Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some thoughts on dignity and compassion

I just posted that I had received a very nice compliment today. I had gone to see a patient yesterday, and while I was there our chaplain (who is a truly lovely woman, the epitome of what a Christian should be), and one of our social workers also stopped by for a visit. I did my assessment, set up the pill box for the week, and spent some time talking with the patient and the family about any needs that they had.

When I came in to the office this morning, Anne (the chaplain) told me how impressed she was with how I interacted with the patient, she said I treated them with compassion and dignity, that I was very kind and caring. It meant a great deal to me to hear that from her. It also made me feel a little sad that treating someone with dignity and compassion would be something that needed complimenting.

I've always believed that it doesn't matter where someone comes from, or how they ended up needing my care as a nurse, what matters is where they are right now, in this moment. In this moment, they're a human being who is sick, in pain, frightened, and my job, my duty as a nurse is to relieve their pain, ease their fear, and treat their symptoms.

I've taken care of homeless people, and millionaires, the illiterate and college professors, and I don't care if you live in a palace, or a box on the corner, I treat all of my patients the same.

I treat them like human beings.

When you strip away the possessions, we're all the same.

The focus in working for Hospice is different than it is in other types of nursing. The goal is not to cure, because our patients are not curable. They're dying. My focus as a Hospice nurse is to relieve pain, ease symptoms, and allow my patients to live as fully as they possibly can for as long as they can. I've learned so much from my patients already - about what truly matters most in life, about what is really meaningful, and what is trivial. It's helped reinforce the appreciation I have for how good my life really is.

To treat the people who teach me about what really matters in life with anything less than the best, most compassionate care I can give them is to dishonor the trust they place in me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Freckles tagged me!

So there's this new meme going around the blogosphere, and I've been tagged by my friend Freckles, the Happy Heathen. Since I'm a sucker for this kiind of stuff I'm playing along, and if I've tagged you I hope you'll play along too!

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you have tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about ‘you are tagged if you are reading this.’ blah blah blah, you legitimately have to tag 11 people!

11 Random things about me:
1) I cannot STAND green peppers, really, I loathe them. Red and yellow I'm fine with, but the smell of the green ones makes me gag.

2)I also can't stand the sound of the crunching in the KitKat commercials, I will actually mute the TV when that commercial comes on.

3) I can't sleep if the sheets on my bed aren't tucked in, I'll actually get up and remake the bed. I like my covers snug, which is one of the reasons I'm happy to not be sharing a bed with anyone any more.

4) I like Ke$ha. There - I've admitted it, it's out there for the world to see.

5) When I was 14 I broke my left ankle, and a week later I had surgery on my jaw to correct an overbite. I spent the first month of my summer vacation in a cast, with my jaws wired shut.

6) When I broke my right leg I was wearing a pair of my husbands boxer shorts, because we were going to do laundry later that day. I didn't remember that until I was in the ambulance, with a paramedic cutting my jeans off me. Fortunately he said he'd cut weirder pieces of clothing off much scarier people.

7) I just realized this year that I'm allergic to cats. I love them, but every time I'm around them my eyes and throat itch, and my nose starts running.

8) I find it MUCH easier to sing in front of 500 people than to sing to just 1 person.

9) Despite the fact that I've done my fair share of bitching about the men in my life I DO remember that there was a time when I loved them very deeply. The way that a relationship ends doesn't negate the fact that there was once love there. That's a very important thing to remember.

10) I believe the most important thing that anyone can learn is how to be comfortable in their own skin.

11) My very best friends are my siblings. There's nobody who knows me better, or can make me laugh harder than Tracy, Tonya and Joe.

Now for Freckles questions -
1. What's the first thing you would save from a fire and why? Other than my kids and my dog it would be the drawing of a heart Wyatt did that's hanging over my bed, the box of artwork that both of my boys have done and their baby books. Those are priceless to me
2. You're a superhero for a day, what's your special ability? Oh, if you know me, you know the answer to this, but I'll say it again - the ability to crap money. It's the only superpower worth having.
3. How do you geek out (science, books, math, video games, etc?)I used to love playing D&D, but I haven't played in years. I usually bury my nose in a good fantasy book, something by Robert Jordan, Dave Eddings, or the Song of Fire and Ice series that my friend Deb got me hooked on.
4. Harry Potter or Star Wars? Harry Potter! I love the characters, the story, the way each book and movie becomes more complex. Yeah, Harry, hands down.
5. Your favorite comfort food and why? I have a couple - Hot Chocolate, but not just ANY hot chocolate, the Land o Lakes brand in the little envelopes (I'm having a cup of the mint flavored one right now), Carrot Ginger soup, and my mothers meatballs. NOBODY makes meatballs like my mother.
6. What's one habit you wish you could kick? Smoking. I've quit 3 times in my adult life, and I'm about to quit again, this time for good.
7. Favorite holiday and why? Thanksgiving - it's the one time of year that our family usually manages to be all together, and I have more fun with my family than I do with just about anyone else.
8. Toilet paper - up and over, or down? (lol, this is the biggest debate in our house) Oh God UP AND OVER!!!!! there is NO other way!
9. What's your favorite sweet treat? Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos, and Girl Scout cookies, especially the Samoas
10. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? What's your favorite meal time and why? Most mornings I don't have time for breakfast, and I don't get to take a lunch break , or I'm eating in my car as I'm driving from 1 patient to another, so it's dinner by default.
11. What's you favorite inspirational quote? "We cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love" Mother Theresa

Since I don't follow many blogs, and the ones I'm following have already tagged me or each other, I'm going to put this on Facebook and tag people from there. So if you're tagged, and you want to do this as a blog posting, great, if not and you want to do it as a FB note, that's cool too!

Here are my 11 questions for you:
1) What is the one experience in your life that you thing has most shaped you into who you are now?
2) If you had the money to do it, what would be the 1 luxury item you'd buy for yourself and why? (This can't be a necessity item, it has to be something you'd treat yourself to)
3) What book has had the biggest impact on you?
4) Paper towels or dishrags?
5) What's your earliest memory of your childhood?
6) If you could learn how to do 1 thing brilliantly, what would it be and why?
7) if you could be 10lb thinner, but it would cost you 10 IQ points would you do it? How about if you could gain 10 IQ points, but you'd have to gain 10lb?
8)If you're home alone do you close the bathroom door when you use the toilet?
9) What was your favorite board game as a kid?
10) If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go?
11) Which is worse - underwear riding up, or a wrinkle in your sock?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years Thoughts...

I've had a few things tumbling around inside my head for the past couple of weeks. Nothing major or dramatic, just some ideas about the things I want to work on in my life for the coming year, and it's occurred to me that one of the best ways to start the process would be to put these things out into the universe. So, since you're my friends, I love you, and you're remarkably tolerant of my various ups and downs over the past few years I'm going to lay them out here, in the hopes that you'll hold me to them!

1) I resolve to stop smoking again - this time for good. I was doing really well on this, I had quit back in March, and except for an occasional slip I wasn't smoking at all. But life threw me a few curveballs, and I started back up again. It's something I really regret, it affects my voice and my health, and it needs to stop. I'm not smoking as much as I was when I quit last time, so I'm hoping that this time will be a little easier.

2) Thanks to Mary Lea I realized that I've been wearing the wrong bra size for several years now! I finally had someone measure me, I know what my CORRECT size is, and so I'm resolving to buy better bras in the right size! I have 2 that fit me right, and the difference it makes in the way my clothes look is really nice. (Really, would you have believed I wrote this note if there wasn't at least 1 mention of my boobs?)

3) I'm going to continue losing weight. I've dropped 35 pounds this year - that's right, 35. I'm about 12lb away from my goal weight, I look better, I feel better, and I'm fitting into clothes I haven't worn in almost 2 years. I like the way it makes me feel to be thinner, and that leads me into....

4) I'm going to keep doing things that make me happy. Getting back into performing has been wonderful. I love being on stage, I love the friends I've made through the shows I've done, and I realized just how much I've missed acting and singing. I gave that up for far longer than I ever intended, and I had good reasons for doing so, but now that I've started again I don't ever want to stop.

5) I'm going to treat myself with the same care and compassion that I treat my patients with. I'm very hard on myself, I've always been quick to put my needs on the back burner, and I realized this year that I can't do that any more. I've said this about myself before, but when push comes to shove I fall back into old patterns and I can't do that any more, I'm too old for that crap.

6) I'm not going to any man any closer than arms length until he proves to me that he's earned a place in my life. It's not my job to rescue anyone, it's not my responsibility to be someone elses source of happiness, and I refuse to let myself get involved with anyone who isn't deserving of all I have to offer.

7) I'm going to continue to build on the co-parenting relationship that Wyatts father and I have begun to develop. We've been locked in a power struggle for the past 8 years, and a few months ago that started to change. We're communicating better than we ever have before, his attitude towards me has changed for the better, and it's having a positive impact on Wyatt. I want that to continue.

8) I'm going to let go of negative things from the past. Carrying around anger, resentment and hurt doesn't do anything but weigh me down. It cost me some of my spark and my humor over the last 6 months, and I'm just tired of not being the me that I know I am inside. Time to put that baggage down and walk away from it.

9) I'm going to speak my truth - say what I REALLY feel, be who I TRULY am, and stop trying to adapt myself to meet someone elses needs or someone elses idea of who I am. Again, that's something I let happen over the last year, and I'm just friggin tired of it.

10) I am going to be grateful, every day, for all that is good and positive in my life - my kids, my home, my career, my friends and family. There's too much that's good in my life to not take a moment every day and say a little prayer of thanks for all I've been blessed with.

What I love about my life right now...

I've been through a LOT this past year, and especially the last month, and it knocked me back a few paces. But I'm healing, and I'm starting to feel like I've got a good start on getting my feet firmly back under me. As my friend Meryl says (and she's known me for MANY years and through MANY life changes) I'm a Weeble. I wobble, but I don't fall down.

So I've been doing some heavy duty thinking over the past few weeks, some serious emotional and spiritual work, and I'm seeing past the worst of what's gone on recently, and taking stock of the things in my life that are good and positive.

My kids - I have two wonderful, handsome, healthy, smart, funny boys, and they are the most important people in the world to me. Being their mother is the best, most important thing I've ever done in my life, and I'm grateful every day that I have that privilege. John has grown up to be an incredible person, he's wise and kind, and is going to make a wonderful teacher. Wyatt continues to defy every limit anyone has ever tried to set for him - I know he's got some rocky years ahead, but we'll get through them, and he'll be just fine.

My career - I truly love being a nurse, and I'm really good at what I do. Starting the new job at Hospice was a HUGE change, it's totally different from anything I've ever done as a nurse, and I was really nervous the first few weeks, but I'm starting to settle in to the job now, and I think I'm going to really enjoy it. It's a little scary, but change always is, and as a nurse, you SHOULD be a little scared, what nurses do is too important to take it lightly. A little fear helps keep you sharp.

My acting/singing - this year was the first time in over a decade that I've done a musical, and I didn't just do 1, I did 2, and sang at the Air Show! I got the chance to work with both Theater Alliance and Twin City Stage, met some absolutely wonderful people, and have developed a whole new circle of friends from it. I'm so happy to be back on stage again, doing something that I love and that I've missed more than I had realized. Being in front of an audience, singing and entertaining people feeds my soul, and makes me a happier, more complete person.

My home - It's calm, it's peaceful, it's free of turmoil (and cat fur and litter box odor, and little turds under the couch or in the corners!), and the only messes I have to clean up are mine or Wyatts! I've rearranged things the way that feels right to me, I'm no longer tripping over someone elses clutter or half finished "projects", I have the whole bed, the closet, the dresser, and the bathroom to myself, I can watch whatever I want on TV, nothing gets put away in the wrong place in the kitchen any more, and my grocery bill is less than half what it used to be! I cook what I like if I feel like it, or I don't. I've spent the majority of the time I lived in this house sharing my space with a man (first Tim, then Chris), and I'm finding that I really LIKE having the house to myself every other week. I'm looking forward to planning my garden this Spring, planting some more flowers, and taking the time to really enjoy the place I live in.

My friends - I've been really fortunate to have some wonderful people in my life, and I'm so thankful for the love and support I get from them. If you're reading this you're one of those people, and thank you for being a part of my world.

My church - yes, you read that right, I said my church. I joined the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship this year, I've been going pretty regularly, and actually led a worship service in October. It's been such a positive experience, the people are wonderful, I get something of value from each worship service, and I've made some really great new friends. I'm still actively involved with Path of the Moon, but I love being part of the UU, and I'm feeling that this is the right place for me to be devoting more time and energy in the future.

I'm not completely through the healing process yet, but I think I am through the worst of it, and that's a really good thing. I'm sure there will still be a few rough days ahead, but the more I focus on what's good in my life, the less of a toll those days will take on me.