Beyoncé’s status secured

How was your day, Mom?

He asks me that every day as he climbs into the car at the end of the school day. He cares, he really cares that son of mine.

After a long busy 12 hour night shift in the NICU, the mad drive home in go-to-work rush hour traffic followed by staying awake for just a couple hours more in order to take him to school and then enjoying the decadent pleasure of a 2 hour nap before picking him up from school, I can tell him with all the confidence that my day so far is pretty good. In fact, I tell him that it is great because I woke up like this.

I don’t get it, Mom.

Epic bed head, no makeup…I’m flawless, son.

I still don’t get it.

Fair warning to Queen Bey, Blue Ivy will someday soon be a teenager and she just might not see you as flawless anymore as our teenaged children often do. Enjoy these times now, Bey.

For now I am humbled and Beyoncé is indeed flawless.

life distracts

No apologies, just acknowledging that living life day to day sometimes will distract.

Doctors’ appointments and wondering what pediatrician’s office doesn’t have these germ encrusted toys that our kids always want to play with? Sorry, some things micro preemie moms just never let go even when their extremely premature baby is now a teenager.

Road trips…for more doctors’ office visits.

Exhausting they are…completely.

Back to school adventures begin and we pause wondering how in the world can she be in SECOND GRADE??!!

And how can she possibly be hundreds of miles from home starting college which includes a class studying Orange Is The New Black? She better ace that class. I mean it.

Then there’s work…

and laundry…yes, still…

Life distracts from taking the time to sit down and write about life and I offer no apology because life distracts…and because I have several loads of laundry waiting to be folded.

One would imagine that with only 2 of my 5 children remaining here under The Big Top that there would be so much less to juggle. One would be wrong.

Give me a sec to adjust this juggling act.

weekends are for resetting

Yesterday was my Saturday and today is my Sunday. Next week my Saturday and my Sunday will likely be days other than Sunday and Monday; but who knows? Such is the life of a nurse, a night shift nurse, Vampire the Night Shift Nurse.

But yeah.

This week, today is my Sunday and yesterday was my Saturday which means that right now I am busy. I am busy resetting my body clock while I catch up on sleep, oh so precious sleep and laundry because there is much laundry to be done right now.

Oh, and sleep, because nightshift nurse problems and cat lady life.

me reflecting on the art of practicing the finest of Fine Arts

Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts: I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts

~ Florence Nightingale.

A little more than twenty-five years ago this happened.

It’s true we actually shouted “SMEGMA” as the photographer got this shot. New grad nurses, actually nurses in general can be kind of gross, sick and twisty in our humor, especially when tired, hungry, frustrated, grossed out, ready to cry or just about to lose our shit. The reality is posed in proper, starched nursing whites under a 90 something degree hot sun we were just about to lose our shit as it seemed to take forever to get this shot of my graduating class. Kick-ass, rockstar nurses we were all destined to be; but being able to line up and pose together as a group….not so much. So when the photographer directed us to say “cheese“, “SMEGMA” it was.

Literally a week later, two fellow classmates and I entered the NICU as new grad registered nurses. Dressed in the NICU’s pink scrubs, we walked through the double doors shoulder to shoulder to shoulder scared and excited all at once. Our NICU nurse educator ran up to us exclaiming, “Oh good! You’re here. We’re admitting a 27 weaker right now. You need to come and see this.

My first thought as she led the way was she seemed just a little too excited about admitting a baby born 13 weeks too soon. My second thought, as we approached the bedside and as the four caregivers stepped aside so that we could see was what in the world had I got myself into. That baby seemed to be no bigger than my hand. Her skin was translucent. I could see some of her blood vessels. She looked like a broken baby bird that had fallen from her nest.

Just a week later, I picked up her less than 2 pound body and flipped her from her tummy to her back, breathing tube, monitor wires and multiple IV lines all still attached to her impossibly tiny body. “You need to breath.”, my preceptor whispered into my ear…quite possibly the best advice I have ever received from an RN who helped to train and educate me; second only to always, always take a break when offered.

Twenty-five years later, I received a card from that baby girl’s mama that she, Baby Bailey, was expecting her first child.

Yeah, that seals it. I’m one of the old nurses.

Twenty-five years of always doing what I love to do…taking care of the tiny humans and their mommies, daddies, brothers, sisters and grandparents. Lots of babies. So many babies. So much love. So much laughter. So many tears. Learning so much…always learning…always….as one does when one is practicing one of the finest of Fine Arts. Always appreciating the opportunity to do what I love…enjoying the grateful hugs from a mommy and daddy as we together pack up their baby to finally go home from the NICU after literally weeks and weeks and then only a few hours later hugging a tearful mama who is literally experiencing the worst day of her life as she hears that her baby is dying.

Twenty five years. Some days are worse. Some days are better. Some days are frustrating and exhausting. But rewarding, exhilarating and wonderful all the same. Some days are hard….horribly hard. But most days are good…the goodest of good which literally saves you from the most heartbreaking, pain-filled days. Then years later receiving a card like Bailey’s mama sent me reminds me again the good my practice has done because Bailey is soon going to be a mommy. That, my friends is indeed Fine Art, Fine Art that I can lay claim to as is each and every tiny, mighty human and their families I have had the privilege to lay hands upon for over the last twenty five years in the NICU. Here’s to many more years, for as long as my mind, my heart, my eyes and my body allows me to.

thinkers and dreamers we are

And just in case I have not been paying attention to what’s in the news in and around the Central Valley over the last couple of weeks, I have acquaintances to remind me…especially if it is news that might indirectly affect me, is indirectly about me or what might be important to me…bonus points if it is perceived to be news in a negative light.

Aren’t some acquaintances and friends good for things like that?

Yeah.

In the news recently here in the Central Valley was a recent article that suggests certain hospitals in the Valley are price gouging. Of course some people I know want to know how do I feel about being a price gouger?

Um…

Because while caring for critically ill babies, I am jacking up the prices of the care and services that I provide?

Here’s the thing, even the authors of this recently released study concede that they are not including discounts offered for care and services to the uninsured and insured patients. Factoring in these these discounts would have had a significant effect on the cost-to-charge ratio reported, and therefore the implications of the study’s results. Which goes to show you that one can not and should not just accept a study, any study as valid and absolute truth based on its conclusions…“Dr.” Wakefield’s study linking autism to vaccinespatients’ perceptions of nurses with tattoos and body piercings immediately come to mind.

For what it’s worth, as a nurse at the bedside, I am not setting the prices for the care I give, the medications I deliver, the equipment I use while doing my job. I’m too busy saving lives, providing healing care, providing education to my patients’ family members of their babies diagnosis, condition along with how the medications I administer and the care I give will help their baby and how to take care of their own baby while in the NICU and after discharge.

My workplace is the only hospital in the community of Modesto and Stanislaus County to provide care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay; that’s millions of dollars of uncompensated and charity care provided rather than charged. My workplace employs over 2,100 people, contributes well over $250 million to the local workforce annually as well as contributes over $3.7 million in local taxes every year. Our hospital and employees this year have provided over 50 educational seminars for local schools and community groups, participated in more than 70 community events and regularly contribute to over 50 local non-profit and charitable organizations.

Thinkers. Dreamers. That’s us.

It is what drives us all to serve our community the way that we do at the bedside directly and in and around the community and out-lying areas. It is being thinkers and dreamers that inspires us every day to do what we do and even do it better.

Our hospital continues to receive top grades in patient safety including our overall performance on safety outcomes, including preventing errors, accidents and infections. The unit I work in has had more than 6 years of ZERO CABSI incidents. It was thinkers and dreamers in our unit who dared to imagine that it was possible to have absolutely no catheter line associated bacterial infections. Such strong work has been recognized nationally and even within our hospital as the staff who cared for my darling husband talked about what we are doing in the NICU and how they are hoping to implement the same. Lucky for them, and other local agencies in the valley, one of my colleagues will be providing education next month on our journey to zero and how it is possible. Fellow employees at my workplace provide the type of trauma, stroke and cardiac care that is literally the Gold standard of care here in this Valley which Silver and Bronze awarded local facilities strive to emulate…something I am proud of and most definitely thankful for, you know, since they saved my darling husband’s life.

Yes, one study might contort and twist and suggest less than favorable things about where I work but, dear acquaintances and friends quick to point that out, I would counter do your homework and check the facts especially when you decide where you want to be when you need to be in the hospital. Me, I’m choosing a place with thinkers and dreamers who are providing the very best of care and often times making the impossible possible.