Blanket and Juice Girl

I have been accepted into the fold — I am a genuine, lanyard wearing, uniformed S & W volunteer. I got the assignment I wanted…I am the blanket and juice girl in the chemo treatment center where I have spent the last 12 weeks. I went on Monday for the first time…I was there without any training except that which the nurses willingly and cheerfully provided. I told Susan and Len that although I liked it, I had a lot of down time. The nurses assured me that it was because it was MLK day and a Monday and to just wait. Basically, I just familiarized myself with the layout and where things were. I got the blankets out of the storeroom and put them in the warmer, made coffee, and cleaned the chairs, and served up what ever beverage, if any, that the patient wanted. AND, of course, brought the blankets. So, I thought I had it pretty well down pat. Well, then on Tuesday, the afternoon volunteer let me shadow her…Pat is a terrific trainer and clearly, I only thought I knew what needed to be done. The good news is that I had Monday to get familiar with the set up because I could not have internalized it all in one day.

What I didn’t realize is how much more cleaning is necessary. I wear gloves whenever cleaning, and always after removing the gloves and coming in and out of a pod, I use hand sanitizer. Pat explained how much more needed to be cleaned….it is a lot! The patient’s chair, visitor’s chair, pillow, linen changed, the IV stand, TV remote, electrical cords, etc. I never once sat down and believe me I was sore when I got home. The difference in patient traffic was significant. All chairs were full all the time, so as soon as one left, we scurried in to clean so the nurses could chart. I mean it, I was whipped when I got home. I hope I didn’t bite off more than I can chew…I plan to do three days a week while I am doing radiation–I am already there and it could work really well, time-wise.

Ooops, I forgot! I wear a beeper so when anyone goes into the cancer center’s shop, which is out in the lobby, the receptionists beep me to complete the transaction and/or show the customer anything in the display cabinet. Now anything at all involving making change makes me a wreck and credit card processing too. BUT there was this very nice customer who was in the center the day before who wanted to buy some cards….it was my solo flight. I did the entire transaction without fainting or over-charging her. But I know this about myself, if I feel rushed, all my insecurities multiply and my capabilities disappear. I am a firm believer that anxiety makes you stupid.

The time spent in the chemo center is VERY, very rewarding, even if it is exhausting. I learned so much during these two days. I am lousy at prayer. Lousy. But my core was so touched to see people who really were challenged. I find it easy to focus on their needs with positive intention aka pray. I had it so easy. As I go from station to station to offer blankets, juice, and whatever, I get a clear sense from the patient if they want me to help or to they prefer total privacy. I can do both and I am committed not to be a nuisance. I did get to do a couple of scarf lessons and cheered on one bell ringer.

Going to bed. I wanted to go back and correct typos from previous entry–I may just do that later when I print up journal into a book. It is way to easy to make errors when I am in ‘flow’ or tired. Oh well, I am not moved to do it now.

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One Response to “Blanket and Juice Girl”

  1. Lou Ann Weaks Says:

    I’m exhausted just reading about your new position. You are a great example of helping yourself through helping others. Bless you for your great capacity for compassion for others and the fact that you have been through this will be so much more meaningful to them than someone who hasn’t. You are my hero!!! Lou Ann

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