’t handle the switched nights and days and was fast getting depressed. The 6 night shifts I had done were all I could handle, and so the matron switched me, in an evil gracious way, to evening shifts.
At least I was getting more sleep. But the attitudes of the other assistants were even worse than the night ladies, who may have been too tired to be any nastier. These ladies were even more venomous, and once again, I was looked upon as a nuisance and as a cause of extra work for them. Plus, I was still a skinny weakling, and never provided enough muscle when two of us would lift a patient to their bed or chair. They would literally swear at me while we were lifting… actually both the patient AND the assistant or nurse would swear. But at least the patient could claim dementia as the reason for the swearing.
At some point, as I got a little better at the job (for which I received no formal training), they at least returned to only gossiping about me behind my back in loud whispers, and got back to the polite smiles again. I also got a little more adjusted to the culture and got better at ‘holding my own’… although I knew I would never ‘be one of them’…
Meanwhile, at home, I immersed myself in prayer and cross stitch. I had no social life or friends, since the only people I knew were from work, and so I turned to my family for friendship. I attended daily Mass and said extra prayers, like the rosary and Liturgy of the Hours with my mother at Immaculate Conception. And because of the never-ending persecution at work, and the amount of increased prayer at home, I felt closer to God than I had ever been before. It was almost as if I was living a religious life as a nun. My life was simple and focused on God.
However, not long after I turned 19, my dad’s physical and mental health started to deteriorate. His depression increased, probably a combination of feeling like a failure as a father and also the realization of heart disease at such a young age (mid 40’s). Tension increased steadily at home as my brother sought to get the heck out of there and join the military, and my sister retreated into her own world of books and school friends. I had no relief at my work place, so I had no where to go when the tension became unbearable. It began to look to me as if no where was safe, no where was enjoyable, everything was darkness, and there was no end in sight.
Until, Prince Charming walked into the cafeteria at the nursing home.
…to be continued…