Why I’ve been absent…

One semester left.

That’s what I keep telling myself.

One semester. 16 weeks. Just keep going.

Part of being absent has been not figuring out how to process my patients’ and my story for blogging. You know, HIPPA and all that. I find there is meaning in their lives, and I want to say more than “wow, I worked in a hospital with patients today” but some people will make you believe THAT is too much.

Anyway, there’s another reason I’ve been more absent. Blogging was a way for me to process, and lately, someone else has gotten my verbal processing.

Someone who took me here, after we attended a family wedding over the weekend:DSCF2370

And did this, next to Bridal Veil Falls:DSCF2372

Although, I was so excited/shocked/”Is this really happening??” that I didn’t even give him time to ask. I just said “Yes!” several times, until I realized that I completely stole his thunder. To which I said, “Um, I assume you were going to ask me to marry you?” Then he showed me the ring, and because everyone asks for a close-up:DSCF2375The only down-side of getting proposed to at Niagara Falls is that you are right on the line between US and Canadian cell service. I had to wait until we were off Goat Island and 5 miles on US soil before I could call my own parents!

 

To The Babies I Held on My Birthday

Obstetrics clinical rotations began this past week. Day 2 was Wednesday, July 17 – my 31st birthday. Here’s what I was thinking that day.

Dear Little Ones,

Welcome to the outside world. The past week was filled with a lot of change for you. You are still dependent on your mother for nutrition and warmth, but you are now breathing on your own. And this time it’s air, not amniotic fluid. Your heart and lungs have gone through intense change and you are still causing your mom hormone and physical changes in this post-partum period. Your dad, while not new to this, is still in awe and thankful that the both of you are safe.

You didn’t know it and probably never will, but I took care of you on my birthday. 31 years ago, I was the new bundle of joy. I’ve seen pictures but time fades colors in the pre-digital photography era. I have to wonder if my face looked like a model for a porcelain doll and if my lips were perfect cherry red as yours are. As I held you, I didn’t mourn that I have yet to push a new human out of my abdomen. I was overwhelmed with a distinct sense of hope for you and wonder.

What delights will you bring your parents? How will you and that big brother I saw earlier get along? Will you color on the walls or play in the mud? Will you break hearts or have your heart broken? What will you be so passionate about that could help your corner of the world?

I hope sincerely that you will not disappoint others, but you are human, therefore you will. Thus, I hope more that you learn to ask for forgiveness and extend it. I hope you are able to see Truth and want it for you and others.

As I hear the news of what the world is throwing us – the suffering isn’t new but you are. May your eyes be opened gently so you don’t see too much at once, yet just enough that you are able to have compassion and help as you can.

It is wonderful to look upon you just being you. Content that your needs are met.

Thank you for that gift of seeing life simply when it is complex. My only regret is that I can’t tell you this for when you’ll remember nor can I leave your parents a note – that would just be creepy.

May the Lord have mercy on you daily.

Your Student Nurse

And in case you, the reader, are wondering, here’s from 31 years ago:

laurababy

Bullied: Part 1

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself in the mirror and finally had a shred of hope that you just might be physically attractive and desirable? That you were not the despicable and horrible human that others kept saying you were for so long?

It was the summer I turned 15; my family had moved back to Kansas the previous year after 6 ½ in South Dakota. While I had a minor disappointment with a boy the past year, I had been getting some attention from others and had successes in extra-curricular activities about my confidence. I was uncertain on what to do with compliments. If I said “Thank you,” I feared I would look like a snob, but if I ignored them, it would be rude. I think I usually stammered or tried to shrug things off.

It was a day I had very little planned. I was still in my PJs at the breakfast table when my brother came from the basement. He thought I was wearing a casual sundress for the day and is a pretty cool guy when it comes to his sisters. He asked, “Where did you get that dress?” in the way that men from my family say with uncertainty on how to word a compliment, yet in a way that the women know the men noticed.

“Um, Jeff, these are my PJs.”

Him: “Oh.”

After that comment and finishing breakfast, I walked back to my room to change into my real clothes for the day. At the end of the short, narrow hallway was an oval mirror. I caught a glimpse I had never considered before. It wasn’t an imaginary catwalk to my room, or a trial run of how I would saunter through The Mall. Just enough of a second glance to where I could say, “Maybe I’m not fat and ugly.” My self-esteem and self-perception were still hovering above empty, but there was something about those 10 feet down the hall that gave me hope. Not everyone was out to be better than me. My obvious features of height and hips were not necessarily a negative. And maybe my acne-prone face and shoulders weren’t as horrible as others made it seem.

I still had plenty of emotional breakdowns between that moment and now. I still considered shopping a war and personal assault. The number on the size was all-important as to how I felt about myself for the next month or so.  Some hurts have scabbed over, yet I’m reminded of their scars at the most random times. Just when I think that I’ve answered all the questions and satiated the emotional holes left from my middle school years, the emptiness slinks in the cracks on bad days.

The mid-90s seemed more concerned with sexual harassment and whether or not kids knew about HIV transmission. The line between “kids being kids” and bullying had not gotten the attention of the past 10 years. Sometimes I wonder how I would feel if I could have stood up for myself in the schoolyard. What if one day I would have just punched someone in the face? What if I could sue for the therapy bills not covered by insurance? What if I had taken a few more sick days or convinced my parents to get me out of that school?

What happened cannot be changed. But I have hope. Not because I saw myself as pretty one summer day, half my life ago.

Because I’m learning to forgive people that I will never see again and who will never know how deeply their words cut to my heart. Because I can look at the world around and know that God created things that are good. Because I am to look and myself and say that I am the chief of sinners and forgive others’ trespasses, debts, and sins.

It is not easy, nor should anyone be demanded to produce these results overnight. Be filled with Truth to combat the lies. That is the first step. The other steps will follow, but always seek Truth.

Hospice Nursing

We knew the discussion was coming based on our pre-class preparation videos.

My group was having a discussion on end-of-life care and how hospice nursing is different than other kinds of nursing. We delved into the ethics of giving morphine or other comfort measures that may or may not drop our patient’s O2 saturation lower. I was of the few students who had experience with hospice care and nursing. Caring for The Brain had been most of my formative hospice experience, however, I have had other family members in hospice care and a good friend described her experience with hospice in relation to her mother’s illness.

Hospice nursing is different.

Your patient will not get better. He/She will not walk out of the facility or their home cured and on the path to wellness. “Wellness”, for a hospice patient, is more based on their comfort and whether or not there is peace at the end of life. You meet amazing people with interesting lives, yet you are usually meeting them at the end of their life’s journey.

In describing the above, and using almost the exact words, I teared and choked up in front of my colleagues. I thought of The Brain and my aunt and my grandma.

It’s easy to feel defeated on the floors as a nurse – I didn’t get patient medications on time, I failed to call the nurse or someone about the patient, the patient did not get to walk exactly when s/he called for me, the patient bathed 2 hours after s/he asked for a set up because I was held up in other patient rooms or needing to get vital signs on everyone before the next rounds.

But how does a hospice nurse not feel defeated? Every patient is choosing to stop life-prolonging measures and has, to some degree, accepted death as the resolution to their disease. It is a different form of nursing to know that you have helped your patient live well and provided them with comfort and anxiety relief. You have given the patient utmost consideration, care, dignity and security. You assure them that their body will be treated respectfully when they pass away.

And until those final moments, you share memories. You swap recipes for favorite meals. You hear about the patient’s life, passion, and wishes for care. You look at their choice for a casket or urn. You ask what they need and what the family and caregivers need. You are a nurse that stares death in the face and tells it that just because it is lingering does not mean there is fear.

My 30s

The narcissist in me likes to see how people find TRS. It amazes me that months after I posted 100 Things to do in your Twenties, people still hop over here because they Google similar phrases.

Well, as of the middle of July 2012, I was 30. I pouted for a week or so before; I lamented that marriage and babies were not mine, yet. But I also feel as though I had some new things coming. A life that was not finished being lived. And an urge to tell those entering their 20s that birthdays are milestones, not grave markers.

So, while not as extensive, epic, or entertaining – here are some things to do in your 30s. Take them, leave them, tailor them to yourself. Whatever you do, live a rich life.

  1. Learn about insurance beyond your car. If you own a home, you probably have home owners insurance – great. For those who rent: renters’ insurance should run about $10-15 per month. $120/year is a small price to pay in the event your apartment or rental house goes up in flames. What about health insurance? Life insurance? Somehow, our generation will pay for extended warranties and insurance on our phones, stereos and other electronics, but we won’t pay a few bucks per month to cover our burial expenses if we die from an accident. Learn what insurance you need and is a good expense (disability, renters, etc.) and which is a scare tactic (mortgage).
  2. Build retirement savings. A little now turns into a lot later. I would like for Social Security (if my generation even gets that in 30 years!) to be my play money, not my utility bill money.
  3. Learn a language where you could survive a day of touring the country on your own – German and Greek are the front runners for me. Then again, Church Slavonic, Romanian, or Arabic wouldn’t hurt either. We’ll see.
  4. Go visit the United States (or other places in your country of residence). South Carolina is at the top of my list as my brother lives a block from the beach – tour guides and place to stay…Win! I also want to tour the West Coast. I keep meeting people from the PNW and California. I’d love to see Napa Valley, the Pacific Ocean, and ride a San Francisco trolley.
  5. Save a few thousand for future education endeavors. Whether it’s continuing education for your job, a nifty conference, or a class at a community college – put some money aside and deduct it from your taxes that year.
  6. Spend time with the next generation. This might be your own child(ren), niece(s)/nephew(s) or young child of a close friend or Godchild. Find something that lets said child know they are loved and appreciated. This doesn’t always have to be an expensive gift. A friend of mine always takes out her nieces on their birthday and buys them a classic book. Once, I took a friend’s daughter out to tea. I try to send my nieces and nephew a birthday card and Valentine’s day gifts. I’m still getting to know my Goddaughter, but if I see a little something that she might like or can carve out time to be at a school program, I oblige. There’s no way I can be the aunt/godmother that I would like to be with distance a big factor. But remember how awesome it was to get mail when you were little? Exactly.
  7. Learn to forgive.
  8. Seek out mentors – personal, professional, etc. Pursuing excellence is an accomplishment in and of itself.
  9. Read a book or two from high school English that you muddled through on the Cliff’s Notes. If you devoured everything from English, get a math book and work a few algebra problems or geometry proofs. Or grab a science book and work a chemistry conversion or rediscover the biology classifications (Kingdom, phyla, order, etc.)
  10. Budget. Save and pay cash for your next car. Work a plan to get out of debt and stay that way. (I recommend Dave Ramsey as a resource, but there are plenty of others out there.)
  11. Conquer a fear whether rational or irrational.
  12. Get some updated photos by a professional photographer. Find someone who goes with your personal style. If you’re like me and don’t have engagement or wedding photos, get some good head shots with a kick. I did this recently in January – partly because I needed some pictures for professional and outside interests, and also because it’s fun.
  13. Volunteer with an under-served population. TRS recommends finding an organization that serves those who are homeless, those who have a mental illness, or those who have a disability. Break your stereotypes surrounding a population with which you have nothing in common.
  14. Love others where they are at.

Any other suggestions, thirty-somethings?

Mom Bombed

I don’t know if I just coined a phrase or not, but I like it, so I’m going to see if it sticks.

“Mom Bombed” = an unintentional turn in conversation when mothers start talking about baby and toddler life such as birth stories, cloth vs. disposable diapers, sleep schedules, potty training, etc.

Most of my friends are doing a good job of not randomly bringing up these topics; sometimes I am the one who asks. It’s hard to stray away from these topics entirely when 2012 was a busy year for labor and delivery amongst my female friends. Yet, there are times where you can be talking about other people, actual events in the world, sharing ideas, and then, the awkward silence followed by, “So, did you decide to go with cloth this time?”

I left.

Some women – and in my opinion, those who had children after 30 – are a little more conscious of these conversations. Some realize that their childless friends love their children, and that it is both an emotional uplift and depression to continually be around others’ children when you have none yourself. Other women are oblivious.

So…what are the childless women to do?

Some moms and older women tell us to put on our big girl panties and be content. Well, see, most of my unmarried-but-desiring-of-a-husband-and-children-someday friends ARE finding contentment in life. So, give us a little credit – we’re not completely unhappy – but being inundated with these conversations awakens the sleeping dragon.

There is always the option of politely or impolitely turning the conversation back to the pre-mom bomb topics, which would then make everything awkward.

Or you can leave the conversation and passive-aggressively write a blog post about it a month later.

Any other suggestions?

My Excuse for the Hiatus….

Sorry it’s been dull around here. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for what to fill the blog-o-sphere with my version of noise – it’s a matter of time.

After December 12, I was officially free of this semester. Yay! But then I had about a week to fit in as much work and visiting local friends as possible. Work won. And when you spend about 10 hours of your day at a restaurant, you quickly lose sanity.

Then I traveled to Wichita, Kansas, by myself. Yep, me and the Toyota. And lots of snow on December 20. It was a great time to reflect on the impatience that dwelled in the depths of my soul. Then of all miracles, I actually enjoyed the time with my family – so alas, I didn’t sit in the corner with my laptop writing furiously over the unfairness of being subjected to the cloth vs. disposable diaper debates.

Here was my attempt at pity and humor on Facebook that is my current distraction for blogging. See ya on the other side…

Scholarship applications: (n.) an exercise in how to say the same thing (I’m a person who deserves money) in as many different ways possible without being redundant or desperate. See also: insanity, non-traditional student, no Ramen…ever, 18-more months of nursing school

 

You Know You’ve Landed in Minnesota…

…when this appears in the condiments offerings:

ImageYum.

Get in Line, You’re Family

My final Sunday at All Saints as a regular attender was not filled with much that was out of the ordinary. As typical, I was later than I wanted to be, thus not only missing the Matins Gospel, but barely sneaking in before the Great Doxology. I guess you would have to know me to understand why I have a twinge of guilt about this.

I sang in the choir, as usual. Sat among the first row or so during the homily. My feet longed for a rest and my voice longed to sing a different melody during the Anaphora prayers. But there was something about communion that was completely different than before. More

5 years ago….

5 years ago, I was anxiously starting what I knew would be my final year of teaching. I was also anxiously awaiting a call from my sister, as she was pregnant with child number one at that time.

And right as I settled in for my lunch hour to get some work done, I got the call. I was an Auntie to a beautiful niece.

4 months old, December 2007.

It’s been great to be an Aunt for the past 5 years, to my sister’s now 3 children and my friends’ babies.

Thanks for making a good start, Naomi! Happy 5th birthday, sweet girl. You are loved!

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