I basically can’t live without

You know you did very well in gifting when your child shares with her nearly 10K followers on her business Instagram account  that which you gifted her.

Seriously, this bag is pretty awesome. All the more awesome is her Pinterest board because she really is hard to shop for sometimes. Of course, she gets it from her mama! But this last year I gifted her well. Thank you Pinterest and Hollie pinning all the things.

I just might need a bag like this because, like my darling daughter, and pretty much anyone, there is absolutely a bunch of shit I basically can’t live without.

  1. like my favorite face wash because the oil slick that is my face keeps waiting for the dry, flaky, crepe-y skin that is all part of the joy that is menopause. Sure it might feel like a certain body fluid, as someone I know compared it to, but it works very well for me…and that is all that matters.
  2. Sunscreen! All the sunscreen because ginger girl problems are real.
  3. This lip balm because more sunscreen and because I am always licking my lips so why bother with heavy lip color?
  4. My latest favorite Acoustic Chill playlist on Spotify because the drive to work is too stupid and too real

    Honestly!
  5. My old, well-worn, gray sweater I got from Costco years ago.
  6. Eyeglass cleaner because the glasses I wear every waking moment are always smudged and dirty and I just might be obsessed about cleaning those glasses of mine.
  7. This whiteboard calendar which just might be ridiculous if I were to carry it in a bag.

    Then again, I am not the only one living under The Big Top who basically can not live without it which is why everything and everyone on the calendar is color coded.
  8. My blackout curtains because I am Vampira, the night shift nurse.
  9. Coffee, nectar of all the nurses.
  10. My Amazon Prime account
  11. Dental floss. I blame my dentist for lecturing me about gum disease while deep cleaning for what has become an addiction.
  12. My cameras…Canon 60D and iPhone because I am indeed the Mamarazzi
  13. My favorite pen…don’t ask to borrow it…ever.
  14. My Moleskine notebook
  15. a bottle of Coke Zero, just one, for my lunch break at work
  16. My ASU ball cap to hide the epic bedhead when I take my son to school in the morning. Not that my son’s principal would ever call me out for the bedhead or the pajama pants I might be wearing (if I’m not wearing scrubs) because she isn’t nearly as judge-y as Kate Chisholm and because at least I am wearing a bra. There’s that!
  17. My Caffeine and Kilos ball cap for when I can’t find my ASU cap.
  18. A good bra.
  19. My water bottle. I blame Jodie and my membranes rupturing at 26 weeks while pregnant with her for my ALWAYS carrying a water bottle and ALWAYS drinking all the water.
  20. A Sharpie marker…you never know when you need to mark something permanently.
  21. Altoids, you are very welcome Day Shift!
  22. My Asics
  23. My favorite Scünci hair ties…they are discontinued which would explain why I am hoarding them.
  24. My favorite hair clip because thick hair can be a problem, even thinning, menopausal, thick hair. But hurray for the fact that my hair is long enough 20 months after my latest pixie cut to twist up into an undo with my favorite hair clip…it’s the little things that make me happiest, really.
  25. Scarves…I have no idea how many I have. That might be a problem. But who cares because I basically can’t live without them.

What shit that you basically can’t live without would you stuff that duffel bag with.

when a nurse is handed lemons

A patient’s family handed me lemons the other day.

Literally.

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Big, fat, juicy lemons from the lemon tree in her back yard that I have big, fat, juicy plans for because when you are handed lemons…

It isn’t always making lemonade just as the lemons you are often handed aren’t usually real lemons.

Nurses are more often than not handed A LOT of lemons because when you are caring for individuals on what is often a horrible, no-good, very bad day…if not the worst day of their life…you find yourself dealing with a lot of sh…er…lemons:
patients’ problems, their family’s and friends’ problems, physicians’ and other practitioners’ problems, management problems, lab problems, pharmacy problems, radiology problems, housekeeping problems, security problems, your own family problems, aching feet, bursting bladders, raging hunger, eye-twitching headaches, computer downtime, short staffing, exhaustion…and on and on and on…

We handle it. We deal with it. It’s what we do. It’s part of our skill set; a skill set many of us come by naturally and the rest of us work very hard to cultivate and integrate into our practice. Nurses deal with it.

But nurses, just like everyone else, are human…very human. Nurses complain too. They complain sometimes about all of the above and then some. It might seem that might be all we do…to some who then shout STOP COMPLAINING ALREADY! DO SOMETHING! BE A CHANGE-MAKER! They’re right, of course. We should do something. We almost always are even if they don’t appreciate it.

Out of complaints and frustrations often comes just change as many agents of change find inspiration in their own complaints and the complaints of others. Dr. Hultquist, my Fundamentals in Nursing professor and Dean of the Nursing program I graduated from YEARS ago will be proud to know that I still recall some of the agents of change in nursing that she lectured about, all who were inspired from their own frustrations and complaints:

  • Florence Nightingale- Of course one starts with Flo when talking about change-makers in our profession! Laying down the foundations of what is today our profession, Flo was a driving force in changing the reputation of nursing and nurses.
  • Mary Breckinridge- While training and working as a nurse in post World War I Europe, she was inspired to consider that the model of care she was a part of delivering in France could be implemented in remote rural areas of the United States.  From her work as a midwife and nurse in rural Kentucky, evolved the Frontier Nursing Service.
  • Dorothea Dix- One of the pioneers of American Nurses, she became an activist for the post Civil War mentally ill helping to implement the first generation of mental health care in the United States.
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney- recognized as one of the first African American women to break the color barrier graduating from nursing school. Her work through the years of her practice helped to significantly influence the elimination of racial discrimination in the registered nursing profession.
  • Virginia Avenal Henderson- Where would we be were it not for the “first lady of nursing” who helped to define the role of the modern professional nurse, “the unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.”…Dr. Hultquist I am certain is beaming warmly that I remember this one! Her work is credited with shifting the focus of nursing research from studying nurses to studying the differences that nurses can make in people’s lives.
  • Walt Whitman- Hurray for murses like Walt Whitman! During the Civil War, Whitman spent almost all of his free time at the military hospitals caring for the wounded and ill soldiers. He tried to provide anything that the soldiers needed, bringing them food, writing letters and attending to their physical needs. Often spending his own money for supplies, he did all he could to bring them comfort. He was with many soldiers as they drew their dying breaths.
  • Florence Guiness Blake- Blake is credited with making significant contributions in pediatric nursing and family centered nursing care highlighting he importance of parent-child relationships and parental involvement in the medical care of children. 
  • Linda Richards- Recognized as the first professionally trained American nurse. Richards established nursing training programs in the United States and Japan as well as created the first system for keeping individualized medical records for hospitalized patients.

All of these individuals were great agents of change in the history of the nursing profession…and they are absolutely, certainly not alone.

Nurses and medical staff in a Colombia hospital in the 1970s, frustrated with the lack of proper, working incubators for their frail, tiny patients, as well as increased infection rates, utilized the babies own mothers providing continuous skin to skin contact which freed up caregivers as well overcrowded incubator space. The added surprising benefit was a marked increase in survival rates, decrease in nosocomial infections and respiratory disease and overall improved breastfeeding success and maternal satisfaction and confidence. From this evolved kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin care, a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult. Kangaroo care for pre-term infants may be restricted to a few hours per day, but if they are medically stable that time may be extended. Some parents may keep their babies in-arms for many hours per day.

Nurses and practitioners in my own NICU became agents of change asking why can’t we have ZERO babies with CLABSI infections which we have managed to do for an unprecedented six years and counting. We’re mighty proud of being a part of that change that evolved from complaining and questioning.

Yes, nurses complain a lot…so it seems. But so do teachers and cops and firefighters and store clerks and hairdressers and drivers and plumbers and students and grumpy old men and mommies and…we all complain. We are a bunch of complainers. We even complain about other people complaining expecting that they will stop complaining when we complain that they should. We’re handed a bunch of lemons in our lives, in our workplace, our classroom, our homes, everwhere and we often do complain. It’s what we do after is what counts most of all.

As for me and the lemons I was handed the other night…I have this great Lemon Chicken recipe

today’s mantra

Repeat after me:

I’m not getting sick. I’m a-choo not getting sick. I’m not a-choo get a-choo ting sick. a-choo I’m not getting a-choo a-choo a-choo sick.

To be repeated over and over again while sipping lots of hot, green tea with lemon.

It’s okay to occasionally take a break and nap and perhaps read something interesting like Florence Is Dead’s take on nurses passing off the bubonic plague as allergies since the 1960s.

I’m not getting a-choo sick…

home (this year) for Christmas

Today my Timehop app reminds me that over the last eight years I was scheduled to work six of the last eight Christmas Eves and (or) Christmas Days. I’m not surprised. I am a nurse who works in a very busy Level III NICU in a very busy hospital. I have worked as a nurse in very busy Level III NICUs in very busy hospitals since 1990…since 1988 if you consider my days as a nurse’s aid and surgical tech. Since Hollie was very young, if it is Christmas Eve and (or) Christmas Day, I was almost always working and sleeping because I needed to work through the long night. It was strange. It was often hard. Extended family almost always never understood. But it was what I signed on for when I chose to be a nurse…and I was not alone…no, not ever.

We all have given up more than our fair share of Christmases with our families and the ones we love the most.

But this year, this Christmas Eve, this Christmas Day, I am home. I am home all day and all night and all day and all night for Christmas with my family circus. I am not exhausted from a long overnight shift just hours before trying to stay awake and not be so grumpy while enjoying a few, short hours of face time with my children and husband before I take a nap before work again. I am not trying to rest a little before work in a much too quiet, empty house because my circus is with extended family celebrating while I get ready for work. I am home.

As a nurse, to be home tonight and tomorrow is most always the exception rather than the expectation. I know that. Every bedside nurse knows that. My husband and my children know that. Every bedside nurse’s family knows that. It’s what we signed on for when we chose to become a nurse. It’s hard. We sacrifice much. Our families sacrifice much. It’s hard. It’s hard for us and for the ones we love the most. But, unlike those whom we care for, at the end of our long, twelve hour shift, we get to leave. We get to leave and go home when our shift is over.  That is one absolute truth nurses know Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And at the end of those shifts we go home and hug our family tightly…no matter how tired we are or how much we need to sleep a little before the next busy shift.

This year, as I sit in front of the perfect Big Top family tree with far too many gifts because it is a big family circus (a very big family circus) I am reflecting on the truth that I am home and I am thankful, so very thankful for so many reasons. Next year I am certain that I shall be working. Either way I am thankful and I am blessed.

Merry Christmas all…and extra special Christmas wishes to all those caring for the sickest and most critical of patients and their families right now.