Savannah Delffs: First Place

Christian Care Center of Unicoi County Erwin, Tennessee

Over my short but very quick year and a half as a CNA, I have had many friends ask me what it is like to do this job and if I would recommend it. There are many things I could say. I could say that this job is simple. That every time I come off the floor I leave it all there and don’t worry about it. Yet I always choose to tell them the truth. I tell them that they should not choose to do this because they think it will be easy and will look good on a college application. This job is hard. It will wear you down and there are times where you will want to quit. It will push you, emotionally and physically. There will be days where you will want to hide in the linen closet and scream or cry or both. There will be a time when you go home covered in too many bodily fluids that do not belong to you and you will question every choice that led you to taking the exam in the first place.

But amid the doubt there always comes a moment that changes everything. I like to call it a heart cracking moment because you feel so many things at once that you think your heart will crack and it tends to come when every single call light is going off and you feel like you need six of you to keep up. This moment is when that one resident who everyone knows, the man or woman who is notoriously hateful or has a rude family or they don’t respond to your existence at all, looks at you and simply says thank you. Just those two small words make you feel like you have done the most important job you could ever do.

Sometimes you are the first person those people see when they wake up and the last person they see before they go to sleep. You bathe them, you feed them, you change them, and you love them. You become the daughter they haven’t seen in years. You become their brother or sister, their husband or wife. You learn to answer to the name of the person they think you are, and you smile every time they get a look of joy on their face when someone from the past walks in. You become a part of their family and they become a part of yours. You learn their schedules inside and out. You will remember how they take their coffee for years and you will know they prefer strawberry ice cream instead of the chocolate. You learn so much by just listening when some of them no longer have a voice of their own.

When you say, “I am a CNA,” there is going to be one consistent answer. “So, you’re a glorified butt wiper?” No. You are so much more. You will become the family member when a resident’s family no longer visits. You are the comforting hands that they hold when they are scared. You are the voice that is comforting when their time here is coming to an end. You are the person who closes their eyes for the last time. Sometimes you will be all those people have. But when someone assumes you are “just a butt wiper” you will know you are doing something so much more than that and it is all worth it. This job will change you. When you are at home with your family you will be thinking about the man or woman who had a rough day. You will remember 500 things you should have done or forgot to give in report. There is no way to leave it all on the floor when you leave if you truly love what you are doing. Your family grows tenfold and you will remember names long after they are gone. You will give so much you think there is no possible way you will be able to do any more, but the next day you’re right back doing it all over again. So, when I am asked if I recommend doing this, I always smile and think, “I was made for this.” But I always simply say yes, I do.