A different kind of shock rocked me on this particular Saturday. In walked the instructor and gone was the long-flowing-down-her-shoulders hair and in its place was what I now know is a sort of Bantu style of tied knots of hair that some black women choose if they style it short. It was a 100% change and did nothing to soften what was already a hard exterior.
ENJOY ALL PRIOR PARTS HERE⤵︎
Leading up to Saturday 3, I studied a bit more, made notes on note cards, and enlisted John for patient role demonstration skill purposes. We have a small, twin-sized fold-up bed in the rare instances we host more than two overnight guests. I dragged that out and gathered various props that would serve as the needed supplies. John played the role of “patient in coma”, which meant he was not responsive in any way and didn’t provide any “patient help” at all.
“Please, Mr. John, cross your arms, now cross your legs, now shift toward me, now please, Mr. John, roll to your side, and outstretch your arm to support you” – all fell on deaf ears and closed eyes, which meant I was crossing his arms and legs myself, trying to pull him toward me myself (not by the neck!), and pushing him over instead of him rolling himself. “This is how it is in the real world,” smirked John, the immovable patient. “Yes, but for entry CNAs, I doubt they’re going to place them in the Coma ward!, ” I shot back.
I practiced a bit more and knew that I had to know how to dress/redress a patient. But I was a nervous wreck. And this was the first where there was an inkling of internal questioning about why I was putting myself through this; what I hoped to get from it; and whether it was worth it.
The classroom portion came and went and back again, and we found ourselves in the skills demonstration room. I was sitting there and the inkling of doubt turned into a big desire to bolt. I actually sat there and debated on whether to just leave. I wasn’t going to demonstrate my skill to the standard this person was judging, and I was just having anxiety over this entire part. I’ve been a performer on stages for a long time and absolutely love that, but being “on display and subject to criticism” when I’m not as prepared as I’m expected to be is the absolute worst. But therein lies the rub, right? “Not as prepared as I’m expected to be…” I did prepare more for this third round in the ring, and just tried to let go of the expectations part, but I’m not naturally wired that way, and that takes a real conscious everyday-thinking-kind-of-effort to let go of the expectations of others, real or just perceived. But again, I was sitting there and thinking, I don’t need this, I’m outta here. But just as I was about to gather my stuff and get up, an internal voice out of nowhere shot through my brain and speared right through all these doubting and lousy feelings, and told myself to sit my ass back down and complete the rest of this very short commitment.
Once again, the instructor started hollering out the commands, “Who’s up, let’s go guys, you’re too slow, you need to get in the habit of doing things quickly but not rushed, and to do that you have to practice. Let’s go, c’mon, who’s up?” Someone else was up and I just concentrated on my note card and went through the steps as I had memorized them. Even though I knew I was going to stumble, I felt I had some of the parts down, in the order they were supposed to be executed.
And then I’m called, “Ryan, c’mon, dress/redress, let’s go.” I successfully and correctly did the indirect care, and made my way over to the sink to wash my hands. At home, I taped a card to the bathroom mirror with all the handwashing steps and for three days leading up to this Saturday, literally talked the steps through while I was washing my hands for the full required three minutes each and every single time. The waste of water bothered me but I had to practice. I decided to do the same “talk through each step” process as I washed my hands there in the skills room.
I was quick to get my supplies, and quick to start the process, doing each step mostly correctly, and the instructor was helping with her comments mostly and let me get through about halfway when she stopped me. I had done one part completely wrong, but that didn’t matter, she was impressed that I had clearly practiced and was talking through each step of the skill which no one had been doing. She used me as an example and said, “See, when you read, you study, you practice, you can do it – good effort, Ryan.” I decided to inject a bit of humor and said, “Thanks, I just didn’t want to get yelled at!” Everyone broke up at that, and even the instructor cracked a half smile. We all watched her finish up my skill and sat back down. My classmate to the left turned to me and asked if I was already in the medical field. I laughed and said no, but that I had practiced a bit during the week.
Like a kid, I was riding high from my effort being recognized, but that was short-lived. We finished up Saturday number three with the skills of recording pulse and respirations. For these two skills, we used each other to take a pulse and observe respirations. The fact that we were using each other (obviously Ms. Suzie wouldn’t work), and that we both were sitting in a chair opposite one another, as opposed to addressing an unresponsive plastic mannequin lying in bed, totally threw me so I messed up by not even doing indirect care the first time when it was my turn. I screwed up a second time, but the instructor let me go on, and then I couldn’t find the person’s pulse, and the instructor told me to just sit down and relax.
I was the final student that day to demonstrate those skills once more, and despite the anxiety, I overcame it and ended up recording the exact data that the instructor recorded as she was observing. Sometimes what feels like insane internal pressure works for me rather than against me, but not often.
The afternoon ended with her telling us that in fact, the school said she was not allowed to adjust the time of the class, which meant that we would instead meet in two weeks for the last class. Thank goodness, a break!