Don't Curse the Nurse!

Sharing support with stories & humor

A Very Good Read

when-breath-becomes-air-paul-kalanithi-1

I don’t look for these books, they find me, Death Be Not Proud, Before I Go, Being Mortal, and now When Breath Becomes Air — stories that don’t glorify death, only bring to light the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning.

When Breath Becomes Air crossed my daughter’s path (a lover of Hiaasen and Palahniuk), not mine, she mentioned it to me in the same easygoing manner she would share her yoga schedule. Little did she know how much of an impact reading this book who have on me.

Atul Gawande and Carol Cassella are the only other physician/ writers of who’s work I’ve read; Gawande —philosophical and earnest in taking his own experiences and finding the common threads we can all relate to; Cassella , in my opinion, a master of upmarket fiction  who creates stories with characters and themes that jump off the page and hold you captive.

Kalinithe’s memoir, completed by his wife when cancer took him, is a lyrical retelling of his entrance into residency, the day he learned of his diagnosis, and how the blending of his calling and his cancer gave him a perspective he was driven to share until the very end. Kalinithe explained early on that he chose neurosurgery because “the brain is the crucible of our identity and medicates our experiences of the world.” Little did he know that lung cancer would spread to his brain and be one of his last teachers.

I don’t have a fondness for stories about people dying. I am a hopeless romantic who could watch Rob Reiner movies all day. It could be the “doctor becomes patient” thing I find intriguing. William Hurt did this well in a 1991 movie, but, it was fiction. While reading When Breath Becomes Air there is no getting up and categorizing the plot as a well-crafted or full of witty dialogue you want to share with friends.

I feel blessed to have gotten to read this book. Right after “courageous” the word “generous” comes to mind, courageous not because Mr. Kalanithe pushed hard to keep working, keep helping people, courageous because he was willing to put his fears and insecurities on paper and leave them for all to read.

And generous, that’s self-explanatory once you read the book.

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Outcome of my April 6th post – It got in!

Hey there WordPress family,

So, I submitted the short story Reshuffling ( from April 6th) to the Florida Writers Adult collection series for 2015, and …it’s in!!

It feels good to create something, to know that someone with a critical sense liked it, called it above average. I needed this. Life has had a lot of hiccups for me lately. This feels good!

The best part is that I’m motivated, motivated to take ideas, nurture them with the ultimate goal of entertaining people, maybe even make them feel.

This is my voice. It’s getting stronger.

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Something Different

QUEEN FOR A DAY

Despite snorting out bursts of air, the smell of urine still sat in Nurse Claire Smart’s nostrils and her back muscles ached as she leaned over to clean her shoes.

Claire blamed the pain on Beulah Pittard, a patient she snidely called “Bubba” when referencing her to other nurses.  She had rushed to answer Beulah’s call light because the Tennessee born resident was prone to accidents and Claire had hoped today would be different. But, as she pulled the portly figure up from the mattress and swiveled her hips toward the bedside commode, a river of yellow rushed down Beulah’s leg and landed on the toes of Claire’s new white nursing shoes. The remainder splashed on the floor between them leaving a small puddle. Beulah’s only comment had been, “I pitter-pattered all over your pretty white shoes. Now doesn’t that just make perfect sense — Miss Pittard has pitter- pattered a pond of gold for all to see.”

Beulah had gasped before letting her bladder relax, so it would appear that this was truly an accident, but then she had raised one eyebrow and cocked her head when Claire finally gotten her positioned on the commode. Claire only glared in return and dropped a roll of toilet paper in Beulah’s outstretched hand. She was sure the octogenarian had done it on purpose. Claire was sure Beulah was getting her revenge.

To be continued tomorrow

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A little fiction – Indulge the blogger

I feel my jaw pop as I yawn while staring at the clock. It’s only 5:30, and although it’s been two years, I’m still not able to reset the internal monitor that wakes me before sunrise. The silence in the house has, and as always, puts me in even more of an alert state. Entering the still-dark family room, I notice, abandoned on the coffee table, the pile of mail from yesterday. The manila envelope on top has the familiar English script logo of Draper Legal.

Good.

Despite the legal jargon that gives me a headache and makes me wonder if they are charging me by the word count, mail means progress — snail pace progress — but progress all the same. Two years should be long enough for Draper to settle my libel suit against Copeland Regional. It’s ironic that administration was so quick to accuse me of wrongdoing and so slow to respond to all Draper’s legal filings for settlement.
I’m going to bring them down, I think to myself. It’s been my daily mantra for some time.
Pushing the envelope off the top of the pile, I see the bold type from the flyer below staring back at me. NURSING, THE PROFESSION THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Phhfff

Jobs don’t change people. Or it would be better for me to say that jobs shouldn’t change people. People should go into their careers with their intellect and emotional maturity fully developed. The whole “Nurses eat their young” saying—there’s a reason for it. I have trained more than a dozen nurses and the first order of business is always to weed out the weak ones. There is no room for insecurity. Insecure nurses let their emotions drive their actions and their need to please impairs their ability to think independently. After pushing both pieces of mail to the center of the table, I head outside for some fresh air. I don’t want to think about nursing.

Dragging the sliding glass door open, quietly, so as not to wake Scarlett, I step out onto the chilly porch. In the pre-dawn, bedroom lights from neighboring houses have cut squares through the woods that surround the yard. Standing as still as I can, I strain to hear the barn owl that everyone says lives behind the houses, but hear only the whoosh of cars along the road that curves through the neighborhood. It’s been a year since Scarlett’s best friend, Trace, died in a car accident, a year during which Scarlett started drinking, smoking, and taking her anger out on everyone. Back then, when I had wandered out of my room in the too-early morning, I would find Scarlett sitting red-eyed on the couch staring at music videos with the volume turned down. She had stopped looking at me when we spoke. Scarlett only stared at a point inches above my brow.

She fought it at first, but after months of weekly counseling sessions, the new year brought with it a new, or renewed, Scarlett. She was still moody from time to time, but not more than I expected from a teenager. Now, we have a rhythm to our lives. I see the loss of a friend as a rite of passage for Scarlett, and I have a respect for the fact that she has gotten back on her feet. Scarlett is doing well in soccer and pulling out high marks in several classes.

Just over the trees, I can see that the black sky is beginning to lighten to deep blue. It must be close to 6:00 am. My showers sometimes wake Scarlett up, and I don’t want to rob her of her last thirty minutes of sleep, so I head back to my room extra quietly. Knowing Scarlett is sleeping peacefully across the hall gives me a sense of comfort that nothing else can replicate.

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