Mandolin. Hard hat. Unicycle.
Ace wrap. Old Spice. Broken fan.
Tool box. Loose wrench. Frayed goggles.
Extension cord. Rusty table. Wobbly rims.
Brother’s bike. Craftsman doors.Cardboard box.
Mandolin. Hard hat. Unicycle.
You know you are a nurse when……..
You’ve seen more privates than a prostitute.
You can differentiate between Clostridium Difficle and a gastrointestinal bleed from 200 yards using your nose alone.
You call diapers “briefs” because….that’s more dignified!
You know that Oxycontin is the root of all evil, not something to crush and snort.
You can guess somebody’s BNP level by their ankle girth while standing behind them in line at CVS.
You can murmur sympathetically when somebody complains that they’ve missed breakfast ’cause they’re fasting for a test even when you’ve missed breakfast, lunch and dinner and feel a UTI brewing ’cause you haven’t been able to nip into the loo for 8 hours.
You can lift three times your body weight…..eighteen times your weight if the body doesn’t have a pulse.
You’ve broken ribs to the beat of “Staying Alive” and felt good about it.
You can ponder your lunch choices in the cafeteria while cleaning feces from a floor (and be pretty excited about eating)
You miss and you shout, “I hit a VALVE!” reflexively, defensively and assertively.
Your children must be hemorrhaging before going to the doctor. Anything other then a loss if limb is merely a flesh wound.
Flesh wounds must be documented in excruciating detail.
“Flashback” is not a memory.
A 20 gauge is not a shotgun.
Drowning happens on land.
Ratios are not fractions.
You still cry at work.
And mostly………You know that you are a nurse when what you do is who you are. And what you are is pretty freakin’ amazing. You are selfless even when you want to be selfish.. You give when there isn’t anything left to give. You take care of others and don’t worry about who is going to take care of you. You’ve got everybody’s back and they have you.
Thank you for that. Happy Nurse’s Week . Thank you for having my back. I got yours.
I read something interesting in the NY times this weekend. It was an article on the depth of human character that resonated with me so much that I had a brief urge to claim the thoughts behind it as my own and reblog them. The point of the article was to argue that we are much more than the biological and evolutionary predispositions that we are born with. I think that we’re all pretty much aware of this idea and it isn’t anything new.Tthe writer’s focus on “depth” was what made it interesting to me because recently, I had been thinking about that very definition. The writer’s definition of “depth” as it pertains to human beings is one that is linked to commitments. We’re born without any and as we develop them throughout our lifespan, our depth of character emerges. Our commitments to our beliefs, to our loves, to our causes and to our community are the shovels that make us deep.
Last month I was writing a post for somebody else’s website and the beginning went something like this;
“A good woman devotes her life to somebody and a great woman devotes her life to a cause. Sometimes the first isn’t enough and often times, the second can be lonely. ”
The post I was writing was describing a search for balance between trying to be good and trying to be great and of trying to be something else altogether. It was still about commitments though and defining your life through them. It was still about depth perception.
I know a lot of amazing people in this community that find their balance, find their depth and make us a community through their volunteerism…. from hospice volunteers, to trail volunteers, to IFF volunteers, Blues Society volunteers, school boards , the PARC board, race volunteers……it goes on forever.
National Volunteer is week is coming up…the week of April 6th. Happy day to all those who have become deeper through their commitment to the causes that make them tick.
Let’s just say that I am talking about a bicycle. Up until recently I thought that bicycles were pretty simple. I’d ride one and think that was pretty fun. It was simple. Except for the crashing business that I encountered now and again but that’s what knee pads are for, right!? Then I signed up for a class about maintaining them. The maintaining it seems is a hell of a lot harder than the riding of them . For starters, there’s ball bearings everywhere… in the headsets, in the bottom bracket, even in the freakin’ wheels. Not only are there ball bearings, there are all kinds of the little suckers. Caged ones, floating ones, ones that I’ve already forgotten how to name and they’re not as pretty coming out of a bike as they are shiny, new in the package. They’re covered in muck. Martian green muck. Dust encrusted, dirt enraptured grease. They get worn and need replaced and make funny noises when they aren’t properly attended to. Ball bearings though, ball bearings are only the beginning. The wheels on a bus might go round and round but the wheels on a bicycle need truing. Who would of thought of that? I missed that class so I’m not sure what the truing involves except for there’s a lot of worry about balanced tension involved. In my mind, tension is tension. Who the heck wants to worry about balancing tension? It seems like it would be easier to jettison the whole mess over a cliff on my favorite trail somewhere than to figure out which of those shiny metal things on the bench in my class workshop is a spoke wrench. Then there’s cranks and derailleurs, chainrings and cassettes. There’s a whole lot going on to make that simple ride happen. So much that it’s daunting to even try to learn how to put the pieces back together. The trick I think, is to be happy each time that something works right and to not dwell on all of the little stuff, trusting that that will all come with time. Just breathe and keep learning. Can’t learn the bicycle inside out in an instant but if I’m patient with myself, I’ll get there. Parts are going to squeak, wheels will fall out of true but you know what?…..The ride doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it and wonderful.
I’m glad that I went to class today.
There are days as a nurse where you fly around the floor for 13 hours straight running from room to room, stopping to pound at your keyboard frantic to chart, frantic to answer call lights and trying to keep from drowning….(which, on my unit only happens when you get by with a little help from your friends). You stagger out into the night only knowing that you are alive because your feet hurt so badly that being dead is an impossibility. Then you make your way home a little sad, feeling that you didn’t do enough, you couldn’t do enough ….the way the health care system is these days and sometimes you cry.
And then you get an email from a patient because the stars aligned once, briefly a couple of months ago and you managed to have a day where you could really, really be there for somebody. A day where you got to look into their eyes without trying to hide the fact that you are fidgety and anxious to get out of that room and pound it out before the next admission rolls down the hall. A day where you made a friend and exchanged emails hoping to keep in touch. The e-mail might go something like this….
“Hi there. Saw you this evening visiting my friend XXXXXX and I couldn’t remember your name.
I was there a few months ago and you took such good care of me, I’ll never forget it. Thank you again!!
Maybe I’ll see you again.
Then you cry again but this time you have a smile on your face. It doesn’t matter that your name got forgotten. It just matters that you made the world a little better for somebody just when you started to stop believing.
It’s raining tonight and puddles have never seemed so beautiful. When I was little, I avoided them…. always being admonished to stay cleaner, whiter, better, brighter. The older I get, the less all of that seems to matter . What matters more is getting into the middle of it. Whether it’s wet, or cold or hurts or isn’t proper…all of that is meaningless. What matters is the mud and the grit and the water sluicing up between kicking up toes. I guess that at some point in our lives we decide whether to grow up or grow down. I think that maybe growing down is the better of the two options and it makes you bigger and richer somehow. Letting yourself get to the place where you are stomping in a puddle tangled up in the bits of sadness at splashing alone and tuggings of joy that you still care to stomp at all.
I say get messy…….it’s a serious drought and we’ve got water falling from the sky.
When I was little all of my best friends were bound and made of chapters and print. The only thing that ever changed about them were perspectives that I brought to their pages, ( and maybe the water spots that sprouted in the margins when I dropped them into the bathtub). So I never had a best friend that moved away from me. My friends stayed on shelves where I put them.
I have one now. He’s moving February 6th… not that I’m counting the ( 29 ) days left. He went and found true love ( on Plenty of Fish because he was too “thrifty” to use a Pay for Play dating service). True Love and he are moving to Hawaii because they like to swim in warm water, something that I find ridiculous for several reasons. One….he’s not a fetus. It’s time to move on from that longing for a warm wet place. ( double e my friend, just for you). Two….if he just wants warm water, he can get into the bathtub and pee. No reason to move across an ocean to find that. Three…. nobody should swim in the ocean. There are sharks and seaweed, both potentially lethal and waiting and he’s too old to swim fast enough to get away from either. Even the seaweed. I’m trying to be supportive . Really , I am. Can you tell ? But if one more person says to me at work, ( we work together ), that this is going to be a hard adjustment for me, I will probably break down and cry. Why? Because I love him.I love him in a way that disproves the premise of When Harry Met Sally. Cliche as it sounds, he’s like the brother I never had. I see his face come to work ( in cutting edge trendy shirts made for bagging on) and I get happy….even on the roughest of work days. Not only does he know what I did last summer, he knows what I did last night before I even open my mouth. I excitedly share with him that I’m reading a self help book for the first time ever and he replies, “Why bother. You’re never going to change…” and follows up the comment with that smug self satisfied look that I know so well. Then he won’t let me take a picture of that s#$t eating grin because he knows that I will photoshop a fat animal’s body onto it and post it on facebook with a witty caption that he can almost but not quite understand. We eat lunch together and unabashedly steal from each other’s plates . I steal more then he does because his True Love is an amazing chef … and an amazing woman on top of that…talented, beautiful, brilliant and funny. When they first started dating, I gave it 4 months……because I knew him and his track record. Then I gave it 6 months and then 8 months. Then I saw him head over heels and I gave up and gave it forever. I think that I watched him grow this year and thinking about it makes me proud …and makes my thoughts wander towards Slim Fast commercials
Anyway…… he’s checked on me when sick or sad. He has waited hours for me to finish a 50 miler and drive my broken body home via several margaritas. He’s been an ear when I’ve needed one and a drinking buddy when I needed that. He’s not judgmental, not really. He does call me an asshole fairly frequently but not without just cause. Sometimes he shares him M and M’s. He’s pretend finished races in my bike yard when it was cordoned off with caution tape and we couldn’t stop ourselves from intoxicatedly recreating that moment of breaking the tape that never really happened for either of us. He points out my pimples and is forever staring at my haphazard part when I’m trying to have a serious conversation with him. For the longest time I thought that he had a walleye until he gleefully said, “no! it’s just that your part……it’s just a …….hair off.” He ridicules my dog . He points out that I’m not really a runner anymore. ( But then again….neither is he). He’s just a huge pain in my ass. Maybe that’s why he is going to leave a huge emptiness behind him. I’m going to visit them though. Just as soon as my family has a lice outbreak and I can smuggle some tiny livestock to Hawaii.
I got to thinking the other day about fear and courage. Fear is easier to define, I think. Something threatens you, you pull away and hide from it. Courage is more than just facing your fears. If Courage is the opposite of fear it would be recognizing something that lights you on fire and moving towards it. Moving towards it and leaving behind safety, security …..and settling. I don’t know many people who have been courageous for their whole lives. People’s passions tend to pull them for just awhile before fear sinuously pulls that passion away and they open their fists, letting what they held tight for one shining moment tumble into some dusty corner.
If you are one of those people who have held on to that passion, whatever it is, for as long as you can remember…then I think that you are brave indeed. Maybe even more than you know.
To my RN friends who lost a loved one on nineeleventwothousandthirteen….
I know that in today’s healthcare system it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and run ragged trying to satisfy Medicare requirements that may be very different from the flesh, blood and soul requirements of the people that you care for. Sometimes you might go home thinking that you haven’t made a difference. That you just don’t matter. I think that you do, all of you. You matter to me and you matter to the people that you may know for just one day.
I knew a nurse for just one day. That nurse touched my life profoundly by the way that she held my best friend’s heart in hers as she led us though an end of life ritual. She wasn’t even on duty that night but she was there for us. She knew that that there was some hurting going on and she came in to help us through the hurt and made some sense of suffering with her grace and ritual.
She mattered. She still does.
And all of you who know her and can’t begin to imagine how to fill the space that she once did……you matter too.
I don’t know what will make it better but maybe remembering how she was and moving through the world in ways that she did would help.
And watch out for each other while whirling through this sweet, old world. Okay?
I have a favorite song. It’s that song, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam. I was never a huge Pearl Jam fan but I did love Eddie Vedder going into the wild. A couple of months ago I found a version of the song sung by Wille Nelson who is pretty much, hands down…a god. So I did a little dance and listened to it 16 times in row. What surprised me though was that the lyrics I had always heard in the PJ version were not what was really being sung. I heard something like ….”Did I say that I want you? Did I say that I need you…..if I did I’m a fool you see… nobody knows this more than me.” The words are actually…”If I didn’t….” I can read loads into that misinterpretation but then I’d have to take a good hard look at myself and I’m not really in the mood and that’s off the point that I want to make.
I threw on my song tonight and my thoughts started drifting towards images of codes and crisis situations in hospital surroundings that have wedged into my mind and I thought to myself how apt my favorite song was in the world of living and dying on a hospital stage. I got to remembering… remembering code blues and last breaths . The remembering got me to thinking… in a numbed out, fuzzy way about how easy it could be to forget that the person…the person on the bed , in the midst of a fray of residents, nurses, bells, alarms, whistles, cold needles, tangled tubing….is a person that gets lost at a time that he might need found the most.
There is an algorithm that health care professionals use in a code situation. It’s pretty easy to follow if you can keep calm in a crisis. If a patient is in a lethal heart rhythm X with a pulse then you give Drug Y, if they have no pulse you start CPR, defibrillate if indicated and give epi ’til the cows come home . What isn’t on the algorithm is the humanity factor. I wonder… if the American Heart Association remodeled the algorithms and added an arrow to the multiple choice question, ” Is this a person ? ” which led to a choice of “yes” or “no” and had another arrow following the answer “yes” that led to the directive, ” Tell him to stay with us” or maybe ” We are with you, you are not alone, don’t be afraid”, or even to a box that said , “if they are a person, hold their hand, speak their name, kiss their cheek”…would that make a difference in outcomes? With all of the emphasis on Evidence Based Practice out there these days, I doubt that a holding of hands would ever be worthy of investigation. And yes, I understand that every life must end. I still want to say, “Stay with me. Let’s just breathe.”
Just Breathe Lyrics
Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..
Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they’ve got none, huh-uh
Stay with me,..
Let’s just breathe.
Practiced are my sins,
never gonna let me win, aw-huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh,..
Yeah, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world
to make me bleed.
Stay with me,..
You’re all I see.
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.
I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw-huh,..
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave…
Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean, ah-ah…
Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,..
Meet you on the other side.