Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I am a worrier. I always have been and to some extent will probably always be one. I think it has a lot to do with how I grew up and the circumstances in which I was raised. Everyone did the best they could but in many ways stability... especially emotional stability, was not something I saw around me often.
As I entered my young adult years and began living on my own I did everything I could to form a very structured, stable environment. Everything from the people I surrounded myself with to the home I lived in and the job I kept... it was all managed very closely. On the outside at least. In many ways my internal world was in utter turmoil but I did everything within my power to keep the things and the people around me constant. I did not and still do not handle change well.
When people left it scared me. When plans were derailed I panicked. When I knew it was time to move on to another job I froze... paralyzed with fear. I even remember a day, years ago when I still lived with my mother, it being an unhealthy living situation a close friend of mine asked me why I was hesitating to leave so much. "I don't know who I am if I am not my mother's daughter." I told her. I was so very afraid. Afraid that I would fail. Afraid that if I loved people they would leave. Afraid to get attached. Afraid to believe in myself. Afraid to trust that God had me in His hands. Afraid of branching out. Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
I think, in many ways I am a thousand times better when it comes to not letting fear rule my life. Yet, there are still moments where it catches me off guard and I am struck with that familiar pit in my stomach. That gnawing feeling that it will never really be okay. 
This week has been filled with those moments. There have been things this week that have reminded me that no matter how much I plan and no matter how many walls I build up... life just happens. In a strange way getting married has magnified that fact. I don't know that I have trusted a human being as much as I trust my husband. I have let him into places that no other person has been. I have opened my heart to him... and his family. Those walls I have so fervently built to protect myself from hurt have been slowly displaced. I have become vulnerable to this man in a way I haven't ever in my entire life.... and you know what? It terrifies me.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I am convinced that it is too good to be true... and that someday, something will take this man that I love just to remind me that nothing I have is secure. To remind me that attachments are bad and that people will inevitably always leave. I know logically it is ridiculous but it is a real fear of mine and this week that fear has been thrown in my face in a very real and tangible way.
Luckily, I am blessed enough to have people in my life who understand what I am feeling and can even share their own journey with the very same thing I struggle with too. Still... I can't help but lay awake at night and wonder... what if?
What if life happens?
As a Christian I know I need to trust that God does in fact have me in His hands... because He does and He always has. Right now I am just afraid to believe it and that is difficult for me to admit... but I'm trying. So, today, my prayer is short but it is genuine and it is real.
“Lord, I do believe; help me with my unbelief.” ~Mark 9:24

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Dreams

Summer is creeping its way up to Norcal these days and it's making me wish I had a teacher's life... summers off sound really nice right about now. Especially when you know that July is right around the corner... July in a teaching hospital is not usually fun because it means that all of those wonderfully green medical students are now the doctors on call. Oh well... hopefully it won't be too bad ;)
 These days I have been dreaming of long summer days that are warm enough to stay outdoors well past sunset... in a t-shirt nonetheless.

Dinner parties with good food and great company. A walk after dinner to downtown to get my favorite gelato. 

Beach days with aquamarine water that is warm enough to swim in. Sandy shores filled with sea shells. Lazy afternoons lounging in the sun with a good book.

 Hikes at my favorite county park with the cutest farm, filled with baby goats and cows and chickens.
Life just feels so quaint and calm and slowed down.
This summer has the potential to be a little crazy.. I am starting school in July and it already seems as if the calendar is filling up. Still, I can dream of those easy, relaxed summer days and hopefully I can manage to squeeze in a few BBQ's and beach days for the sake of sanity. :)

What are you looking forward too this summer?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Color of Humility

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that's all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.”
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Novel of Cupid and Psyche 

 In the ICU we are all about control. Almost every ICU nurse I know would agree with that fact. In death there is no control. I guess that's part of what I love about palliative care. In a world where you can't beat the inevitable... at least I can have some control over how it ends... I can offer some solace at the very least. The chaos stops and there is only the person... no IV lines, no balloon pumps, no chest tubes, no monitors. Just pure nursing care. Today I am taking care of a dying patient and for some reason, today has not felt that way. There has been no solace here. It has felt exhausting and uncomfortable. There is an unease to everything about this night. I couldn't put my finger on it but as the hours have gone by I have felt it.
That gnawing feeling in my stomach. It wasn't until I saw my patient's family react to a simple question that I was able to pinpoint the source. A simple, "Do you want to be called before he passes away?" and the whole countenance changed... I saw that smile turn into a stern, furrowed brow and that pit in my stomach grew.
They think their loved one is going to recover and so until the very last breath they will force every invasive procedure possible in hopes of prolonging life. From that point on I realized why I wasn't settled and I don't know why it didn't hit me sooner. This is not end of life care...
In the ICU we are supposed to save lives and many times we do. We use our medical knowledge and nursing care to fix people up so they can live again as they once did before. But the reality is that most often life will never be the same. We have patients here who have been in our hospital for over a year. They have gotten sick and gotten better more times than I can count and in the end they usually end up succumbing to the inevitable. They die here... sometimes alone and often times after a long and painful hospital course... and I think to myself. What was it all for?
And if we can't save their life... at the very least we can make them comfortable in their last moments on this earth, right? But, what happens to the patients who are obviously dying and yet the family just isn't ready to let go yet?
It is that grey area that I find hard to handle and this patient was the epitome of all of that. We have to poke and prod until the very end. We have to do things we don't agree with and don't like. We have to face the fact that we cannot save every life and that medicine has its limits.... and I have no control here...
and I hate that.
I hate that grey area between death and life... where we have to wait and see...to pretend it will all be okay despite what we know will inevitably come. It is in those moments where my hands are tied and I have to be the one to carry out the invasive procedures while the family is able to get the incredible, devastating courage to let their loved one go. It is in those moments where I have no control and if the only thing I can do to provide comfort to a dying man is to pray for him as I give him a bed bath and some new sheets to pass away in... well then that is what I will give.
This is the grey area of the ICU where my faults stare glaringly back at me and I am reminded of just how insignificant I am.... of just how selfish I can be. That when a family is battling with the fact of losing their father, brother, uncle, husband... all I can think is, "I hate this" It is the grey area that reminds me of how insignificant my needs are when in comparison to those of a dying man.
It is painful and uncomfortable and in the middle of all that grey it is incredibly humbling.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

For the Love of Running

When I finished my marathons last year there was this pause in my running life. I had become so completely worn out with running and particularly racing, that it took everything I had to finish out my planned races for the year. In October of last year I finished my last race in Morgan Hill. A half marathon I ran with my sister-in-law. It was a beautiful course and a great run. It was a perfect way to end my epic year of running.

Now almost 6 months later I have been through some big ups and downs with my love (or lack thereof) of running. I haven't done a single race since then and I only just began running regularly about a month ago. My health in general has not been great. I have been battling with my asthma and had to fight off a lingering bronchitis that has seemed to do some major damage to my endurance.

There have been moments where I really miss racing. Even moments where I considered running another full marathon. I look back at the training I did for my three marathons last year and it was lack luster at best. I am saddened when I realize that I probably could have gotten a much faster time had I done more than just my weekly long runs... if that.

So for now I have decided to take a different approach. I don't want to burn out like I did last year. I want to fall back in love with running... so I am letting it woo me back. I am going back to the beginning.  The 5K... it is the basis of training... the starting point. I want to run for endurance, for speed and for health.... but mostly for fun. For me, the challenge is the ability to see how much you can improve and overcome when you push yourself... that is the fun. I may be a slow runner but I improve a little every day. That's what counts. I look at what I have accomplished and I am so incredibly proud. I do hope to one day get back to the point where I can run a half marathon at the drop of a dime... but I am not there yet.

I have been getting better... healthier. I am still struggling with my asthma but I am pushing through and I am giving myself the grace to take a day off or two. I have toyed with the idea of signing up for upcoming races... yes, even full marathons... but for now I am not signed up for anything until October 2012. And for now, that is okay... because all that matters is that I have a date with the open trails and my running shoes. Who knows where they will take me... but I am excited to find out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Life through my lens

Things I have loved recently
Date night with the husband that included s'more making!
Random parts of San Francisco that remind me of why I love this city. 
It has character.

The place where we got married... SF City Hall at night is gorgeous.
Love this photo so much. 
My favorite girls wrapped up in snuggies, cuddled up with 
the best husband ever. 

 I just love these guys. They make my heart smile.

What things are making you smile these days?