Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Puppies, Friends and Giving

This weekend Chris and I had the joy of hosting one of our favorite couples at our home. They decided to make the trek up from Southern California last minute to adopt a puppy that needed a home. It was so much fun having them here, albeit brief. It was just as awesome meeting their new little bundle of joy, Lucy. 
 Cutest thing, isn't she?! She was also incredibly sweet and gentle and friendly considering she is a rescue. So happy for them and their new pup. 
One of the reasons I am so very thankful for these two are because of their friendship. Kristen and I have known each other for years... since junior high. We have been through high school dances, chemistry classes, moves across country, boyfriends and family issues together. You name it we have been there through it all. I love knowing that no matter where we are in life or how long it has been since we have caught up... we can pick up the phone at any moment and things just continue right where they left off. Truly we are like family. 
Last October we ran a half marathon together. It was Kristen and Adam's first half and I was so excited to be able to do it with them... at my favorite race too! Adam has been on a weight loss journey this past year or so and he has been such a source of inspiration to me. He is now training for his first full marathon! His dedication to becoming healthy and his love for Kristen is something I am so thankful for. They are an awesome team that have been a great part of my life and now Chris' too.

One of the reasons I wanted to write about these two are because of the wonderful things they are doing in their little corner of the world. Kristen is a Speech Pathologist and Adam has just recently launched one of the coolest charities I have seen. It is called Give Bag. It is a charity to serve those experiencing homelessness. 

This is how it works. Give bags are biodegradable bags that hold various food and grocery items. These bags are purchased by givebag.org or sponsored by donors and are distributed through local churches. Community members and church attendees get a bag and then hand it out to those experiencing homelessness. Oh did I mention that it's free to give the bags?

It's simple and yet so meaningful for the giver and the receiver. If you'd like to get involved by giving a bag, sponsoring a bag or you just want to learn more, check out their website at 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

I've been tryin' to get down...
 to the heart of the matter...
 but my will gets weak...
and my thoughts seem to scatter
 but I think its about...
The Heart of the Matter  
Don Henley

 I woke up early on Monday and as my eyes slowly let the light seep in a sadness washed over me. I looked at the clock just as it turned 6:00am. My stomach began twisting all sorts of ways, knots starting to form.
For a brief moment I panicked thinking that I was coming down with something. A stomach flu of some sorts... until it hit me. Today is my sister's birthday.
I haven't spoken to her in years. I wouldn't even know how to reach her at this point. This is not uncommon in my family. We are disconnected, broken and dysfunctional. The few of us that actually have communication with each other are a tiny handful and the times we actually see each other are few and far between.
I have faint memories of childhood where we celebrated holidays and birthdays... all one cohesive bunch. It seemed as if things were okay... happy even. Maybe that was simply due to my innocence or maybe it was just the inability to see the truth of our family dynamics. At that point I guess anything was better than the abuse I had endured in my previous home. Eventually the facade broke down though and reality set in. There hasn't been a holiday in years that wasn't filled with anger and fighting and frustration and plastered on smiles.
This is why we don't speak... this is why my interaction with my family is minimal and surface level if that.  
If I am being truly honest, it is for the best. I read a blog post recently on the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation is a two way street filled with repentance. There is little if any of that in my family.
So... I forgive but I do not reconcile.
Fast forward to the next day... work is hectic and busy so I hurriedly settle into report. As I sit there listening to the typical rattlings of the ICU... Intubated 2 hours ago... tachy to the 120's, septic and febrile... I hear "Registered Sex Offender."
My fist clenched around my pen and I took a deep breathe in.
Not today... I don't have it in me to do this today. I have taken care of child molesters and sex offenders before but today, I just can't do it. As I look around the unit and see the chaos... our charge nurse scrambling around like a chicken with her head cut off, I realize that I won't be able to switch assignments and my stomach begins to twist and turn... here we go again.
He remained on the ventilator the entire night so luckily I didn't have to force any interaction. I took care of him to the best of my abilities and went home the next morning exhausted.
I come back to work the next night and I have the same assignment... only this time he isn't on the ventilator and now he is surrounded by his entire family. For the first 2 hours of my shift I was on the verge of tears. Face flushed with anger and fear and disgust all rolled into one big, emotional ball. I tried to busy myself in my patient's room next door, hoping to get the composure to be this man's nurse. Praying to God that I would find someway to detach my own experiences with the horror of what this man had done. Eventually, I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer and I went in to do my assessment. He was a little disoriented but pleasant and joking with his family. I went through the motions and when he was unstable I did everything I could to be reassuring for him. After we got him settled and his vitals were stable he looks at me and says, "You know what... you're a good nurse. I'm really starting to see the skill level of people here and you are a good nurse. You have a very bright future, Andrea. Thank you for taking such good care of me."
It might have been the way he said it or the fact that I was so emotionally drained... or maybe it was the sense of relief I felt knowing I had managed to hide the truth of what I felt towards this man. All I know is that in that moment all I felt was sadness. The only thing I wanted to do was run out of that room... away from him and away from it all. Away from thoughts of anger and abuse and my sister. I wanted to be at home in the arms of my husband where it was safe. Where I could cry and cry and cry... all night long if I needed to.
Instead I just smiled at my patient and said a very quiet, "Thank you." I finished what I was doing and I went into the bathroom and cried. I cried and I prayed that God would give me the strength to forgive.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This Week

This week has been strange. It started off with what was undoubtedly the most insane night shift I have ever encountered. 2 code blues, two e-teams, admits from the ER, emergency intubations,  people pulling out lines, bleeding from all sorts of places.... all in the span of about four hours. It was crazy, but our crew banned together and managed to hold down the fort and make it through the night in one piece.
Two nights later it is about as slow as it gets and I am bored out of my mind. Dealing with a patient who is about as looney tunes as they come. It's 5am and he finally falls asleep... now that it's time to wake up. Awesome.

I applied to school this week. I will hopefully be starting my RN-BSN program come this summer. I need a change. Work is work. It's gotten better for the most part but it is still work. I just feel stagnant. Hopefully school will be a good change of pace.

For the first time in months I started running again. After multiple rounds of antibiotics, steroids and lots of doctor visits I am finally feeling healthy enough to start training again. I have missed this. I have missed that time to myself. I have missed feeling strong. I have missed that burning in my lungs. I am a runner and I have missed it dearly. I'm glad I have it back.

I finished The Hunger Games trilogy over a week ago and I still am actively sad on a daily basis that I don't have it to read anymore. I attempted to find another YA dystopian book to read but haven't been able to get into it like THG and it just makes me more sad. Yes... I am pathetic, I know... but I still miss THG. Anyone else out there feel me on this one?

People have been asking me a lot lately, "How's married life?" to which I reply, "It's good" because the real answer is just way to long and in depth for most people to hear. The real answer is that yes, married life is good but it is also hard and fun and frustrating and challenging and tiring and wonderful and confusing. It is so many things but I think more than anything what I have realized these past few months is that I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. I mean no one teaches you how to be married. People give you advice but you never know what it will be like for you. And what works for other people may not work for your marriage. I have found that more than any other piece of wisdom I have been given... the one thing that has been the most valuable is, "Be gentle with each other... especially during that first year." Thank you Kris for those words of wisdom. It has been a life saver.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hunger Games

For the first time in a while I have jumped on the bandwagon and just finished reading The Hunger Games Trilogy. I'm sure many of you out there who read it can understand my obsession with the books. I absolutely loved them. I'm a slow reader and finished all three in just over a week.
I saw the movie this weekend with my husband and thought it was okay. It did the book justice in some respects but really there is nothing like reading the book itself.

What I loved most about the books is that it wasn't until book three that I realized how attached I was to the characters. Yes, it is a story about war but it is a story about resilience and love and the human condition.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead.

 I found myself seeing the similarities of my relationship with my husband in comparison to Peeta and Katniss. From the beginning I wasn't completely sold on Peeta and it wasn't until we lost him a bit in the third book that I realized how much I had grown attached to him as a character. Watching Katniss fall in love with him over the series was so heartwarming because it wasn't based on lust or simply feelings.

I remember when I first met Chris I thought that there would be no way we would ever be anything but friends. I honestly didn't even think I would ever get married. I felt jaded and cynical and in many ways thought I was too broken. I had closed myself off to the idea of falling in love. Then Chris came along and pursued me and fought for me in ways that no one ever has... and if I'm completely honest it confused me at first. It was difficult to see what true commitment and genuine love meant. How that can be manifested in an authentic relationship.

Over the course of The Hunger Games we watch Katniss fall in love with the boy that fought for her in the most sacrificial ways. He risked his life. He gave her hope when she really had none. He loved her even when she did not love him back.

Katniss saw herself as "Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly." Peeta loved her for the parts of herself that she could not see. He saw her worth. While she was doing everything she could to fight for her family... for her friends... for her district. Peeta was fighting for her.

Falling in love with Chris was a slow process for me. He wasn't the typical guy I had dated. It wasn't based on fleeting feelings or the ability to fill the voids in my life that had grown over the years. It was based on the fact that this man brought hope into my life. A security that no matter what happens... he would be there by my side. He saw in me what I could not see in myself.

So when I read the last lines in the book...

“So after, when he whispers, " You love me. Real or not real?" 
I tell him, "Real.” 

I can't help but think, how lucky I am to have a man in my life who never gave up on me. A man with a selflessness like no other and such a capacity to love. A man who was able to see past my broken, jaded heart into the person I could be. 

And I am so thankful that he patiently gave me time to realize just how real my love for him was.