We are training a new aide, a certified nurse assistant (CNA) for EM, my quadriplegic, 85-year-old mother who came to live with me 18 months ago.
Our new CNA is from Nigeria, so I see her pause and translate in her mind the things I tell her to do, or details about EM's care or preferences. I admire people who can come to a new country, learn a new language, and I assume a new profession. There are enough challenges in daily life without adding that whole lot to it.
I'm also looking forward to learning about her and what brings her here, and how she lived before.
EM is reticent with the new aide. People with her diagnosis (multiple sclerosis) I've been told, have difficulty with transitions, but I don't believe it, I think my mother is just stubborn, sedentary and set in her ways. She's always been like this. She also has a fast tongue which is how she tests you.
If you don't get the joke, if you can't take the insult, she'll just ignore you.
Well. We don't have a choice about it when aides change out. The agencies who provide the helpers through Medicare funding make the choices about rotating their people. I am grateful for the help because EM cannot be left alone anymore; it's a long story of why I do not want to put her back in a nursing home - I'll save that for another day.
So EM argues with me today in front of our new CNA. She insists the woman will get along with her, or she'll get along with me, but not with both of us. She's telling me to buzz off.
I'm wondering why she is being crotchety when she has refused to eat much the last few days. A family member had a birthday yesterday and well, we kinda-sorta had ice cream and cake over several days, so EM is full of what she prefers: sweets. Of course she doesn't want real food.
Our new aide is good, though, coaxing "Mum" into eating one more bite of breakfast egg, one more spoonful of soup at lunch.
When it is time for her to leave, she says goodbye, I'll see you tomorrow, and mom says,
"Is that a promise or a threat?"
"A promise or a threat!" Our new CNA, Gloria, laughs.
Her eyes sparkle and I know she's going to work out fine.