Yikes

I don’t even want to look at the date of my last post. Thankfully, Orthogals is still going strong, and strong enough that Ancient Faith Blogs picked us up! Woohoo!

Where have I been instead of online self-publishing? Well, you know about this:

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Which lead to this:

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And during that time I worked nights:

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Around the time I got to switch to days, we found out this was coming:

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Props to my 6-year-old niece for thinking of this all by herself!

And in late October, she came!

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Sigh. I hadn’t even finished changing my legal name on my accounts…

For the time being, I plan on keeping up TRS. I’m blogging about different things now, but then again, this wasn’t supposed to be a one subject blog. It’s my thoughts and ponderings on life, and those have changed a lot too.

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One Day at a Time

I’m a new nurse.

I have to keep reminding myself of this. I’m new. I’m going to make mistakes.

Thankfully, none of my mistakes have resulted in adverse patient reactions. I haven’t overdosed anyone on their narcotic pain medication. If my assessment found an abnormality or something new, I reported it.

But I’ve been late on timed lab draws. I didn’t get a “Keep Vein Open” order with a patient controlled analgesia (PCA). I charted something on a patient, only to realize after signing that it was the wrong patient. And I’ve certainly handled a few interactions with less grace and clinical judgment than I would like.

I hate making mistakes; I hate knowing that I’ve failed or been under par. I worry that I will never get this nursing thing figured out. It’s these days that I cry.

But after a day or two off, I pull myself back together. Double check my care plan, make my list, and set out to improve one patient at a time.

And then I come home. And I’m new to marriage as well. We’re both new spouses. We’re going to make mistakes.

Some days, he’s helpful and a wonderful shoulder to cry on when work goes horribly wrong. Other days, he doesn’t see that I’m tired and asks for my help with tasks that, in my opinion, he should be able to figure out by himself so that I can sleep. There have been times where we are both oblivious to the ways we hurt each other. And then when the courage is mustered up to say, “____ really hurt,” it isn’t met with the response wanted but with more fuel for the fire.

Then the time comes where we say, “I’m sorry. Forgive me,” and keep working on this one day at a time.

What I learned in nursing school

In the aftermath of graduating from nursing school, I had a little bit of time to think about all that I’d learned. I would like to emphasize “little bit.”

In my prerequisites, I learned a few more parts of the body (or at least the scientific names for them), the intricacies of how our bodies work, and the microorganisms that both help and wreak havoc on our world.

In nursing school itself, I was presented with the basic tasks of nursing care, the most common diseases and the nursing role in treatment and management of that disease or condition.

In finishing nursing school, after everything I’d learned medically, I really could say one thing:

Nursing school taught me how hard it is to see and love people the way Christ sees and loves them.

I can’t look on the multitudes of patients and have compassion on them the way Jesus did. In fact, most of my patients, their social and family situations, and the diseases they have anger me. They are lost in a world that most have created for themselves and think that modern medicine will wave its magic cure-all wand. Most of my patients see a problem and drink their livers to oblivion before middle age or claim horrible pain in order to get heavy-duty pain meds.

The videos healthcare organizations produce that show CLEAN and HAPPY patients in a well-lit, freshly constructed hospital room are lies. I’m sure there are some fantastically happy patients. Mine tend to have odor and hygiene problems, emotional disturbances coupled with medical issues, and placed in rooms that are showing their age.

So, if you’re going into nursing, know from this new nurse and the vast amounts of seasoned veterans – it is a worthy profession. You see “the stuff of life” as Call the Midwife says. And it’s not all brow sponging and baby kissing. It’s hard emotionally and physically. And you learn more about yourself and your limitations than you ever thought possible.

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.

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!

 

Floating

Lately, several people have heard my lame joke, “I’m floating so much, I should be a duck!”

I started my student nursing adventures on a urology floor. I really wasn’t that picky when it came to this first job – I had heard from multiple advisers that getting on “a good med-surg floor” was the best introduction you could have to the world of nursing. Medical-Surgical floors (i.e. med-surg) is the basic care a patient needs in a hospital – they have some condition which needs attention through drugs (medical) or surgery. If anything else goes wrong, they can be transferred to a Progressive Care or Critical/Intensive Care unit.

So, I my first steps as a student nurse were spent tracking down a patient’s vital signs, making sure they get out of bed post-surgery, measuring urine and other fluid output (if you only knew how many forms this took other than pee and blood…), and my favorite – trying to keep track of how much they put in.

After 3 months on my home unit, I was eligible to float to others when my unit’s tech staff was overpopulated and/or the patient census was down. Thank goodness, I have been able to keep some of my working hours! At first, I heard from most techs and nurses “Ugh, I have to float!” Honestly, I don’t mind it.

Rather than being in the world of kidneys and bladders, I’m getting to see other medical-surgical and progressive care floors. I’ve been on liver, orthopedic, or digestive disorder units. One of my favorites to work at is the Organ Transplant unit. I’ve also been to an Oncology unit – that’s a post all on it’s own.

And it can not be said enough, ALL nursing is psych nursing. Some of my more interesting floats this summer were patients with alcohol withdraw or other substance withdraw issues. Definitely kept me awake on those 3 AM sitting/supervising shifts!!

My most memorable experience in floating happened in late June. I had settled in to a sitting shift with a patient, when my charge nurse appeared. She explained that one tech coming on could only float to sit and another unit needed a tech to work the floor. So, I pack my things and head to the new unit. I step off the elevator, introduce myself to the charge nurse, and am greeted with these words: “Do you speak Spanish?” Oh, dear.

Apparently, it was a sitting shift; my charge nurse was misinformed. The patient did not like the current sitter whom I was replacing, however, some quick thinking on my part got the patient to trust me. My two years of high school Spanish, one year of Latin, random study of words from my singing past, plus Google Translate helped me communicate to this freaked out patient. He/she went from unwilling to sleep, have vital signs taken, and allow blood glucose checks to resting comfortably in an non-paranoid state. All because I looked up, “Go to sleep. Everything is good. The nurses are taking good care of you.”

Floating has allowed me to see what sort of nurse I might want to be and the sort I do not want to be. I have met patients, families, support staff, chaplains, and a host of others in the system. I have found units that I would consider working on as a nurse and those from which I will run far, far away. It can be frustrating, but as I’ve found out, also rewarding. Both in circumstances and the fact that I am getting paid.

Quack.

The Questions

I’m in an accelerated nursing program. It is geared specifically for people who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to receive their bachelor’s in nursing rather than an associate’s degree. A common question in the first semester is, “What was your previous degree?”

But then, people decide they want to know you more. They now have two options:

1. “Why did you leave ______?”

2. “What lead you to nursing?”

I know that I’m having a bad month here in Ray of Sunshine Land, but for the love of God, these questions are getting on my nerves.

So, let me answer them for you –

1. I didn’t like teaching; I liked interacting with the students, and I liked singing. Teaching those concepts was draining the life out of me. Oh, might I mention a few colleagues made my life a living hell? Yes, teachers can eat their young as well. I found that I was selfish with music – I need it to be my relaxation. I don’t see music and arts as the first thing that people need for their lives. Public education bad days

2. I had a quarter-life crisis. Got tired of doors slamming in my face. Wiped the slate clean of my options, looked at my skill set. Thought about nursing, pursued it and doors opened. Loved the opportunities. Most every clinical I end thinking, “Maybe this career track is for me?” It fits my preferred M.O. as I like to be at a place and just go. I’m not an 8-5 for 5 days person.

And last thing while wrapping this up, I’m tired of hearing, “you’ll always have a job” from people who think they know healthcare because they had their immunizations. Kind of like the people who think they know education because they were students. Nurses are generally the biggest part of an organization’s budget. We are generally the first to feel budget cuts. Yes, there are always healthcare jobs. There are always teaching jobs. They just might not be what the person prefers to be doing in their career.

End rant. Back to studying.

Dating a Seminarian

I entered a new frontier the past summer – I’m “in a relationship.” But as this requires as much adjustment and introspection as being single, don’t think that my blog has suddenly lost its purpose.

Yep, you heard me, being single – a content single – requires as much introspection and processing as dating someone.

Anyway, my boyfriend is an Orthodox Seminary graduate. With my involvement over at Orthogals, it was suggested that I write an advice feature on dating a seminarian. Since this would involve his life, I ran the idea past him. The conversation:

Me: So, the Orthogals are wondering if I can write a feature on dating a seminarian. What do you think?
Him: Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Me: (seeing his reticence and suddenly being aware of the personal nature of it) On second thought, maybe not.
Him: Actually, let me give you my advice for dating a seminarian – DON’T.
Me: Yeah, if people actually look at the demands life will have on that family, they wouldn’t seek it out.

Later, I was chatting with my priest about life and how mine was shaping up. In hearing that my relationship involved a seminarian, my priest offered his wife as a resource to me. Of note, Preoteasa is the Romanian equivalent to the Arabic Khouria and Russian Matushka – all are terms of respect for the priest’s wife. In my parish, it has been abbreviated to “P’sa.” The conversation as follows:

Me: Your husband volunteered you as a source of advice for me.
P’sa: Oh? For what?
Me: Dating a seminarian.
P’sa: Run. Run FAR away. 

So, ladies, there you have it from both the potential priest and the wife of one – don’t seek out that position and enter with caution if you do get called.

 

When The End Comes

Sorry that I’ve been absent for so long. There has been so much to juggle the past few months, and since I have a few people with whom I can verbally process my life, I guess blogging hasn’t been a top priority. I have plans to fill in some of my thoughts and experiences from the summer, but they will have to wait.

The reason for this entry, however, is that last night I received word from Stewie that The Brain finished his battle/war with ALS.

While I hate that a terrible disease has taken yet another person in such a cruel way, my emotion is not so much based on anger or depression or bitterness. I am actually relieved to know that he fought his battle in the only way he could and was able to let go. I am relieved to know that Stewie will have the opportunity to sleep through the night for the first time in over 2 years. I am relieved to know that The Brain was able to let go of this life and not give up hope.

I’m sure there will be more writings and musings of my grieving. But they will be dampened as I do not feel my life will make as much of an adjustment compared with others.

I have been struck the past few months in how complete the prayers of Orthodoxy are for the human experience. When we let go of our pride that says only extemporaneous or spontaneous prayers are best, we find a vast wealth of wisdom. So, I leave you with several of the prayers available in the Orthodox Prayer Book published by Holy Protection Monastery in Colorado (aka “The Blue Romanian Prayer Book”)

Oh good Lord, remember Your servant(s) _______ and forgive them all in which they have transgressed in their lives, for only You are without sin and can grant rest to the departed. In Your divine wisdom and love for mankind, You bestow all things and provide for all the needs of man. O Creator, rest the souls of Your servants _____ who have placed their hope in You, O Lord, the Fashioner, the Creator and our God. Amont the saints, O Christ, rest the souls of Your servants where there is neither pain nor grief nor sighing, but life everlasting.

In one of my conversations with The Brain before I left for nursing school, he expressed to me his fear of being forgotten after his death. So, I now can pray the words I reassured to him that day: Memory eternal.

 

Complimenting the Choir

I have sung at the chanter’s stand and choir for about 5 years non-stop. In high school and college, my church and campus ministry had a rotation for people in the worship band or praise team, so there was no need for me to make a weekly commitment. Save August 2009, December 2011, and a few random Sundays of illness, I spend services as a choir member…or at some services, I AM the choir.

Yesterday, I got two lovely compliments that encouraged me more than any others combined. It was the Feast of the Dormition of The Mother of God, which is  the last major feast of the church year. Beautiful hymns encourage Christians to prayer. While in line to receive a blessing at the end, a woman approached me. “Your voice is so beautiful. It helped me to pray today. Thank you.

After the pitch-in breakfast, a man approached me as I got up to leave. “Thank you for singing today. It lifted us all up [to heaven].”

I had enjoyed Vigil the night before and Liturgy yesterday morning – the people I was singing with were on pitch and we could trade harmonizing ad lib. As a musician, those are the service moments you love. When you aren’t just singing but making music and able to have a few moments of prayer yourself.

Many a dissertation is written on Orthodox services, and I have a very simple understanding of them. I can say, however, that the reason Orthodox Christians gather is to pray. Liturgy is a prayer. Vespers, Vigil, and all other daily services are for prayer. Everything in an Orthodox church is a call to prayer and to see as best we can with earthly eyes and hearts the Glory of God.

Yet, when you sing in the choir, you give up that freedom to pray. I have experienced so many, Orthodox or not, who view the choir or worship leaders as “untouchables” or that the work of a musician is so much more honorable than they in the crowd. My voice being audible during the service in NO WAY makes me amazing and you liturgical dust.

Complimenting your choir member or director with a “woe is me” or “Gosh, you’re important” tone is flawed. Please stop doing that.

The choir members have given up their freedom to pray because we have to think about other things – like staying in tune. This also goes for the opposite – to “mentally check-out” during a service is disastrous. And because Orthodoxy involves the body, we also give up the freedom to prostrate, bow, or even bless ourselves without whacking our hand or forehead on a music stand.

God has given us a gift. We are to use it, and most of us do with glad hearts! But it does not come without sacrifice. Knowing that you were able to pray makes my sacrifice worth it.

I have had people compliment my voice after it has sung both the sacred and secular. Very few have gone to say how it has moved them to better prayer. That sufficiently humbled me to know they were praying as I was singing yet thinking about whether or not I chose the most comfortable shoes for a 3-hour service.

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