The Ebb and Flow of Death

The Ebb and Flow of Death

 

First, there’s a hole, the whole world sinks down into it and time stops.

Briefly. Only briefly.

When you feel that you can open your eyes again- it’s gray-hazy-clouded.

It just doesn’t look right. This world, that is.

It is completely different although everything looks the same.

You are alone even though you are surrounded by people.

Words like “I’m sorry”, “How are you?”, “Are you ok?” are all that you hear.

None of them appropriate.

You don’t have a good response. You want to scream “No! Stop talking! You don’t understand. I just want to be alone.”

But you don’t, not really.

When you’re alone-the feelings come. Mixed feelings.

Like the waves of the ocean. The ebb and flow.

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly covering over you. The emotions.

Washing one feeling away but leaving another.

Sadness. Anger. Despair. Anger. Love. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Nothing.

-Nothing-

You think for a moment if you don’t think-about anything-then you won’t feel anything.

But this is not true.

You wear this emotion like a robe. Death covers you and you can’t shake it.

It follows you. It stays with you.

Even when the normal returns. Even when the clouds are lifted.

Death remains.

It is the only constant in this ever changing world. It doesn’t change. It is final. Death.

It leaves a lasting impression. You can’t take it off.

The clock will start ticking again. The earth will start rotating again.

You will begin moving again with the ebb and flow of life and you probably won’t realize when this happens.

Because, in reality, the world never stopped.

It wasn’t your heart that stopped beating.

It wasn’t your lungs that stopped breathing.

Although, for a moment, briefly- it was.

 

 

Mother’s Day 2018

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Pondering

I’m in a time of pondering. Life. My children. My husband. My Career. What am I doing? Look at what all I have accomplished. Thinking about what all I still want to achieve. Is it time to go back for my masters degree? Holy crap, my husband just joined the military again. What is our future going to hold in that aspect? After re-reading this, I realize that I may sound unhappy but in reality, I’m so happy and I’ve never been in this place before thus the pondering. How did I get so blessed? Pondering. Sometimes, I think it is a good thing to sit and ponder where you are at and what you want to do next.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” ~Author: Uncertain

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Quite the phrase to ponder.

This remark has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln as well as William Makepeace Thackeray. One was an amazing president and one is a famous English writer. Either way, the quote inspires me. I’d love some clarity on the true spokesperson of this quote…so comments welcome.

First of all, when pondering this quote, you have to think about WHO AM I?

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a nurse. I am compassionate. I thrive when I help people. I am a “crafty” person. I lack a filter. I am smart. I love almost all animals. I am an advocate. I am a person….put here on this Earth… to make a difference.

Each of us are here for a purpose. I encourage you to figure out why. Once you do, life is so much more joyful.

I am a wife. I have been married to “my person” for 9 years. I honestly couldn’t imagine doing life without my person. I help keep him grounded (as he is a dreamer) and he lets me soar. I devote more time to this relationship than any other. Communication is the number one thing to keeping your marriage alive.  Always communicate; good or bad. And love notes.  When your heart is filled with love, write it down and give it to your loved one.  He completes me. I hope you have a person too. Once you find that person, protect that kinship with everything you have.

I am a mother. To a teenager and an infant. I’d give my life for either one. In an instant. I created both of them. They are a part of me and an extension of me. It is up to me to lead them into being the best they can be…and to know that “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Children are a blessing from God. He extended his Grace upon us to take care of His angels. Treat them right. We only have them for a short time. Be the best person you can be to your children. You are their light for such a short time. Make a difference in their lives. Love them with everything in you. There is no greater love.

I am a nurse. I work hard and long hours with little rest and little food and no time for myself. But, it is my calling. I give it my all. I lose patience and it’s harder when I really lose patients. I know who I was set here to be and that is a compassionate person who wants to help people. I know my calling. Embrace yours.

I am compassionate. I hate injustice. I can watch vigilante movies and love them but I shy away from violence. Violence solves nothing. Hatred is worthless and will eat your soul. But, love and compassion are the greatest virtues. 1 Corinthians 13:13. Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love. Very good words to live by. Where would we be without these virtues. What is life without hope? My patients need hope and I try to instill it when that is all they have to hold on to. Share the compassion that you would like to receive.

I thrive when I help people. Have mercy on people. Everyone wears a different shoe than you do. You will truly never understand what each person goes through. It may be the same “situation” but when you are living in that moment, it is genuinely only your battle. So, help people. Whenever and however you can. All of us will need help at some point in our lives. Pay your debts. Live honestly. I am a better person when I am helping others. Live outside of yourself. It really is rewarding; not tangibly but in the soul.

I am a crafty person…I didn’t say good at crafts. But, it is a hobby that I love to do. Find a hobby. Find something you love to do outside of your work and family. It is fulfilling and stress relieving. And fun. That is what life is about: joy and peace. Hobbies can bring that.

I lack a filter. Well, that is a story for another time. In the end, no one will ever be able to say that I am not honest. Sometimes brutally and sometimes enough to embarrass my husband; but honest. Don’t sugar coat things for me and I’ll do  my best to always be honest with you. Even when it hurts. It is who I am. Real. Honesty is not always easy but will always provide the best outcome.

I am smart. About as smart as my bachelor’s degree taught me but…nonetheless…I have learned a skill. I am not smart in everything or much for that matter. I know what I am good at and I try to hone in on those skills and make the most of them. So, I am smart in some things. Lesson here, don’t be arrogant. Be good at what you know and SHARE your wisdom.

I love almost all animals. Animals are innocent. I don’t believe in the nature side of “this animal was bred to be mean”. I believe in nurture. I know there are rare occasions where the animal and/or human acts out against what awesome life they have been given and thus, nurture does not win. But, more often than not, nurture wins. You can try to change my mind but I believe in love. Now, almost all animals means that I am not crazy about the animals with more than 4 legs. It creeps me out…insects are not my thing. If you love them, you are great. You can love them for me. My dream in life is to have an animal sanctuary one day where “unwanted” animals can come to be loved….that, and to be a midwife in S. Africa…but that is also another story for another day.

I am an advocate. People actually rely on me to be their voice sometimes. When there is a hot topic at hand and no one has the gumption to speak up… I am that person. I will be your voice especially if it involves an injustice. I just want things to be done right. I will be your supporter if you need one. I can make my voice be loud. I care and I will fight for issues that I believe strongly in. I don’t give up easily. If it matters to you, fight for it.

Finally, I am a person…sent here to do great things and make a difference. The only way to do that is to put one foot in front of the other and put on your “big girl panties”, hike up your pants, double knot your laces, and dig in deep. Climb the mountain. The view at the top is worth it. Every time.

Sparrow-tattoo-designs3172The sparrow means loyalty.

The first year of Nursing.

You walk across the stage with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Nursing. More like skip across the stage because you can’t believe you actually made it through your self-imposed hell. Or some may have crawled across the stage from the sheer exhaustion. Either way, you are relieved that that season of life is over…until you walk into the hospital on your first day. Stethoscope around your neck. New badge on your collar stating RN. Crisp, CLEAN uniform. Shiny new, again CLEAN shoes. Big smile on your face. You even earn the name “Precious” in the first 5 minutes on the floor (true story, happened to me).

Then….

you leave work from your first day and you think….

WHAT HAVE I DONE AND WHEN DID I LOSE MY MIND? I CHOSE THE WRONG FIELD. I HAVE GONE CRAZY. I’M  WILL KILL SOMEBODY. I CAN’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM DOING. HAVE I PEED TODAY? DID I EAT ANYTHING? I CAN’T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER LIVES. I AM CRAZY. AND I HAVE TO PEE AND I AM STARVING. BUT I REALLY NEED A SHOWER. CAN I DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS IN THE SHOWER WHILE SLEEPING?

Then…

you walk back onto your unit the next day for another endless shift and put that same awesome smile back on your face because you realized at some point in your tossing and turning the night before that you are living your calling.

Nurses are called to do what they do. There is no other explanation.

We love on you and every other person “assigned” to us as if they were a family member because…they are a family member to someone. We do fret over you…we call the doctor multiple times a day on your behalf. We don’t hold medications because we can…it’s because the MD ordered it so…or didn’t order it and we have to call to get the order. We cry with your family and we cry with you sometimes. We laugh when the call light has rung 157 times and there are 47 other things to be done at the same time. We lose it when things can’t be done as soon as needed for you. We are your advocates. There is actually a lot more “care” being provided outside the room that you can’t see. Ask any unit secretary (by the way, they have one of the hardest jobs on the floor…at least my floor).

If it seems that we are understaffed and way too busy…we probably are. Budget cuts and satisfaction surveys don’t allow for the appropriate funds to fully staff any hospital. So, each time your nurse walks in your room with a warm smile on her face…remember, she is walking into your room from chaos…but she smiles. (Side note, I have several men that work on my floor…so I am not being gender sexist or trying to exclude the male nurses…think of this as me talking in 3rd person).

Oh yes…remember I said, I get distracted. Back to the first year…where every day, you question your life decision to become a nurse. I know I did. Occasionally, still do.

Little by little, you realize that God called you to this occupation. You will not know why until you get that Patient that asks for you by name, the next time they are admitted. Or, the family member that hugs you and says thank you for caring for Granny like she was your own, or that (very rare) thank you card mailed in that says you provided the best care they had ever received. Notice, that all of these acts were free…they weren’t monetary gifts. They were simple recognitions. That’s what nurses work for. (Some nurses may make “bank” but for those of us that don’t…).

My family was actually the deciding factor in my career choice. Everyone said that you thrive when you are caring for others…that is your calling. I finally decided to put that into action and make it my career.

The first year of nursing was one of the hardest years I have lived through. Because you realize that even after all of your “schooling”, you still don’t know anything. Experience is what makes a great nurse. And a strong bladder and a tiny stomach.

Also, it only takes about a week to realize that you have to invest in the best shoes possible. Compression socks. And whoever thought white was a great color for the nursing profession…obviously, wasn’t a nurse.

The first day you come home with someone else’s blood on your shoes…you learn to park your shoes at the front door and never let them enter the rest of your house.

The first day you have to change into hospital issued scrubs because you are wearing someone else’s body fluids…well…that’s when you have to decide this is my calling…if not, get out while you still can…because when the code brown hits the next time…you still have to put that smile on your face…for the Patient’s sake.

My first scrub change was my fault. I was emptying a beside commode bucket from a Patient on lasix aka “water pill” aka “gotta pee a lot”…and just as I stood up to carry it to the bathroom, I lost my grip and dropped the bucket. Yes, I dropped the bucket and the contents defied gravity and flew up in the air. It was awesome. I’ll never forget it. I am also being sarcastic. Thank goodness it wasn’t an isolation room.

The second time (there have been more…it’s just part of the hazards of the job), I was irrigating a catheter line full of blood clots. Yes, thick, bright red blood clots. I had been working at irrigating this line for 30 minutes already (imagine trying to start a “string pull” lawnmower over and over and over). Also, I was 7 months pregnant. So, let’s sum up. White uniform. RN 7 months pregnant. Continuously doing the action of “trying to pull start a lawnmower” line attached to a persons groin when all of a sudden, the line bursts free and sprays EVERY THING in the room. Including: the RN (in white scrubs), the Patient (bless her heart), AND the ceiling. THE CEILING. That was a hand irrigation for the record books. Just as politely as the little old lady could muster, she reaches towards her tissue box and asks me to pass her a tissue and then proceeds to gently pat her face dry…as I stand stunned, splattered with irrigation fluid and blood clots, I look up at the ceiling and start laughing. I can’t react any other way than to laugh. I’m standing there with my big belly, sweating, and laughing and the sweet dear lady is tickled as well. These are the days of my life.

Then there are THE CODES….

One I will never get out of my mind, I earned a name from…are you catching on that I make an impression….I am not saying positive or negative…just that I leave an impression on things that I do. This day, I became a temporary legend. I straddled a man. I straddled a man while doing chest compressions. You see, the only way I could accurately perform compressions on this Patient was to full on jump on top of this person. Of course, I was holding my own weight but…it was quite the sight for the Code team to rush into the room around 1 am and find this “small” nurse on top of this “large” man doing continuous compressions without missing a beat. I will never forget that night because I stared into the eyes of a man that I couldn’t save. We couldn’t save him. He was gone before we came into the room but we tried for a long time to bring him back. I will never forget that night. Nurses go to sleep at night…or try to sleep…and we think about and/or dream about all the things that went right and all the things that went wrong.

We care. We are called.

Be kind and gentle to first year nurses. They are still discovering their calling. But..they will be great. Experiences will make them great. 643902_4529443830164_1261238445_n

Nursing school…the first day of clinicals.

Love Is Stronger

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that LOVE IS STRONGER than death.”   ~ Robert Fulghum

Robert Fulghum wrote “All I Really Need to Know I learned from Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things”. Sounds like an interesting read. Think I will add it to “The List”.

In the past week, one of our Greenville  city police officers was shot multiple times and succumbed to his injuries. The report goes that the officer was attempting to question a teen gang member related to a warrant. A chase ensued and the teen shot Officer Jacobs. He then took off running again (Officer Jacobs partner was in chase now) and found himself cornered, called his mom, then ended his own life.

People are questioning why would a teenager turn to this kind of life. It must have been a terrible home. He wasn’t loved. He had no respect. The list goes on and I have no idea about the facts. What I do know is that he called his mom. Love was stronger. He made a mistake. He was cornered. Love was stronger. I know you can’t see it because his life ended but what we have to remember is that he loved and was loved if he took his last breath to speak to the person who gave him life.

My sister was on the phone with her mother minutes before she took her own life. She said no one loved her and the darkness was more than she could handle. There was no more light. But, running through the field into the woods, she stopped, she paused at the river. The officer who found her said she must have sat by the river for a moment. The K-9 paused by the river as if she was still standing there. I imagine that she took off her flip-flops and put her feet in the water. That would be something she would have done. It was sunny. The birds were chirping. The wind was blowing. Life was being lived by all that surrounded her. There was no darkness…that we could see. Only she could see it.

The hundreds of people that surrounded our family at her life celebration were proof that she was the only one that lived in that darkness.

This kid that killed an officer in the line of duty; knew a darkness that we couldn’t see. An officer who loved his community. Worked within his community against gangs. An officer that protected my family, my street, my neighborhood. Again, a darkness that I can’t see. That others can’t see; has affected so many.

In Fulghum’s words:hope always triumphs over experience. It’s hope that keeps the rest of us moving. Hope that helps us get out of bed in the morning even when we have darkness around us. We hope for the things we don’t have, can’t have. We hope because in this world filled with darkness at every turn, it’s the hope that shines light on the mundane and the sadness.

What I want, is for everyone to have even a little piece of hope. When you can’t find your hope…reach out to someone.

For those with hope, remember, you may be the only hope-light in some one else’s life. Share it. Fruitfully. Live out your calling…to me, that is the best way to live in the light.

Love is Stronger. Love will prevail.

Filtered Chaos

The little prompt when I started this blog said “tell what you plan to do with it”. Well, Filtered Chaos is a term I came up with that describes my life. It is chaotic and I have never had a “routine” day…ever. It is a never ending cycle of absurdities that make this joyful journey of living a little rocky, definitely fun, always interesting (in a positive and negative connotation), but none the less: the story of my life. According to Google, absurdity means “the state of being ridiculous or wildly unreasonable”. Yes, that term does fit.

For example, I have a pretty bad gluten allergy. I’m not a yuppie that chooses to live Gluten-Free because it’s the latest trend…no, I actually will be sick before the end of a meal that contains gluten. It sucks. My dog (pictured in Why write a blog? (Isn’t that what the first post is supposed to be?)) who I stated was the “perfect for my house” pup is a rescue dog from the Humane Society AND actually has a grain allergy. Coincidence? Nope, just an  absurdity. So, yes, I pay $7 for a loaf of GF bread and yes, I pay a stupidly high amount for grain free dog food. If you knew how fantastic Callie really was, you’d do it for her too. My dog shares the same allergy as her person. Such is my life.

As for the filtered part…my life is filtered by the Grace that I live in and the mercy that I have received. I have a strong faith in God…actually it is weak way more than it is strong but I don’t have to carry the weight of this world. Jesus did it for me. So, although I am bluntly honest and usually lack a filter…meaning that the thoughts in my head usually spew out of my mouth much faster than I can catch them…I do attempt to filter my actions.

Thus, you have Filtered Chaos. Enjoy.