Friday, January 30, 2009

Life IS Good

Maybe it is one of my props, but I do feel inspired as I spot this sticker on my car after a busy work day. Kudos to the guys who came up with the happy little emblem that reminds us.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Please. Not the pedestal.

As I was talking with the patient about his discharge, he said, "It's the doctor's fault." The doctor's fault that he was addicted to opiates? In truth, maybe so, though I refused to agree, preferring to state how we humans need to be responsible for our own bodies, and how he in particular needed to make better personal decisions. But it did make me think about what it is that sets doctors apart from other professions. I guess the most glaring is that they once they finish medical school, they are awarded this title of "doctor" and are subsequently called "doctor" professionally for the rest of their lives. Then we have media teaching about exercise and diet and ads for drugs but all say "Check with your doctor first," as if no one else has a brain in their head. And then you have those crisp white coats that wrap around an air of arrogance. I can see why someone might fall under their spells. While there are some fine and wonderful doctors, there are also some who are unethical and less than fully informed. I totally believe in necessary medical care, but, buyer beware, there are as many medical horror stories as there are saved lives.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hay for Bread

For the past three weeks or so it has been full steam ahead for the nurse in me. I figure that in this age of economic and employment woes, I might as well make hay while the sun shines, thank you Lord. I even get a few free meals thrown in. At home I would adamantly refuse to eat some of the foods that I devour with relish at work when they are available for free. Tonight I ate a greasy, salty grilled (probably fried in lard) processed ham and processed cheese sandwich. I snub my nose at artificial, processed foods when I am in the grocery story but in another setting...yum. Maybe I can make up for it later with a nice healthy glass of carrot juice.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Community Service Work

I enjoy teaching nursing students about psych patients. Most of what they see is new to them and through their eyes I see my work differently. Once I took even newer nursing students to a medical setting for their first hospital experiences. They assessed their one patient, changed sheets, passed trays, and helped with other things that are done in hospitals. I felt like a first grade teacher as I tried to teach some basics while easing their anxieties. Now I do only psych and substance abuse. I haven't done hospital corners on sheets in quite a while! Sometimes we get a patient who has been on the news, a missing person for instance, much like the father/grandfather in Florida who was in the news today. But most are plain old struggling people, neither famous or infamous. I am thankful to know something well enough to pass it along to the next generation and I am quite sure that is the main reason I do it. I feel like it is my duty.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fluff the Bunny

This pet bunny was a visitor today. Fluffy had a harness and leash and was happy to be held. Who knew!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Little Grandsons

I am taking a photo from Paige's blog of my two little grandsons. February of 2005 was such an exciting month. They were born twelve days apart and soon they will be having their fourth birthdays. I love this picture of them, sitting comfortably together like two old men who have experienced life together. I hope these cousins will always be friends. They will be living in a world that I will not know, one where I am not going. I am blessed to have them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Read With Care

Newspapers served us well for generations but before long will probably become one of the things of the past, these dead tree editions as I have heard them referred to. I read the paper when one is around but I haven't subscribed for several years. Instead I get a lot of my news online from many sources but especially yahoo. It's pretty easy. I just go to my home page and there it is, politics, sports, entertainment with one easy click. They try to entice you to read on with a steamy celebrity question or a ridiculous bizarre news item. And it also seems they want to strike fear in our hearts with some of their headlines. "Bird flu found in Chinese girl," I read. There are 6 billion, 750 million people on Planet Earth and, though I hope this one person recovers from this illness, percentage-wise I hardly think this is breaking news. But could it stir up an emotional response? Why sure. And yesterday it was the crack in the ice in the Antarctica. While it is good to be informed, I am also aware sensational journalism is alive and well in mainstream web pages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Commentary

I was at my workplace early yesterday because I had no excuse not to be. There was none of the expected overnight winter precipitation to cover the roads and give us the snow day we wanted, so I had to show up and meet and teach my first group of nursing students for 2009. About noon, when the patients left for the cafeteria and my students for the hospital food court, about twenty of us employees - diversity at work - stood together in the the small common area where the new high def tv hangs to watch the inauguration. I didn't stay much beyond Rick Warren's prayer, but during it everyone was quietly respectful except for two of BO's outspoken supporters, an agnostic and a Muslim, who made some asides about getting on with the program. But as I wandered and talked and picked up bits and pieces during the rest of the ceremony, I felt a swelling pride in some of my black friends. Now I don't know if that same sort of feeling is there over Bill Cosby or Condoleeza Rice but Obama really seems to connect with them and also tickle the ears of others. He appeals more to contemporaries of my children and younger who must have some feelings of being cut off, of abandonment or aimlessness, and not so much to an older, responsible me, one who has seen the strength and good in America and Americans. He is a role model for many and seems to love his family; maybe this will be a good influence on followers who need it. As for me, I will not put my hope in mortal man, but in Jesus Christ and I will continue to be thankful for the freedom that I have in him.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New Chief

My grandmother didn't believe the US could or would put a man on the moon. We teased her and argued that yes it would happen, and after much effort and hype, the eagle landed in front of the watching world on a dark night July 1969. My grandmother had to eat crow. Sometimes we can strongly believe something and still be wrong.

The inauguration is today and America will crown its new president. I did not vote for him. Maybe if I hadn't felt that there was so much deception and lying and evading the truth, I would feel more comfortable with this man's character. Maybe if there were fewer ambiguities and gray areas and incongruencies I would have more confidence in him. Maybe if more people whose opinions I respect had seen some practices and abilities that would serve him well as president I would think more favorably of him.

Nevertheless he will take the mantle of our country's leadership, and though I am not a follower, millions of voting Americans are. Since some of our earthly fate lies in his hands, I will be praying for him to make wise decisions and will certainly wish him well. I hope that just like my grandmother before me, I will have to eat crow in a few years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I have met the enemy

and it's me.

Being a southern woman means I love my home. And I do, in spite of the fact that an occasional visitor may surmise otherwise. It's just that housekeeping, however hard I have tried, befuddles me. When I had a houseful of children, lots of cooking and piles of laundry, I blamed my messy house on my many duties, yet I was aware that the homes of my peers did not appear nearly as unkempt as mine. What was their secret? As my babies grew up and moved out, my home did not get miraculously cleaner and more organized as I believed it would. And now with only one other person in the house, a husband who is away a good bit of the time, it is still an uphill battle. I have faced the fact. I am the messy one.

You can tell when a person is good at something. Olympians perform their astounding athletic routines with ease. A nurse on the IV team can whip a catheter into a vein in a flash. With talent, effort, repetition and commitment most people can develop some pretty good skills. I'm thinking maybe it is the talent piece that I am lacking. I try and struggle, really I do, and am sure I spend more time cleaning than than a skilled person would. That is how I know that I am no good at housekeeping. It does not come with ease. Far from it.

Maybe it isn't too late to blame the cats. If they would just quit leaving their fluffy fur all around the place, my house would be purrfect.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Can't do it all...

Do I write or do I work? Work is coming first since thankfully I still can, even though my mind has been riddled with commentary and the flight of words.

I wanted to remark on the good news this week when everything went right, and a US Airways jetliner was landed in a frigid Hudson River by a seasoned pilot and passengers were saved due to super duper rescue teams. Excellent skills and being prepared work!

And why don't I love music like I once did and should I buy another car or fix the one I have? And what we need the most and search for. And beautiful shades of winter drab and a playoff game in the snow.

I wanted to say something about the topsy turvy world we live in where wrong is promoted as right and truth is ridiculed...and the death of America, at least what it was conceived to be. And what will happen to the middle class and what has happened to my 403B? And how I must live in a happy place in my head in spite of it all.

And all the interesting characters at work that I am not free to talk about. But I will jot some notes in another file so if down the road I ever write something longer than a blog post...well who knows?

Friday, January 16, 2009

No wonder so many Yankees have moved South

It must be unbearable to be burdened with the bitter, biting, blustery cold, blizzards and banks of snow year after year. We are blessed not to have too much cold here in the Upstate of SC, but we do get a bit. Poor Maria. Up in Wisconsin where she lives, the high was a bleak one degree. Brrr... But the good thing was...I finally got to wear my brand new fleece lined brown boots.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Squelching Genius?

My friend Judi's most recent blog post about creativity had me thinking. We adults in charge of rearing and training children certainly do stifle creativity in our attempts to teach children to conform though much of it is probably necessary to maintain a consistent society. But I also often consider the genius we may have squelched as we use harsh medications to treat people with mental illnesses. Handel wrote Messiah in twenty-four days and claimed that heaven opened while he was writing the Hallelujah Chorus. Nowadays someone would have intervened and sent his manic self to the psych ward! We know that VanGogh had some sort of mental illness whether it was mania, depression and/or heavy metal poisoning, and in his unrelenting madness gave us some of the finest art of the past few centuries. Over the years I have helped to take care of a few patients who seem to have more than the normal share of brilliance, whether in their ability to communicate or in one of the arts. While I believe there are generally not enough resources to treat the mentally ill, I also believe that the drugs that stabilize their moods and thoughts also inhibit and even eliminate their creative brains. Sometimes I wonder what the world could be missing artistically by not letting their brains roam a little freer. If Lincoln has not been as depressed as he was, I doubt he could have reached into his soul and created the sensitive document we know as the Gettysburg Address.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Glad to be a Nurse

I wound down and now I'm winding back up, working, working, lots of interesting "cases" to be a part of solving. I could talk about them if confidentiality weren't the main issue, but be assured, people's secrets are safe with me. I have learned to forget them as soon as I hear them!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Flip Side of Adversity per Horace

This is a quotation I learned from a patient tonight.

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have been dormant.
Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it."


Friday, January 9, 2009

On her 87th

My mother loved her birthday. Her personality was too fanciful to narrow the celebration down to the actual day, January ninth, so she stretched it to last the whole month. She liked to get gifts, "personal" ones, clothes mostly though candies and art supplies were also welcomed, and then she would give lavish thank yous while holding the gift closely to her thin chest. But I don't think I ever thanked her enough for what she gave me, sometimes it takes a lifetime to even know, but for these gifts, I remember.

Thanks Mother for loving me. Your love was the steely strength I felt when I was going through hard times.

Thank you for teaching me the basics of cooking. You could have written a kitchen primer, though for that one thing you would not have given yourself credit.

Thanks for teaching me to see the beauty in people no matter their circumstances, and well...just beauty in general.

Thank you for sharing your passions with me, so that I would know that the world is full of passion.

Thank you for being there when I got home from school and for making me pay for a taxi to get to school on that umpteenth day I overslept.

Thanks for giving me freedom and for trusting me to do the right thing. I did.

Thank you for teaching me about music and song and for singing with me in the car and dancing with me all around the house.

Thanks for your openness and for sharing what it is like to really live and feel and grow and age. Because of you I am not shocked by my new white whiskers.

Thanks for teaching me the ability to laugh at myself. You, in your sophisticated high-cheeked beauty would proclaim, "My eyes look like two burned holes in a blanket," and we would laugh.

You Mother were always the funniest, and if I wanted to stop a bad feeling, I always knew I could call and we would end up in hysterics. And I would feel so much better.

I wish I had told you sooner.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where have all the bugs gone?

Not one snowflake has fallen and I suspect we have not seen the coldest part of our winter here. When I lived in Columbia, a hotter climate often besmitten by gnats and other undesirable insects, we used to love it when the temperature was below freezing for a few days. "That'll help kill the bugs," we all agreed. But a hundred miles to the west, we don't have to be that thrilled with cold unless you're a kid and school lets let out for snow. But I still like bugs in general, just about all of them but roaches, flies, and that nasty old "palmetto bug" that can't outrun or outsmart my cats in wintertime. Still I wonder where are they now? I suppose they all have their different habitats and life spans, but if I wanted to do a bug portrait today, I would be hard pressed to find one of any kind. Maybe that is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Best Month

This is the January I have been longing for.

On Monday night all the conditions came together for a perfect night's sleep. Warm cocoa at bedtime, the new memory foam mattress topper, weather. . . When I woke up Tuesday morning, I checked the clock and was amazed. I had not slept eight hours through in years! The sun had also slept in, and in its place a dreary but restful gray was all around. The tepid temperature had cancelled out the sometimes intrusive on and off hum of the furnace, but the clincher was the steady sound of rain that by the big puddle in the back yard appeared to have remained unchanged all night. After getting up and tending to my faithful pets, I settled back down under the covers and soon entered another sleep and a dream in which I knew I was supposed to be at work but couldn't get there because I was sleeping. I did eventually force myself up from the mighty January Sleep-In and arrived in time for my 3 pm shift. There I learned it was not just I who slumbered well. My co-workers had similar wonderful experiences that night and morning.

Last night was another good one, but the house did some creaking and groaning against the forceful winds as if an unwelcome visitor was using my upstairs space. Still it was cozy and sleep fell easily upon me.

Today I had no plans to work. The time was mine alone. Should I stay in and read? Nah...I had done that on Monday and wasn't quite ready to delve into another novel. Since I have been needing a new washer, tired of trying to hold the old Maytag in place during each spin cycle, I decided I had the time to take care of that. Mid-afternoon under the rich pastel sky I headed down Woodruff Road and after some deliberation made a decision. My new front loader will be delivered tomorrow! Washing will be my main activity on Thursday.

I love the way January, at least for me, seems to provide R&R, but also time to catch up on what needs to be done.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's been real

A couple of years ago at work, I was not not laboring over dressing changes or IVs, I will leave that to the medical people, but crafting necklaces with a young female patient with large fake breasts who when not hospitalized was a hooker. As I sat there happily stringing beads and chatting I realized - Mother would not want me to play with this type of girl. In fact, Mother, knowing some of the disgusting duties that would be mine, was not proud or pleased when I told her I was going to be a nurse. Even more she was not too keen on my working at all - ever! In her Southern fantasies her only daughter was eternally thin and fashionable and perhaps more than a little shallow. I can't say I didn't try, but in my thirties when poverty struck, life sent me down a different path, one that led straight to the outstretched arms of the nursing profession. Her worst fears realized. I understand now, but I wonder what kind of insensitive clod I may have become without this career. After the first shocking year, my naive self took right to being a psych nurse, and I have never viewed life the same since. I appreciate all the patients and co-workers who have taught me, who have stretched the limits of my life experiences, and sharpened my character.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Sum of the 365

At the end of recent years, I have made a list of personal superlatives, such things as best decision, best purchase, most hilarious moment, etc. When I sat down to do it this year I realized that 2008 was not a year of biggest, best and most. After my long awaited and marvelous Best Trip Ever, the rest fell into the category of maintaining the status quo. That in itself - I have now decided - is quite an accomplishment, especially in this year of upheaval on a larger scale. There were no huge decisions, just millions of tiny ones that all together seem to have worked out OK. As each day comes along, to face what must be done and to do it is a good thing. Soon I will be heading out the door to work, my first workday of the new year, part of the status quo. Since I am over my meltdown of last month, I will celebrate the stability it helps bring to my life. The most maintenance and stability. Not a bad superlative for the old year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chilling out

Lively December, dressed in its splashy reds and greens and scented with evergreen and Eastern spices, has thankfully passed. The quiet month of January has begun. I welcome the misty gray of the cold mornings and the quietude it brings to my brain. Like the squirrels nesting in the trees, I enjoy being in, listening to the hum of silence or the mewling of my cats or the music of my choosing from my tinny old CD player as I regroup, renew. Mugs of steamy tea, coffee and cocoa, finding more favor in this month than any, keep my hands and heart warm. And by this third day into the year, I find I have some new stuff to play with. The well chosen Christmas gifts that I only gave a perfunctory thank you for on the family days have been carefully pored over and are being enjoyed. January. The coolest month.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Me. For better or worse.

Ahh...a new year has started and many of us are making our plans and resolutions for 2009. Not a bad thing to do. They give us direction, maybe purpose and more control over our lives. But is a new year a new beginning? More than time marching forward? I suppose it can be, but I think we mostly just drag our same old selves with us whenever and wherever we go. I take my personality, my character, and reliable old body with me from home to work or wherever I happen to be. Basically I am me, the same me I have always been, the me I was created to be. Isn't that the way it is for all of us? Maybe I have become a little better in some areas but a little more lacking in others. Maybe I have gained a little here but lost a little there. I can still expand on what little I know, maintain relationships with those I love, welcome new people in my path, and pass along some of what I have experienced to the next generation, but I cannot turn back the clock. And it is too late for wishing I had done many things differently. That's OK. I am glad to have made it intact this far and still be me. My failures and my shortcomings won't hinder me from striving, from pressing on, from loving, from still growing in many ways, and trying to be a better version of me.
Let's see...first there is losing weight and then...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Verse for the New Year

" thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14