Monday, January 23, 2012

How multifacited are you as a person?

I am many things.  I am a truly complicated person.  God infused me with many abilities and many emotions~ How amazing are you? Take a few minutes to get to know yourself again…
 I wanted to take the time to think about myself for a moment…not to be conceded or strange BUT because one of the homework assignment I had recently that had me meditating on an area of life that started me thinking about the wonder of God’s creation…the human.  Through thinking about this I hope to be able to see my patient’s as God’s creation as well and not just “the back pain in room 3”
Here goes…
I live in a body that is 5 feet 8 inches tall.  I have been this tall since 7th grade and you can imagine the teasing I got about that. J I was a string bean for 18 years and thus called Olive Oyl on occasion…I also had no boobs until age 17 so I was also teased for that and called “president of the itty bitty titty committee”…I can laugh at that now.  I have dark brown hair by design by because of my fabulous hair dresser I now have blonde by hair designer!  J  My body serves me well most of the time, I am relatively healthy.  I had a heart defect at birth (PDA) but that has been fixed and the resulting right sided enlargement only causes minimal issues. (a little pulmonary edema).  I’ve gained some weight over time and I would love to lose it but it seems my lack of exercise love outweighs the wishing it would just go away idea.  This body can work a 12 hour nursing shift without barely sitting down, though not as easily as it used to.  This body birthed 2 children…has made love so many times I wouldn’t know how to count it…has endured 3 broken bones, several ankle sprains and many a heartache.  I can roller skate, ice skate and I have strong legs (inside joke).  This body can now perform yoga, to which it is very thankful for J.  You get the idea…
I have the capacity to love deeply and with much emotion, and I am happy about that…can you imagine if you didn’t have more than just a couple of emotions?,  or if you had to bridle them all the time?  …I have many, many emotions~ love, fear, sadness, grief, happiness, pleasure, annoyance, frustration, gratitude, anger, pity, confusion, curiosity and on and on all in the course of a day!
I still have an unbridled passion for my husband of 26 years (in May). I absolutely adore the relationship that he and I have.  He is my best friend…he knows everything about me and I do mean everything…and oh how that can sting~ but at the same time I can be me and that is a major blessing!!  My kids are grown but my love and appreciation for them has only increased with each passing year. We are now friends and that is so cool.  I truly know that I would lay down my own life for my family.  Our new grandson has brought out another kind of love from my heart that I didn’t even know was there! It amazes me how much love can be stored in the human heart. I have issues that need taking care of…and one day they will be I’m sure. Of course pain can be stored in the heart as well and yes I do have some pain in there.  I at times talk to a counselor and it helps.
 I am a woman, a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, daughter in law, cousin, niece, student, fairy god mother to many little children in our life…I am a nurse, an artist and a writer. I am the daughter of the MOST HIGH GOD. I am a Christian. I am forgiven.  I have just learned to knit…but I cannot sew to save my life! I like to cook when I have time…but I only cook a few things well~ I for some reason enjoy watching cooking shows and I would love to have a world class kitchen with all the gadgets but I’m not sure why, lol…I love to decorate my house in new ways- often.  I am learning new things every day about myself and about nursing, which I love. I really like to drink wine and I love chips and salsa.  I’m not a sweet eater but I do like sour patch kids J.
I love the ocean, the beach and the way the sand feels between my toes.  I used to love to lay in the sun but now this 45 year old body gets WAY too HOT to do that anymore!  I have a problem with my feet getting too hot as well… it’s quite bothersome!  One day I want a house by the ocean or the lake…that is a goal of mine!  I want to go to Italy and Greece…and if it wasn’t so dangerous I would want to go to Israel.
I’ve done many types of nursing~ Med-Surge, Orthopedics, home health, hospice, diabetic educator and ER.  ER is by far my favorite~ it fits my personality the best. I have now found a new side of my personality in nursing that wants to learn more about herbs, natural remedies and less interventional care and more preventative care! The rest of my nursing career will most likely be in this direction.
So do you get the picture?  Every patient that comes to be cared for by us nurses is a person…a complicated and multifaceted person.  It is so easy to get lost in the business of the day and do what comes naturally to us and that is to say, “I need some pain meds for the broken arm in room 3 or the husband of the heart attack in room 8 is on the phone.”  I am guilty of this.  I want to break myself of this. 
So~ who are you?  I’d love to have some of you write up a few paragraphs of just who you are!!  Enjoy thinking on it for a few minutes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hard Lesson Learned

I was supposed to fly to Virginia on Jan. 13th with my son to be with my daughter, her husband and baby, (my 7 week old grandson) BUT I contracted strept. throat and became quite ill rather fast on Jan. 12th.  By 8pm on the 12th I was having bilat. ear pain, was feverish, chilled and having a hard time swallowing.  By the time 330am on the 13th rolled around and I was supposed to get in the shower and get ready to leave, my fever was 102 and I ached all over!  Needless to say I’m still home and NOT with my beloved children and grandchild in Virginia.
The lesson learned you ask?  Stress and lack of Self-care WILL make you sick…and you WILL end up missing out on life’s fun during that time!
Prior to going back to college to obtain my BSN, I had not been introduced to the subject of nursing burnout and self-care. I have since been educated on the crisis of burnout in our nursing profession and one of the biggest weapons against burnout being self-care. Nurses as well as women (double jeopardy if you are a female nurse!) tend to put other people’s needs ahead of their own.  We are taught this concept as young girls and we have it reinforced in nursing school! (Up until now that is) The other lesson that we are taught is that if we do not put other people’s needs ahead of our own we are NOT nice girls…hence if you take your breaks at work you are not tending to the needs of your patients and if you take your breaks during a busy day…you are a slack off!
Nursing educators and theorists have been writing about the effects of stress on the nurse and the eventual burnout that occurs from that repeated, prolonged stress for many years.  Self–Care is now a term used to describe a variety of things a nurse can do to relieve stress and thus bring more balance and peace to our nursing lives…thus bringing us out of burnout or keeping us from becoming burnt out.
Now “taking care of myself” was certainly something I always thought I did~ you know…sleeping, having fun, eating right most of the time…etc.  The term Self-Care encompasses a much bigger meaning than just taking care of myself. It means realizing that I am worth taking care of~ that if I do not take care of myself chances are no one will do it for me~ that in order for me to perform at my highest and best level I have to infuse peace, fun, love  and balance as well as proper nutrition and sleep. It also means that I need to have boundaries and limits around my life…work hard AND play hard…give love and receive love…be creative and expressive.  It also means that during a 12 hour work day I MUST eat and rest in order to recharge…I could also inhale some lavender and orange incense to promote relaxation or energy as I need it. 
Another area that I have been learning about in the realm of Self-Care is being present…present in the moment~ Instead of running to catch up with my thought, allowing my brain to observe my thought without judgment and then moving on to the next thought, allowing my heart to feel the pain, the sorrow or the fear and then letting it pass.  I tend to stuff things during my work day, (and in my home life)…in order to keep moving on to the next patient and the next issue.  Once in a while I have a patient or family issue that forces me to stop~ observe~ feel and be present.  These moments are the most rewarding so why do I run from them most of the time???
I can honestly say, as I have in this blog, that I have been in varying stages of burnout during my 21 year nursing career.  When I began instituting self-care measures a year ago I felt the burnout lift and shift to a less severe burn. (Maybe it is now just smoldering but no longer a burn).  I learned Reiki and went to yoga at least twice a week and I started eating better and drinking less wine.  I felt happier and more able to face the long 12 hour ER shifts.  At work I started taking my breaks for the full time and trying to get off the floor…I brought lavender and orange scents to work to sniff during the day for the calming or energy effects and I ate more healthy foods.
During the last several weeks I have let that slip greatly.  I’ve been eating poorly and drinking more wine again at night “to de-stress” and sadly the yoga went to the wayside.  I also have been allowing an emotional issue in my life to control me and to worry me…hence I let my energy level dip…my defenses break and just when I needed my health to be pristine…WHAM!!!  It wasn’t. 
I will take this illness as a learning moment.  As painful as the moment is…it is necessary to learn that in order to be our best we have to give ourselves the best care!  We can only give what we give ourselves and we can only be as strong as the strength we infuse ourselves with. 
Self-Care…a much needed reminder for myself this week. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A shout out to hard working women.

Today as I thought back on my aunt’s 60th birthday party I realized that much more could be celebrated from that day.  My aunt Alice is an amazing woman, someone I have admired my whole life.  She has been a guiding influence for me since I was a young girl. I was blessed to be able to spend a lot of time with her and her family as I grew up and thus was blessed with her time.  She has been a nurse since her early 20’s…ICU the majority of her career.  I loved watching her get ready for work…she always took her time to look “professional” and her crisp, white uniform was always pressed with starch. Her trimmed nails were always painted a beautiful red or burgundy color, and …she wore makeup, lip gloss was a must!  While she prepared for work her hair was in rollers and then she would brush it out and put on her cap.
 It’s funny what you remember from being a kid watching from that view point.  What I know now of course is that she took pride in her appearance and she wanted her patients to know that she cared for herself and therefore she would be able to care for them.  I loved listening to her work tales~ the patient’s always sounded so interesting and though I didn’t understand her medical jargon I knew I wanted to be just like her.
The other celebration as I think about the party is the rest of my female relatives that were present.  We come from hard working stock!!  The woman we all descended from, Grammy Abby, was a child bride, worked hard her whole life raising a large family…her younger marriage she worked nights at the stick mill and then took care of the babies, the cooking and the laundry during the day…..every woman in this family has been a hard worker!  The women at the party are aunts and cousins, we are wives and mothers… and we represent the middle class working woman~ there were 4 nurses among us, a teacher, a social worker and a physical therapist.  The rest of our female clan who couldn’t be there includes more social workers, another nurse, a family counselor, a budding doctor, another teacher…and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone!
As I posted photos from the party I felt such pride in the women of our family…the heritage of hard work and character. (The men are a whole other story for another time!! ) I watch my daughter and my baby cousins raising their little families with such grace and hard work!  They are the next generation of women who are contributing to our society in such amazing ways.  They love fiercely and they give to their families with all their ability…they then go out into the world and work hard to provide for others in professions that are honorable and time honored.  We have been blessed by God in so many ways~
Thank you Ladies of the family for being such wonderful women~ To the older gals…thank you for your example and to the younger one’s…keep up the good work!! Love you all.
A few scriptures to ponder.
Be diligent and hard-working (Proverbs 14:23)
Work is good and given by God (Genesis 2:15).
Be skilled at what you do (Proverbs 22:29; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 6:5-8), and do it as you were serving the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A chance to give from my heart.

The ER was in a rare state of calm…several patients being tended to but NO chaos!!  I was assigned to the patient coming in by Delta~ I prepped the room and waited. 
The patient arrived, awake but tearful.  His wife was with him. 
It seems the patient was having pain in an area that he hadn’t had pain in a while~  his cancer treatments had been over for several months…he is awaiting a second opinion… His complaint was pain, loss of appetite, and dry mouth. 
As I cared for him he talked to me~ He told me of his life, many children and several new grandchildren, how he and his wife cared for his ailing father who recently had passed away.  He cried, a lot.
He began to tell me how he felt failed by the caregivers in his cancer care.  He shared with me that he only saw the primary doc 4 times in his many months of treatment and that he was seen by varying other PA’s or NP’s.  He was very upset over the “many times the doc would see him in the waiting room and just walk by, without a handshake or a how are you?” 
We talked about this…he told me that very few of his doctors and nurses had the “gift” of bedside manner.  “So many nurses and doctors just see me as a pain in the ass and someone to rob them of their time.”
2 liters of saline, pain meds and many minutes of hand holding at the bedside garnered me the real reason for his ailing health.  4 days ago his 2 teenage grandsons were killed in a car accident…Christmas day… (I do have his permission to talk about this.)  The tears would not stop…his pain increased…but he continued to tell me about them.  His wife sat off to the side, wiping her own tears.
I was granted an unusual amount of time to spend with this man that night in the ER.  He needed me; he needed my hand, my heart and my time.  I thanked God several times while this man was talking to me~ thanking Him for the gift of time.  Time is so unusual in the ER…but this is the treatment that this man needed.  Sure the narcotics and the fluid replacement helped…but it was the human experience that made the difference to this man. 
When he was in the wheelchair ready to be discharged home he hugged me and looked me in the eye and thanked me for “your bedside manner” and for “caring about what happened to me”.  “You my dear have the gift of bedside manner,” he told me.  It was my turn to shed a couple of tears!
I don’t tell this experience to toot my own horn.  I tell it because it is such a powerful example to me of what you see at first is not usually what the problem really is, and how important it is for patients to feel cared about by their providers. It is a rare blessing for my ER gang to have the minutes they need to sit with a patient and have the time to establish a relationship so that the patient feels comfortable enough to share the real reason they are ill. Unless we have to intervene with life saving measures initially, we need to remember that they need our presence first…