forever devoted to those committed to my care

While talking on the phone to a patient’s family, they tell me that it makes them so happy knowing that I am there taking care of their loved one.

And in that moment, I am reminded of just one of the eleventy million reasons why I am lucky to have the best job ever.

Eleventy million?

Yes, in spite of my suspect math skills I know that isn’t a real number. But it should be as it represents a virtually infinite number of reasons why I love what I do. Every day there is something to remind me like hearing a parent express to you their trust and their gratitude.

It’s what I do and I love that I get to do what I do. It’s what I pledged to always do almost 25 years ago when I received my nursing degree, as I recited the Nightingale Pledge.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

Composed in 1893 by Lystra Gretter, an instructor of nursing at the old Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, it was first used by its graduating class in the spring of 1893. It is an adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians. While the words are dated, the meaning rings true today as I put on those scrubs, pick up my patient assignment each night and spend the next often exhausting 12 hours caring for tiny humans and their families.

Coincidentally this past week in Michigan, the Michigan House of Representatives, led by Speaker Jase Bolger just passed the bill, HB5958, that would allow discrimination to become sanction by the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, akin to one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona but was vetoed, appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner. Although subject to legal interpretation, under the Religious Freedom law, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.

Personally I share the frustration and outrage expressed by friends who identify themselves as LGBT over this legislative action. I doubt seriously they will seek out a church who preaches hate from the pulpit to preside over their wedding vows, or a ultra-conservative Christian bakery to make their wedding cake or do any other business transactions with those that openly expresses such hate. But imagine an openly LGBT person seeking emergency care in a hospital. Can a healthcare worker really refuse to provide emergency, life-saving care to them because it goes against their deeply held religious beliefs? Would a god actually condemn someone who has studied and pledged to provide care for all individuals needing it?

In 1950, The American Nurses’ Association adopted a Code for Professional Nurses that applies to all nurses, including those involved in patient care, administration, education and research.

Provision 1:
The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.

Provision 2:
The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.

Provision 3:
The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.

Provision 4:
The nurse is responsible and accountable for individual nursing practice and determines the appropriate delegation of tasks consistent with the nurse’s obligation to provide optimum patient care.

Provision 5:
The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to preserve integrity and safety, to maintain competence, and to continue personal and professional growth.

Provision 6:
The nurse participates in establishing, maintaining, and improving healthcare environments and conditions of employment conducive to the provision of quality healthcare and consistent with the values of the profession through individual and collective action.

Provision 7:
The nurse participates in the advancement of the profession through contributions to practice, education administration and knowledge development.

Provision 8:
The nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national, and international efforts to meet health needs.

Provision 9:
The profession of nursing, as represented by associations and other members, is responsible for articulating nursing values, for maintaining the integrity of the profession and its practice, and for shaping social policy.

As an American, I am thankful for the First Amendment affording me and all American citizens the right to religious freedom…praise god for that! As a person who mostly identifies as a Christian, I am compelled to live by the Greatest Commandment especially in loving others as I (should) love myself. As a Registered Nurse, I am equally compelled my vocation, my pledge and my code to provide the best of care to each and every tiny human who passes through the NICU where I practice, regardless of who their parents are…whether they be straight, gay, married, single, under-age, US citizen, immigrant (legal or illegal), homeless, addict, mentally ill or convict. A life is a life and always precious and worth preserving to the best of my abilities as a nurse. Discrimination of any kind has no place anywhere in this day but especially in an acute care setting where I do what I do. Shame on Michigan House Speaker Jace Bolger and the Michigan legislature as well as anyone who cloaks themselves in such a ridiculous, hateful, discriminatory law in t6he name of whomever they choose to worship!

Let us be anxious to do well, not for selfish praise but to honor and advance the cause, the work we have taken up. Let us value our training not as it makes us cleverer or superior to others, but inasmuch as it enables us to be more useful and helpful to our fellow creatures, the sick, who most want our help. Let it be our ambition to be good nurses, and never let us be ashamed of the name of ‘nurse’.

~Florence Nightingale

touching a nerve

It would seem that the post I put up a few days ago touched a few nerves.Those words certainly fired mine.

Thank you everyone! I am beyond overwhelmed and encouraged by all of your words.

And then last night happened.

Jenny, The Bloggess, as she often does, found the words I was feeling last night and today:

I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons.  And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too.  Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt.  Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.

But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off.  It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage.  Rage feels powerful and strong.  It feels good.  And rage is important.  But not at the cost of compassion.  If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you.  But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront.  Remember humanity.  Remember that your words and actions make a difference.  Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world.  It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN.  It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness.  Who listen even when it’s painful.  Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people.  Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way.  Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yes.

I like to think that Jenny’s words followed by her call to action is what led to the staggering spike in donations to the Ferguson, Missouri library because perhaps what the citizens of Ferguson need most right now is a quiet sanctuary along with our compassion…especially if we just don’t understand.

I know that I don’t. even after spending part of my afternoon reading through just some of the Grand Jury’s transcripts.

Oof!

No I don’t understand. I imagine that I never will. But I can be outraged. I can also have compassion for people who are obviously hurting right now in a way that I can never possibly imagine or understand; and so while watching my own circus clowns as they enjoyed our new (to us) “dining room table” I ignored the hate and the rage expressed from all sides all over social media and I prayed, I gave what I could and I gave thanks that I could do these things.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are ~ Benjamin Franklin

waiting room readings

Living the life of the juggling mom means sometimes waiting…in the school pickup queue, at dance or tumbling practice, in doctors’ offices, the orthodontist, in hospital waiting rooms, at the drugstore waiting for prescriptions to be filled…and on and on and on. Being the practiced mom who juggles and often hurries up to wait for a length of time I am prepared with a book on the Kindle, some favorite news apps, Words with Friends and, of course, social media. Yes, sometimes I wait for what seems like a long time…sometimes too long.

Waiting as usual earlier this week, I distracted myself with social media because nothing distracts me from waiting and sometimes worrying more than I should than what friends and family post on Facebook because I love the kids’ updates, quizzes, cat videos and “Vaguebook” status updates. What I mostly saw Monday is what quickly became viral and was all over my news feed this news story of a pregnant beggar with a boy driving off in a Mercedes.

:::cue the Facebook angry mob with torches and pitchforks:::

Oh dear…

Something about this story reminded me of another story from earlier this year…what was it?…Oh, yes! The woman who drove her Mercedes to pick up Food Stamps.

Legit or scam, we see a panhandler or someone paying for groceries with an EBT card or Food Stamps or WIC coupons we are definitely noticing what they have or don’t have and we are judging and then we post our judgements on Facebook because everyone needs to know the young mother with the iPhone has no right to be buying groceries with WIC, especially when she has a 2 liter bottle of soda and a box of cookies in that basket. God help her if she has acrylic nails or is wearing what appear to be Uggs. Oh, and hell no, if she is seen getting into a late model car. Of course we can judge and decide what poor people should or should not have because, why not? We’re good people. We’re good, hard working, God-fearing people with jobs.

Well it turns out that the pregnant lady in the San Diego area is very likely a scam and thank goodness ABC10news is on the case to expose the Benz Beggar. But for every fraud there are countless people out there whose need is very much legit. We might see the Mercedes or the manicure or the iPhone or any material possession that we decide is something a poor person should not have and decide that this is a scam. Perhaps it is a scam. Perhaps not. Perhaps there is more to their story than we care to even try to discover.

Just saying.

Oh, and this.

Yes, I saw this too on my Facebook timeline that afternoon.

surrounded yet alone as the world goes on

I’m still here. Don’t be afraid. I promise I’m here and hanging on…barely, but hanging on. And meanwhile, the world does go on as it should…even when it seems to be a big shit storm happening like it has this past week in the news.

I forced myself to go to a small gathering the other day and pretty much as soon as I got there I thought to myself that it was a big mistake. It’s was not because of anything or anyone there. Not at all. It was me. It was the oppressive black cloud that lately has become all the more dark and oppressive in my heart and my mind. Sitting there surrounded by acquaintances, celebrating good things, I forced a smile on my face and the occasional laugh while thinking the whole time of that quote from World’s Greatest Dad that everyone is sharing all over social media because Robin Williams and depression and suicide.

I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.
~Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad

My life, my world, my reality, my story right now. There’s so much more going on in the world around me that I should be worried about, that I should care about, that I should want to try to understand and to change:

  • The “serious” homeless problem in Manteca especially the scourge in Library Park…yes, the same Library Park where the homeless actually helped Abby and her friend to clean up in and around the gazebo before Hollie and Ben were married there four years ago.
  • The fact that there isn’t a homeless problem in the town of Ripon, just 7 miles south of us if I am to believe a local reporter’s opinion. Never mind there isn’t a problem because those who are homeless know that the police will pretty much chase them out… I learned that the last time my brother, the one who is homeless, visited here. It was amazing how he knew through “networking” where one could go and where one should never go…courtesies or no.. Ripon was on the don’t go there list.
  • Two recent drive-by shootings, one in the middle of the day literally in front of a friend’s home in the “good” part of our city and police won’t comment on whether or not they are gang-related or even related to each other.
  • Michael Brown and Ferguson and the police and race relations and who is affected and who is not and white privilege.

Don’t forget Gaza and the Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak…

Is it any wonder no one else is as depressed and nearly panicked as I am right now?

The homeless problem here in Manteca is indeed a real thing. It’s real pretty much everywhere else…except Ripon. I’m not so sure if it as serious as what I have witnessed in San Francisco or San Jose or Chicago or New York. I do know that there seems to be a lot of assumptions made…drugs, crime, danger to us good citizens who have a roof over our heads and no longer feel comfortable to use the restroom in Library Park or walk along the Tidewater Bikeway or hang out at the Historical Plaza at Spreckels Park. Some of that is real but then I recall the 5 homeless men who offered to my daughter and friend to pick up in and around the gazebo and then remained sitting quietly in the background as witnesses while we celebrated Hollie and Ben’s wedding. I think of my brother and his friends who regarded their lifestyle as adventure traveling from job to job, town to town, state to state. Listening to friends discuss how serious this is here in Manteca and how awful they all are in plain site, I can’t help but think this is a problem that won’t be solved anytime soon especially with this perspective.

The same is probably true with regards to Ferguson. I tried to follow the story this week when I had the energy beyond just getting up. I’ll be honest, I don’t understand. How can I really? I am a white woman raised in a white privileged world…yes even growing up on Food Stamps and Welfare living in a single wide in a trashy trailer park I still enjoyed a certain amount of white privilege. I can try to sympathize with what has been happening in Missouri this week but I won’t understand. It’s not my world. It’s not my reality…just as being homeless is not. That point was driven home in a big way this morning reading what a friend shared on Facebook of his experiences 30 years ago as a young, educated, hard-working BLACK man being pulled over while driving his nice car TWELVE times and handcuffed SIX times with no probable cause. Being the positive, thoughtful man that he is, he continued to share that he would like to think that things have improved over the years but it hasn’t…perhaps it is worse…perhaps it will get even more worse.

I just can not imagine.

Nor can I understand the way that this reality has affected brilliant people like Karen.

It’s all part of this “burden” of white privilege that really isn’t a burden for me or my daughters or my son unless I don’t school myself and my family about it and its reality that is our reality and not the reality of people of color in the ghetto and in the “good” neighborhoods. We must become aware of how racial privilege and our unconscious bias perpetuates a system of injustice. No, I don’t pretend to understand completely now. I can’t imagine that I ever will because I am not a black man or a black woman or a woman who has given birth to a mixed race baby or a mother raising a black child. But I do know that my eyes were opened a little bit more and I listened a little bit harder.

my plus 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5

Do you remember your first?

Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about politics. Do you remember your first political experience? How about the first time you voted? And the best personal political experience in your lifetime ever? This weekend I had the opportunity to hear some pretty amazing, smart women, women who when they speak politicians listen, share some of their first and best experiences as we gathered together to talk politics…naturally…and women…and women in politics…and healthcare and politics…and elections…and the upcoming midterm elections…and why a dear friend sitting next to me needs to someday soon put herself out there to run.

I remember my first political experience. I was 13 years old. Mommy Dearest dragged me to a political protest against then Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter because of his non-stance on abortion at that point in his campaign; which was kind of awkward and strange all around since Mom was a life-long Democrat and a self-proclaimed feminist because it was the 70s and because she scarcely could talk to me about periods at that time much less the mechanics of where babies came from. Yet there I was, standing next to her holding a sign declaring that God was at war against abortion. I was thirteen years old. My picture appeared on the front page of the Pittsburgh Press holding that damn sign as Mr. Carter walked by smiling and waving. Mom was standing next to me smiling and waving too. Oh gawd, I was mortified!!! I was thirteen.

My best political experience was the 1988 General Elections. I was in college working towards my nursing degree and taking care of prereqs like Political Science. Since we were just four months away from the General Election, our professor deigned to focus on taking us through the California ballot for that year studying each and every candidate and initiative on the ballot that year so that each of us would be able to go to the polls truly informed and voting as such. I aced the course and yes, I entered the voting booth for the very first time as a truly informed, confident voter. I brought my +1 too before it was even cool to bring a +1. Of course we wore our matchy-matchy acid wash jeans and big 80’s hair because 80’s.

I am so sorry Hollie! Truly.

But I will never apologize for taking you and Zoë and Abby and Jodie and Daniel to the polls.

Then again, perhaps my best political experience were the days Hollie, Zoë, Abby and Jodie all voted for the first time. When our government mucks up things that affect these ladies I love to remind them that my kids care and my kids vote. Yeah, my greatest political accomplishment is my kids vote…my kids think and my kids vote. Okay, fine. Four out of five of my kids vote…for now. Then again, 2020 will come soon enough.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to, laugh with and share with some extraordinary women who are committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in their communities. Breaking bread with some of them we discussed healthcare and politics and what I believe to be a poorly written, tugging at your aching-breaking heart proposition that will appear on the California November ballot.

The biggest takeaways from political suite talks I engaged in this weekend? Politics is indeed personal because politics affects us all… we women…our access to healthcare…our children…our community. We can indeed be part of the change and we can make a difference with our words and our actions. We must. Anything we say or do, no matter how big or how small.we might imagine it to be can and will and does make a difference. Discussing what I learned this weekend with my +1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 I know I am because 4 of them vote.

In 100 days is our U.S. General Election. Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself arguing, it’s imperative you are part of the process — along with your +1. In fact, your +1 may vote entirely opposite from you but what matters is you are both at the polls on election day.