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Topics About 'Holidays'.

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Found 15 results

  1. Carol Ebert

    Holiday Stress Busters

    Sure, you might have said last year I’ve got to do things differently and yet here it is again in your face. Tips to Decrease Holiday Stress Of course, some of you have already made some great changes to simplify, slow down and put the holiday in perspective, (I know I have) and I would love to have you share your strategies at the end of this post. But for the rest of you, here are some tips that might help right now bring more peace and less stress. Step 1 – What prep needs to be done? Look over this list and select the most important things that need to be done and delegate the rest. Try to select only 5 things. I know this list is exhausting to read, but you don’t have to do everything. creating the gift list making or buying decorations decorating putting up outside decorations prep for holiday travel making family advent preparations planning family reunions getting ready for relatives holiday baking cooking for family reunions planning parties inviting friends to the party shopping for the party cleaning for the party cooking for the party cleaning up after the party buying or making cards writing notes on cards making or buying stockings buying stocking stuffers making travel plans volunteering for charity helping out at church helping out at school holiday activities at work buying or cutting down a tree decorating the tree shopping for gifts making gifts buying gift wrapping supplies wrapping gifts mailing gifts cleaning up after the holiday writing thank-yous planning holiday menus getting kids to write thank-yous putting away decorations special grocery shopping disposing of the tree taking down decorations other _______________ other _______________ Step 2 – What do you really value the most over the holidays and want to have time for it? Check those you want to have happen and decide how all the busy-ness from all the tasks above will affect them. Feel free to cross more tasks off the list above so you have more time for those below. Spend enjoyable time with my immediate family Reunite with my relatives Celebrate the birth of Christ Create a festive, beautiful home environment Show my love and generosity through gifts Remember the poor, lonely and needy Be active in my spiritual community Celebrate with friends Relax and be renewed Step 3 - How important is self-care for you over the holidays? Review this list and check the items that reflect your reality. Then decide whether you need to make some adjustments. Have less free time Get less sleep Get less exercise Eat more sweets and consume more calories in general Drink more alcohol Have more tasks and responsibilities Have less time to be alone Am more worried about money Spend less relaxed time with friends Have less relaxed time with my family Have more responsibilities at work Step 4 – Implement Stress-busting Strategies to regain valuable time for YOU! Problem: Thinking that you still have to please your long-gone relatives and bake every cookie from scratch. Having to bake 12 dozen perfect cookies for the Cookie Swap! Solution: Go to a fine baking establishment and pay for some cookies made from scratch that are probably better than yours! I’ll cost you less time and money. Problem: Thinking you are superhuman and wearing yourself out shopping for the perfect gifts for everyone when all they really want is a gift card. Solution: Make one trip out to get gift cards for everyone and they’ll love you for it, and they won’t have to stand in the return lines after the holidays. Problem: Creating a holiday blood sugar rampage by eating all those cookies, candies and cakes, and wondering why you are so exhausted and can’t fit into that holiday outfit. Solution: Load up the frig with healthy snacks that your family can graze on. Prepare healthy fun snacks to serve and give away as gifts. Problem: Driving on the roads and shopping in the stores just when everyone else decides to do the same thing. Solution: Go OUT when everyone else is IN! Get over the adrenalin rush of shopping in a frenzy with large crowds of people – your body and mind will love you for it! Problem: Having to rummage through 100 different “stuffing” recipes and then discovering they all have the same ingredients. Solution: Buy a bag of instant stuffing mix and tell everyone it is your “secret formula”. Problem: Going to everyone’s house over the holidays, including yours, and having the same holiday dinner over and over again. Solution: Try serving an old fashioned 4th of July picnic meal for your holiday celebration. Celebrate July at Christmas instead of Christmas in July. Hopefully, this holiday review is helpful and a wakeup call so you can truly enjoy the holiday season with all the peace and joy you deserve.
  2. J.Adderton

    10 Don'ts For Less Holiday Pressure

    The pressure of the holiday season seems to begin building earlier each year. From holiday anticipation to New Year dread, a full range of emotions hits us before the first leaves fall. We barely make it through the marketing bombardment of all things pumpkin spice when the holiday displays go up in stores. Just think a minute about all the messages telling you how the holidays “should be”. A few that come immediately to my mind is commercials, social media, movies, family and long-standing traditions. It is possible to relieve the pressure and frustration of the holiday season. Here are 10 things to consider not doing this season to keep the focus on what is most important to you. Don’t Suffer From FOMO I have a serious fear of missing out (FOMO) on certain holiday activities. For example, I don’t really want to go shopping on Black Friday. But, a little voice inside my head tells me if I don’t go- I will be missing out on something I am “supposed” to do as part of the holiday “experience”. Escape the trap of FOMO by letting yourself off the hook. You may not have to decorate the perfect tree, bake cookies for your co-workers, host the neighborhood party and send 50 Christmas cards to your closest friends and family. This holiday season try letting go of what you feel you are supposed to do with a revised list of what you truly find meaningful. Don’t Stress Over the Perfect Gift Stores would love for you to believe the perfect gift can be found on their expensive shelves. But thoughtful gifts usually carry more meaning than short-lived fads that result in credit bills to start the new year. Set a budget that doesn’t stretch your resources and stick to it. Try these alternatives Donate to a charity in honor of someone Give homemade gifts Share a memory by giving a photo Give the gift of your time Don’t Eat Every Treat It’s really hard to pass on those sweets, appetizers and goodies that are a part of our holiday celebrations. But, with a little willpower, you can avoid making the annual “lose the holiday weight” resolution on New Year’s Day. Just use moderation and you can still enjoy all the delicious seasonal eats. Don’t Forget Your Rose-Colored Glasses In movies, families often reconcile, undo wrongs and heal old wounds around the Christmas table. Unfortunately, it is not this easy in the real world. We often set our expectations too high for family and friends to meet. Try setting aside grievances during the holidays and address when the timing is more appropriate. Keep in mind that others may be caught in the stress of the season too. Try cutting them a little slack when they do (and they will) fall short of your high expectations. Don’t Drink Too Much There are several reasons why we may drink more alcohol during the holidays Social gatherings and parties Depression and/or loneliness Increased stress levels Merrymaking can easily lead to regretting what you did at last night’s work party. Try keeping a “big picture” of your true alcohol intake to help you keep it in moderation. Overindulgence can lead to increased risk-taking behaviors and worsened depression. Don’t Forget Exercise Exercise is a great way to tackle holiday stress by improving mood and boosting energy levels. Research also shows regular exercise can reduce anger, tension and fatigue. Don’t Try to be Perfect Remember, perfect holidays do not exist. Even when you pour all your time, energy and money into your holiday preparations, everything will not go as expected. Be realistic and expect hiccups in even the best laid plans. Don’t Live Up to the Hype Do you live in a neighborhood where every house goes all out in decorating? If so, you may be feeling the stress of keeping up with the outdoor wreaths, lights and inflatables displayed by your neighbors. Before you spend the time and money on elaborate outdoor decorations, ask yourself “is this important to me?”. If the answer is no, let it go. Don’t Forget What is Most Important Try making a list of the people and traditions that are most important to your holiday celebration. This will help you stay focused on what matters most. Don’t Forget to Ask for Help This may be one of the hardest things to do. We don’t want to put anyone out during this busy time, even when we become overwhelmed. Likely, there are people in your life who want to help and are ready. They are likely just waiting for you to take the step to let them know what you need. If your depression or stress begins to impact your daily life, reach out for professional help. Let us hear from you. What have you found helpful in reducing holiday pressure? For more tips, check out this resourceful handout. Managing Holiday Stress Handout
  3. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When It's Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

    Months before the holidays arrive we start getting bombarded with advertisements and movies depicting the perfect holiday scene. These fictional people are happy, and stressors are wrapped up while everyone exchanges beautiful gifts complete with a handmade bow. Most of us enjoy indulging in these scenes, and envision trying to recreate the perfect holiday depicted by the media and television. Even if we know it's not real, we may desperately want it to be. But instead we're scheduled to work, or the kids get sick, or we can't afford what's on their Christmas list. We're overwhelmed with too much to do with too little time, money, sleep, and patience-but with plenty of patients who need our attention. It's hard to give one-hundred percent at work when we're preoccupied, or resentful that we're working and we can end up dreading, instead of enjoying the holiday season. When You Feel Like a Scrooge Although most of us realize that people require healthcare every day of the year, we may not have considered how a nursing career can affect our personal life for many holidays to come. We may understand the need to work, but it can be disheartening when we end up missing out on holiday traditions and family gatherings. We can spend time being resentful because someone else got the day off, or we were called in to work, or feeling inferior because we're too exhausted to keep up with what we feel the holidays require. Or we can try to change our perspective. Attitude can make or break the holiday. Often the holidays repeat this same stressful rollercoaster year after year. Each year we think it's going to be different. That this will be the year that everything is perfect. We know the holidays are coming, yet we haven't tried to change our expectations or attitude, and the outcome remains the same. We end up bringing ourselves down, which can lead to not being present for our patients when they may need us the most. They may be spending the holiday season ill, or without their families. If we take the time to plan and prepare for more than our shopping list, we can begin taking control of holiday expectations. Sleigh Holiday Challenges Even with holidays surprises, most of the challenges during this season are the same year after year. If we try to work the holiday around our work schedule, instead of trying to work around the holiday, we can determine priorities and let go of unnecessary obligations that leave us exhausted and overwhelmed. Unfortunately stress usually accompanies the holiday season, but if we anticipate some of these stressors, we might be better prepared to adjust our expectations and response. A Lack of Goodwill Staff, families, and patients feel the extra strain during the holidays and often nurses are on the receiving end of their frustrations. The gift of extra patience may help in working with those that are sick and increase your gratitude for the good health of family and friends. Patients who have no family may see you as a substitute, taking the time to talk about their holiday traditions can allow you to attempt to recreate a small part for them. So, So, So Many Social Obligations Gatherings can be numerous and overwhelming when you're trying to be everywhere and do everything. Make priorities early so you can declare that your schedule is already full. Crowds usually mean stress. The benefit of working different shifts, or having varied days off, means you can consider shopping alternate hours or days, or avoid it by shopping online. Consider changing the day, or time, you celebrate with family if you're working. Make new traditions that are less stressful, or ones that aren't tied to a certain day or time that may not always match your schedule. Some Might be Having a Blue Christmas While many of us struggle to fit everything in, others may suffer from social isolation. The holiday season often brings feelings of sadness and grief for many who have lost loved ones. Look for signs of depression in patients and family, and if necessary, refer for treatment. Taking care of yourself is one of the best gifts. Plan for time to relax to deal with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. You Don't Have to be Santa Claus Overindulging in food, alcohol, and overspending our holiday budget can result in kicking any healthy habits to the curb. Try to recognize financial and personal triggers to be mindful of eating in moderation, and sticking to a budget to prevent January regrets. The pressure to make goals and resolutions while completely overwhelmed-as if to right all the wrongs in the past month-can be distressing. Instead plan small, monthly goals to avoid unrealistic pressures. Memories Aren't Scheduled It's not easy working in healthcare, and especially over the holiday season when we feel like we're missing out, or not doing enough. But if we think of our favorite holiday memories, they aren't usually about specific gifts, or attached to one day. The best memories are often unexpected and priceless.
  4. tnbutterfly - Mary

    Self-Care for Nurses During the Holidays

    Nurses face challenges year round, but we all know the extra stresses that the holidays bring with all the special preparations and activities. With many nurses working stressful jobs having to deal with the health challenges of others as well as their own personal stresses and hectic schedules, the added demands of the holidays can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion. The workplace usually feels more festive this time of year with added holiday decorations, Christmas cards, parties, etc. However, nurses often feel torn between their responsibilities at work and holiday preparations at home. Many of us feel stretched almost to the limit as the demands on our energy, time, and attention increases. We spend several weeks and months of intense preparation for Christmas day. We get caught up in the flurry of decoration, shopping, cooking, and entertainment. But, for other people, feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness stand in sharp contrast to the excitement of parties, gift-giving, and family gatherings. What are some steps we can take to control our stressors. As nurses, how can we take care of ourselves during the holiday season? The causes of holiday stress are as varied as the people who experience it. The stresses of trying to cram shopping, social events, and family get-togethers into a schedule already full of day-to-day obligations can leave a person exhausted and overwhelmed. But wait a minute..... Take a deep breath, and think....... What is it that all these holiday obligations have in common? The majority of them are self-imposed, and once you learn to identify what stressors are self-imposed you can begin to control the stress. Many of these self-imposed obligations are based on expectations that we may have of what holidays are supposed to be like. Sit back, close your eyes, and be still for a few minutes. Let your thoughts return to Christmas past. Let your mind go back to the earliest Christmas you can remember. Childhood memories of holidays are some of the strongest memories we retain. We all have Christmas memories, and these memories are the basis for all future Christmas expectations. Some of us want to recapture past holiday moments. We hope to re-create that experience we had with a special person at a memorable place. For others, past Christmases never quite had the joy, intimacy, and spirituality they desired. Their expectations of Christmas are the result of hoping to create a wonderful Christmas memory for the first time. All of these memories are standards and expectations we bring with us to the holiday season, and if we can identify them as such, we can modify them. But how do we do that? Only the individual can make the determination if the stress is really worth it. Everyone has the right to say no to social events of other obligations. Sometimes changes in our lives (loss of a family member through death or divorce, changes in health, marriage, addition to the family, etc.) may necessitate establishing some new Christmas traditions. Traditions offer us comfort, and that is part of the anticipation that we all have for the holidays. Knowing that you are going into a holiday with none of your traditions can be very uncomfortable, and you sometimes have to establish new ones that you can look forward to. Being realistic about expectations of ourselves and others is important and challenging. This allows us to enjoy the holiday season rather than simple endure it. realistic expectations allow for human limitations. No one can go non-stop on a daily basis from November 24 to December 25 or January 1 without having some sort of emotional or physical breakdown. Allow time for holiday activities, but also allow time for self and recuperation. Use a calendar. Begin planning a few months before Christmas. Brainstorm about what you would like to do during the holidays. Prioritize these ideas before placing them on the calendar. For those of you who will be spending time with family, get input from family members as to what is important to them. You might be surprised by their answers. You might find that you can actually cross off some of the things you were planning to do for them. Check for overload by scanning the calendar for back-to-back events. When overload or overlap is identified, adjust your calendar accordingly. Remember, you cannot be two places at the same time. Equally important......you do not have to do and be everywhere. REST..... The holiday season can be very tiring. Your body can't tell the difference between good and bad stress. All it knows is that energy was spent. Take a bold red marker and write REST on specific days and evenings in December. This will ensure a more restful and enjoyable holiday season. Remember that you are one person and you cannot do it all. Ask for help from others. Delegate responsibilities as much as possible. Most importantly, focus on the real reason for the season. Giving of yourself is more valuable than anything you can by. Time spent with others making wonderful memories will be something cherished for years to come. Focus on the spiritual aspects of the holidays versus the commercial ones. What do you want the holidays to mean? For me, it is very important to remember to focus on the gift of Jesus Christ and share that wonderful gift with others. There will never be a perfect celebration......but there will always be the perfect gift of love that was given to all of us. My wish is that each of you has a wonderful Christmas. And remember to take care of yourself as you create some wonderful holiday memories. You might like to read I am Afraid. Please Pray for Me; Munchausen by Internet: The Lying Disease that Preys on the Heart, and other articles in my blog] Body, Mind, and Soul
  5. Jmiami

    Do nurses get holidays off?

    Some have kids, some don't. Some value Thanksgiving and Christmas over the New Years holidays. How often do you find yourselves working important holidays? I have a 2 YO and am looking forward to a nursing career, but if that means missing out on my daughters thanksgivings and christmases growing up it does make me think twice.
  6. Once again, I will be working on this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. However, I do not object to working on Thanksgiving like so many others. First of all, I am a single female with no husband or kids, so I come home to an empty house anyway. Secondly, although I have extended family members, they live halfway across the country and I am not that close to them. So even though I do not plan to celebrate this holiday in the customary style that involves food, feasting and fun in a house full of loved ones, I remain cognizant that I am thankful for many things as a nurse on Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a nursing license that enables me to earn decent pay. During my early and middle childhood years I watched as my parents struggled financially. Cheap, low-quality foods such as ramen noodles, hot dogs and Kool-Aid were the norm during my growing-up years. Sometimes the cupboards and refrigerator were empty. This might sound petty and inconsequential, but I am thankful for having a nursing license that allows me to earn an upper five-figure income. I can eat what I want, shop when I want, live comfortably, travel, and not worry about prickly bill collectors calling me well into the evening. I have never had to use a payday loan, pawn shop, or other nebulous financial instrument because I do not live from paycheck to paycheck. So I give thanks for not having to deal with the sobering financial problems and hand-to-mouth existences with which so many hard-working people constantly grapple. I am thankful for flexible scheduling. I give thanks because I am not obligated to work a regular five day work week with weekends off that seem to disappear too quickly. One of the beautiful aspects of nursing is the variety in scheduling. People who enjoy 8-hour shifts can manage to find a facility that offers a five-day a week schedule. Those of us who prefer longer shifts can continue to work three 12-hour shifts to receive four days off every week. If one wants five days off per week, he or she can work two grueling 16-hour double shifts. So, I am thankful that my position as a bedside nurse allows me to have the ultimate amount of flexibility in scheduling. I am thankful because nursing allows me to touch peoples' lives. I work in acute rehabilitation, a specialty that assists debilitated patients in seeing some restoration to their level of function through basic nursing care, specific modalities and various therapies (physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy). It feels mightily invigorating to see a patient finally go home with the capacity to speak fluidly and ambulate on his own when, only a few weeks ago, the same man had been rendered totally unable to walk, talk or swallow due to a major CVA. Nothing can be more wondrous than the words of the patient when he utters, "Thank you for everything you've done for me." I have many more reasons to give thanks on this Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. VivaLasViejas

    Olden Times and Ancient Rhymes

    It was the official opening of the holiday season at my assisted-living facility: a twelve-foot tree, fresh from the farm, stood in the corner of the great room as boxes and boxes of decorations were brought downstairs from their hiding place in the activities storage room. The kitchen staff brought out their best dishes and put fancy cookies and delicate sandwiches on them to tempt the residents and family members who streamed through the front door, many of whom were dressed in outfits that no one with an ounce of fashion sense would be caught dead in at any other time of the year; resident assistants rushed about in a sort of organized chaos that only the practiced eye would note as different from the usual routine; while we department heads tried to conduct the necessary business even as we too were caught up in the spirit of the day. At two o'clock sharp, the residents who could not ambulate independently were assembled in front of the tree as those who were able opened the boxes of red-and-gold ornaments and began to place them on the lush, dark-green branches. A local entertainer strummed his guitar and sang Christmas carols---actual Christmas carols!---in a faulty tenor which meandered in and out of the melody, undoubtedly without the permission of its owner. Adult children chatted with their elderly parents in between songs, with the occasional shout into a deaf ear punctuating the pine-scented air: "I SAID, DO YOU REMEMBER THAT SONG?" A staffer, answering the front-desk phone as quietly as possible, nonetheless earned a glare and a sharp rebuke from a nearby family member who reminded her that "these people are trying to enjoy this, you know". But what made this holiday gathering extra special for me was seeing the weathered faces of residents glow into beauty as they began to sing along........men and women who couldn't tell you what they'd eaten for lunch just two hours before, lifting their voices in the old carols whose words still resounded in their memories. I watched our lovely Leona, who no longer recognizes her own daughter, belting out every single verse of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" as if she were once again the church-choir soprano of her Chicago youth. I saw the tears on the face of little Anna, whose husband died this past summer, as she doubtless reminisced about the sixty-four Christmases they celebrated together. I listened as tone-deaf Gerald, who used to be a Methodist minister, followed along in his lusty basso voice the strains of the ancient "Adeste Fideles". And as I observed the peace that fell over the gathering while the closing verse of "Silent Night" was sung, I was reminded of my own Christmases past and the people, many of whom are now long gone, who made them some of my most precious memories. I thought about my maternal grandmother, whom I suspected of being Santa Claus until I was eight and then found out I'd been right all along, and how she bought presents all year and then loaded up her old Rambler on Christmas Eve with literally dozens of brightly wrapped packages. I recalled my parents, who made life hard for me much of the time, but who showered me with love and made me feel special at Christmastime. I also found myself longing---almost---for the Christmases when my kids were little; though we were poor, we somehow never lacked for anything during the holidays, and best of all, they learned what generosity of spirit and a little faith could do at this magical, mystical time of the year. Maybe I'm just getting old too, but each Christmas means something a little different than the last......and my understanding of what it's all about grows deeper with the passing years. Olden times and ancient rhymes, and memories to share........thanks to my residents, these things will forever play a carol of love, not only at Christmastime but all through the year.
  8. Irish339

    The Weeping Turkey Diaries

    As dinner time grew close, the family members of several of the staff brought in wrapped plates from the family dinner table. My family would have never heard of doing such a thing. According to my mother, my current holiday lot was my own doing. "You're the one that wanted to be a nurse". Several codes and a food bolus dislodgement later left me wondering if I did, in fact, want to be a nurse. As often would happen in this facility, someone ate my lunch. I moped and sulked through the first 4 hours of my shift. Admissions were winning 3 to 1 over discharges. It was truly getting hectic, and my mood was deteriorating beyond morose. I was wrapping a relatively large hand wound, and giving instructions to a fine gentleman who just happened to have been minding his own business and was attacked viciously just a few blocks from the hospital. As most of you know who have worked ER, minding your own business can tragically result in anything from gunshot wounds to beatings with a baseball bat. "I'll bet you've had your Thanksgiving dinner," I said...with just a touch of bitterness in my voice. "Well yup," my quiet little patient replied, "I did." "Really?" I said. "And what did you have exactly?" I wasn't wallowing in enough self-pity already. I needed to know. "Oh, well, I had a great turkey sandwich at the shelter." Oh, cripes I thought. A great turkey sandwich at the shelter. No cranberries. No mashed potatoes. No Norman Rockwell scene with happy, clean people chatting around the dinner table. Not even close to anything I was missing in my tiny cube of a brain. All the things I hadn't noticed. He was wearing 3 layers of clothes. Layer number one was a newspaper. He had duct tape holding his shoes together. There likely may have been small things living under his hat. And he was happy. He had a sandwich at the shelter. I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I failed to see another's misfortune. And I was the one being ungrateful. Being ungrateful for a job, my health, and family...even though they hadn't come through with the stuffing and mashed potatoes that others had received. I felt humiliated and ashamed. What kind of a selfish, spoiled human being was I? I still remember this patient, 22 years later. Every time I do, I am astounded at my total lack of ability to step outside myself. I have such gratitude for this simple man that opened my eyes to my own self-absorption. Never again will I take for granted anything in my life. I silently thank him for the gift of appreciation for even the tiniest and most basic things we are given every day. In such a dirty place, with such horrible weather just outside the door, my eyes were truly opened to the beauty around me.
  9. Jacqueline.Damm

    The Gift of Hope

    Weeks after nursing school ended and I had passed the boards, I found myself in a newer community hospital in the most multifaceted unit that I've (since) ever worked. Our patient population ranged from general medical and fresh postoperative patients on one wing to hospice care and those suffering from cancer on the other. It was Christmas Eve and I had hurried onto my unit with a heart as heavy as stone. Being my very first Christmas as a registered nurse, I could think of a million and one other places that I'd rather be. I collected my usual 7-8 report sheets with a sigh and gazed down each hall from the main nurse's station desperately searching for a glimmer of hope. Each wing glowed as fluorescent as each day before without an inkling of holiday spirit. Sterile was the first word that came to mind. Sterile, cold and empty. My charge nurse stared down the hall, sighed and rose from her seat after report. I watched as my comrade in teal waltzed down the hall in a sort of trance, switching off numerous lights to dim the halls and stations. Each click echoed in unison with the rings of monitors, call bells and voices, all so far from comfort and so horribly near to loneliness. The holidays can manifest in multiple ways throughout the patient population. Some individuals are torn from family due to illness when others have been far removed from love for a long time. There are some who need somewhere warm to lay their heads whereas others had a home, but their families could no longer care for their needs. Regardless of race, creed, character or status, I could feel every soul in each room pulsing with a need to feel loved and cared for. I visited my rooms in the evening rush, scribbling my name on every wallboard and issuing a request for patients to call when assistance was needed. Then slowly, almost hesitantly, I walked into the familiar room of a man suffering from an illness that was killing him in the slowest and most excruciating of ways. I needed this room to be the last room to round on in my initial greeting of that Christmas Eve. With each popping sound, my Danskos made as they hit the floor I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, aching in a way that scared me to the bone. It was the ache, that fear, the one that told me there was nothing I could do to help this man but to make him comfortable as the time of his death drew near. I've always hated feeling powerlessness and being out of control. It is not my choice, nor my duty to make this choice for anyone. It is my abilities that can and will comfort them in those times, and with that, I must make my peace. He laid there in his bed, shaking and shivering as his monitor rang loudly, alerting me of his erratic tachycardia. My pulse quickened as I watched each QRS complex draw closer and closer to the next, then just as suddenly as it rose, it would slow down into comfortable sinus. I exhaled loudly. His head turned with a quick whip and through his glistening skin and grimace, I saw this incredible grin begin to appear. "It's been a few days since you were here." He chided playfully. I could only nod at first, working to find the air to vibrate through my vocal cords. 'It has been too long.' I smiled as I looked around his room. 'I see that the CNAs have decorated your room since I was last here.' He nodded proudly and then began to cry, his chin quivering uncontrollably. I rushed to his side and begged him to tell me what was ailing his spirit. "Someone's sweet daughter brought me this," he held up a hand-made glass ornament. "For me," he said in utter disbelief. "Why me?" This young man asked me, completely perplexed and spent from his constant fevers. 'I think she knew, deep down in her heart, that you truly needed a Merry Christmas.' This dear man only nodded, patted my hand and gave me leave very subtly with a wave of his hand. "I'll be ready to talk later," he said painfully, "I think I need a few minutes alone." I turned one last time before leaving his room, watching him gaze at his gift as if the meaning to life and his suffering was bubbling up inside of that glass ornament. The shift carried on its normal routine in some aspects, but something amazing happened at about 3 AM. My charting was near completion, medications had been passed, no one was calling for pain medication, and everyone was sleeping soundly in their beds. It was as if a deep peace washed over the unit, even the nurses were feeling quiet and thoughtful. Once again my pulse quickened as I felt my entire person being called to his room. I could almost hear his turmoil in my head and feel it through to my core. I rose from my warm seat at the nurse's station and headed down the hall. His Christmas decorations glittered outside the door in an almost warming glow. The miniature tree was something close to dream-like and perfection in such a sterile and cold place. All of that negativity I had been brooding over had melted off of me like the winter cold. In a near panic, I feared I had roused this poor man from sleep and hurried back to the door. It was so quiet and peaceful in that space, he just had to be sleeping. "Please don't go," his whisper cut through the silence with aching haste. "Please... Sit here with me". His eyes were brimming with large tears and that strong chin began to quiver. I didn't know what to say, but I tried: 'I... I thought you may need a friend or some company. I didn't mean to wake you, I know you need your rest." He grabbed my hand tightly and squeezed it with all his might. "I don't want you to go." He paused. "In fact," he sniffled back tears, "I was just thinking... How much I love each and every one of you." I leaned forward and stared straight into his eyes. I could see nothing but warmth and truth. 'We truly care about you, your life and all of your goals. We wanted to help you get strong enough to be home with your loved ones tonight.' He shook his head, openly unashamed of his weeping, "This is where I am supposed to be tonight." With conviction and poise, his face changed to the most serious and yet sincere look I'll never forget. "The moment you walked in here and smiled at me. I knew I was going to be okay, even if just for the night. Your kindness has given me hope. So, at least... I know I will live to see this Christmas Eve. Can you sit here with me? To give me strength? I can't do this alone anymore." Surprising myself, I was only able to nod because I had begun to cry myself. At that moment I could see his strength, his pain, his heart and the true nature of his spirit. In the beginning, this was just another shift to me. But to him, I was providing him strength, hope and a means to fight another night, maybe even another day. It's funny. At the time, I thought he really needed me. But, to be completely honest, I really needed him. I needed his strength and his faith in me to remind my self-doubt and fear that I have a gift. That I have the ability to help encourage and restore hope in the hopeless, faith in the faithless and power in the powerless. The care we give and the words we use acts as a channel where there is an opportunity for more than just our capabilities to shine through. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, juju, paying it forward, or any other positive force in this World, there (to me) is no doubt that something greater is at work in us and through us. We are a means. We held hands until another fever arose and he began to uncontrollably shake, wincing in pain. It was then I had to break the strength in that hand grasp and rush for medications that would help him fight for his life. It may have been dangerous on my part, but at that moment I took his illness personally. Until hand-off that morning, it was my and his personal battle to live, to live as long as he could through that Christmas morning with as little pain as possible. Before heading home I stopped to see this man, this epitome of fight and life, light and hope lying restfully in his bed. The sun shone through the window and covered him in a blanket of warm light. That's how I remember him. That's how I remember hope. When I forget, I pause. I think of his furrowed brow, the strength in his hands, the plea in his voice, and the resounding "Thank you," he whispered as we watched that gorgeous glow of his tiny Christmas tree.
  10. nursemarion

    Merry Christmas Mr. J

    He was a proud war veteran, this man who changed my life. He lived alone in a tiny apartment and had no family left alive, at least none that he knew of. He was alone, yet he was fiercely independent, and now he was dying. I was a fledgling hospice home health nurse working in a poor community that was fast becoming a ghost town, falling victim like so many others to the loss of once thriving industry. My husband had recently lost his job, and we had a new home and mortgage. I was now the sole breadwinner and low on the pay scale. Christmas was coming. I was deeply depressed. Mr. J came into my life uneventfully, another patient living in gang territory. I was used to the area and knew the necessary safety precautions. We were to visit early in the day and let the patient know when to expect us. We wore standard colors easy to identify as "the nurse". We moved in and out of the homes quickly, and left the area if there was any sign of trouble. I knew the rules and planned my day accordingly. Mr. J was my second visit of the day. When I arrived I had that feeling of anticipation that only a home health nurse can know, the increasing adrenalin as you knock at the door wondering what you will find within. I knew only that he lived alone, was dying of cancer, and was discharged from the hospital the day before. Did he know his prognosis? What kinds of problems was he having? Was he ready for hospice? Thoughts raced through my head. Mr. J. opened the door and greeted me with a warm smile. He welcomed me in. The room was sparsely furnished but neat as a pin. As we talked I learned that he had never married and had no one save for a few friends in the neighborhood. They would help him get to appointments and get his food with food stamps. I noticed that the TV was on but had no picture. He saw me looking at it and got up to turn it off, telling me "I listen to it; I don't need to see it anyway". I asked about his sleeping arrangements and he pointed to the bedroom. That was when I noticed he had no sheets, just a bare mattress with a blanket on top, stretched tightly with nary a wrinkle. His corners were neater than any I had ever folded, the military training perhaps. As we turned towards to the kitchen I noted his clothes were so threadbare that you could practically see through them. There was no sign of laundry anywhere, no chests or boxes, no hamper, nothing but a bed and a small closet. I peeked inside to see only a few pieces of clothing on hangers in similar condition as those he wore. I looked around with dawning awareness as I realized that this man had nothing in the world save for a few items. He had worked all his life, but somehow ended up here, unable to afford any of the things that we think are so important to happiness. He was overwhelmingly poor, yet he was happy and kept his tiny apartment and his ragged clothes clean and neat as though he had a palace and the fine robes of a king. He wanted nothing, and denied the need for any assistance or services. He thought that he was doing well the way things were, thank you very much. He would allow the nurse to visit a few times to make his doctor happy, but nothing more. He knew he was dying, and that was ok with him for it was in God's hands and God had never failed him yet. I cried that night. I felt so guilty for worrying about money and presents when in reality I had so much to be thankful for. At the next visit I took him a few pieces of clothing from my husband's closet, and some sheets, lying and casually telling him that we had things in the office that people had given us for anyone who might be able to use them. If he could use them that would really help us out since there was not much room in the office for storage. He thought that would be just fine. I wanted to do something for him for Christmas. I knew he would not want anyone to fuss over him. I thought of him all alone, listening to the TV looking out at the snow and it gave me an idea. My husband and I had combined our furniture when we married, and I still had the small TV from my apartment. It wasn't much, but it had a picture and his did not. I decided that he would at least have TV to watch at Christmas. On Christmas Eve it was snowing heavily. We were headed to the annual family gathering, but I told my husband I needed him to do a favor for me before we went. We drove the dark winding road through the snow to where Mr. J lived. I was so excited, thinking that this is what it must be like to be Santa. I was concerned about going to the rough neighborhood after dark, but I knew that I had to do this. When we got to the apartment complex I had my husband take the TV to the door to give to Mr. J. He had recently grown his beard out and I had him wear a red Santa hat for the job. When he opened the door my husband wished him Merry Christmas and said that he heard that Mr. J could use a TV as he took it in, turned and left. I stayed hidden in the car. We went on to the party, filled with happiness. My husband never questioned why I asked him to do this. He knew in his heart that I must have a good reason, and he was excited to be a part of it. Mr. J died a few weeks later. We never spoke about the TV, but it was there in the living room during my last few visits. I hope he watched something wonderful on Christmas Eve. I know he had at least one gift for his last Christmas here on earth. I hope he liked it. I hope he knew that someone cared for him and that he was not alone. I have never shared this story with anyone before. It was secret moment of joy that I have treasured over the years. I think of it every year as the holidays come around, and I am grateful. I am sharing it now to encourage others to give from the heart to someone who is in need at Christmas. Even if you have little to give there are so many who have less. For as Saint Francis said "It is in giving that we receive". That is the real magic of Christmas.
  11. Shopping for presents, wrapping them late so no one sees what you bought, baking cookies to keep the family tradition, making the stuffing and pies and then falling into bed exhausted only to wake up in a daze when everyone else is excited about Christmas day and not being able to enjoy the moment. Does this sound like you? Living life in a chronic rush? Chronic stress makes everything seem urgent, distorting what is really important. In the midst of 'doing' for the holidays, it is easy to miss 'being' present to your family and the precious moments that uniquely capture their essence. Here are quick retakes on holiday preparation: 1. Be present (buy presents). If you checked in with your family, they probably have just about everything they want except more time with you. When you give people your full attention and let all other distractions fall away, you let them know you value them. This feeling is priceless. 2. Wrap your mind around now (wrapping presents). Get back to the moment. It is easy to believe your mind when it is constantly saying, "There is never enough time." Unhook from this false sense of urgency by breathing deliberately and deeply. Breathe in on a count of four, hold it on a count of four and then exhale on a count of four. This time of year is really about inspiration, new beginnings, peace and hope. This cannot be experienced in hindsight, it can only be felt in the moment. The point of power is in the present moment; to have peace you have to be present to it now. 3. Trim off the time wasters (trimming the tree). Are you trying to outdo last Christmas? New tree decorations or new recipes only adding more and more preparation for your schedule? You would not have to outdo last year if you were fully present to the wonderful moments that are lost in the rush of getting more done. You will find that less really is more when it comes to holiday preparations. Without the urgency, you can actually enjoy what matters - time with family and friends. Giving your complete attention to who vs what creates the memories that will sustain you year after year. The more you slow down and stay present, the more you will realize how easy it is to fall for the story your mind wants you to believe - there is never enough time. You actually have all the time you need in the present moment. Are you spending it wisely? The season itself is fraught with a sense of urgency as everyone sets up parties, Open Houses, events, dinners and lunches. Work may become more challenging with the need to cover different shifts. As you celebrate all the goodness or even have to work, stay present. Breathe deep and often. Be a witness to what is happening, step back, observe, name it and experience it now. Savor each moment. Release any attempt of your mind to cling to, "the way it used to be," or anger, resentment. Remind yourself, "Just for today, I choose peace." then go back to the present. Keep your mind, heart and breath focused on this present moment. This practice of mindfulness, being present, slowing down the urgent falsehoods that set up tension and anxiety may be the best Christmas present you can give to yourself and your family.
  12. ashley10

    New Lessons

    I don't know what to do first. Mop the floor, wash the clothes, read the assignments, study math, start something for dinner, or just sit down and say a prayer, and another, and another. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and even a few happy birthdays in between. This is one of the most unusual, mixed up, chaotic, exhilarating, and stressful times of my life. Nursing school and eggnog. Quite a combination. Thank you, Jesus. In the few short months since starting this highly complex study of healthcare, I have learned more than I ever knew possible about the human body, and this is just the beginning. I think what impresses me the most is that we are all made up of intricately intertwined molecular substances and yet within these material structures mystically resides our intangible spirit. Our personality. Our thoughts, feelings, senses, ideas, memories, preferences, likes and dislikes, and so very much more. Aren't we amazing? I am truly in awe of our distinctly human characteristics. The question remains, though, am I capable of handling this enormous endeavor I have begun to pursue with such fervent angst, fear, and intrigue. I am, after all, only human, and the requirements to complete such a daunting program are at times absolutely overwhelming, to say the least. But right now, I don't know where to begin. I got in! I was there! I wore the uniform, passed the tests, read the chapters, went to clinical, even met and cared for some real patients! I listened to their heart rates, heard their lung sounds, palpated their abdomen, saw their pain, felt their sorrow, and did what I could to help make them more comfortable. I tried, I really tried. I did my best - but it wasn't good enough. I have so much more to learn, but not this time around. So many lessons, in so little time. I hope I can figure this out and finish the program. I may be a little slow at learning new things, but then again, I have already learned so much! Perhaps there is a reason for this sudden setback. Like other times in my life when I didn't understand the reason and rhymes of everything, I somehow managed to keep going, like it or not. There must be a lesson to be learned in all this, as difficult as it is not knowing what lies ahead. Anyway, I hope to find some time to regroup, reorganize, study, focus and thoroughly understand the ins and outs of the many demands in this mightily intriguing profession. The few patients I have met, so far, have already left an unforgettable impression in my now highly matured mind. I would like to thank them, but that is not possible. The only thing I can do now is hope and pray that I get the opportunity to complete this journey, attain my license, and thereafter become the skillful, competent, confident, and compassionate RN I have set my sights on even at this later stage of my life. Merry Christmas everyone, and happy holidays, too!
  13. orthonurse55

    A Christmas to Remember

    Many years ago, I was working as a nurse while in the US Army. It was my first Christmas away from home and, as luck would have it, I was scheduled to be on duty on December 25th. Unbelievable! Not only would I be away from my family, but I would also be away from my boyfriend until my shift was over. I had a pity party for myself and probably invited many people along for the ride, as many people who would listen to my complaints! Yes, I loved being a nurse. And yes, I loved being in the US Army. But this was CHRISTMAS DAY! I guess I hadn't planned on holidays getting in the way of my career plans when I chose my path in life. So I moped around for a while and never quite got over the raw deal fate had given me. My boyfriend and I celebrated our first Christmas together on Christmas Eve. We got engaged! That was exciting but I was still reeling from the injustice the Army had done to me. I was definitely acting like it was a personal deed done by someone in high authority to ruin my holiday. Like a spoiled little brat, I dragged myself out of bed early on Christmas morning and arrived on time to report for duty. I went about my business, performing personal care and trying to hide my feelings from my patients. I knew they deserved a happy nurse, not the one who was feeling so blue that day. So I put on a big smile and became determined to be my normal self, for their sake. At the end of the hall, we had a very elderly woman who had had both of her legs amputated due to diabetes earlier in the week. She was lying in bed, softly crying. I immediately teared up at such a pitiful sight and asked her what was wrong, expecting to hear that she was in pain or mourning the loss of her legs. Instead, this beautiful old woman told me she was missing her family, because she was stuck in the hospital far from home on Christmas Day! I felt as though someone had slapped me in the face. In my great selfishness, I had not for one minute realized that these people I was "inconvenienced" by were also away from their families today! So I excused myself with the promise of coming back shortly and went to talk to my coworkers. And we developed a plan. One by one, we gathered up our patients, putting them into wheelchairs and bringing them out to the nurses' station. Finally we went to get out little angel. She had not been out of bed since her surgery and that alone was an exciting concept to her! When we brought her out to the desk and she saw our decorations and all of the other patients she had a huge smile on her face. We put on some Christmas music and everyone sang our hearts out, enjoying the spirit of the holiday in an unexpected place. My little old lady taught this nurse some valuable lessons that year that I have never forgotten. Family is wonderful, but sometimes you have to make your own happiness with the people who are around you. And no matter how bad I think I have it, someone else always has it worse! I have never forgotten her or that fantastic Christmas day 36 years ago.
  14. nfriddle

    Ready for Christmas

    "Any change today?" I asked the nurse at her bedside. "Not really," she replied. "She has been unresponsive like this ever since she came back from the O.R. on Friday." "What happened to her last week? I didn't get the whole story." "They brought her in with a fractured shoulder and she coded in surgery. It took a long time to get her back, and if you ask me, she would be better off if they hadn't succeeded." I looked outside at the snow clouds forming, and tried not to think about the Christmas shopping and decorating i had planned to do before the phone call that morning. "I know you have family coming tomorrow, but there is an ICU patient who needs a dialysis treatment and I don't have anyone else to send." The Charge Nurse knew I would be torn between the need for a day off and the lure of overtime pay so close to Christmas. Seeing the inert body of my patient, I could not help thinking, "Maybe she and I would both have benefitted from me taking the day off." Cheri and I had become aquainted back in the summer, when she was hospitalized after experiencing a hypoglycemic seizure at her outpatient dialysis clinic. A brittle diabetic since the age of eight, Cheri's unstable blood sugars had not only eroded her kidney function, but had diminished her mental function as well. Poor judgment led to poor lifestyle choices, and eventually to alienation from family and friends. Now homeless, her meager resources were used to purchase cigarettes rather than insulin. She showed up for dialysis when she felt like it, and adhering to a special diet was out of the question. Her easy smile and childlike demeanor had made her a favorite of the dialysis staff. Still, experience taught us that as one of our so called "noncompliant" patients, Cheri would have a short and difficult life. Setting up for dialysis was a familiar routine. I hooked up to water, power and monitoring equipment. I primed and tested the machine, and gathered the supplies that were needed. All the while I was unconsciously humming the tune to "Away in a Manger." That was when I realized that Cheri was looking at me. Really looking. Eyes wide open, she was watching me as I moved from one side of her bed to the other. Impulsively, I reached for her hand. " Cheri, do you know this song?" I was sure I saw a faint smile, an almost imperceptible nod. Feeling self-conscious, and a little silly, I held her hand and sang all three verses of that Christmas lullaby, moved by the realization that there really was somebody still "in there." I finished with the last line: "Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with thee there." Our gaze broke and so did the spell. I went back to work and Cheri slipped back into semiconsciousness. She died the next day, and the Charge Nurse apologized for having wasted my time, depriving me of the opportunity to get ready for Christmas. I never told him just how wrong he was.
  15. VivaLasViejas

    My Grown-Up (Nursing) Christmas List

    A heated shiatsu foot massager. I didn't even know they existed until yesterday when I was doing a little 'retail therapy' and saw the thing on display at Costco. I tried it out and promptly fell asleep in the chair...imagine how this little machine would feel on your feet after the ubiquitous shift-from-Hell and your significant other would rather eat a live chicken than rub them for you. A year's supply of Depends for the middle-aged nurse on the 'go'. (Sorry, couldn't resist being punny.) Gift card/certificate to a good shoe store...the more expensive, the better. As in Dansko, Z-Coil, Birkenstock et. al. Nothing is more precious---or harder to find---that the right pair of work shoes. Besides, if we had great footwear, we probably wouldn't need item #1. An iPod Shuffle. It's so small that we can clip it inside a scrub pocket and listen to music virtually undetected. This is very useful in drowning out the cacophony that results when a patient, her physician, and eleven family members are screaming at us all at once... Here's an idea for the cost-conscious: Bubble wrap! Especially the larger sizes that pop easily and make a satisfying sound when they do. There is absolutely nothing (short of getting completely trashed on Long Island Iced Teas, that is) that is more effective at relieving the stress associated with nursing. I'm only half-kidding...when I was the director of nursing in an assisted living facility, my staff always knew to step lightly whenever they heard what sounded like overamped popcorn coming from the general direction of my office. A year's subscription to almost any periodical that doesn't have anything to do with our profession. The last thing we want to thumb through on that rare day off is a publication containing the words "health care".......which eliminates Time and Newsweek, as well as all women's' magazines and the local newspaper. (I'm thinking Playgirl here, but that's just me.) A case of chemical de-icer for those frosty nights when we leave the workplace dead tired, only to be confronted with an inch-thick coating of ice on the windshield and the prospect of half an hour of chipping away at it with a credit card. I don't give a hang what the tree-hugger types have to say about it: if they don't want us to use the stuff, they can come and chip the ice off our cars while we wait inside a warm place with a cup of cocoa. Oh, and "Santa", if there's any room left in your goodie bag, there isn't a nurse on the planet who couldn't use an all-expenses-paid vacation in a tropical paradise where there are no call lights, ringing phones, micromanaging managers, impatient patients, bullying doctors, nasty smells, or double shifts. In fact, scratch the rest of the list...I'll take #8!!!!!
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