In high school I started candy striping at the local hospital. I would like to clarify that I said striping, not stripping. I loved it. I love hospitals and really hope to work in one some day. Yes, I even love the smell of a hospital. It doesn’t smell like death and illness to me, it smells like miracles and hope. It breaks my heart that some patients don’t get any visitors in the hospital and knowing that the smile and pudding cups I deliver could brighten someone’s day just a little bit is worthwhile.
When the candy striping gig ended after high school I continued to volunteer at the long term care facility at the hospital. I would help feed residents, plan celebrations and events, visit with residents and do nails, crafts, and more.
When I moved to Alberta I was looking for something to fill the volunteer void in my life. I sought out the hospital volunteer centre but the head coordinator was off on leave and that left me to find other facilities. I stumbled upon the Citadel Care Facility, a long term care facility for seniors who are unable to live on their own. I spend my time with the Occupational Therapy Department and help them take residents for walks, perform assisted range of motion exercises, bring residents to the stationary leg bike and stationary arm bike and move wheelchairs around to various departments in the building. I love interacting with the residents and the OT staff are unreal.
Some days the residents make me laugh, others they make me want to cry, and most days they make me think. When many of the residents need assistance with walking, eating, or performing simple movements, I think about how much I take for granted in my life. I get up every day and don’t have to think about how I will get out of bed or get dressed – I just do it. I don’t have to wait until someone comes to feed me, I just go to the fridge and grab some food. I complain when my Garmin battery dies because then it won’t show how far I have run, but I should be thankful that I can even go for a run. I am young, I am healthy, and I am thankful. I don’t think there is a single aspect of my life that I can complain about – except when there is no peanut butter in my house because that is just ridiculous – and so I will continue to run, bike, swim, and exercise my heart out, and APPRECIATE it whenever I do, because my body might not be able to do all of those things forever! Keep walking, running, and doing what YOU love because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Live today to the fullest.
Stories from the care centre are always entertaining to say the least. The saying goes, “Kids say the darnedest things,” but it may be the elderly that say some even more wild things. I enjoy my time there and hope to spend lots more time with the OT department throughout the school year!