I have never been afraid of dying. I know where my future residence will be, (Heaven!), I am not fearful. Sometimes watching the process at work does bring some fear about the possibility of suffering at the end.
It is such a comfort to families when we, the staff working with an actively dying patient, work to keep them comfortable and to comfort them. This brings incredible comfort to the family members, who are usually feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless, as well.
Of course, I give them their medications, change dressings, IV fluids. I also sing to, or with, my patients, I hold their hands, I kiss their forehead, I put a cold washcloth on their head or neck...
One of the nurses' aides at work lamented yesterday that she had worked when 5 of the last 7 patients passed away. Her friend, another NAC, was teasing her and calling her the Angel of Death.
Since the death part is inevitable...I don't think the angel part is anything of which to be ashamed.
I mean: reality shows.
It shows in my daily decision to move on.
It shows in my choices.
It shows in my continued attempts, even when choices and decisions have been foolish.
It shows in my fear of the future.
It shows in my hope for the future.
It shows in my decision and choice to face it anyway, to the best of my ability.
It shows in my learning to like being alone, instead of dreading it.
It shows in my ability to support myself and help others at the same time.
It shows in my renewing friendships, gradually, that I had pushed away out of shame and the need to huddle up and hide for awhile to heal.
It shows in my willingness to make new friends, move out of my comfort zone, even if it's scary and hurts sometimes.
It shows in my learning to determine those who are truly my friend and those who only want to use me.
It shows in my career growth.
It shows in my spiritual growth.
The rest I'm still working on.
Gigi: Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up: if a boy punches you he likes you, never try to trim your own bangs, and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we're told implores us to wait for it: the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we're so focused on finding our happy ending we don't learn how to read the signs. How to tell the ones who want us from the ones who don't, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy, maybe it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this: knowing after all the unreturned phone calls and broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment... you never gave up hope.
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In "He's Just Not That Into You" (the movie, not the book), Gigi speaks these profound words. And in another funny scene, Drew Barrymore's character refers to communication in 2009...texting that you left a phone message, then emailing back...and so on. It's funnier than I make it sound...and so true.
Facebook. Email. Texting. Cell phone. My blog here. Argh.
And communication by anything other than face-to-face is questionable. You cannot see body language or facial expressions with words only.
My new vow: to deal with nothing important other than face-to-face, or maybe the telephone, if distance is an issue. Texting will be, "I'm running late." Facebook will be, "Nice pix. Hope you are well." Email will be "Call me if you can on Thursday; I'm off."
What does my mini-obsession with…containers, say about me? I have them all over my home, in every room. For decoration, yes, but because they are also useful for storage? They are dual-purpose, not just pretty, not just functional. Why am I so...into them? I've never thought about it, and no, it's not crucial to my existence, but this has made me curious. I never really noticed that I collect...containers.
Baskets and boxes of every shape, size and material. Jewellry boxes, small, medium, large. And still, I find myself gravitating to these in Ross, Marshall's, at flea markets and antique/junque stores.
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"Boxes" have held evil. Baskets have protected infants from evil. Boxes and baskets can be mundane. I'll continue collecting them, and trying to find things to fill them with, so I feel as if they are earning their keep.
I'm just not sure...why.
Long story short, I ended up, in consultation with my Optometrist foregoing new contacts. Instead, I ordered (gulp) bifocal eyeglasses.
I'd been having to use what I called "cheater readers", over top of the contacts, for a few years. The contacts corrected my distance as I am nearsighted. But in recent years, I need the reading glasses to correct the correction, so I could read in school and work. When I got home at night and the contacts came out, and I wore glasses for tv or whatever, I could read just fine, by taking the glasses off.
So now, in order to stop having to put glasses on and off, I went with the seamless bifocal. I adjusted well to them, and except for hating to wear glasses (it's a comfort thing, not a vanity thing) I am glad to have them.
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Feels like I have been having to take my emotional cheater readers on and off, too. I keep coming up with new questions as I heal and transition day by day. This blogpost set me to thinking about the questions I am trying to answer within myself nowadays.
--Should I keep teaching?
--When can I return to school?
--Should I find a job closer to home?
--Should I stay in this area in the long run?
--Will I ever have answers to some burning personal questions?
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New glasses don't let me see THAT clearly.
I got another black moor fish, (whom I named Othello, of course) and he has been my company since I began living alone. He died yesterday. We visited while I did dishes everyday.
I know it seems silly, but there was a happy memory wrapped up in having a fish like the ones my boys and I named years ago...and the idea of having SOMETHING else alive in the house. When Holly came to live with me, I still enjoyed knowing Othello was there...and he loved to torment her, too.
Rest in Peace, Othello.
On the other hand, Ernest Hemingway gives me hope: “For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”
And this anonymous quotation strikes a cord, as well: “Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth... But amusing? Never.”
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Turns out Holly is a good mouser. Last year at this time I had caught about 13 little mice in traps. (Sorry, if it's me or the mice...It's all about me.) This year with Holly here (since last May or so) she and I have only made the acquaintance of two little mice.
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With a very low census in our rehab unit (elective surgeries just aren't being done) our hours are being cut at work. My last paycheck was almost $400. short (take home!) I feel so badly for some of the staff members, especially those who are single moms. Hoping that the census picks up and soon.
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New shows I DVR: Lie to Me and Leverage (which reminds me alot of the show Mission Impossible, with Peter Graves, when I was a wee small child.)
I've never watched an episode of The Bachelor (The Bachelorette.) However, out of curiosity, since Jason, this season's bachelor is from Seattle, I have been watching. I cannot figure out how anyone would sign up for that show! As the chooser or especially the choosees. There is this weird multiple marriage/polygamy vibe. Strange.
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I am still enjoying teaching, although, I have recently started to see a time I may give up my teaching, at least for the time being and at the hospital where I currently teach. It's a bit of a drive. However, for now, teaching continues to be my bliss.
I have felt as if I have not had anything worthwhile to say for some time. Either I literally had not a thought in my head, or those thoughts were dull and boring, or downers. Or, worse yet, I couldn't get them from head to fingers to keyboard to screen.
Here's how, in one day, I felt as if I had that dull streak end.
- Start to feel better (after 5 days sick, including missing a double shift at work)
- Drive to work on Election Day, by way of the post office to drop off ballot, and happen on a serious accident, before ambulances, medics or firefighters have arrived
- Assist with driver of car, which had been hit by a mail truck.
- Call out to the passenger, as help arrives, to reassure him
- Wonder why I have been at the scene of four serious accidents over the years
- Wonder how many votes will not be counted, as I see mail, including numerous ballots on the ground strewn around, the scene of the accident, singed and smoking and smoldering like the lit end of cigarettes
- Drive back the other direction, once I begin to feel in the way at the accident, and drive to the other nearest post office to drop my ballot
- Have the DSHS state surveyors at work all week following everyone around
- Get recruited by one of said surveyors to consider working with the state as a surveyor when I finish my schooling
- Listen to election results, as we work, and realize, regardless of party or platforms, that history has been made
I see a new dance in clubs--hands in front of you, one hand atop the other, standing tall, and pumping hands down and then up, with a shoulder roll...
So I know what Mrs. Reagan, (Nancy, Ronald Reagan's widow) will be going through in the coming months.
Rehab, rehab, rehab.
God bless her!
1125 to 1300- Med pass to patients for pre-and post-lunch ordered medications
1200 to 1230- Help pass lunch trays and help feed or cue patients to eat
1300 to 1330- Computer charting on eight patients "on alert" for recent falls, changes in meds, changes in condition or who are new admits
1330 to 1350- Run to medication room in nurse's station and to supply room for med cart supplies: straws, cups, over-the-counter meds needed for house supply drawer of cart, and tube feeding kangaroo pump set, and re-supply cart for evening shift.
1350 to 1410- Assess patient who has fallen, begin resident incident report, fax MD and phone POA (power-of-attorney), son of patient, about patient's fall.
1410 to 1415- Take vitals signs of patient who has fallen to begin neuro checks for 24 hours (due to patient's possibly hitting their head in their fall.)
1415- Intercede between two male patients (one with a brain tumor who is chronically mean to patients and staff 24/7, and the other who is defending another patient insulted by the man with the tumor) having a shouting match with colorful language
SHIFT CHANGE 1400 to 1430
1416 to 1423- Take 1400 meds to two patients
1424 to 1445- Answer call lights while NACs (nurse's aides) chart before the end of their shift, given report to next shift NACs and the evening shift staff get on the floor
--call light one: patient who wants fresh ice water
--call light two: patient who needs to use the bathroom and must have a standby assist
--call light three: patient who wants to use the portable phone to call his wife
1430- Get vital signs and check neuros of patient who feel earlier (neuros= hand grasps equal, pupils equal and reactive to light, pain response normal, patient is alert, not drowsy)
--call light four: patient who wants prn med (Tylenol and Mylanta)
--call light five: patient who is ready for pain medication he refused earlier during med pass
--call light six: patient who wants to arrange time for dressing change on evening shift with me
1445- Get vitals signs and check neuros of patient who fell earlier.
1446- Go to bathroom for the first time since I left home at 0525
1450- Set up tube feeding for patient who will receive TF overnight
...to be continued...
0613- NOC shift nurse begins giving me report for my Medicare hall (rehab wing for patients who are post-stroke, post-surgery, etc.)
0628- Count narcotics with NOC shift nurse for my med cart.
0640- to 0710- Check blood sugars and give insulins per order and coverage insulin per sliding scale when needed to six diabetic patients on my hall, prior to breakfast
0710 to 0930 - Pass medications to 21 patients on my wing per orders and prn meds as requested ( prn= "as needed" medications requested for pain, shortness of breath, etc.), set up nebulizer treatments for three patients, help feed two patients who need cueing.
0730 to 0745- Help pass breakfast trays
0935 to 1000- Change dressings on four stage-four long term pressure ulcers on our quad patient
1000- 1030--Cover both wings while other charge nurse on break
10:30- 1055- Break for "lunch" (which consists of eating a yogurt at my nurse's station desk while entering vital signs taken by NACs for me into computer, and checking BM records to see who might need Milk of Magnesia or suppository because they are constipated
...to be continued...
Midnight-- To bed, with Holly planted firmly at my side.
Overnight-- wakened by text messages coming in on my cell phone/alarm clock. Note to self: get a new battery alarm clock so I can turn the phone off at night. (Power goes out here so often, in the woods, that I have quit using the electric-plug-in clock as it is untrustworthy.)
0435, Sunday-- clock alarm goes off.
0436-- Turn on shower, to get the water warm.
0437-- Push button on coffee maker to start brewing.
0439-- Get uniform out of the closet and jump in the shower.
0455-- Dress, try to wake up.
05o0-- Pour coffee, eat banana, while watching Headline News on CNN.
0515-- Make sure Holly's food and water bowls are full.
0523-- Head downstairs to garage.
0524-- Open gate, head to the freeway and drive to work on autopilot.
0553-- Arrive at work.
They smack of the "chain letters" I used to get as a kid. I think I tried once to copy the same letter eight (or twelve!) times in long hand--before I realized it was a waste of my time, nothing would happen if I broke the "chain." I figured out that I would rather be playing with my neighborhood girlfriends, our "Dawn" (remember them?!) dolls and the dollhouse my Dad built for me and Mom had painted, wallpapered and carpeted with scraps of carpet from our (real) house and furnished with strangely cool plastic furniture.
I loved this one. This isn't a cop out. I really am a word person--a wannabe wordsmith. So I must share this group email (and I quote):
I am only sending this to my smart friends. I could not figure it out and had to look at the answer. If you can figure out what these words have in common, you are a lot smarter than I am.
Are you peeking or have you already given up?
Okay, I thought it was double repeating consonants and vowels.....but forget it....that's not the correct answer!
Give it another try . . .
You will kick yourself, when you discover the answer.
Go back and look at them again; think hard.
OK . . . Here You Go . . . Hope You Didn't Cheat.
This Is Cool.
Answer: In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word.
Did you figure it out?"
Back in August I got a new phone, added Internet to my service. I was then able to connect to the Internet anywhere my cell phone works, just by connecting laptop to phone with a USB cable. A few weeks ago, just before my parents visited, my new phone died.
My replacement phone arrived two days ago and I am now able to access the Internet again! That means I can check e-mail again, pay bills with my computer, and blogging is possible again.
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My parents visit was restful and refreshing. When I first had to tell my them months ago that I was separated, and then getting divorced, I was fearful and embarrassed. Even as an adult woman, there was a hesitation to tell my Mom and Dad that I was in this situation.
The end of our marriage certainly was a two-way street, but my personal failures are what I have to take responsibility for, of course. From the first conversation, and the admission that I was having to vulnerably and humbly share such bad news, my folks were beyond supportive.
This doesn't change the path I am now on, but it sure makes it easier to bear.
Today I am off. No, not off, but teaching tonight. I am OFF. All day. All evening.
To do list:
--Sleep in. (This was foiled because some handy man the landlords hired showed up in my driveway, under my open bedroom window at 9 a.m. and woke me. Oh, well...)
--See both manboys, take lunch over and visit with them and eat lunch with them.
--Blog, watch Olympics, bond with Holly (my feline roommate.)--See grandson (hereafter called grand-manboy) and keep him while his Dad goes to work, until his Mom gets off.
--Pack boxes of books and stuff at the old house when grand-manboy naps.
--Take photos of everyone, especially the grand-manboy.
--Take the grand-manboy to a command performance at work to show him off.
--See lovely daughter-in-law when I pass grand-manboy back to her around 5 p.m.
--Take manboy #2 to dinner and a movie tonight and just HANG OUT together.
I can't remember a time I haven't wanted to write. Or rather, not just write, but be a writer. I have folders of writing assignments from school, from as early as the 4th grade.
In 5th grade, Ms. Kerr assigned a weekly essay, sometimes with a topic and other times we had full reign to be creative and come up with our own ideas. I began writing a novel that year, and still have it half written. Every once in awhile, over the years, I have pulled it out and edited, sometimes added to it, and then edited again.
In more recent years I have started other books, (another novel among them) and they remain, in various stages of development. I've tried my hand at poetry (I won't quit my day job) and lyrics (I'm much better at blogging.) And I am not a playwright or script writer, since I have even tried that (though admittedly not since high school.)
Oh, I have had a couple of articles accepted with small publications over the years. And I have written a good deal of the curriculum for my childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn care, grand-parenting, sibling at the hospital (which is good stuff if I do say so myself) and for the chronic pain classes I was a special speaker on relaxation techniques. I am also quite proud of many of these blog-spots since I began in March, 2005. And, of course, I still hope to be a published author, someday.
But could I take pride in writing...poorly. Badly? Really badly? (Methinks it would not be as difficult as singing "badly" if you really can carry a tune. And I saw a great example of this in a recent local community theatre production of "Music Man" in which a friend performed. The actress playing Mayor Shinn's wife, Eulalie, was amazing performing her off-key rendition of a song in her best "operatic" impression, when in fact her voice was pure and beautiful.)
Nah, I'll keep trying to write well. Since without trying, I am sure I occasionally fall flat, whether it's a silly topic, an offensive comment or a boring narration of my life.
And I'll just keep on editing, adding on, and rewriting, in life as well. Even though I fall flat there, too.