"can someone who has already been down this path prepare me for what to expect?"
no one can really tell you what to expect ... every patient, co-worker and facility is different.
i have worked at a few ltc facilities. these are some things that come to mind right now -
a facility may appear 'great' at first impression (nice furniture at the entrance or common areas), then you find out there is a shortage of linens, supplies, etc.
a patient who walks and talks may require more of your time than a totally dependent patient.
i have heard co-workers tell new cna grads "forget everything you learned in school." some co-workers will do no more than what is on his/her assignment list. when i was new i asked for help in transferring a patient, i had a couple of co-workers say "i don't need to ask for help with her/him". at first it made me feel like a weakling, but i got over it. my rule is safety first - for the patient and myself. when in doubt, i always ask for help.
keeping in mind that someday i may be a patient, while working i try to think of small things that bring a little happiness to a patient ... after lunch i do my best to return one patient to her room so that she can watch "days of our lives".
"just remember that communication is very important to any working relationship, don't be afraid to speak your mind (tactfully) if you have problems with co-workers." been there, done that, have learned to keep my mouth shut most of the time.
being a cna in ltc can be a tough job. i've never said i enjoy my job, i have often said that i 'like' my job and find it very rewarding.