The Return of eLf ideas

ideas of an eLven being in Canada

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Work Is a Four-Letter Word

August 1, 2006

While writing, songs are playing:
The Bluebells - "Forever More"
Tuesday Blue - "Tunnel Vision"
1 000 Violins - "If I Were a Bullet (Then for Sure I'd Find a Way to Your Heart)"

Gully dwarves! Last week was the busiest week (for my own's sake) of my Canadian life. I wished for a job, and I got two! Thanks, Fate! You've been very kind and considerate. And, thank you, my Muses, for despite my preoccupation with my new jobs, you continue to bless my pen with prolificity and my mind with an insatiable thirst for reading. And so I continue writing. And so I keep on reading. I just finished the following DC books:

Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volumes One to Four
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Zero Hour

Now, I'm juggling Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer (DC Comics, 2005) and One Hundred Modern Poems, selected by Selden Rodman (Mentor Books, 1949).

I just finished writing three articles for The Filipino Journal: "May Dugo Ka Bang Makata?", "Mahilig Ka Ba sa Rock Music?", and "Sino ang Mag-aalaga sa 'Yo sa Iyong Pagtanda?", all of which are yet to be published, since that my series Engkanto is still running.

Reading and Writing
These will always be my catalysts in maintaining a healthy homeostasis and a sense of sanity and focus amidst the stress and weariness caused by work. As always, pen and notebook
remain to be my constant companions.

Health Care Aide
After my fruitful yet mind-and-body-exhausting orientation (or what is called "shadowing") as a health care aide (HCA) on July 27, Thursday, at Tuxedo Villa, a nursing home, the agency that hired me despatched me the following Saturday and Sunday at the same nursing home.

The Thursday orientation went smoothly, especially that I worked more only as an assistant and observer. The health care aide of whom I served as a "shadow" was named Carmen Lucero, a 45-year-old Filipina who was working as a HCA for so many years. I was lucky because she was so patient and kind with a newcomer like me, assisting me as much as she could. I was so clueless on my first day with regard to the procedures, techniques, and operating the machines like the mechanical lifts (hoyer lift and sara lift) and the automatic bath tubs and commodes. If I was a faulty droid, my memory chips would have overloaded.

Real Work
I was given a dose of the real thing on the following Saturday! Add to that, before even starting to work, I was already tired. Why? My shift was 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Tuxedo Villa is very far from home. I leave the house at 5:10 in the morning, to be able to catch the first bus at the nearest stop. First bus arrives at 5:45. (Oh yeah, buses strictly observe the time schedule.) I alight somewhere in Downtown Winnipeg to transfer to another bus, at 6:22. I reach Tuxedo Villa at around 6:40.

7:00 a.m. - the Nursing Coordinator calls a meeting of all the staff assigned at her station (Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Health Care Aides). I was despatched at Station 3. The NC reads the reports from the previous shifts, gives the new assignments, and off everyone goes to carry out her tasks. Each HCA is given an average of 9 residents (palliative cases = elderly who are in the twilights of their lives). I was so nervous because I was clueless about what to do. Luckily, there was another Filipina health care aide, named Mernie, who took the time to assist me in almost every task that I needed to do. Thank you very much!

7:15 - 8:50 - all 9 residents should have already been put to the washroom for their morning toilet needs, washed, changed clothes and diapers, groomed (in time for breakfast); and mind you, most of these residents (females and males) are above 80 (there was one who was 104!) and are already incoherent and immobile, they can no longer think well nor can they walk or even move on their own. What then? So, here enters the mechanical lifts. The health care aide transfers each resident from the bed to the wheelchair using either a hoyer or a Sara lift, depending on the resident's degree of immobility. The difficulty lies in the use of the slings. One mistake with the slings and the resident may fall or break a bone. Until now, after two days of exposure, I am yet to feel confident in using the lifts without assistance from another HCA.

9:00 - 10:00 - groomed residents should already be in their designated dining areas. HCAs feed those who cannot eat on their own.

10:00 - 11:30 - HCAs bring their residents to either back to their rooms or to the leisure area, depending on the health care plan. They attend again to the residents' toilet needs. While the residents rest comfortably in their wheelchairs, HCAs do the bedmaking and make sure the rooms plus toilets are free of any soiled diapers or dirty clothes or linens.

Coffee break = 15 minutes

11:30 - 12:30 - Lunch time; feeding time again

Lunch break

An observation--since that English must be strictly observed in the work area, only during break times at the staff lounges can one hear the Filipino language. Yeah, there are many Filipinos working in the healthcare field. Funnily, though I hate to reveal this, I will anyway, gossips are usually the flavor of conversation of many Filipinos I encounter. I also observed that people--regardless of race--have the tendency to mingle and to group with their fellow races. Perhaps, this gives them a sense of belongingness. However, I intentionally avoid flocking with birds of my own race as much as possible. Of course, I easily relate with my fellow compatriots, but I made sure I also mingle with the other races. I want to broaden my multicultural perspective.

Aside from Filipinos, Blacks/Africans (Sudanese, Jaimacans, Nigerians) are also common in the workplace. Like Filipinos, they enjoy talking about their countries--how beautiful these are. I've always been fascinated in engaging other races in a conversation. This helps in changing my paradigms about their cultures.

For sure, many people (especially Filipinos), always associate Africa to either jungles or arid lands because of the popularity of the poor areas of African countries like Ethiopia. However, we have to realize that, like any other country (which includes USA and Canada), African countries have both the rich and beautiful parts as well as the impoverished regions.

When my tablemates are in gossip mode, I just keep quiet. I try to divert the conversation to harmless topics by usually asking questions like "Gaano na kayo katagal sa Canada?", "Kailan huling uwi n'yo sa Pilipinas?", "Ano ba ang maibibigay n'yong tips sa akin para mapabilis ang trabaho?" Things like that.


1:00 - 2:00 - put the residents back to their beds after attending once again to their toilet needs, using once again the mechanical lifts; make sure the beds' siderails are applied and that residents are in comfortable positions and that their diapers are dry (if not, change these)

2:00 - start making the end-of-shift report or what's called the health care plan.

3:00 - end of shift, end of work, you can now breathe


July 29, Saturday
3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

However, my agency called me around 2:00, asking me to extend until 9 p.m. I stayed. I want to learn more. And of course, that meant extra pay. Luckily, the task next assigned to me was relatively easier. I just served as a companion to this particular octagenarian resident named Wilf, who bugs everyone because he shouts "Help!" literally every several minutes.

I left the villa dead tired. I headed to the apartment of friends Lhoy and Eugene in downtown, where the birthday of our friend Joy were being celebrated and where I would be sleeping over, for I'd be back at Tuxedo Villa the next day, for another day of hard work, same shift, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Luckily, friend Chit who stays in the Tuxedo area also was also sleeping over Lhoy's. She dropped me off at the villa in the morning.

July 30, Sunday

I would like to believe that I was adjusting gradually but smoothly because, compared to my state on the previous Saturday, I was less stressed out. When 3 p.m. struck, I felt so relieved.

Saturday night when I was at Lhoy's, I got the message from Tito Ren that A&W finally called, giving my work schedule. I was supposed to come to work on the Sunday, but I couldn't, I was at work at Tuxedo Villa. I called A&W as soon as I get the chance. I got the rest of my work schedule:

Monday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday - 11:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday - 11:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Today, Tuesday, I just came home from work at A&W. Compared to what I am doing as a health care aide, my job at A&W, as a front-area staff member, is easy. I feel so relaxed. After two days of work, I'm already confident in manning the cashier, taking orders and talking with English-speaking customers. The great thing about working at A&W, I get to speak English all the time. My coworkers consist of mostly Caucasians, a few fellow Filipinos, and some Indians. As usual, I'm lucky because my coworkers are all supportive, they take time to teach me with the tasks.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll go to the healthcare agency after my A&W work, to get my new assignments as a health care aide.

As I already mentioned in a previous blog entry, my current pay at A&W is $7.75/hour, while as a health care aide, $12/hour. But I plan to retain A&W, mainly because I feel that this job will serve as my breather for my very taxing work as a health care aide. I finally organized my work schedule. I decided that, Monday to Wednesday, I'll be at A&W; Thursday to Saturday, I'll pick up work as a health care aide. Sunday will be my rest day.

With these new activities, I'm really learning a lot. I hope that all the tasks that I'm entailed to carry out in my two jobs will become easier and second nature in due time.

I'm still on my homestudy, but inevitably, my pace became slower. But I will carry on.

Also, this afternoon, after A&W, I visited the office of another newspaper here, Ang Peryodiko, the president (Alan Canlas) of which I met at a gathering months ago. Now that I'm a regular columnist at The Filipino Journal, I had now the confidence to ask him if he's interested in publishing articles by me. I knew that he knew about my articles in TFJ. He said, "Give me some articles you want to be published, and I'll tell you if these fit my newspaper. I want the articles to be in straight English." I said, "No problem. I'll be back soon."

Songs playing now:
Acid House Kings - "Thirteen Again"
Stars - "Look Up"
Adorable - "Glorious"
The Haywains - "Why Did I Ever Turn You Down?"
Barenaked Ladies - "Everything Old Is New Again"

I try to document every blessing and adventure and misadventure that come my way. For in the future, all of these will serve as sources of inspiration to go on with life despite the constant struggles and obstacles. Just like how I'm converting into positivity all the negative energies that I got to absorb during the time I was taking care of Grandfather.

Now, I can say that I am able now to flap with ease my fairy wings. Only time will tell if these wings can really soar me to much greater heights in the near future.

All I can only do now is believe...

Move on.
Work hard.
But take time to enjoy books and music, as usual.
Continue to write
And to keep in touch with family, loved ones, and friends.

And, most of all...

Never forget to look back at where I came from and to remember how I started my life here in Canada.

"Everything old is new again
Everything under the sun..."


Post a Comment

<< Home