Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My mind is whirling with thoughts, but I literally cannot get it down in my blog without it being super confusing and jumbled.  There is so much to say, I just can't organize my thoughts and say it.

Every week I take my sister out to lunch.  Usually I just pick her up, we make small talk through lunch, then I take her home.

Today was different.  I could see something was heavy on her mind.  Just as I suspected, she started to talk to me, but then stopped short as her chin began to quiver and she blinked back the tears.  Me being the sister/nurse/but.mostly.sister said "Just talk!  Who cares if you cry?"
...and so she did.

These are thet topics that are breaking her heart:

"Why me?  All the tests show my heart is perfectly why did that happen?"

My response to that was, "I don't think we will ever know."  Now I have only been a nurse for about 4 years.  I never did any critical care nursing, so the patients I see aren't nearly as ill as my sister was.  But MY take on it is that she had a clot in her heart which caused the arrhythmia, which caused the cardiac arrest.  They resuscitated her, and her labs showed cardiac damage.  Several days later, after she stabilized, we found she had lots of clots in her leg and lungs.  Once she was on aggressive Heparin therapy along with Coumadin, things started to heal themselves.  This could also explain why then they finally got around to testing her heart through a cardiac cath and cardiac MRI, everything was perfectly normal.  Of COURSE it would be by that time!  And I don't doubt for one second that it will remain perfectly normal.

"I don't know if CPR was done right.   I'm on a message board for people with brain injuries, and they are doing WAY more than I am right now, and their "down time" was way longer."

My response:  Maybe.  Who will know?  Humans are humans and they make mistakes.  29 year olds don't go into sudden cardiac arrest very often.  When the EMS arrived on the scene, they had no idea what was going on, but they didn't hesitate a single moment.  You were tubed on the scene, and then re-intubated at the ER.  Maybe it wasn't done perfectly, but they saved your life.  The fact that you didn't die that day still gives me goosebumps.  The odds were SO AGAINST you and you beat them.  It's unreal. 

"I identified myself by my jobs.  I worked all my life.  The only time I left a job was when I was moving up.  That's just what I did....I worked"

My response:  Those days aren't done.  Do you even understand how far you've come in a year??  This time last year you could hardly shower alone.  You couldn't carry a conversation and your memory was literally so bad, you would just repeat yourself over and over again.  It'll happen.  It just hasn't gotten there yet.

"I wrote a list.  It's called "Ways to Make George Love Me Again."

Me:  What makes you think he doesn't love you? (insert Leslie crying)  He doesn't say that!  He never makes me feel like he doesn't love me.  But LOOK at me.  I offer nothing to our family anymore.  I was the worker.  We had plans.  We wanted to travel to Europe.  We KNEW we were going to travel to Europe.  And now our conversations consist of  "Do we have enough money to order pizza tonight?" (crying ensues) And at this point, I have nothing helpful to add.  It was a heartbreaking moment.

"I constantly have to remind myself, "I am here, I am alive" scares me to think that when I was at school that day, I was also "here and alive" and then one second later I was gone". 

To which I reassured her that she was here, she was alive, she was progressing way faster than any of us could ever predict, and she is doing amazing.

"Someone sent me a card, and there is a part of it that I can't get out of my mind.  It says "God had other plans for you.  I'm not religious, but that saying gives me a lot of peace.  I just wish I knew what God's plan was."

So do we, Les.  So do we.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One of my biggest fears for my children is that someday they will get hurt.  No, I'm not talking about bumps and bruises.  I'm talking about emotional pain.  Because frankly, I think that kind of pain is WAY worse than physical.

At 29 years old (almost 30...eek!) I still can't seem to balance relationships perfectly to avoid hurt and pain.  Deceit and lies.  I know it sounds naive, but I thought that type of thing only happened when you were a child.  But no, it clearly carries into adulthood, and it doesn't get any easier.

I remember a time not long ago, I was with Ethan at a birthday party.  His "best friend" was there, but his best friend had another best friend who was also there, and the two of them were inseparable.  I remember the sad look in Ethan's eyes as he experienced the saying "two is company, three is a crowd."  My Ethan was the "three" in this scenario.  It took everything in me to not swoop in and save the day.  Doing that would serve him no good.  This was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the dynamics of relationships.

Just recently, I had a friendship that I thought was awesome come to a close.  I was sad about it.  I AM sad about it.  But the more I hear, the more I am starting to realize that this is for the better.  Doesn't make the pain any easier, or the desperation to know all the answers as to where it all went wrong. 

Thankfully, as my children will learn and I already know, there will always be those relationships that remain loyal.  For me, it's knowing that my parents, sister, husband, and a few close friends that I know will forever have my back despite my flaws and shortcomings. 

Thank God for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When we left for the night, the only time we ever left her side, we had no clue what the night had in store for her.

My mom asked me just the other day, "When we left her that first night, did you realize that she might die that night?"  To which I replied, "Yes.  Yes, I did."

I knew her odds of survival were slim when I first got the news.  In fact, I remember exactly where I was on Fort Street when it hit me:  "This is bad.  This is very, very bad."

So with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, it is cliche and expected for people to express what they are thankful for.  Last year on Thanksgiving, I had our family go around the table and say what they were thankful for, but the rule was, no one could say the obvious:  That they were thankful for Leslie's life.  Because that was a given!  So here is my mini-list of things I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful for the bond I have with my sister.  We are more than family, we are best friends. 
  • I am thankful for a kind, patient, and forgiving husband who has been by my side through some God awful tragedies in my life
  • I am thankful for my parents, who have told my sister and I for as long as we can remember that they will love us unconditionally.  And they do.
  • I am thankful for my in-laws for helping us out so much so Jay and I can both work full-time and keep our sweet babies out of daycare
  • I am thankful for teachers, who do such an amazing job teaching my son.  We have been so blessed with wonderful teachers and I am constantly in awe of their patience and creativity
  • I am thankful my husband and I have full-time jobs that allow us to be with our children AND provide for them
  • I am thankful for our humble, small, cozy home that always looks "lived in".  It's not perfect, but it's ours.
  • I am thankful for my two dogs.  They drive me INSANE, but they are so sweet and loving, and watching my kids play with them is the cutest thing EVER
  • And last, I am thankful for Jersey Shore, Desperate Housewives, and America's Next Top Model.  Hey, you can't expect me to be all lovey-dovey all the time...I gotta stay real!  Fist pump!

My "thankful" list could go on and on, these are just a few.  I hope everyone has an amazing Thanksgiving.  Appreciate your family and tell them you love them.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seven some years ago, when Ethan was merely a few months old, I was diagnosed with post partum depression and anxiety.

Because I am a self-proclaimed doctor, though, I knew it wasn't post partum depression.  It was just that Ethan gave me the reason to tell the doctor about things I have been struggling with since middle school.  Yes, middle school. 

At that point, I had a 4 month old that needed his momma, and I needed to be the momma he deserved, so I forced myself to see a doctor.  Since then, I have been on and off antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications until the present time.

Between 2004 and now, I spent a good several years off any medications, and did very, very well.  And then...IT happened.  By IT, I mean the sister crisis.

I know I don't have to go into it at all, because anyone who reads likely knows (and if you don't, go back in the archives to September 2010) but it clearly rocked my world.

Initially, I just took things as they came.  I approached each day with a positive attitude.  It wasn't until she came home that the depression hit, and hit hard.  There were days that had I not had a job and children to take care of, I never would have got out of bed. 

Since then, I am back on medication, which I can say with certainty it has saved my life, but things now are harder than they have ever been.

Antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds only take you so far.  I think of it like this:  Every single day, there is a huge storm brewing inside of me.  Some days I am more powerful than the storm.  Other days the storm overpowers me.  Most days, the storm is in control.  Even on the days that I feel more in control, there is no denying the storm is in the background.

I pray that some day I will feel better and be able to fully go off medications, but I know that is not going to happen any time soon.

I have had people tell me that I need to be hush-hush about my mental stability, because I am a nurse.  To that, I say with a firm NO WAY.  I'm human and I have feelings just like every other human.  Everyone responds to things differently, and everyone is wired differently.  Unfortunately for me, I take everything very hard.  On the outside, I appear happy and calm.  On the inside, I am forcing myself to function.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a walking suicide risk.  I have an amazing family, an extremely supportive husband who somehow puts up with me and my emotions, and two children that literally make me thank God for giving me another day with them.  I am in a profession that I have absolutely no doubt at all was made for me, and I have a nice circle of friends that I know I can turn to at any time.

I'm just sharing this because it's a part of me.  It's a part of my day-to-day life nowadays.  I still do what I need to do, and I always feel so accomplished when I fight the storm and win.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I never saw you leaving 6!  I thought you'd be a lifer!"  .... if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase or something equally similar since I announced I was leaving, I'd be rich!
I agree with it, though.  I never saw this coming, either.  I love that floor.  I love the experiences it gave me as a new nurse.  I truly feel it is one of the VERY best floors for a new nurse to start out on, as we take care of oncology patients, hospice, and general medical patients.  You learn SO much.

I don't even recall the exact time that I started scoping out other positions that were out there.  Like I said, I never had it in my head that I wanted to leave.  The 6th floor was my home away from home, and the 6th floor staff was my family when away from my family.  Why leave that?

....but I can also say that I never predicted my perfectly healthy sister to fall critically ill and end up with a forever life-changing diagnosis.  I never predicted becoming so emotionally unstable that I would need to be put on antidepressants just to be able to get out of bed in the morning.  I never knew I would learn in a VERY hard way who my true friends were.

When I interviewed for this position, I went into it thinking I would turn it down.  Then I finished the interview and decided I wanted the position.  Then I worked another shift on 6, and decided 6 would still be my "home", and I wasn't ready to leave.

But then I did some soul searching.  I thought about ME and my health.  ME and my needs.  Sure, there is comfort staying in a place that is close to home.  The only place you have ever known in your professional career.  But that is not what life is all about.

When people ask me if I am scared, I say no.  Because I'm not.  People ask me if I'm sad to be leaving, and I say no to that, too.  Because I'm not.  Leslie is proof that life changes.  It's meant to change.  It's meant to make you feel a little uneasy, hesitant, and even scared.  It's not EVER going to be comfortable and perfect, and I learned the hard  way that if you expect that out of life, you will be very, very shocked when that moment comes that proves otherwise.

I am excited for this next chapter.  I am excited to learn and grow as a nurse.  I am excited for ALL of it.

Zero regrets here.  Bring it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

She was 80-something and extremely forgetful.  She LOVED to talk, and most of her stories were sad.  Like how her husband was an alcoholic and died when she was in her 30's, and her daughter died last year of a heart complication.

She said she felt mostly taken advantage of by her family, and all she ever really wanted was to be loved. 

She truly did have a heart of gold, because she was always worried about everyone else.  If you shared a story about a hard time in your life, it would bring her to tears.  She cared.  A lot.

She was restless and didn't like to sit still, so I would take her for walks up and down the hallway.  We'd stop at the end of the hall where there is a waiting room that overlooks the river.  We'd sit, and she'd chat some more about her life. 

No one came to visit her and no one called.  When the doctor discharged her, it took 2 days to get someone to finally come get her.  She knew that wasn't right, and it hurt her, but she loved her family so much, despite their lack of interest in her.

Imagine my suprise, when, during one of our walks, a man dressed completely in a clown costume, should come to the floor to visit a friend!  I found this to be the perfect opportunity to cheer my 80-something year old friend up.  I introduced her to Bobo, and she was practically giddy.  It was adorable.  She smiled, and asked him to make her a balloon creation, so he made her a flower.  She loved it.

As we were about to leave to go back to her room, she leaned in to Bobo, I assumed to say "thank you" or maybe "goodbye".

No.  She said, "Are you horny?"

Oh yes.  She did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kind of ironic how after my little melt down/pity party the night Ethan broke his glasses (and it wasn't JUST the glasses that sent me over the edge.  It was a bunch of little things that all added up.

The next morning, on my way to work, I bent down to pick up one of my favorite Joyce Meyer books to read on my lunch break, and next to it was a slip of paper that read:

"Whatever your sin or your personal situation - give it to God.  Relinquish it.  Trust Him with it - for God is a good God, desiring to do good in your heart and life.  Give your battle to the Lord, whatever it is.  It is His to win.  Trust Him, serve Him, follow Him, believe in Him.  He will succeed for you, within you, and through you."

I have no idea where this slip of paper came from.  The only thing I do know is it is obviously cut out of something, and the something it was cut out of is a bulletin from a church that I haven't attended in about 8 years.  I have no recollection of cutting this out, let alone, saving it.

Do I believe in "signs" like this?  Why yes, yes I do.

Now you wanna know my thoughts on it?  (No, no, you don't)  ....tough!  Muahaha!

The whole idea of "giving your troubles to God" is not something new amongst Christians.  It is something that is said VERY often.  Whenever I think this, I always have this mental image in my head of God standing before me and little ol' me, arms overloaded, dropping my problems at his feet and being relieved on the stress and the weight of the load.

After my SUPER sobbing moment I had the other night, and it wasn't just over the glasses, it was other things, too.  Drama, cattiness, and gossip, finances and making ends meet, etc. I imagined God saying "Dude, you can KEEP those problems!  I ain't even goin' there!"  (Yes, that is how my God talks...don't judge)

But alas, regardless of whether or not I thought God wanted to help carry my burdens or not, I woke up the next morning, and gave it my all.  It would be nice to say it was a wonderful 12 hour shift with wonderful patients who brought me tons of doughnuts, but alas, it was not.  But still, I got up, did what I was supposed to do to the very best of my abilities, and remembered this:  Trust Him with it - for God is a good God, desiring to do good in your heart and your life."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God grant me the patience...

Let me tell you a little story.

Two days ago, I took my 7 year old to the eye clinic to pick out his glasses.  The children's selection was very much aimed at suckering in children.  Like, for instance, having a giant display featuring Spongebob, complete with glasses that had a tiny little Spongebob sticker in the corner of the lens.  My 7 year old was like flies on honey...he HAD to have them.  And OF COURSE the Spongebob glasses were more expensive than the other, generic types.  I kept telling him, the Spongebob face on the lens was JUST a sticker, and that they were not on the actual glasses (I bet you see where this is going).  I pulled multiple frames for him to try on.  Yes, I let him try on the Spongebob ones, but he also tried on others.  In the end, I allowed him to get the Spongebob brand, because I know how he can be, and I wanted him to actually wear the glasses.  Throughout this whole "trying on" process, I probably reminded him roughly 1,000,000 times that the sticker would NOT be on the actual glasses when we picked them up. 

Today we picked them up.  He immediately noticed there was no sign of Spongebob.  He gave me the death glare.  I shrugged and again gently reminded him of what I told him a couple days ago.  I told him how nice he looked, and he sulked his way out of the clinic.

On the drive home, he continued to sulk.  I kept my cool.  I hear a little "click".  Oh yes, he did.  He broke them.  Right in half. 

Angry is an understatement.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

As soon as I got to the floor this morning, I found out I was getting a transfer from ICU. "Great..." I thought to myself...just how I wanted to start my shift...with a new patient.

This patient was elderly.  She came to the hospital originally because she fell at home and had some fractures in her back.  Along the course of her hospital stay, she developed pneumonia, which turned into sepsis, which quickly turned into respiratory failure, ventilator dependent.

When patients become hospice or full no codes, they come to my floor.  She was my patient. 

Her vitals were stable.  She was mostly nonresponsive, and she just had that "look" that made me think the end was coming, but she seemed okay.  I just kept a close, close eye on her.

Around lunch time, a family member came in.  This family member was the one that was the most involved with her care and medical decision making.  You could see the exhaustion in her face.  When I informed them the hospice nurses would be in in about an hour to meet with them, she burst into tears.  She said she lives several hours away, and she hasn't been home in weeks.  She was tired, stressed, and most of all, she did not want her loved one dying alone, and it appeared that was going to be the case.

As we stood around the patient, quietly chatting, the woman, who had been NOTHING but super sweet to me, looked me dead in the eye and said "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I am an RN, too, so I know how this goes.  Now I have to leave to go back home, while she is hanging on, and let her die alone."

My response?  "Ma'am, I've BEEN there.  I've been on your side.  My tragedy engraved it into my heart and SOUL that NO patient is EVER JUST a patient to me.  They are someones mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother, or grandfather.  My job can EASILY turn into "just a job", but I assured her, promised her, looked her straight in the eyes and said, "I promise you.  I get it.  She will not die alone."

It was then that the pastor showed up, so I politely stepped out so they could pray over her.  About 5 minutes later, the pastor peeked his head out the door, I was assuming to let me know he was done praying and I could go back in.

No, that's not it.

He poked his head out to let me know that as they prayed over her, she slowly, quietly, had her very last breath.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wanna hear a shocking fact about me?

I hate when people are mad at me.  They can be the most bitter, angry, hateful, rude person in the world, but when I know they dislike me or are mad at me, it rips my heart out.

Wanna know something else?  I have low self-esteem, and I think this is where it all stems from.

I remember telling my best friend, Kristen, when we were in Vegas years and years ago that I NEVER look in the mirror and think, "Wow, I look really nice today!"  ...I'm serious.  I don't.  When I know someone is looking at me, I usually look away. 

I guess this is why I yearn for approval from people.  It eats me to the core to know that there is something about me that is disliked my someone, which leads to my mind running a mile a minute about all of my faults.

Sure, I know there are things about me that make it EASY to not like me.  I am moody.  Think PMS times a million.  That is me.  I am crazy unorganized and quite impatient at times.  My priorities tend to be ALL out of whack and...well, yeah.

Throughout this past year (you know, the "sister" year), I have been working so hard to rearrange this way of thinking.  It literally exhausts me to constantly try to please people, and then at the end of the day, I always think to myself, "Hey, what about what I want?  Or what about what I feel is important?"

It is a huge struggle, but I am doing okay.  I no longer feel I need to dissect every action I make to others, to make them see my side.

I don't judge people based on others opinions, but I remain brutally faithful to those I love and care about.  It is possible to be a good friend, and still be polite and professional with others...did you know that?

I lived an entire year of anger and bitterness.  I'm D-O-N-E with that.  Did I mention I'm done?

I am working to see good in all of us, because I recognize that no one is perfect (remember I listed just a SMALL fraction of my faults).

Tonight I met some wonderful friends for dinner.  We had great conversation (we are all nurses, so the stories are ENDLESS!).  Then I had some great phone conversations with two more wonderful friends, and I hung up thinking to myself:  I am blessed.

My issue with craving acceptance will likely never go away.  It's just a part of who I am.  But the part that I am working on, the part where I remain genuine and truthful WITH MYSELF?  That part is shaping up nicely.

I'll end this with some positive things.  I love my family (both blood and by marriage) with every ounce of my being, and every. single. day. I think God for all you do for me.  I am a GOOD mother.  Not perfect, but there is no doubt in my mind that my kids know that I would walk to the ends of the earth for them.  I live, eat, and breath for those two kids, and I love them with my whole heart.  I am a loyal, faithful wife.  My husband works harder than anyone I know to provide for his family, and is an AMAZING daddy.  Him and I connect on a level that I have never had with anyone else before.  Not only is he my lover (ooooh la la!) but he is also my very best friend.  And lastly, my friends.  Loyalty is used frequently here.  I consider myself very, very loyal and I hope they ALL know that.  If you doubt my loyalty, then you know me VERY little.    And last, I love my God.  I love my faith.  And I love my church.  My Bible is never far from me, and I love how my faith has grown in leaps and bounds.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I totally DID write "patients" instead of "patience" in that last post!  Haha!  No denying I'm a nurse, eh?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One year ago:

- I finally got it when I'd hear the saying "You never know what tomorrow may bring."

-I watched my sister struggle and overcome some vicious odds

- I learned how horrendous depression can be...realizing you cry, sob, and withdraw more than you smile

- I learned what pure exhaustion is

- I learned who my true friends were, and learned that family will always pull through to hold you up as your world crumbles

-I learned life gives no guarantees.  No matter how amazing of a person you are.  Everything can be taken away in the blink of an eye with no explanation.  And you have to accept that.

- I watched, and did nothing to help, as relationships around me crumbled because I was so withdrawn within my own pity and sorrow

-I experienced hate in the truest form, as people found pleasure in beating me while I was down, and I experienced love in the purest form as my friends came to my rescue

- I cried a million tears, I gave up, I didn't care what tomorrow brought because I  was too angry about what THAT day brought.

-I shook my fists at God, I slammed my Bible shut, and screamed whenever I'd hear someone say that God "cured" their headache, as my sister laid in the ICU with tubes coming from every direction, struggling to keep her alive

-I was mad, I was angry, I was so, so bitter.  I was selfish and self-absorbed.  I had daily pity parties FOR MYSELF

This year:

-I have put the past behind me, and KEPT it there.  No more "this time last year..."  We look forward, not backwards, because you can't change the past

- I have loved deeper than I ever have before. 

- My faith is strong.  Without faith, I've got NOTHING.  I am slowly gaining my trust back in God, but I admit, I do falter sometimes.

- Drama?  Save it for yo' mama.  I don't have time for it. Life is way too short to hold grudges.

- Give yourself time to grieve, but then pick the pieces up and move on.  Find blessings in every day.  Have patients and make it a goal to find peace in every circumstance.

- Don't be scared.  You can't live a fulfilling life in fear.  Things happen.  Pretend like they don't.  Take chances and never. stop. learning.

- Believe.  Whether it be in God, or in HAVE to believe.  Never give up.  Fight, fight, fight.  If it matters to you, you will do ANYTHING to achieve it.