I would like to welcome Jessica Lasa’s guest post. Let’s take a moment together to read as she shares a heartfelt real-life story about being a caregiver and a precious memorable patient “The Story of Hugh.”
This is just an everyday real life story. It’s a story of a man, like so many others I have, where I was taking care of patients, but actually, they gave me just as much as I gave them. Working as a caregiver, my back and feet hurt but my heart was full every day because of patients like this.
I had been working at a care facility for about three years when I met Hugh. By then, I had seen all types of patients. The loud ones, the mute ones, the inappropriate ones, the mean ones, but none of them were quite like Hugh.
Hugh came to us on the Transitional Care Unit; meaning he would transition home or to a long term care facility based on his progress in physical therapy. I did not make it a habit to read people’s charts because their diagnoses didn’t really matter. The nurses printed what we needed to know on a sheet of paper that was updated weekly. Important info on the sheet included transfer status (could they walk), toileting procedures and any dietary or fluid restrictions. They did not say, Hugh is a kind man and hilarious when he rarely opens his mouth, but I would soon discover this on my own.
Hugh was a tree trunk of a man, not fat or flabby, but thick from head to toe. He was a shorter man, but he could no longer walk and used a wheelchair. It was hard for him to get out of bed because, as you know, a tree trunk doesn’t bend well. I would get him up every morning and take him to the bathroom on the mechanical lift to dress and change him. I would politely explain what I was going to do and he never uttered a word, just nodded his fuzzy head once in reply.
I learned that he loved chocolate. He would get hot chocolate or chocolate pudding any time it was offered to him.
“You really like chocolate, don’t you, Hugh?” I asked as another CNA and I got him ready for an afternoon nap.
“Do you know what the best candy bar in the world is?” He asked us, as slow as molasses.
“No, what’s that?” Mercedes asked him.
“Uno candy bar.” He said with a smile.
Wow! That was an old one. We explained to him that we had never had one before but it sounded delicious. One day, the following week he silently waved us into his room where he gave us each an “Uno candy bar” that he had his family bring for us. I sat on his bed and enjoyed it as he watched smiling.
“Yes, Hugh! I think you are right. This is so good!!”
We took care of Hugh for months. And I only heard him speak a handful of times. Once after his bath, I was done dressing him and putting on his shoes and he said, “You have beautiful hands.”
“Thank you, so much.” I said.
“My wife had beautiful hands.” He said as my heart shattered in pieces.
For some reason, Hugh didn’t like to lie in bed much but he would fall asleep in his wheelchair every day watching TV. He liked the warm blankets but they didn’t stay warm long. I went to check on him and he was shivering.
“Do you want a warm blanket? You look cold, I’ll go get one!” and I ran out the door. I came back with the blanket and was wrapping him up, when he looked right at me and said, slow as molasses, “I’m shakin’ like a dog passing peach seeds.” And he grinned a little. A laughed so hard, I hadn’t heard that phrase from anyone but my dad and it absolutely made my day.
One time while Hugh was with us when the nurses decided we should put on a show for the residents. Each section of the care facility picked an old Elvis song and we took turns performing it in front of everyone. We wore Hawaiian shirts and leis and played pretend guitars while pretending to surf. I made sure that Hugh got a front row seat. We had to go back to work after our song but Hugh stayed there to watch the rest of the show. When another aide wheeled him back later I said, “There you are, Hugh!! Did you have some cake?” and he said with the biggest smile, “No, but I had a good time.” And it just melted my heart.
Hugh ended up going to the Long Term Care side of the facility and I ended up going on to pediatrics but Hugh will always go down as one of my favorite patients because he was so gentle and never said a word, unless it was something special.
I hope you enjoyed reading Jessica’s guest post. Share how you this heartfelt real life story has encouraged you. Take a moment to checkout Jessica Lasa’s blog and all his socials.
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