jaelpn 10,347 Views
Joined Dec 21, '05.
Posts: 48 (65% Liked)
"I survived that First year." I believe those words were what I whispered quietly as I finished my first year of being a Nurse. ...and also being a first time mother. It seems to go hand-in-hand. You can prepare, study, read other's experiences, but until you actually experience that first year... you can only hope it's a smooth transition. My daughter was born February 11th, 2015. When I had her, I had 7 years of nursing experience under my belt. I haven't been in the hospital as a patient since I was in grade school with a fractured arm. Instead of being the nurse caring for a patient, I was the patient.
It's kind of crazy how you can go into the bathroom, pee on a stick and come out with these 2 pink lines...and the world stands still. It's in a blink of an eye that your life changes. It is like when you are waiting for that final "Pass or Fail" on your nursing NCLEX.... and you see "PASS", you realize all the hard work and dedication was well worth it.
The way you are in labor, you struggle through the labor pains, the back labor, the hard pushing, the burning... "oh she has a full head of hair!" ...and you are pushing with all your might to be able to see that precious face you have waited to see through all the months of pregnancy.... you are hoping, dreaming and ready to take on this new adventure. And finally, that moment arrives.... you give your last ounce of strength, whether it be labor (or your last amount of strength in nursing school) and out comes the most remarkable gift. When my daughter was placed on my chest, the world truly stood still at that moment. Those precious hands, those toes, her big eyes taking in the new world around her... that moment will always be the most cherished.
So when my first year of being a nurse is thought upon, I remember the struggle. You are in that learning phase, yet are set free. You get a few weeks of orientation and then are on your own. As much as being in the hospital for a few days, once you place your baby in the car seat, and put that key in the ignition, you are set free. She is now completely you and your husband's responsibility. The struggles of sleepness nights, having to wake up to breastfeed and finding that latch was difficult. But as she learned how to latch on, and I learned to find a position comfortable for the both of us, it became easier and easier.
Maybe this is why, it too, is called "Nursing."
Such is the same as when you are in that first year of being a nurse, you are learning how to become comfortable with yourself, your judgement and how that effects the people you are taking care of. There are milestones in parenthood just as there are milestones as a nurse. It's all about caregiving. Not going through the motions... but actually C.A.R.E. giving. You make the best judgement you can, and sometimes reaching out to others is ok. 2nd opinions are sometimes needed, and yet your intuition kicks in. You want the best outcome not only for your baby, but for your resident, as well.
When my daughter was still in the hospital, her bilirubin levels were high. It scared me as a mother, because I was just ready to go home. I was scared- did she have to stay in the hospital longer? ....did she need to be on bili-lights? So I was reaching out... and kindness of others were reaching out, praying for us, praying that the next blood test would come back with better results. I tried everything, from placing her closer to the window to let the sunlight in... feeding her constantly to get her little system going. Then the nurse comes in. You linger on every word she has to say, because she is that link between you and the doctor. "Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?" ...being the optimist, I chose the bad news... because whatever the bad news is, there is good to follow. "The bad news is, in 2 days you have to bring her back in to see the pediatrician." ...."The good news, you are being discharged. Congratulations on being a new mommy. She is beautiful."
Watching her learn to roll over on her side, to being able to sit up on her own, learning to crawl and cruise around the furniture all on her own brings a smile to my face. Those first few independent steps she takes catches my breath. Then she falls. Then picks herself right back up and tries it again. She is learning just as we are learning. It is all about taking baby steps.
You don't become a nurse overnight. You take baby steps. You hit milestones. You don't give it- you try, try again. Life is all about the experiences, and you know what? It's all worth it. We lean on others in the tough times, and we give each other hope when it is needed.
It is what brings moms, and nurses, TOGETHER. We lean on each other through the good and bad. It is just in our nature. It is our way of nurturing.
I once was a young boy- at the age of 8. Daddy took me fishin' and mama would bake.
My first car was a chevy, and a travelin' I went. Through the city and towns, freedom I felt, joy it sent.
The army drafted me in, as I walked out the door for the last time, daddy placed his hand on my shoulder and wished the world to be kind.
Mama cried as she walked me down the aisle- the day I married my sweetheart- never to be apart was the truth in my heart.
Susie was born, and then little John, that was a special moment- becoming a father, a true bond.
My Daddy got sick, his tired eyes had closed. The day we buried him, God needed him more I suppose.
My children were growin' up, experiencing life for a while. The day I walked my little girl down the aisle, I put on a great big ol' smile.
Mama has been gone for a few years, went to be with my ol' man, sometimes my eyes still mourn with tears and I think of them often as I can.
As I sat with my wife, the news the cancer had spread. I felt like I was drownin', not knowing how much longer I could tread.
A long-stemmed rose I placed on my dear wife, a kiss on the forehead, oh I felt so much strife.
I'm sittin' in my rocking chair, the silence is almost too much to bear.
My mind is slippin', I forget where I left my keys. Sometimes I place my shoe on the wrong foot, or I can't get my fingers to button up my jeans.
I don't go places without worrying about wetting my pants, my dignity is shaken, I often go in rants.
I remember only some things, but my words don't come out right. I keep trying to tell someone how I feel,but all it seems to do is upset me and they think I want to fight.
My hands are shaking, I drop my glass on the floor. I didn't mean to do it, my vision is poor.
Maybe I was mistaken, maybe I need more help. Maybe it is ok to cry, it's often how I felt.
You walk me in to my new home, the colors are vibrant, the smiling faces welcome me in. The journey to a second life is about to begin.
The people are friendly, they help me with my shoes. If I'm having a bad day, they tell me it will be ok and help me make the right decision to choose.
As I'm resting my head on my pillow at night, I praise the good Lord for a place that feels just right.
The food is real good, they take care of all my clothes. My hair is gray, my wrinkles are set in, age has changed me and it often shows.
My family comes and visits me, the grandkids sit on my lap. A grin spreads across my face as they call me 'pap'.
My days are getting shorter, my body is weak. My family is all around me, comfort I do seek.
Daddy is waitin' for me, mama is too, my wife is ready for me to join her, for love never ends.
I worked so hard, raised my family. When I grew tired, and weak, no one ever gave up on me.
Thank you for all that everyone has done, my life was lived well, and I am finally called back Home.
The first time I met Bill, he was sitting straight up in his wheelchair. He was a tall lanky man, almost my height while sitting in his chair. Soft spoken, gentle to the touch; his brown eyes gleamed with a story of a hard-working life. He grew up in a small town, worked hard during the day on his farm. Raised two children with his loving wife and lost her years ago. "She was the love of my life- the woman that carried me through any hardships, who was there with me through all the joys, pains and laughter in life. I miss her the most when I close my eyes at night, because she is no longer laying next to me for me to talk to about the simple things of life." He would look at my face, look at my name tag, and say..."you share her name..." Often, I would be doing my hs med pass and come to his room. I would knock and say, "Bill, it's the nurse, may I come in?" "Oh yes...my dear. Please, come sit with me for a few minutes." He would light up in an instant. "Today wasn't a good day. My arthritis is acting up and I have been thinking about my wife."
He often would tell me stories of their life together- young kids that barely knew what life was to bring, but knew their young love was meant to be. Back in those days, your first love, your one true love, was the one you married. "The first time I laid eyes on her, I knew she was a beauty. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, and when I held her hand and asked her if she wanted to share her life with me, I knew right then we had it made. Maybe I didn't have a whole 'lotta money back then, but she saw more richness in my love, anyway."
I got married this past June- James and I met five years ago, and the first time I met his gaze with mine, I knew there was something there. I didn't have many boyfriends for being 24, didn't have a whole lot of trust in my heart for someone to once again "stop talking to me for no reason" ...but this was different. I still laugh at how my best friend since 6th grade got me to meet her cousin. She had us meet a week after my nursing school graduation- she just said, "at least meet him- if it doesn't go well, then I will stop trying to set you two up. Promise." He drove up in his silver oldsmobile, daunting a faded yellow college football shirt, jeans and a pair of beat up old shoes. He was nervous, I could tell. He sat next to me in a lawn chair and made small talk. He was curious, yet hesitant (I couldn't stop looking at you hun- your red hair and green eyes..." ) Love is something you can't guess at. You can't aim for the sky if you don't know where the stars are; much is the same about love. You know love is out there but you can't aim for it without knowing how or when or where it will be.
Once you find that love, you can't let it go. After four and a half years together, on Christmas day, he got on one knee in front of his family, looked up into my eyes, and asked me if I would share the rest of my life with him. It felt like a million stars came bursting into my sky, and I said, "Yes, of course!"
We walked down the aisle in June... a small, imperfect wedding, a lot of nervous laughter, our closest friends and family watching us as we gave our vows to each other. We promised to always be there to share life, through sickness and health... til death do we part.
...I'd like to think this is how Bill's life went. Through his wife's sickness and health, he stayed at her side.
A few days ago, while resting in bed on a cool sunny day, overlooking the rose garden, Bill rested his eyes and passed away. I'd like to think that as I sat there and watched his eyes flutter, I was a part of a love story. My name was the same as his wife's... and as much as he missed his wife laying next to him every night, maybe it was only meant to be that I, only baring the love of his life's name... sat next to him as he went to meet her in Heaven.
I hope that James and I get to build our lives together, and be able to tell a story as Bill and his wife Julie did. Love is forever... and this story will always, always be forever in my heart.
Doctor, I notice your nose is a little longer today. Did you tell another patient, "This shouldn't hurt?"
My name is Julie- I've been employed at S***** since January 2009. I am the full-time LPN in the evening. Throughout these last four years, I've come to learn about many life stories of my friends that have come to know S***** as "Home". Those first few weeks are hard on any new resident that comes to live in an unfamiliar place. I've seen someone who has become angry with the family, wanting to leave and 'go home' ...begin to open up and call some of their fellow peers 'friends'. The family comes to visit and can't believe the difference their loved one has made. It takes time, but soon, I start to see an adjustment and even some comfort in their eyes. They finally feel their loved one has settled in, and can be assured that they are safe.
Most of the residents who reside here have some sort of dementia/Alzheimer's diagnosis. I've been through some of the same emotions as the family- my own grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2006. When grandma started to forget my name, or ask "now which kid are you?", I knew something was wrong. She was always well aware and knew each of her grandkids names, as well as their birthday, and never forgot! Through my background in the medical field, I knew that what we were facing was not the usual "forgetfulness", but all the same, it hit us all in different aspects. We loved her for who she was and embraced her just the same.
S****** has recently undergone some changes. As you may know, we have a new executive director, M.G. You may have stopped by his office for a talk, he may have given you some insight as to what changes he has instore for S******, or maybe on a Friday afternoon you have heard him belting out some familiar tunes with his acoustic guitar while the residents sing along, closing their eyes while taking in the sounds that bring back a memory of their younger years. We are in the midst of many changes- not only are we undergoing a change in updating the wall colors and giving our building a "facelift", but we are also undergoing a change in our approach to resident care.
We are not the only Assisted living in the area with a Memory unit- you may have noticed many are being built in the area or are already in business. What makes us different? Maybe it's our residents. The laughter, the friendship, the way that they make our staff's days a little better. The way that they make us feel while we are at work, and how they still seem to live in our hearts long after we have gone home.
Home. What makes a home? Is it the way it's built, or is it the way it feels when you enter the front door? When you enter, you know you're home when you see your loved ones. We don't have "rooms" here... some of the resident's invite me into their "house", their "apartment" or simply welcome me into their world.
Many of you may not know this, but last summer I moved into my very first home. How did I hear about it? I didn't see it posted in the newspaper or ran across it while I was driving down the street. I was having a light conversation with one of the resident's here at S******. I had asked her where she had lived before she moved to S****** and she told me she lived in B******* in a "cottage by the lake" ...I asked her if she missed living at home and she said she realized she just couldn't do for herself living in her home by herself and told her son and daughter-in-law that it was time for her to live in a 'community'. This is how I met R****. I'd wave to her while she had her legs propped up in her recliner in the evening time, watching reruns of 'home improvement'. Sometimes, when I got the chance, she would tell me to "pull up a chair" and we would talk. These moments made my nights a little better. I had asked her about her little cottage on the lake... she told me that it had been on the market since she moved in (at that time it was 2 and a half years). We just casually talked and I told her that James and I were just starting to look for a place to settle down. She said, "Oh my, you should go look at my home!" I told her that I would drive by it and she shook her head and said, "No, no...you must go in!" as she pointed her finger at me and insisted, with a gleam in her eye. What did it hurt, to check out the place that she once called home? I would get a glimpse of her life before she moved into S*******. The second James and I met R***'s son and daughter-in-law, who live next door, and entered the house, we fell in love with it. A quiet neighborhood, a cozy home with a fireplace, a sunroom and a beautiful lake in the backyard, it was love at first sight!
R**** was very insightful and had everything lined up and ready to go. She is in her 90's but her youthfulness is not a day over 50! She was young again- reflecting her life with what lay before James and I- our love growing stronger while starting our own lives together as R*** did with her husband. She could see again that her "home" wasn't going to stay vacant, that she wasn't losing a place that she loved dearly to complete strangers. So in the summer, we signed papers and arranged everything for us to move in. She was estatic! On Christmas morning, while at a small family gathering at James' mom's, he proposed to me! That afternoon, when I came into work and told R***, her eyes gleamed with tears as she wrapped me in a hug and told me, "You'll make a beautiful bride!" Then took my left hand and beamed, as memories of her first love entered her mind. So on June 22nd, I will be marrying my first love. I know R*** will be just as happy as I am, and she'll hear plenty of my stories as we share, once again, an evening of conversation.
What makes a home? Is it the building, or is it the stories that are being made? I think it's the people, the laughter, the love and above all, the friendship. Thank you to all my friends that live at S******, work at S******, or have a loved one that resides here- you make all the difference. I'm glad I'm here to experience it with you.
No problem Brian, I completely understand- after my evening tonight, I am pretty sure I dropped my marbles
This was a great contest this time around- thanks to all that voted. I know my buddy Joe would be proud I enjoyed reading all the articles. Has anyone received anything in their paypal account yet?
It was instilled in me as a child the saying, "Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul". It never meant much to me as a kid- isn't it pretty easy to love others? Why would it be any harder to love God?
When I tell people that I have never registered to vote, that I have never chosen to be a replubican or a democrat, I get this wide-eyed "Are you kidding me?!" look. Honestly, I was never exposed to politics as a kid. I grew up in a small town- we would wave to each other, make small talk, and move on with our lives.
When I graduated from nursing school, I moved to a larger city. Politics dominated- signs in people's yards showing who they were voting for, meetings held in dank little buildings with people protesting who THEIR next vote would be. I've heard too often the three things you never talk about in public- Religion-Politics-Personal Affairs. Why? Because it makes people angry to hear someone else's opinion other than their own.
Does it truly effect me on a personal level who the next President is? I don't know. Am I ignorant? Yes, but maybe ignorance is bliss. I am better off not needing to argue who I think is better, for the wrong reasons than to choose who is wrong with the right reasons.
I believe in God. I know that some people don't- some people are athiests, some are agnostic or some believe in a different religion. Many times the only reason keeping me hanging on to this world is knowing that someday, when my time comes, I can stand in front of God and tell him that I did my best in this world, I worshipped Him alone. He's not going to ask me which party I voted for, or why I chose the wrong President. I am proud to be an American- I am proud to have known what freedom is. I am glad that I get to speak about my faith and not get punished. I am not against people who vote- we all have our own way of expressing ourselves. When did VOTING become its own WAR?
My father was a Marine- and he was proud of it. He served his country and was proud to be part of "the few, the proud" ... almost a year ago, he passed away quietly on a Sunday morning. He was only 59. My faith in knowing that someday when I get to Heaven, I will be able to see my father once again makes me not fear death. He put up his American Flag on the front of the house, he sang songs about American... and when he passed away, and we all stood and watched the Marines fold the American Flag neatly, tucked...and handed it to my mother, I knew right then He had served a great country. As the shots were fired, and the bagpipes began to place "Taps" - I knew dad was up there in Heaven Saluting. He was the guest of Honor.
I wish in this world there wasn't war. I wish that we could see our fellow countries in the same way we see God, "Love your fellow countries with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your Soul" ...maybe there wouldn't be such chaos in this world if we all could just get along. I doubt I'll ever see a world of peace before I die, but here's hoping that maybe for a little while, maybe for a moment- I can find peace among. If we can just find a little peace among ourselves, among our state and country- who knows how far it could reach to other countries? I'll start with me.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
(Lyrics & Story behind "Taps")
The first time I met Joe, I suddenly felt like I was in the presence of my own father who had passed away a few months prior. His stature, the way his blue eyes could tell a story... it was like God giving me this second chance to find some closure and acceptance to my own father's sudden death at 59. Nursing is more than a career and paycheck to me- it's life. I have always been intrigued with the medical field- as a young kid, I watched "Rescue 911". I wanted to be a hero- to give someone a second chance at life. I wanted someone to come up to me, wrap their arms around me and tell me that whatever heroic move I made, I somehow saved their life.
As a nurse working in an Assisted Living in the Alzheimer/Dementia community, I don't do heroic medical techniques. I pass meds, I check blood sugars and blood pressures, and I patch up skin tears, tie shoes and occasionally pick someone up off the floor. I don't intubate or hook someone up to an IV. I do, however, try to bring my residents a little piece of the world. Their "world" is the halls, the bird aviary room, three meals, activities and snack time. During my downtime, Joe and I would take a walk outside. He would help me take out the trash, and he would tell me about his passtime of going to the casino. He had Alzheimer's- so at times, his stories would get a little mixed up but I would still nod my head and follow his story.
One day, as we were walking outside, I found a dandelion ready for a "blow and wish." I picked it from the courtyard and explained to him that when I was a little girl, I would pick one of these out of my yard and blow it into the wind, making a wish and dreaming it would come true. I told him to try this... so he closed his eyes for just a moment, gave his "wish" a thought, and blew. He said, ,"I wished that I could play the machines and something would come out." (slot machines at the Casino) ... I knew I couldn't make that wish come true for that moment of clarity that he had for his wish, but I decided that I would try my best. As we headed back indoors after grabbing a bag of fresh popped popcorn, we walked to the lounge. I dug in my pockets for a few quarters, I handed the change to him, and told him to put it in the "machine" - he hit a button that I told him was the "lucky one" (diet Dr. Pepper- his favorite) and out popped a soda! His eyes teared up and he smiled and said, "I WON!!!" ..
In the evening times, he would become a different person. Angry, anxious and lost in a world of his own. Sundowning, they say. When he was getting combative or argumentive with the caregivers or other residents, I'd take his hand and walk him to my office. Sometimes, he would be telling me stories that were quite off the wall, other times he took a snooze in the chair. He often carried his Bible around- although he was no longer able to see that great even with his reading glasses on. I would open it up to Psalms, read some scripture to him and he would close his eyes, take in what I was reading, and tell me to "go on..." My buddy Joe believed in God and drew me closer to my own faith. When he was losing his short term memory, no longer able to recognize his own daughter's face... he was still able to lay down his heart for God.
Joe eventually had to move out and go on to another place- but last week I visited him. His eyes were a little more lost in the dark world of Alzheimer's... he was now using a cane, and a little more tired. I walked him to his room, sat next to him while he was in his comfy recliner. His old tattered Biblelayed next to him on his night stand. As he rocked back and forth in his recliner, I read some Psalms to him. He closed his eyes, said to "Go on" .. and soon I heard him snoring away. I gently woke him up, walked him over to his bed, and kissed him on his forehead. "Thank you sweetie pie"...he said. He closed his eyes and fell fast asleep.
What made me get into nursing? Maybe it was because I knew that the older we get, the more we need a friend. The more life means, the conversations become more meaningful. All along I thought I needed to be the hero, but Joe knew better- he became the man that taught me about faith, love and patience- he was my hero in disguise. I see the world a little different now- and my buddy Joe sure enough opened my eyes- he brought the world to me.
It is unfair- it's a very gray area. I thought that this is WAY out of scope for one CNA to screen another CNA. I am going to talk to the administrator tomorrow to clear the air. I would like a written policy handbook and an actual what to do when something happens- if someone gets a papercut and asks me for a bandaid am I suppose to run and get a drug kit and make that person pee in a cup and write an incident report? How many people are going to want to NOT report an incident because they may test positive?
The employee wasn't wanting to go to the doctor- I was busy with my rounds and she just kind of mentioned so and so bit her but didn't draw blood or break skin. Not a big deal- alzheimer residents bite, hit, pinch, squeeze, pull hair, etc all kinds of stuff- so every time that stuff happens we have to write an incident report? I don't get it. I don't want to jeopardize my employment or feel like I have done something wrong when I really feel like I need to be better informed, and have something in writing. Thanks for the reply back!
Last week the financial/business manager instructed me and a few CNA's ("teamleaders") that with any employee incidents, they have to be urine drug screened before they can go see the doctor for workman's comp.
I work in an assisted living (I am an LPN) - So I think something qualifying as an incident (a slip and fall, trip down the stairs, resident breaking your wrist...) would justify a visit to the Dr.
So while I was doing my rounds the other day, a CNA came up to me and said, "so and so bit me on the breast, she didn't draw blood or break skin, I'll call and let her know. She never called but filled out an incident sheet and placed it in this person's mailbox. She didn't go to the doctor and was fine.
We work in the dementia/memory unit and so you expect the pinching, biting, scratching, hitting, etc as you would with any scared, dementia related resident.
So, I get called down to the office the other day and this financial/business manager handed me a sheet and said she was writing me up for not calling her and doing a urine drug screen on this employee.
Do you think I was in the wrong for not doing a drug screen on this employee? Are LPNs really responsible to perform drug screens on employees? This is the kind that you are to sit right outside the door, allow them to not wash their hands until you have the cup in your hand, etc (I think it's called chain in command?)
I have never been written up before and I was literally tearing up before I even was able to walk down the hall to my office. You work so hard to do the best that you can for the residents and then you feel like all that hard work is worth nothing when someone tries to bring you down.
"When they say it feels like a full-moon night, they weren't
kidding! No wonder they tossed their stethoscope up here!"
I use to think that faith was enough- that if I had enough faith, I could accomplish anything. Faith is something that I think can lead us into the belief of being able to have a stronghold on life. When the tough gets going, we start to see that cloud of darkness roll in. I have always been known to be a Christian, but the closer I get to thinking I know who I am, or what I am and believe in- things change. One minute I am feeling this complete satisfaction of life as if some light of clarity has suddenly turned on inside of me. The next moment I am wondering how I am able to even survive another day on this earth.
There are nights that I have trouble sleeping; I'm just staring up at the ceiling with my mind going a mile a minute. I'm sure there are many other people who do this as well. I just start thinking about things in life. One thought always crosses my mind: I am going to die. We all know it's coming, there is no escaping the reality of what human life becomes. We exist, we live and we die. It's something no one really wants to talk about, yet we are all swimming in the same ocean of life. I try to wrap my mind around the concept of death but it's hard. I see death often since I work in the medical field. It's not that shocking to be doing the final preparing of a body before the funeral home straps the body to the gurney to be prepared for the last viewing before the body is buried six feet under. Sounds kind of morbid, doesn't it? What happens to our souls after we die? There are so many different religions, so many different beliefs. How do we know that our religion, our belief- is the "right" one?
I grew up going to a Methodist church- so from a young age, I was told I was a Christian because I believed in God and sang all the church hymnals, was baptized and did all the things that a young christian person should do. The older I got, the more I thought about how my faith never really started until I lost my faith. I had gone through the phase of depression and lost what faith I had in life. It was much easier to just stay in that dark depression and not feel anything toward life (like a numbness)- but the deeper I got, the harder it was for me to feel anything toward life. I don't really remember how my faith came back, but I knew that I needed to find some kind of happiness in life.
I'm sure most people know about God and the story of Jesus, Noah's arc, etc. As a kid, I remember reading from the children's bible- seeing all these colorful pictures of the arc, the cross where Jesus had died for our sins, the heavenly angels playing the harps on this big white puffy clouds. The more I think of it as an adult, the more it seems all that stuff was written like a fairy tale. We don't want to think of what is -next- after our death so we want to fill it up with something that seems too good to be true.
I don't believe there are coincidences in life. I believe there is a purpose for everything that happens. We may not know it until after our hindsight of the experience, but I think there is a reason for all the good and bad things of the world. After my father's death at the age of 59, I tried to close my eyes and pray. It was hard...I was angry that my dad had died so young, and maybe I just wasn't in the right state of mind to pray when I was angry. I eventually overcame the anger and was in that accepting stage. A few different times I had dreams of my father- almost like I could touch him. It brought a lot of emotions- knowing that he is only as far away as I let him be. We are stuck in these bodies for a long while- these awful, hard to maintain at times- bodies. My dad had a lot of stuff wrong with his heart and lungs- it just caused him an early death. But death isn't as negative as it sounds- it's kind of like putting a beloved pet down because you don't want to see them suffer anymore. God knows the person is suffering, the person's body isn't responding the way it should so he puts the body to rest and their soul lives on in the dimension of the universe for which we can't see with our humanly eyes. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is something "more" ...there are too many miracles, too many things to think we were all created from some "big bang" ...the simplicities of a blooming flower, the sounds of birds chirping, the way the stars shine brightly in a clear midnight sky. That is where my faith comes in. There is just too many beautiful things in the world to think that we humans could make it all up. The miracle of birth- how we all are so different and yet we all have two eyes, ten toes, ten fingers, etc. How awesome is it to see a child born to this world- and life to begin once again.
I may not be the picture perfect Christian. I know I'm not even a good enough human to deserve this life; to be able to see what life brings forward. I know that I am, however, full of faith. Faith has taught me that no matter how hard life gets, no matter the good from the worse things that happen in life, faith will carry me through. I've heard the saying that someone has faith the size of a mustard seed; althought that's a very small amount of faith- it's something that can carry you through. We all need faith- I hope that wherever the wind may blow, no matter how difficult life comes- faith can reach us all. I have faith there has to be a better tomorrow; why? Because without it, there's no use in living. I'd say faith is enough- enough to give us Hope.
I was always a late bloomer. The kind of person that never quite caught on until everyone else had already done and seen things in life that I had yet to begin. I just hope that if I am still in my right mind when I die, that I can say that I have no regrets in this life. So how do I begin?
We are all going to die- each and every one of us. There is no escaping the reality that we are to go through life with trials and tribulations, love and loss and faith and hope. I've come across people in life that just don't seem to care one way or the other where their life is going. I never knew where my life would take me- coming from a small town, I always thought that I would just settle in that town with a mediocre life, not really making much of a difference in life. I went to nursing school to better my life; I strived through school all the while working full time. It wasn't easy but looking back, I know that I made the best decision that I could at that time with the circumstances in my life.
So- if I were on my dying bed and making that one last bedside confession, what would I say? ...I'm sorry that I never got to tell the people that I love the most how much they mean to me. I will not, however, apologize for a life worth living.
Many elderly people have told me that they regret many things... that they wished they could of been a better father, a better mother, and a better friend. How do we know if we can be a better friend if we don't try? Friends are hard to come by- you truly have to feel comfortable being friends and opening your heart to them without feeling like they will somehow back stab you the moment they feel like they can. I would like to say that I am a genuine friend- that I never want to hurt or betray friendship. We all want that type of friend- but over and again I feel that I could be a better friend, a better listener and most importantly, someone that can make a difference in someone's life.
So how do we start? How do we know when we can become better than who we are now? TRY... is that too much to ask? We give up too easily, we feel like we aren't worth the effort of that first foot forward to obtain that optimum sense of completeness.
I know there are many things I regret. However, I'm trying my hardest to make things in life worth living. I've found love, I have grown closer to my mom and siblings. I found hope and strength through my residents when I feel like I can't handle any more stress at work. I watch elderly people and put my feet in their shoes- what are they thinking? Are they happy with their past? What is in their near future.
Now is the time to begin thinking of what my actions will do for my future. Time to make a change- time to stop fretting the small stuff and begin working on me. I know that the only person that can make me smile is the person facing me in the mirror. It begins now- and will never stop unless I am willing to give up on myself. My last bedside confession? I regret not learning soon enough how to take life in stride. It begins now.
I can close my eyes and recall that exact moment my world had stopped- the moment I heard my father had passed away. Nothing prepares you for that moment- all the times I have held an elderly resident in my arms as she rested her head on my shoulder, telling me they know their life is going to end pretty soon...no amount of nursing can quite take away that emotional attachment to your dad.
Let me move back to seven months prior to his passing. I had gotten off an hour early from work and headed to the hospital to be with my father during a routine cardiac cath- my mom, brother and I were sitting in the waiting room waiting to hear when he went in. The nurse comes up, tells us that he is "on the table" ... an hour or so passes, we continue to wait. The doctor comes out to tell us that he had 90 percent blockage in his right coronary artery, in which they had placed a stent. We go in to see him, he's laying on his back. "I'm hungry and I need to pee..." he says. He's always been this brutally honest man, the kind of person that will just tell you "how it is".
"Give me my inhaler" he says. I hand him his inhaler, and he takes two puffs. His many years of smoking had caused him to develop chronic lung disease and copd. He had quit smoking two months prior to his cardiac cath. As he gets moved to a different hospital room for recovery, my mom, brother and I are sitting in a different waiting area. Nurses are going in and out of the room, quietly but quickly. A nurse in a pink scrub set comes up to us and tells us dad is having a hard breathing... his blood pressure and heart rate are rapid and he is turning blue. She asks calmly if the rapid response team can go ahead and put a breathing tube down him. Mom and I look at each other and say yes...whatever needs to be done. ...that moment, that shocking moment will come back to haunt me many times. Did we decide the right thing? For Heaven's sake he's only 59! What is going on?
Many hours later, we are sitting in the critical care unit waiting area. This look of distress, the unknown...lays before us. The doctor comes, takes us in this small sitting area and tells us they are trying to do what they can for him. He is intubated, on a ventilator and is unable to respond due to sedation. Just a few hours ago I had seen him- laughing and joking with the nurses about where in God's great earth did they hide his food tray? And now here he is, somewhere beyond the doors of a critical care unit and no way to know what is going on until the doctor can give us a better update.
That moment, that precious moment where you sometimes tell God "what is to come? I don't want to lose my father...." comes crashing down. He ends up living, spending two days on a ventilator and all the fluid is reversed out of his lungs and he is able to walk out of the hospital- not a sign of the distress he had gone through 72 hours prior.
Fast forward to seven months- mom says she found dad passed away in his sleep at home. "Come home"... she says. Home isn't going to be the same...ever. The seven months between the hospital stay and his passing was something more than just a coincidence. It was a chance to bond, a chance to understand that life isn't in our hands- no matter how hard I can try to make someone live, as a nurse we are only the hands of angels, the rest is up to God.
Dad left us a lot of unfinished business- he left us with a legacy to finish; to see what our lives had in store for us. For us to grow up, to know that he had left this world with a story worth telling. He never wanted the story to end- he wanted my mom to know that life goes on, that she needed to finish what he started. She has since grown closer to each of us kids in her own way. Nursing isn't about saving lives as much as it is about making the quality of life better- it's about making the living worth it. Our time on this earth will come- what kind of story do we need to carry on for others?
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