Don't Curse the Nurse!

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bicepJust when I was reaching a low point in my self discipline regarding exercise, hope came at 0900 this last Wednesday. “Hope” ( can’t   tell you his real name) walked down the hall, quadriceps flexing, causing a rivet of wrinkling in his Bermuda shorts, his arms jutting out from his side. A chest that must have measured almost two yards made it impossible for his arms to drop lower toward his hips.

Breezing through his history to confirm the main reason for his visit, I saw the word ‘bodybuilder’.

No kidding.

I stayed oh so professional until a coworker that recognized him from her gym, stopped and said “Hello”. Then the Anesthesiologist came. He made reference to how long ‘Hope’ would have to wait before returning to his workout regime.

I was mesmerized by his muscles. No funny stuff here people. Half a century ago I was an athlete. It was all respect. All respect. But I dropped the bar a little just before starting his IV. I asked him to flex his arm for me.

He did.

And I’ve been to the gym every day since. 🙂

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Black History Month

Please read from fellow blogger : Pearls Before Swine

Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Attica Massacre

 

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Picking My Plot – No, not that kind.

I got an invitation in the mail to plan my burial. You know, one of those things. The card had a glossy finish, discrete, but classy chestnut brown and dark gold background, the font, italic. Dinner included – at Red Lobster.

When I opened the envelope, I was thrown at first. Baldwin Fairchild did the mail out. I had no spouse in Hospice. My parents — alive and kicking, out daily, hobbies, traveling, yada yada.

I’ve seen something similar to this, except it was for future planning, investing, IRA’s. So into planning my financial future, yes I am, but do I get one of those in the mail like my parents…

No.

I get an invitation to decide if I want cremation or an open viewing, a mahogany or a pine casket; burial in a fancy- dancy cemetery with a view of a lake (like it’s really going to matter to me), or a local plot next to the fine/ expired residents of the city I live in.

I smirk at the irony of this because, see, I made no big deal about turning fifty over a year ago, but obviously Big Brother wants to acknowledge it. Flyers from AARP have gone in the trash. No disrespect to them, but at age fifty-one and far from being able to touch my IRA or Social Security without big penalties, what is the purpose of being inundated with this mail?

Especially mail to pick your burial site.

Let me say that I am an advocate of Advance Directives and making an effort to decrease the minutia of things your family has to do with your passing. The most important thing is to let them know what life saving efforts you want made in the case of significant health decline.

But this stuff in the mail. Geez!

I’m tempted to go to the dinner and ask questions like, “Would if I want to be buried in my back yard? Will this plan pay for it?” Or “I’d like to be buried next to Robert Frost. Is that possible?”

I won’t get any more insensitive about this. (You know what they say about Karma)

Someone told me a long time ago I had to deal with my issues about death.

Silly Rabbit. I’m a nurse. Death strolls through hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics picking and choosing whose time it is. I don’t know him personally, but sometimes I swear, I feel a draft and I know he’s just walked by.

You don’t stay in medicine without giving a head nod to Death and respecting his significance

I’m not afraid of Death. Sometimes I fear I’m not living enough, but I’m not afraid of death. I placed my life in someone else’s hands a long time ago.

When I’m ready to sit back, start counting my days left, and stop living. I’ll let Big Brother know. In the meantime, I have to finish this and go.

I have another doctor’s appointment.

 

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Instant Weight Loss

So I leave the dentist, stop for gas, grab a Gatorade, and three minutes later I’ve discovered the secret for fast weight loss…

Lidocaine.

To be more specific, Lidocaine injected into either your right or left buccal sac ( cheek for you non-medical people).

I had twisted off the cap to  the bottle and was looking forward to the orangey taste of my potassium loaded drink. Lifting it slightly higher than chin level, but not too high that I couldn’t  see the road ahead of me, I puckered my lips. Or at  least I thought I had.

As I placed the plastic rim against my mouth and realized I couldn’t contract the muscles on the right side of my face, there was a split second debate going on in my head: Do I dare take a sip or not ? Am I going to dribble liquid down my shirt?  I pushed the lip of the bottle harder against my mouth. Nope. No feeling at all . Like a baby squirrel, I sucked a few drops from the left side of my mouth.

I put the drink down.

I looked mournfully over at the baked chips I picked up just before paying for the gas. They probably wouldn’t taste good being as the right side of my tongue was also numb. I couldn’t roll the sour cream powdered flavoring around in my mouth.

I whimpered a little. The 460 calories sat there while I drove on.

Damn cavity !

The scale better be half a pound lighter in the morning.

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A Visit From Don Juan

Either he had slept little the night before, or he always had the seductively lowered lids  that drew you in. Then there was his slow drawl with the slight accent – a male version of the come hither tone you might hear on a T.V. show – but he was sincere – that’s what him so appealing – and made me smile at his response to my question.

“I need a phone number of the person who is going to take you home after your surgery.”

Fingers on the keyboard, I was ready to type in a name and number.

It will be one of my girlfriends.”

“Ah, um, okay. Pick one and give me her name and number.”

“Well…,” He dragged the word out. “I’m not sure which one is best. It depends on what time I am ready to go.”

I can do this. It’s none of my business. Just  take both names down and the window of time for pick-up appropriate for each.

I jotted the names and numbers. All was well until four hours later. The waiting area receptionist called.

“Hello. Just wanted to let you all know that Mr. ___________’s girlfriend called and said she was on her way.”

His comment about the fact that he had more than one  girlfriend came back to mind. I quickly asked, “Did she say what her name was?”

“Gosh no, Susan. Sorry, I didn’t ask.”

I advised the nurse recovering ‘Romeo’ that he had a visitor coming, that one of the girlfriend’s took a proactive approach and didn’t wait  for a phone call.  As she turned back toward his bay, I took note of the look on her face.  Priceless.

What would happen if the other girlfriend showed up would be even more special!

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Regrets

fireblogLast night I set my regrets on fire; a small flame, a single curl of smoke – that’s all it fostered. Like the wagging tongue of a child, it momentarily taunted me, but then I thought, No.

There were too many joyous experiences from 2016 to let a few misgivings piggyback into 2017.

What I learned most from this last  year is that letting go, for me, needs to  be a daily practice. No more holding things in ( or up). It’s not some kind of measure of my character.

Besides, no one’s ever asked me to hold anything in.

 

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img_1805I’m guessing this is from the neighbors.

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CPR and Praying – Both Done Better In the Kneeling Position

Instead of being on the road driving toward my parents for dinner at 4:50, I was on my knees in one of the rooms of my next door neighbor’s home.

“One and two and three and four. One and two and…”

I ignored the 911 operator on speaker phone (she was going too slowly). My sweet neighbor was yelling, “We’re fine. She’s a nurse. My neighbor’s a nurse.”

We weren’t fine.

I wanted to cry, not because of stress, but because despite his disheveled appearance, I knew I was doing compressions on someone younger than me, someone who my instincts told me, had given up. Hope is an integral part of my belief system, and sensing its absence blanketed me with grief for the stranger lying below me.  There was also the small pop felt under my hand on the fifth compression and I knew I had cracked rib. Guilt, major guilt. Irrational. But it was there anyway.

I also felt alone. You’re never alone in the hospital. You never go through this alone. There is a whole team. Sometimes so many, the extras that can’t find any way to help are sent back to their normal duties.

He took in a garbled breath, and in the background, the sounds of sirens could be heard entering the neighborhood. I stopped CPR, and with my fingers under his jawbone, lifted his chin. He took in two more rumbling gasps of air. His lips flapped when he exhaled.

Now at his head, I noticed with more care the deep gash across his left brow, the blood on the carpet, and a foot away, a syringe with a bent needle. It confirmed my suspicion that demons were winning the fight for this guy’s life.

Heavy footsteps signaled the arrival of help. I kept my guy’s chin thrust upward, watched his chest go up and down, and remained in a scrunched up position between the door frame. A long legged paramedic stepped over me and threaded an IV into his hand. After the mom explained her son’s history, they administered Narcan – reversing the sedative effect on his heart, oxygenated him, and assisted him to a stretcher for his visit to the nearby hospital.

His mom thanked me profusely and in the same sentence, told me she’d also had a bad day at work. His dad also thanked me and finished by saying “I’m so embarrassed.”

I told them everyone has struggles and hugged them both.

I got to Mom and Dad’s by 5:12.

 

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Our Department Angel

gift

We have something for you.”

He never changed his pace. He grabbed a chart, added the indexed papers, and the allergy sticker for the front.

We waited, quietly.

Thinking he’d look up and notice everyone standing around him, we all inhaled, anxious to show our appreciation. Our manager stood behind him and off to the left, holding the envelope with the gift card inside.

He then got up from his seat, turned clockwise, and sifted through the stack of dividers, his chin inches from where they sat propped on the high countertop. After finding the specific divider he needed, our much valued volunteer acknowledged our presence.  

“Just a minute. I need to finish this.”

Sure that he was aware that the small crowd gathering was for him, our boss gently intervened.

“We have a gift for you”

He sat again and placed the name labels inside the clear pocket.

I’m not sure about the others, but for me, the awkward humor of what appeared to be a snub quickly turned into an ‘ Aww ‘ moment.  A little shade of pink had colored his face.  Turning to the manager, but fluttering his eyes up and down, he simply said “O.K”

“This is for you. We all chipped in!” Noticing his shyness, our leader kept it short and sweet.

He murmured a “Thank you”, placed the envelope on the counter, and looked over to start on a new chart.

“Open it.”    “Open it.”           “Open it.”     We all chimed in.

 “Of course he complied. He is a gentleman. 

What’s more important is that I share this:   Our volunteer is over 75, having put in full tenure in the school system, has time to help at least twice a week. His wife is seeing an Oncologist. He only missed the days he had eye surgery and the days his wife was getting treatments. He doesn’t take breaks or chat the time away.

He’s not “Just a volunteer.” (Besides, there is no such thing as “Just a volunteer”.)

He’s a gift.

To our department angel I want to say “We love you and hope you never tire of us!”

 

 

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Dashboard Junkie

dashboard

I have an announcement to make:

I am no longer a Dashboard Junkie.

I have finally reached that personal Nirvana where I see posts from writing peers popping up in my email, a one paragraph teaser displayed on my tiny phone screen, and I get that feeling, you know, the one where you’ve gotten a voicemail from a friend — your cell phone battery is low or you’re in a tight spot at work — and you’re anxious to get home to call them back.

I want to read more, comment more (if I have something of value to say or share), or hit the ‘like’ button to simply acknowledge that ‘yes’, I hear you.

It’s about the people.

Those that express thoughts, ideas, or simply share the joy of their day, in written format, I miss them. I want to stay connected

Not to say that I won’t ever look at my Dashboard again, and some of you might be thinking Why should you? Your follower count is pretty low.

Losing the idea that the Dashboard is important, for me, is liberating.

(A well-respected blogger with thousands of follows once queried people as to why they post and I fessed up to one day hoping my social media presence would impact an industry person.)

I’ve had essays published in newspapers, nursing magazines, even a literary journal or two, and I was starting to see writing as a task with stair step goals leading to, who knows, something big in the future. But, in the process of my obsessive goal setting, (ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors – it’s true) I had lost the joy of having found a way of expressing myself. I had inadvertently transferred the writing energy into setting the bar higher and seeing if I could jump over it. I saw the Dashboard graph as my reward.

No more.

Opening up WordPress is a treasure chest. The people posting here are fearless in the way they lay out their emotions, diligent in their efforts to support others, to bring only their best crafted stories and essays.

If I’m going to set any new goal regarding my blog, it will be to read what I have typed and ask myself each time, Susan, are you leaving anything out? Are you sugarcoating it?

                                                               ***

I’m in a good place.

 

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