Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Clinging to Life

I'm back. F'real. As you know, I had family in town and it was so nice. It's nice to have people at my home, enjoying my space. I would let them eat all of my food and mess up my carpet and throw my pillows on the ground if it made them happy. Luckily my guests were more polite than that, but I loved sharing my space and my things with my people. It felt great.

I took my parents to the hospital where I work. Showed them the floor. The whole nine. I'm sure some of my coworkers thought it was a super nerdy move, but I don't really care. They're my parents and they care about me and they wanted to see! My parents are so supportive- I was so happy to share that with them too.

Luckily I had 3 days off in a row while my parents and sister/brother-in-law/niece were in town. We went shopping, walked around Lake Eola, got massages, had lunch downtown, swam in the pool, had dinner parties, and played my favorite game- Scattergories. Dad definitely won for funniest answers, though his tally marks suffered on the point sheet during the game. "Funniest" is always the best consolation prize, anyway.

Shots from the weekend:


So, something has been on my mind since it happened last week. I had a patient who was reaching the end of her life and she was very emotional. She was afraid of who and what she was going to leave behind. She missed the people and experiences that were gone, like trips to the beach she used to take with her sister and her mother, who have both passed away. She was literally clinging to life-- not quite yet medically, but emotionally. She wasn't ready to let it all go. She wasn't at peace. With teary eyes and white hairs sloppily affixed to her clammy forehead, she turned at me and said in a shaky voice that's likely spoken millions of sentences, "I just can't believe it's all over." I nearly lost my composure, but caught the quiver that was beginning to creep across my lips and eyes, as it made its way down to my throat. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it, tugging downward in a motion that signaled to me that I needed to take a seat. I had no idea what to say, so I sat there in silence. I had never been so close to death before, and I had never before needed to summon "What to say to someone who's dying" from my stash of go-to insightful messages. So I sat there with her in her silence. She held my hand and cried and prayed out loud. I was running behind on my meds and tasks and charting and a whole host of other things, but in that moment, it didn't matter; it couldn't.

Being with someone in their sadness is a really powerful thing. Being the outlet responsible for receiving the messages of someone in their most reflective hours is humbling, and for me this first time around, a little scary and overwhelming. I was scared of my own mortality in those moments. I was scared of the mortality of my mom and brother and dad and sister and all the people I love. I felt like I was the wrong person to be in that chair since I had little if any insight and nothing powerful to say and I couldn't stop the woman from crying and bring peace to her heart. I just entered her darkness with her and sat there, scared and overwhelmed.

But here I am reflecting today. Here I am appreciating what's around me. It's so quiet you could hear a pin drop in my apartment, and I'm enjoying that. I enjoy that only a few days ago, there were many voices in this apartment; Strawberry Shortcake the Movie was echoing from my room while the guys watched preseason NFL and my mom rattled around in the kitchen. There are more fingerprints around this apartment than there were before, and I like to know that they belong to people I love. I'm clinging to life, too, just not so urgently.

From darkness comes light, and it took me going into someone else's darkness to reach this light. I hate to feel that I in any way benefited from that interaction, but knowing this particular patient, I think she'd be happy to know that in her darkness, she shed some light on me. I feel more enlightened than before, and through this experience, I feel I more truly understand the meaning of that word.

Love the little moments while they're little moments.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ain't been no good.

i know i ain't been no good. my parents are in town and life is so, so sweet and fantastic. i can't complain about a thing. i am happy to acknowledge the fact that i'm in one of those "happy places" i envision in moments of anxiety. so happy that i don't feel the need to capitalize a damn thing. i'll have a goood post up tomorrow. i have to borrow a camera-to-computer thingy from mom since brother lost mine. what a jerk. this weekend, i went to a bridal shower (i'm in the wedding) for my friend jessica, and her friend uploaded this picture. :) love you (yeah, YOU!)... more tomorrow.

Bridesmaids of her highness, Jessica. I got my hair cut last week... 5 inches off! Can you tell? :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I'm making changes. The last two weeks have been a bit out of the norm, which is fine, but I'm ready to get a routine going, and these past two weeks have been a good foil to my normal routine which has provided me the opportunity to recognize areas that need improvement. Namely, health and time management- which, for my purposes, go hand-in-hand.

This week and last week have been spent sitting at a desk/table from 8-4:30. YUCK! Isn't that why I chose nursing? To avoid the butt-in-chair, feet-under-table 8 hour day? These sedentary days, with a 4-day weekend full of friends and birthday celebrations and sleeping all over the place and, yes, some booze squeezed in between have really made me desire an active, healthy, wholesome life. Just as we yearn for summer in winter and winter in summer, I am now yearning for a much more active lifestyle.

Fun weekend with friends.
Me and Easy E

This weekend I intend on getting a gym membership. Today I signed up with our local school system to be a mentor for an elementary school kid at the school where I subbed pre-K for a few months in 2010. I have become really interested in obstetrics lately, so I want to see what I can do volunteer-wise in that arena--maybe something with Planned Parenthood or a birthing center or something.

I want to spend my time being productive. I try to enjoy relaxing, and I can usually enjoy it in the moment, but once I start thinking about it, I always have the "Darn, I wish I had ______ today" conversation with myself. That happened today. I even bragged on my Facebook about how extreme my afternoon relaxation session would be. Well, I ended up feeling guilty. I am such a type A person, as they say.

Speaking of personality tests, this week in my training, we dook the DiSC Assessment. I am apparently an S type person, S standing for Steadiness. According to Wikipedia, this is the description of an S type person:

Steadiness: People with high "S" styles scores want a steady pace, security, and do not like sudden change. High "S" individuals are calm, relaxed, patient, possessive, predictable, deliberate, stable, consistent, and tend to be unemotional and poker faced. Low "S" intensity scores are those who like change and variety. People with low "S" scores are described as restless, demonstrative, impatient, eager, or even impulsive.

For those of you who know me personally, would you agree? Kinda funny my last post was about my guilty reluctance for change. My second highest score was I: Influential. Below you can see what an SI person has going on. I have to agree! (Although I do realize that personality tests can be like horoscopes- anyone can see themselves in it if they want to.)

SI: Sees the environment as favorable to the self.

Tomorrow I head back to the floor. No more training! For now. Plenty, plenty, plenty more to come. But I have missed my patients and the nurses and techs and docs (some of them) and everyone else whom I work with. I'm ready to be back in the kind of nursing I love- the kind where my feet are free of a table roof and my rear is chair-free and in someone's face as I pick up 10 alcohol pads that fell out of my pocket as I yanked out my pen. I should probably work on my ergonomics. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

earning adjectives.

I intend for this to be a quick post because I have to wake up early, but we'll see how it goes. I am just feeling a little funky tonight and have chosen to turn to my favorite outlet for expressing the intangible stuff trapped between my ears, inside my head bone.

For all of the things I like about myself, of course there are plenty of things I don't like too. The thing I don't like that's really been giving me a hateful time lately is the apprehension with which I allow change into my life. I would love for some part of my eulogy to include something about how I was a free spirit or spontaneous or adventurous or something, but to this point I have done almost nothing to earn the attachment between my name and those adjectives-- besides say whatever a lot, and mean it. The question that's really bugging me tonight: Why I can't I whatever my way into change?

You may be wondering what specific events precipitated this train of thought. Well, as of this week, most of the friends I have hung out with for the past three years have all moved away (this all occurring within the last week), I am in a new (albeit better) place in my life, and Mollie (my friend of over 15 years--woah) and my cousin are doing totally awesome stuff in big cities that I envy.

I envy them because I can picture myself in a big city with a little apartment and the bare essentials; not knowing many people- making friends and work and being "The New Girl--From Florida". And I want it. But I haven't done much to this point to get there. And that is because when uncertainly beckons, I hide my head in my favorite, worn, most comfortable pillow and hide. I sometimes wonder why this is, and it is the trait about myself that I hate the most.

I am no hoarder. In fact, I have been known to toss or donate things that would probably be considered sentimental to most people. I don't hang on to many sentimental physical things. I hang on to comfort, however ambiguous it may be. I have tried to do a root-cause analysis on this whole enigma (not that realizing the cause would necessarily provide relief in this situation), and I always turn to the same life event, but at this point, it really shouldn't matter anymore. I should be a big girl and move and know that I'm not gonna diiiee or be forgotten or lose everything.

See, I realize these things. I have a rational brain and an irrational mind, I suppose. It's utterly frustrating.

On that note, I am going to end this post abruptly and go to bed. I have a big day tomorrow and I do have a little adventure unfolding beneath me, just not one that involves planes or trains. I know this was a scatter-brained post with terrible transitions and little if any flow, but welcome to my midnight diary. Nature of the beast.

Comfy place.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning through it all.

*Note: There will be pictures on this post as soon as technology wants to cooperate with me. :)*

Where to begin, where to begin... Not too much has happened in the past week, but it has been quite wonderful, nonetheless. Florida summer days come with heat and thunderstorms, tourists who bask in the sun and locals who complain about the weather, bad drivers and those who might be otherwise good drivers momentarily at the whim of a TomTom's faulty directions. At the hospital, I frequently have patients who came to Florida for vacation ("on 'Oliday" *british accent*) and one way or another wound up at the mercy of doctors and nurses like myself. My heart always breaks for them. This has reminded me that when I want to curse the skies or shake my fist at a slow-moving, indecisive lane-changer, I should instead enjoy what they came here for: sun, attractions, Florida, whateverness.

I don't know how to go about posting on what all has gone on in the past week, so I will stay in the here and now and post whatever pictures I took on my phone in the past week.

Today, Dan and I ran a bunch of errands, one of which included going to the post office to pick up some certified mail from our old complex. I was sure it was whatever they willed us back on our security deposit, so Dan and I took guesses at how much the check would read. I said something in the negative, Dan said $25. We got 29 bucks back. About what we deserved. Note to all movers out there: Boys spill paint on carpets and paint over light switch covers. Perhaps an extreme generalization, but go with it for safety and security deposit sake. $29. Just remember that. After that, we went and bought more produce than we'll be able to eat-- another plus of Florida summer.

We came home, dropped off the fruits and veggies and walked to the shopping center nearby. My phone has been a complete piece of junk for the past...forever... so we went to the Sprint store to try to see what we could do to remedy the situation. As we sat there waiting, another customer very loudly and tactlessly explained all his phone-related woes to the customer service representative. Nothing ever goes the customer's way when that sort of behavior is displayed, so that guy's scene was a friendly reminder to me to be kind to the rep, especially since I did have a request in mind that would require her cooperation. I really wanted a new phone, since mine has been replaced twice to no avail. When my name was called, we struck up a casual conversation, and I led into the situation at hand as gracefully as I could. I explained my woes to her, but after acknowledging through a friendly chat that she was a person deserving of respect. Lo and behold: She offered me a new phone of a different (better) brand, at no cost and without having to renew my contract. Lesson of the day: Although being nice can "pay out", as it did today, it doesn't hurt and it actually takes much less energy than being mean or snotty. Do you want to be the jerk customer being discussed at the water cooler... with the same old piece-of-junk phone you walked in with? Doubt it.

Today I got my new glasses in the mail, too, which was equally exciting. New phone and new glasses- good day.

Work has been going really, really well. I am working with a preceptor (like a mentor or a trainer) that I really, really like and who helps me whenever I need it and doesn't ever make me feel stupid (Pam, if you're reading this- I love you). I am enjoying my job as much as I had hoped to (at times, more, even), and I really enjoy the company and guidance of all the other nurses/techs/doctors/etc. who work on my floor. The patients offer me insight and laughs every day. I am constantly learning, and I feel like I am doing something I can eventually be pretty good at. Oh- I get paid, too. That's really nice. I have so much more to learn and I still make mistakes on a daily (hourly?) basis, but I am trying hard and I am dedicated to improving and learning through it all. So, in a nutshell, work is fantastic.

Mom and Dad are coming to town in two weeks. I am so excited to see them and have them in Orlando. I am trying to think of what fun things we can fit in to a week, and already have a short list of must-dos. Walk around Lake Eola after a tasty brunch, show them where I work, cook them a big anniversary dinner... the list goes on. I'm excited to show them the life I've made for myself- with their help. Being a grown-up is fun, and making my parents proud is even more fun. I go to Jacksonville this coming weekend to see my oldest best good friend, Mollie, before she leaves for a big new world in NYC, my sister and niece, and a whole slew of other favorite people. I am even getting a new haircut and some highlights. :)

I have so many moments of laughter and love awaiting. I am looking at the world so positively now, and I am feeling so proud of getting to this point. All of the studying, the "I can't, I'm broke", the waiting, the hoping, and the wondering have proven worthwhile, and have helped me to look forward to times of sacrifice to come. I am making a conscious effort to be aware and present, and learn through it all. I am appreciating this Florida rain for the Florida sun, the bad drivers for the good. I am feeling lucky just to experience life. Maybe being a nurse has done that to me. Whatever it is, I feel so grateful.

A song I've been digging for months and months. A real feel good tune.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A plea.

Please don't give up on me! Please, oh please! I know I have been a bad blog mommy lately. I have been working, yes, but that is no excuse. I get home from work and I am so drained, I fear I won't be able to be animated and colorful enough to be interesting. I promise there will be a new blog up soon, complete with pictures. I love that this blog has been viewed 1600+ times since May (not counting my page views!). I love that you guys like reading my public diary. I love when you leave comments here or on facebook. Can we please stay together?