I am crying, sobbing like a baby… well it is PMS time so I am bound to cry over something. This time I am crying out of sadness and anger. I don’t know if it were not for PMS if I would be this emotional, but right now I feel so misunderstood and unappreciated.
It turns out that my days volunteering at the nursing home are over! Yep, you heard me right, over! That didn’t last longer. It took longer to get everything in order to volunteer.
Here is what happened:
I normally go to the nursing home on Monday nights for 2 hours and I just visit the residents. In the beginning they were not sure what I would be doing, so they had me tag along and visit, and I realized that is what I enjoy doing. I feel I would be the most helpful bringing joy and warmth to some people that seem to be forgotten.
This week I couldn’t go on Monday because I went to the opening night at the US Open tennis, so I wrote an email that I was going Tuesday instead. I went Tuesday and was very happy when one of the nurses told me how happy and appreciative they were that I was able to go and visit. I had asked her to let me know if I was interfering with anything. She said absolutely not, that in fact I am a big help and I should come as often as I can.
That evening J., one of the residents, mentioned needing to talk to me (she has been talking about finding me a boyfriend – lol) but she couldn’t do it at that moment because her roommate was already sleeping. She made me promised to return the following evening (Wed).
Because of the comments of the nurse I was under the impression that I could show up at any time. So I returned on Wednesday to see J, and of course, since I was already there, I went on to say hello to some of the others.
As I was leaving 2 hours later, around 8pm, the Head Nurse was at the front lobby desk and with an attitude she started questioning me and asking me if anyone knew I was there. I said that I was there visiting and I didn’t think that they needed to know when I visited. After all, visitors are allowed in any time until 10pm. I mentioned to her that if the problem was that I signed the volunteer book I wouldn’t do that next time.
I was offended and could feel my face burning up and I walked out holding back the tears. I am a very sensitive creature to begin with and PMS turns me into a cry baby. My first instinct was to get home and immediately send an email to the Director of Volunteers and quit, but because I am becoming more aware of myself, actions and reactions I decided not to act on impulse. I also know that the end of the month is her busiest time of the month and decided to respect that and talk to her later.
Well, it turns out that S. spoke to the director and here is the email I received from her:
” I really appreciate your enthusiasm in volunteering and coming in late in the evenings to visit.. However, you really should only volunteer when our staff members are present. Also, please continue letting me know if you decide to come in (like you have been doing) on days that you were not originally planning to, so I can let my staff and/or front desk know.. On Monday and Tuesday 2K and 2S, you can volunteer up until 8PM with D., and then for the rest of the week, B. and D. are only there till 7PM. So I guess for the front desk person, it looked a little strange when you showed up after the recreation people were no longer there (even if they were, their work hour would be over by then). It this situation changes, I will let you know (as I really think we do need evening visitors!)—that is if you can just come in even when the staff members are not here.. But I will just need to clear it with the administration. Hope that’s Ok with you! Again, thank you so much for everything. Our residents and recreation staff love you!! My ladies think you are great with the residents!”
Here is my reply: (and I did reply on impulse…oh well…so much for getting to know myself and working on not being so reactive all the time)
“No it is not okay with me. I didn’t appreciate how S. talked to me yesterday. That was after being very happy when B. (she dispenses medicine) told me how great it was that I could come and visit on Tuesdays. I guess I was under the wrong impression that I could show up any time and visit my friends.
I showed up yesterday because I had promised J. I would. I guess I should have not signed the volunteer book. My visit was going to be only 15 minutes but I lost track of timing as I decided to say hello to my others resident.
It is very unfortunate that you have to take time out of your busy schedule to deal with this. So I will just make it easy on everybody and not volunteer anymore. I thank you and apologize for wasting your time. But that old saying is really true: “No good deed goes unpunished!”
I hope it will not be a problem for me to still show up as visitor to visit some of the new dear friends I have made. I would hate for them to think that I just abandoned them! Let me know if there is anyone I need to speak to in regards to that. I guess I can just check on the website for the visiting hours.
Again I am sorry you had to waste time for something I did.”
So my plan is to go back to visit my new friends. I am sure they cannot stop me from doing that. The residents know me and have huge smiles when they see me. When I say good bye they always ask me to come again.
I realize that at this moment I feel on my skin the way the residents feel. They all tell me that they don’t like to be told what to do and when to do it. Because I always visit in the evenings I witness them having to wait around to be put to bed. I understand the staff does their best and try to accommodate everyone as quick as they can and with a smile, but still to the resident is a loss of their independence and control over their own lives. I try to play it off and say how we are all slaves to some sort of clock and rules. I mention having to wait for things all the time such as a train or an appointment, and having to respect a schedule at work (which I actually don’t but the point is making them feel they are not alone in feeling helpless and out of control at times).
I understand them. I hate being told what to do, especially in this case when I know I am doing good and only have goodness in my heart. Their smiles and laughter at the crazy stories I tell them about my life (I tell them about dates and my family and day to day happenings) not only tell me that I am bringing joy, but it warms my heart and brings me joy.
Lucky for me I am not a resident there, I don’t have to play politics with this nursing home at this point. I don’t have to obey their rules. At this point in my life I can just walk away from things I don’t like.
I am not afraid of growing old or dying, I am afraid of becoming dependent on others.
As I was about to publish this I get a reply to my reply:
I am sorry this is how you feel. I would not want to lose you as a volunteer. Maybe we can talk on the phone. I spoke with S, and she really did not mean anything bad. She said she was sorry you felt the way you did. She was just doing her job. We did have bad some experiences with unsupervised evening visitors. We also recently had instances of people just coming in and roaming around.. So we have undertaken extra-precautions. Our primary concern is residents’ safety. And that is why it is a the front desk’s person job to make sure they know who people are visiting , where they are going and why. That is why the volunteer hours are specifically agreed upon by both volunteers and myself, so that I can tell the night staff that people are coming.. For instance, your first day here, I told everyone that you were coming and to expect you. Of course, mature and responsible volunteers like yourself can probably visit in the evenings on their own, but I, as a director, am responsible for where they are going, and if I am not here, then, it’s other staff members who need to keep track—again, it’s really all done for residents’ safety. Also, in my experience, you are the first volunteer who wanted to put in extra time—which is wonderful and much appreciated, but unfortunately, it is not common. I have just undertaken the volunteer department last November, so it will take some time for people to get used to and understand how to treat different volunteers who only want to visit out of goodness of their hearts. But again, in the evenings, we do have to be extra-careful-that is why all we ask to let us know ahead of time.. I would love to talk to you more on the phone to explain, — maybe next week?
What next? I don’t know! I don’t feel like replying. I don’t feel like wasting any more time and breath on this. I just know that all this seems stupid, a waste of people’s time and effort on a problem that shouldn’t be a problem to begin with. Everyone is so worried about making sure they are “doing their jobs” and covering their ass. What about reason and common sense?
… perhaps I am extra sensitive now, perhaps in a few days I will have a different view.
to be continued …