Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Semester in the History Books

Heeeeeeeellllllloooooooooo people!  Wow what a great vacation it has been from school!  I feel like a new woman after the end of each semester.  I swear during each semester, I feel entrapped in some kind of intellectual hell that I can’t break free from or don’t know when it will end with deadline after deadline in my tunnel vision.  However after the semester comes to an end, I suddenly feel alive again.  The sun is brighter, the kids are more enjoyable, the hubby is more relaxed, and I actually have time to care about myself again.

So here are my official grades after such a crazy and almost unbearable semester:

I feel good about these grades because I was paired up with some amazing group members that cared as much as I did for great finished work and projects (almost to a fault), despite our crazy group problems. 

I’m so excited for my last semester to be over with already.  It hasn’t even started but I'll be thrilled when it's done.  Our semester starts back up again on Jan. 22nd with 6 weeks of clinical right off the bat.  We’ll be in clinical on Tuesday and Wednesdays for 10-11 hours with as many as 4 patients…yikes!  I hope the nurse I’m assigned to will be helpful and not thinking to him/herself that since I’ll be graduating in May to just leave me.

Christmas came and went with much excitement, fun, family time, and good eats.  In preparing my heart for the true meaning of Christmas, I enjoyed the message being taught at my church with a 4-week series about (Turning Your Christmas Upside Down).  But I knew I needed something more, and since I didn’t have my nose in a textbook, I wanted to put my nose back into the bible.  Reading the Word of God daily helps set my mind right in all avenues of life.  I happened upon Misty’s blog posting about a website called She Reads Truth, which has lots of daily plans to follow and a supportive community to go along with it.  I started a reading plan and have been transformed not just leading up to Christmas but afterwards as well.  My kids even gave me a new journal for Christmas.

I get to work tonight and tomorrow night with the moms and babies, and I’m thrilled.  Last week after spending a 16-hour shift working on the med/surg floor, I’ve never been more convinced that OB/GYN is my calling.  I’ve often wondered if I can’t get a job as a grad nurse on the birth center would I be willing to work in the NICU verses the med/surg floor.  I don’t think I can work with sick or premature babies, they scare me too much.  I prefer the healthy pink onesJ  so there you have it, choice 1=birth center, choice 2=med/surg, choice 3=NICU.  At least that's what I think now, this may change again in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Well I have to bring some sad news to deliver, as if there wasn’t enough; on 12/11/12 we had to put our beloved dog of 10 years down. 

Our dog had been having troubles breathing the weekend before but like most times when he had trouble breathing I assumed it was a cold.  But something wasn’t right because he just seemed off.  As the weekend ended and Monday began he just was so restless and unable to sleep for more than 5 minutes.  He paced around the house incessantly, and ate very little.  When we let him outside to go potty he would get so tired and just sit down in the snow, until he gathered enough strength to get back inside.  He held his head up high to breathe better.  At one point I was going to run to school to get my stethoscope to see if I could hear any wetness on his lungs.  We had an appointment with the vet on Tuesday afternoon, but by Tuesday morning my hubby rescheduled for a sooner time slot.  We couldn’t wait any longer, he was suffering so much.

The kids and I went to school and my hubby brought the dog to the vet, and I told my hubby not to make any decisions to put the dog down without me and the kids saying our last goodbyes. 

My hubby called and said the vet told him our dog had a cancerous mass attached to his heart, and his lungs were filling up with blood.  The vet thought the best thing to do was put him down.  So I left after class, and mustered enough courage to get the kids out of school and tell them what was going on. 

We made our way to the vet’s office and said our last goodbyes.  I wasn’t able to say my last goodbye to my childhood dog growing up, so I made this one count.  I even curled up on the floor next to him and told him all things I loved about him, that I was sorry for times I should have treated him better, and that I didn’t want to see him suffer any longer.  Tears flowed freely between the four of us, and I think our dog knew we did the best we could for him.

Then we opted to stay and watch as the doc injected him with the medicine to stop his heart, and we finally saw him at peace.  The staff imprinted his paw print in a piece of clay that we took home and baked until it hardened, as a memento. 

Nothing prepares a person for death and the grieving process.  At one point my hubby blamed himself for buying a dog, knowing the life expectancy wasn’t as long as human life and feeling bad the kids had to be in pain over his death.  I told him the short amount of pain and grieving we’ll have won’t undo the 10 good years we had with the dog. 

Either way our house doesn’t feel cozy and warm any longer.  The light our dog had brought to our lives has gone out, and so has the motivation to be as happy as we once were with him by our side.  He was the one creature who gave me unconditional love, helping to make all of my toughest of school/work days manageable.  In a selfish way I’m upset he couldn’t have held on for one more semester. 

I’m happy he isn’t suffering anymore.  Slowly we are boxing up his things around the house.  It’s tough to get over the habits we’ve formed like letting him outside before bed and first thing in the morning.  Or driving past the dog park on a beautiful day thinking he would love to play with the other dogs, but realizing he cannot.  The thought of getting another dog, at this point, is out of the question.

I’m really banking on the idea that pets go to Heaven, because our dog would help make it a cozier place. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Compassion and Discrimination

          About five years ago, my kids and I went to Philadelphia PA for a work function of mine.  Coincidentally we also learned a lesson about discrimination, compassion, and bullying right outside the front steps of City Hall.  The evening before heading back home, my two kids, and I toured the downtown area of Philly.  While we were debating where we should go for lunch we were walking by the City Hall building and saw a homeless man sleeping on the steps.  My kids were not used to seeing this aspect of city life, so they asked a lot of questions as to how someone becomes homeless.  During our conversation we settled on eating lunch at McDonalds because it was close and we decided together that we would buy an extra meal and offer it to the homeless man.  Right as we were walking up the steps to the man, a police car pulled up and two police men got out with their billy clubs in hand.  They hurriedly walked past us and started talking to the homeless man telling him he couldn’t sleep there.  All the while, one of their hands was holding the billy club and the other hand was resting on their belted guns.  We picked up our pace and asked the officers if we could offer our meal to the man.  The officers granted us permission and after we extended the meal to the homeless man, he accepted it, with a smile on his face.  Then the officers handcuffed and escorted the homeless man to the back of their police car and then, they were gone.  We were slightly in disbelief and the kids were upset at what we had just witnessed.

            Growing up in the inner city of Minneapolis, a scene similar to this one wasn’t uncommon for me to see.  I took the opportunity to teach my kids of the discrimination that is prevalent not just in the bigger cities like Philadelphia and Minneapolis but even in smaller communities where we live.  For instance, when they see a man walking around our city wearing the same clothes day after day, asking if we can spare a buck or two this is homelessness.  He may have a place to sleep at night, but he spends his days wandering around the city without a home to go to.  I reminded my kids that just because we are more financially sound than the homeless man, doesn’t mean our family isn’t without struggles.  At any moment, any of us could lose all that we have and become homeless too, and that we should not look down on this man because he is homeless. 

            During the whole situation, I had an inner urge to help the homeless man.  I was able to think quickly of something we could do, to help him, by offering him a meal.  The small gesture warmed my heart, because I wasn’t sure if this man had ever been given a gift.  Then again maybe he had been given plenty of gifts and mine was not so special after all.  Either way, that didn’t seem to matter as much as showing compassion and putting myself in his shoes.  My spiritual belief to - do unto others, as you would have done unto you - came to mind and if I were in the same situation, I would appreciate help and empathy.  I could not help but think about where this man lived or if he just slept on the streets?  Did he have any family?  Did he have anyone who thought of him as special, if so, where were they?  What was most upsetting to me was the way the officers treated the man with such harshness and brawn.  Instead of treating him like a human, I felt they were pushing their weight around because they had power over him.

            In our nursing class, we have been learning about bullying in the workplace but the definition is universal.  Bullying is “real or perceived power differential between the instigator and recipient”.  When the police officers had their hands on their Billy clubs and guns they were showing their real and perceived power differential over the homeless man.  There was a power differential between the police officers and our family, and the public walking by witnessing the incident.  This situation is common among many cultural and diverse populations. 

Homelessness and financial burdens are seen in the hospital setting, and we as nurses, are called to a higher standard of care.  We have to give unbiased and equal care to all of our patients, no matter where they are from or why they are in our care.  Being a nurse doesn’t allow us the freedom to bully our patients, instead we strive to advocate and teach wellness, as evidenced by our code of ethics.  As a reminder of Provision One of our nursing code of ethics, 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.

In my future nursing role, I am encouraged to bring kindness and compassion to one another just out of the simple principal of being humane.  What I witnessed in Philly, is significant to me, because I am reminded every one of us has a story, a background, and our own timeline of events that have led us to where we are now.  We should be throwing away our judgmental attitudes towards others who are different.  We need to educate ourselves about other people’s differences and make a movement forward of being more accepting of others.  In turn, like the popular expression of paying it forward, other people can be encouraged by our behavior, to bestow helpful behavior unto others.