Moms

I am not a mother.

Yet, last night at a baby shower, I had a wonderful time chatting with mothers of all sorts. I still feel new to my church community, even though I’ve been attending faithfully since moving about two years ago. I love how the community is adjusting to the changes – they celebrate births, baptisms, marriages, chrismations. And they mourn together and help when someone of the community has a physical or spiritual need.

I am so thankful for the opportunity last night to talk with those moms and women of my community.

I started the evening talking with a mom adjusting to her high school freshman daughter. She’s asking herself, “How do I help her find her way, but let her do it?” She recognizes the talents, brains, and abilities and is excited to see how her daughter will use them. But is also wondering how to let go and give her daughter room.

Mom B is lively with three college-age and beyond kids. One is planning a wedding, one seriously dating, and one still trying to figure out life.

Mom C has 3 children under the age of 8. Her baby has multiple food allergies, and since she’s nursing, she has to cut those foods out. Her other two are a lively handful and she’s homeschooling. She was so vulnerable in sharing that some of the negative behaviors she sees in her children, she knows they got from her. Thus, to have her children change and nurture their spirit, she has to change.

Mom D was the guest of honor and will be a new mom after only one year of marriage. I’ve loved getting to know her these months; she’s so chill and relaxed with the perfect amount of sarcasm.

In this period of my life where I’m engaged and preparing for marriage and the possibility of motherhood, I am always struck with how open these and other women have been with their lives. I’m honored that they want to know me and my struggles in this time as well.  Some have shared the worst parts of their engagements and marriages with me. They shared their children’s delights and joy; they shared their struggles, fears, and what is at the heart of their prayers. This is not as a “WARNING: RUN NOW!” but rather an encouragement to build the good foundation and habits in my marriage and (eventual) parenting.

I guess this is a “fluffy” post where I can pinpoint the exact “meaning” of my experience. It’s amazing how going through drastic changes in my life allows people to feel confident in sharing their joyful and difficult experiences. And maybe that is the “glue” of a community.

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Criticism and Failure

The past two months, I’ve had a multitude of opportunities to fail and/or receive criticism in various situations. Work, school, home…and on really good days, I have received it in more than one place!

failureI do wish I actually had some words of wisdom to pass along for those of you who feel down due to your professional or personal shortfalls. Wouldn’t it be lovely if, in the multitude of personality inventories, we were also given hints on how we best receive confrontation and others noticing our flaws.

The word “failure” seems so final. Maybe because it’s associated with tests and information that you’ll never see again. You have no other opportunity to prove yourself capable. Situations are eased if you can call something a flaw, short-coming, fault – but never failure.

Some things, such as burnt cookies, I can look at and say, “It’s fixable. No one got hurt.” But if I make a mistake at work, I might not be told about it in front of a patient, but I do have to make it right and go back in their room to do whatever is needed. Or I need to come back later and fix charting, etc.  And it always seems that all my mistakes happen with one patient or one nurse each shift.

Then there’s school. I have yet to “bomb” a test, but there have been many times that I did not process the material well enough to get the grade I wanted. Or I didn’t do my paperwork well enough. There’s definitely an internal pressure that I have to make nursing work. I should be a good nurse. Good nurses are good students. Well, I haven’t exactly felt like a stellar student this semester. I love the patient interaction. I loathe the books. But I need the books to improve my patient interaction.

And at home, when I’m forgetful of my jobs and duties, I want to make excuses or cower in my room, fearful of others’ disapproval until I can prove that I am responsible. Well, at least until the next time I royally screw up.

With both self-imposed and other-imposed expectations, it’s been rather rough. Then to top it off, my finals week coincided with Holy Week. Great. Now I’m academically and spiritually mediocre.

I needed Pascha. Not just so Lent and the fasting could end. Rather, I needed to reminder that everyone needs to come to Pascha. The point of Pascha is to celebrate our Hope that Christ has Risen, He has defeated Death. No one, not even the strictest of monastics “does Lent well.” Regardless of your short-comings, your faults, your lack of virtue or sense, your failures – you come and receive the light.

I fear how many times I will need this lesson re-taught to me. Yet, thankful that God’s grace and mercy will be a constant presence as I am criticized or as I fail. It won’t be pretty. It will never give me a feeling of “Joyous day that I am told how I let someone down!” But I’ll take what I need to the cross and rest in the Hope of Christ.

What I Miss from My Protestant Days

So, it’s the week before Easter! (I love saying that to make people’s heads turn!) Yes, it’s one of those years that “Greek” Easter is WAY late. Oh well.

As I was experiencing Palm Sunday on April 28, I realized something for the first time since converting: There is only one thing I miss from my Protestant experience. Being a pesky convert to Orthodox Christianity, I have 25+ years of low-church Protestantism to frame my religious education and lay theological training. When I was still in my inquiry and catechism into Orthodoxy, I was answering a lot of questions from concerned Protestants, such as:

  • Now that he’s dumped you, will you still go to the Orthodox church?
  • Do you feel God is less approachable in prayer?
  • Where is ____ in the Bible?
  • Are the Orthodox Calvinists?

I attempted to answer these and many others with as much sense and grace as possible. I don’t miss the debates over Predestination/Calvinism vs. Free Will/Armenian. I don’t miss how some churches try to spice up their church service with new stage lights, decorations, a sermon series or bible study on the most recently published book, etc. I don’t miss the sanctuary being renamed to “Big Church” or “The Auditorium” or “God’s House” etc. I don’t miss the debates over “seeker sensitive” vs. “feeding the sheep.”

I definitely do not miss “P&W time” that is filled with repetitive words and bland music. (This will be its own post in the future).

I miss having a cup of coffee and breakfast before going to church.

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Especially this last Sunday, I was seriously wanting pancakes and coffee with real cream. Between all the times I sang, “Lord, have mercy” or “Grant this, O Lord” and the longer hymns – I kept trying to focus on Christ triumphantly entering Jerusalem, “Hosanna in the Highest” … Coffee. Pancakes with eggs over easy.

For those of you unaware as to why this is a craving: If an Orthodox Christian is to partake of communion, he/she is to fast from bedtime/midnight until partaking of communion during Liturgy. There are other fasting guidelines during Lent, however, it still stays that if you are going to take communion, you should fast the night before and morning of. Some mornings, I feel fine. I make it through everything no complaint. Other mornings, there is a twinge, but I power through. The mornings like this past Sunday – I got to experience the grace of God and know that in my weakness he is strong. Mind you, I wasn’t all happy about this.

I was hungry. My back and knees hurt. (Lord, have mercy) I was sore. (Lord, have mercy) I was tired.  (Oh, thank God! We’re at the Creed.) I wanted nothing more than to cry and whine (When will I ever get to be parishioner that can sit whenever I want). My throat is drying out. (My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.)

Yet, even on these “bad days” where I long for my simple cup of coffee with a crossword before church, I’m reminded that my inner struggle is exactly why I need The Orthodox Church. One of the prayers for the Eucharist (Communion) asks that it be given to each according to his need. As I partake, I’m reminded again that the Eucharist is given “for the remission of sins and everlasting life.”

Some days, my prayer is that Christ continue to refine me. Show me where I need to forgive and love more. Other days, my prayer is that I be reminded that I need Christ more than coffee and comfortable Sunday mornings.

January Photo Shoot

Happy tax day. Well, I’m posting on the blog – this can mean one of two things.

  1. I have something on my mind that must be processed via online essay OR
  2. I’m avoiding homework.

Today, it’s the latter.

Since last summer I’ve had the urge to get an updated head shot and some fun photos. Part of this was a professional reason as I’m the Secretary and Education Director for the newly formed St. John of Damascus Society. The other professional reason was my career change to nursing; while not necessary now or even in the future, I thought one or two nurse-y head shots would be nice to have around if the need arose.

The third reason? Vanity. Sometimes, I need a boost that, yes, I can spend some time on my physical appearance and not feel guilty. I haven’t had a good picture since my senior year of high school; this is over a decade ago. In January, I made an appointment to spend a Saturday afternoon having fun. (Sorry, I’ve had the pics for a while. It’s been a busy semester.) I also mentioned getting good pics in a previous post.

Also, Lisa Berry is a dear friend and amazing photographer. Her professionalism and quality is outstanding, and plus – what a great way to get time with a friend AND see her use her gifts! Worth every dime and then some!

The Professional(ish) Photos:

The Music-oriented Pics:

Sometimes the world is black and white:

Sometimes the world is in color:

Let me know what you think!

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?

We survived.

Dear officially single ladies/men,

Well, we made it through another Valentine’s Day.

Some of us tried to ignore the day all together. We didn’t wear red or pink. We limited our exposure to anything that eked of romance, love, or for that matter, kindness. It was just another day where everyone else was crazy, and we were the only neutral or sane party. The day is best spent in bed with vodka or other depressant drug of choice.

The bitter and jaded side is represented by those that tell others to, “Go f- yourself!” or other snarky responses that communicate, “I hate myself. I hate this day. I hate anyone who is remotely happy right now. Give me your chocolate.”

There is a combo of the bitter and jaded with an amicable personality. These are the people that share comics such as this one or these examples:

puritanvalentines

In the end, they wish others “Happy Valentine’s Day!” with a smile.

Then there is the attitude I’m working towards – enjoying the opportunity to appreciate those around you. While the world is in a chocolate coma, they still hand out the best candy options. No chalky message hearts for them. No Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer valentines for them (unless consistent with their general personality).

It is hard to be ignored and single on a day that focuses on Cupid, St. Valentine, and Eros. Some years, “Girls’ Night” suffices. Sometime the guys in the college or singles groups would plan nice steak dinners. When I worked in a school, the student parties and fun of the day meant that kids dropped chocolate and cards at my feet. Even with cards, parties, and gifts, the loneliness still creeps in. For that I have no remedy.

But guess what? It’s February 15. The sun rose this morning. Whatever your adaptive or maladaptive coping mechanism was for yesterday, it’s done. Welcome to the rest of the year.

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

 

The Fall Out from my Fall Down

I described my bang-up job on clinicals in the previous post. But like Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story.

I made my way home from the ER, disappointed in myself and the day. Looming in the back of my mind was the question of how hefty the ER bill would be for 3-4 hours of observation, 1 ECG, 1 litre of saline and 2 staples. Finally free from the recesses of the ED, I called my friends and gave them a full explaination of what happened, at which point they offered to drive an hour to Indianapolis right then if I needed. I welled up with tears, again.

The temptation for me right now is to continue in merely relaying the events of the day in play-by-play and let you, the reader, glean from that the results. However, it seems all parties would benefit from me confessing the deeper levels rather than how I spent every minute of the next few days.

I spent my first day of nursing clinicals as a patient, rather than a student nurse. And since I had never had an ER or hospital experience as a patient, it was probably a good perspective to have. Thinking I could handle any situation was probably prideful of me but I failed to consider that the “situation” might be myself. The emotional sways came throughout the day: relief that I could rest and utter embarrassment that I fainted over nothing. I was simultaneously bored and angry while waiting in the ER for what seemed to be no good reason. Knowing exactly what the doctors and nurses were assessing me for with their questions and “follow my finger” or “can you do this?” directions was more jarring than the nurse digging for my vein. Rather than, “Oh, good! They are seeing if I’m okay!” my mind was thinking, “Crap! If I don’t perceive depth or have enough strength, I’m screwed.”

Nurses care for other people and are generally not comfortable with the caring attention turned towards them. I can handle attention in a church or performance stage setting – I want people to know I’ve practiced and have them enjoy the prayer or entertainment. It was difficult to accept the medical attention on me, and sadly, this is true for a lot of people in nursing and medical professions. Nurses continually put our needs aside to serve those who need our help. We neglect ourselves because we think we’ll be strong enough to make it through, not because we are unaware of what is going on.

While an overused meme earlier this year, it is true:

I discussed this concept with several people post-incident; one commented that in his experience, people in the medical profession are terrible at taking care of themselves. I was both relieved and humbled by that knowledge. The Frau and I chatted about the pride involved in not admitting you need help. People outside of nursing and other service professions do not realized the humility it takes to admit that you, the nurse, are not strong enough. Being proactive about your own health and sanity is incredibly difficult in our age of prideful independence. And while it is easy to tell others, “Take care of yourself. There is no weakness in needing rest,” how often do we give side glances or feel the extra burden on our shoulders when someone isn’t able to help out and he/she looks capable.

Another result of my experience highlights the plight of singles and having to make your family where you are. When in Bloomington, I felt comfortable putting my Godmother, my roommate, or some close friends as emergency contacts. Indianapolis hasn’t allowed me to think about that yet. We are also in the era of cell phones where you know your number but only possess others’ numbers in your cell phone contacts list. No phone, no list, no number. So while my parents in Iowa are beneficiaries for my finances, they are not useful people to list if I break a bone or lose consciousness.

See, it’s those little things that some married folk forget about when whining about their situation. (And before you derail, I said “some” not “all”).

“Oh, but you’re free to do whatever you want and you don’t have a man to clean up after!”

“Oh, but you don’t have to think about who to call in an emergency nor do everything yourself!”

Thus, singles who live away from blood-relatives have to be intentional with their lives. The Church is their family. Their Priest is a father-figure, and if he is married, the Matushka/Khouria/Presbytera is a mother-figure. Sometimes, being intentional feels isolating and lonely. I have to ask, rather than assume or know, that someone can be there for me. Yet, in allowing that other layer of pride to melt, it is suddenly clear how rich life can be. While separated from my blood-relatives, I have been gifted a rich network of friends who care about me and love me. And I guess I needed that lesson reinforced just in time for Thanksgiving.

 

Student Nurse Clinical: Day 1

Heavy sigh. I was that nursing student. The one who is certain she is called to be a nurse, always ready with the answers… who faints on the first day of clinicals. This is an experience that shouldn’t start with a bang. I guess I’ll start from the beginning, rather than piecing it out and having you attempt cohesion at the end.

My first clinical day was about two weeks ago. I had to work at the restaurant the night before, but I willingly pulled the “I have to leave my house by 5:30 AM tomorrow” card on my manager. He cut me first from the floor, and I was grateful. It still took me a while to wind down, even though I got home around 9:30, but I got to bed about 11 or so and estimated I would get 6 or so hours of sleep.

I woke up at 5 AM before my 5:15 alarm. Dang. I got into my scrubs and grabbed some granola bars. I could feel my adrenaline already pulsing, so I decided to fore go my usual large coffee with cream. It was a rainy and cold morning, so I snagged an umbrella out the door. The drive was a good time to relax and think about the day.

I thought about stopping into the Hubbard & Cravens on my way to Wishard, however, I decided that coffee wasn’t necessary as I was still strung out on adrenaline. I met with my instructor and fellow students in our conference room; I felt a little nervous but it seemed normal. I might have been the only one in the room who did not want to be in pairs, yet everyone else wanted to pair up, so I consented by silence.

We got the KARDEX (paper information) on our patient and report from the nurses. I started feeling a little light headed with waves almost like severe exhaustion, so I shrugged them off and tried to busy myself. We were still waiting for our patient to wake up, so I chatted a little with the nurses. The next few waves came. Shoot, they were a little stronger this time. “I’m not going to vasovagal!” was running through my head. I thought I was thirsty, and I knew another thing I needed was to get the blood back to my heart and head. I tried walking around. I sat down with  my head on the desk. Thinking I might want a juice or soda, I tried to find the vending machines, but I only had a $20 bill. Dang. The water from the fountain tasted terrible. Thanks, Indianapolis.

About 5 minutes later, our patient was waking up, and I wanted to be brave. My partner and I went in to introduce ourselves and asked if we could start our vital sign assessment. I was feeling fine while taking the patient’s pulse and counting respiration rate; my extra energy had something to do. Right in the middle of my 30 second respiration count, a med student came in. The patient was having a procedure done that day and the student needed to complete a pre-procedure interview. All I was doing was standing around. Huge wave and the first sign of blurry vision.  I excused myself to find my instructor. I couldn’t think what it was that was starting the vagal response in me. The patient had some chronic conditions, one of which was renal failure. Dialysis was needed, and the current port for the dialysis tubing was in the patient’s neck. While I hadn’t seen that specific kind (Inter-Jugular or IJ tubes), I had seen ports on others before. I spent the last year giving medications by PEG tube to The Brain! Tubes should not have been a problem.

I finally found my clinical instructor and admitted that I wasn’t doing to well. I told her I had a history of vagal responses, but if I could go get some juice and walk around, I would be fine. Partial humility is always a bad idea. She consented, but right then I felt a huge wave and said, “After I sit down…” I turned to walk towards the welcome desk and chair.

The fuzziness began to clear, but it felt as though I was being woken up. I closed my eyes again not wanting to be bothered with the light and noise.

The THX sound check began ringing in my ears. People were saying my name, but I didn’t recognize their voices. I had no idea what happened. Then I heard a voice I recognized as my clinical instructor’s say, “She was on her way to the chair, when she fell and hit her head on the shredder box, taking the charts down with both of us.”

The first words out of my mouth, “YOU MEAN I DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT TO THE CHAIR?!?!?”

Nope. I was on the floor against a wall. The right side of my head felt as though I had been hit by a rock. I was tired, dehydrated, and trying to explain my medical history with vagal responses when they would let me. My thought process is one that if I explain I have a history of these and I’ve survived them, then it won’t be a big deal and I can get back to work.

Why do nurses think that medical rules don’t apply to them?? (History = Problem NOT “Oh, she’ll be fine!”)

The staff around me takes my blood pressure. I tell them that I had a typical breakfast for me and, no, I don’t have diabetes. They check my blood glucose anyway. 100 thank you very much! (This is within normal limits) My blood pressure is a little low but not drastically. They ask if I’m ready to sit up. Yes, I’d like to try. I sit in the “fainter’s position” with my head between my knees; I hear an audible gasp. With the way my head is slightly throbbing, I make this supposition:

“I’m going to assume by that sound that there is blood involved.”

“Yes.” I put my right hand up to my head by the area that feels tender. A few drops of crimson. Dang. I can not refuse treatment now (yes, I’ve done that before when no blood was present. Again, nurses don’t follow the rules.)

Some one hands me a small container of orange juice. After a few small sips, I stare at the cup, “This is the WORST orange juice I have ever tasted.” It was more like melted concentrate. I try to be humorous (deflecting, anyone???) and tell my instructor, “Well, Jeni, you have another story.” She smiles.

They ask if I’m ready to get on the wheeled bed to go down to the Emergency Dept. I stand up slowly and make it. Then the tears of embarrassment come at the same time as the urge to expel any contents of my stomach. The Vagus Nerve (Cranial Nerve X) is involved with both your heart and digestive system, thus the blood pressure drop plus the nausea are typical. Someone hands me a small box of tissues, the offended sheets are put in laundry, and I’m wheeled away to the ED.

After the elevator ride, I’m asked the orienting questions by the admitting nurse. What is your name and date of birth? What month is it? Who is the president?

An admitting bracelet is put on my wrist, and I’m taken to the ER triage bays. I make the comment, “Yay, my first hospital bracelet since birth.” A nurse comes to place me on a monitor for heart rate and pulse oximetry. I look at the monitor, my pulse is at 50 which means that earlier it was much lower. (Adult pulse rate should be about 60-100). The resident comes over with a med student and does her assessment. Is my grasp even? Can I follow her finger to the 6 cardinal movements of vision? Am I able to resist her in my arms and legs? Can I tell her what happened? Do I have a history? She looks at my head; two staples are definitely needed. My instructor tells her part of the story. It’s at this point I find out that I was out for a minute or two and that the brief interlude where I felt I wanted to roll over a sleep was prior to me exhibiting signs of a small seizure. I explain that the seizure-like symptoms have occurred before and that I’m unaware of any seizure history except the few symptoms that occur in conjunction with my vagal responses. I think a few more tears fell.

A nurse comes by with supplies for blood draw and IV fluids. My vein that was found so easily a few months prior was not so that day. She had to really search for it before finding a decent draw. Ow. After the samples were taken, 1 litre of saline was put on a fairly fast drip into my system. I’m simultaneously encouraged and discouraged; I can handle a fast drip to replace fluids, yet it’s one more thing that tethers me to the bed. Another nurse came by, this time for a 12-lead ECG (apparently EKG is no longer the correct abbreviation).

Registration comes by. Emergency contact? Who can drive me home? Um… “Put down my parents, and I’ll figure out my life later.”

At this point, I’m alone in the bay as my instructor left to check on the others still on the floor.

I cry from embarrassment. I try to rest, which is impossible with COPD guy coughing behind the curtain on my right, the light above me, and a woman two bays over being on cardiac monitors. And my IV starts bothering me, but there are no signs of infiltration and phlebitis doesn’t happen in 20 minutes.

The resident decides I’m ready for my staples. Since numbing the area would take longer AND hurt more than just putting in the staples without an anesthetic, she irrigates and proceeds. It felt a little weird feeling both go in and pinch the skin together, but in reality, I’ve had mosquito bites be more annoying.

My instructor comes down with my backpack and report on the others. She reminded the other students that my incident was covered under HIPAA, therefore, they had to allow only me to share with others in our classes. I didn’t realize until she said it how relieved I was. I got her phone number before she left.

I texted my mom and The Frau as calling was impossible in the recesses of the ED. A few texts are exchanged with The Frau, and I assure her of a full explanation when I have better cell reception. The resident came over to check on me and see if I could walk around without feeling woozy. I passed the test. Woot. In the mean time, I decided to take a free HIV-antibody test because it was offered, and I figured I should get something for free out of this experience even though I live a low to no risk life. It came back negative. Shocker.

The attending physician comes over to check on me before discharge at 11:30, mind you I collapsed at about 7 AM. I assure him I feel fine and that my recent surge of tears is more from embarrassment (with a slight amount of failure). He validates my emotions and says they’ll do their best to get me out quickly. My discharge papers only list “syncope” as my diagnosis. No care or other instructions related to my staples. Hm.

I finally see the light of day after twisting through the labyrinth of halls to the outside. I call my instructor to let her know I’m out and half hoping she’ll let me return to the floor. Denied and without energy to argue, I consent to her wisdom.

I call The Frau and am put on speaker so her husband can hear as well. I walk back to my car while explaining the situation.

And, yes, I drove myself home. Yet another nursing rule broken.

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