Saturday, March 31, 2012

Costa Rica: Lesson Learned

I guess I should have known... that traveling out of the country with four girls in a time frame that is less than a week is probably not the best idea in the world. I have been all over the world and that includes going to places that are not easily traveled too... Africa, Lebanon, Thailand. A good amount of the traveling I have done has been by myself. And while I can say that my recent fear of flying might have something to do with this particular traveling experience... it definitely wasn't the only factor.

All that to say that while there where some good times during my recent Costa Rica trip... I can safely say that it was the worst traveling experience of my entire life. And let me tell you I have had some bad ones.
In fact as I am typing this I can feel my blood pressure starting to rise... so rather than go into detail about our failed attempt at a girls week away I will just say that it included the whole lot of it..... severe food poisoning, a 5 hour long drive through 3rd world roads to get to our lodging, flight delays, missed flights, panic attacks, turbulence and ungodly amounts of money spent to get home a day early so we could get our sick friend home.... when we actually just ended up getting stranded in El Salvador for the night and ended up home the same time we would have in the first place.
 It. was. horrible.
BUT! I will say that there were some wonderful parts about the trip and so I 'd like to at least show the photos of the good parts and just pretend like the bad ones didn't happen. (I'm trying to be the glass half full kinda girl here... not my strong suit I will admit)
Swim up bar! They had great pina coladas :)
View from breakfast every morning and
the lovely ladies I traveled with <3
Gorgeous sunsets pretty much every night.

Feeding wild monkeys was definitely the best part :) They were so cute and so friendly.

 Parts of Costa Rica were really gorgeous.
Yummy food!

We got to travel to a small pottery town called guatil and we saw them make the amazing pottery right in front of us. It was a very very poor town but the people were so incredibly sweet. That is Carlos giving me the thumbs up in the picture above :)
 Pottery making has been this towns heritage for hundreds of years.
We also fed wild crocodiles on our boat river tour.

Over all it was an interesting experience but I can definitely say I'm glad to be home.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The difference between then and now.

When I tell people I am a nurse... especially a nurse in the ICU, it seems as if most have a similar response. A sort of reverence and respect for those of us who dare to work in the business of healing the sick and dying. There is this impression that life in the ICU is thrilling, tough and exciting. You remember that one episode of ER you watched when it seemed like everyone in County General was coding left and right, meanwhile Dr. Greene and Dr. Weaver are saving lives like no one's business and you think... 
"All hospitals must be like that! How exciting!"
  Smarter folks would run for the hills... 
but I digress.

During nursing school and as a new grad I had what they called a "road kill mentality". Anything and everything gruesome and/or extremely unstable was an adrenaline rush... a challenge... a thrill to be sought after. The tougher the assignment the better. It made me proud of what I did. Every opportunity... whether it be putting in a simple IV or assisting with a bedside insertion of an intra-aortic balloon pump... it all was exciting to me and the sicker the patient... the more fun it was. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth in more. To learn and grow. To become a nurse that people revered and respected. A nurse that people came to because I knew my stuff.

But that is not the majority of nursing. The moments of thrill and adrenaline are few and far between and if you are seasoned enough those very moments are moments of stress and sometimes fear. You realize you are the one fighting for someone's life and suddenly this patient in the bed is not a lesson or chance to grow anymore... it is a life.

Nursing is not made up of those action packed moments filled with the rush of saving people. The heart of nursing is centered around patient care. Patient care that includes bed baths and cleaning up things you normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Nursing is made up of people who are sick and at their worst. People who are often times ungrateful and mean. Family members who are frustrated and defensive.
Nursing is made up of the little things that add up to something big. Oral care on a patient that has been intubated for weeks and has a mouth that smells like a sewer. Nursing is taking care of patients who don't even take care of themselves. Answering to a patient who yells at you and to doctors who don't care to learn your name. Nursing is destroying your back while getting a 300lb patient out of bed with a lift all the while trying to manage IV lines, a ventilator, a foley catheter and a chest tube. Not to mention doing all of these things without help because no one has the time or budget to give us the resources we truly need. Nursing is servitude. Nursing, my friends... is not an easy or glamorous job... it is not always fun and often times it is thankless.

The difference between then and now is learning that the "tougher" assignments are not the ones with the unstable patients that have interesting procedures but the ones that are filled with hundreds of menial tasks that leave you emotionally drained and physically exhausted at the end of the day.
The difference between then and now is the reality that sometimes our callings in life are not exciting or thrilling. Sometimes we are not called to mission fields far off in the middle east or deep in the heart of Africa. Sometimes we are called to serve the least and the last right in our own backyards.
The difference between then and now is learning to love the parts of nursing that are not so glamorous, because at the end of the day that is the heart of what we do. It is the heart of what I do.
We heal the sick and the dying. And for that... I can be proud.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Best. Husband. Ever

I gave up sweets for lent this year....
Thankfully, Sundays are a built in cheat day.

Since I was working this weekend and that is usually the only time I get to see Chris...
 he decided to come and visit me at midnight on Saturday night. 

He was definitely the hit of the unit. 

Best. Husband. Ever

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Welcome to the Coupon Closet

This is what my coat closet looks like in my house. It is full of items that I have gotten for 50-85% off. Back in October of last year I decided that with the help of a good friend, I would begin the task of becoming a crazy couponer. Now I know what you're thinking... for those of you who have seen the show Extreme Couponing it is nothing like that. I have no desire to buy 90 packets of croutons just cause they are free. Seriously people.... what are you gonna do with 90 bags of croutons?!

It's a great feeling to know that I am saving a ton of money for chris and I. I can even get enough things for free that I can donate or give to friends who are in need. 

I'm pretty much stocked for about 1-2 years on most household items and beauty/health products. 

Here is an example of one of my recent coupon shopping trips:
The original price for all of these items was $245.95, I spent $64.66 and got $25.00 in giftcards to CVS for buying certain items. That comes out to an 82% discount!

Maybe one of these days I will do a blog post on how I manage to pull this off. :) With a little bit of work... you could too! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nursing Today

Last week one of my co-workers retired and upon his leaving he left all of us on the unit a letter. People had been frequently asking him how he felt about retiring and the letter was his response to that question.

He explained that for him, nursing had changed. "Nursing," he said "is an aggravating job." It seems as if every day there is more work to be done. More people to look over your shoulder, telling you how to do your job. Dictating what you do and when you do it. More rules and regulations to follow and less time to get it all done in a day. Our patients are sicker these days. Technology has advanced and yet the things that are supposed to help us often don't as they should.

The team work and the people will be missed... the chance to be apart of the world of nursing and it's advances in healthcare will be missed too. The back breaking nature of the job and the complete and utter exhaustion at the end of every shift will not. The lack of resources and help when we need it will not be missed either. Taking care of ICU patients and seeing them recover and the gratitude they have will be difficult to leave.

There will be a large void left with retiring from the nursing profession but as that door closes another shall open. The possibilities are endless.

"To put it simply," he said "excited would be a good word for how I feel."

It was so poignant and concise. There was no hesitation in getting straight to it. Nursing is a difficult, frustrating and yes... at times an aggravating job. There are some amazing, rewarding parts of the profession and we are lucky to work with a great group of people.... but when you get to a point when you go home every day worn to the bone and your days off are devoted to recovery... that's when you know it is time to go.

As I sat and read his letter... over and over.... the entire time I kept thinking, "That is exactly how I feel about this job." It was heartbreaking in some ways. To realize that I have come to a point in such a short amount of time where leaving the profession sounds like such a relief.

My health has not been great over the past few months. I have found myself feeling recluse and tired and empty lately when it comes to nursing. There have been moments where I have loved my job and moments where I think, "Now this is why I am a nurse." Yet, overall I feel like I don't have much left to give people... and that includes friends and family which is why it feels so defeating. We have very little support from management and often times I just tend to avoid them at all costs.

Life has been busy too and because I have a night shift schedule I don't ever feel like I have a normal life... or a normal marriage which can be hard. It wears you down sometimes and I don't think it is something that people understand easily.... nor do they have empathy for it.
So... for now I have been praying about it and looking at other options. I don't plan on leaving nursing but it makes me wonder if staying in the ICU will be for me. Who knows? The one thing I can say though is that the world of nursing is large and I know that no matter what I do... I will have many doors to choose from. It's just a matter of having the courage to open one of them.