Saturday, April 20, 2013

Something good...

 This week... this week has just been too heavy. There has been this weight resting on my chest. Like a vice slowly closing in on my lungs. Each breath feeling tighter and tighter. I feel paralyzed by it sometimes. A hollow shell of exhaustion.

This week I helped try to resuscitate a code blue patient for nearly 6 hours. Blood products, intubation, lines.. the works. And then watched as his family stumbled into a room with trash strewn everywhere and every known machine in the unit packed into the room... and blood... so much blood streaming from this mans mouth and nose and all over the sheets... so much that 15 units of blood products didn't save him. His belly taut and distended, full of god knows what. I watched as the resident told them that their loved one was dying... and that we have nothing left to do. I watched as they sobbed and shook their heads in shock and disbelief.

I remember my first death in the ICU... it was peaceful and uneventful compared to the usual in my unit. A simple transition into another world. I went home after that death and I cried and cried and cried. I couldn't grasp that this person who was loved and cherished and had memories and a life... that this person was just now gone and I had somehow witnessed this sacred passage. 

And yet this week, I came home and felt tired and alone. Knowing that there are very few people in this world who truly understand what it is like to do what I do. I felt like I had no words for what had just transpired and so instead I said nothing. I shed no tears. I posted a short comment online hoping it would make me feel better and it didn't. Then I turned on the news and continued to be barraged with the horror that has transpired in this awful week. 

This week has been horrible and I am tired and I don't want any more news of terror or death or fear and hatred. I want hope. I want joy. I want redemption... 

So as I drove into work last night and passed our flag at half mast. I paused for a moment and thought to myself. Today I will do something good. Despite the weight on my chest, and the pit in my stomach... I will still do what I am called to do. Because today... today is a beautiful day to save lives.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This one really hit home...

Our marathon maniacs traditional group photo at this years race
Today, I woke up around 4pm and went about my evening as usual. Jumped in the shower. Called my MIL after seeing a missed call from her on my phone. And then after I got mostly ready for my work night, I checked Facebook and instantly saw it. My entire news feed was filled with updates from my running buddies who were all either sharing their sadness about the Boston Marathon or were trying to get in touch with those that were still MIA. I frantically started searching the news to discover what had happened and my heart just sank. This deep fear and sadness overwhelmed me so much... I had so many friends who were there. I saw the finish time clock as the bomb went off and I instantly thought... "Oh no I know so many who would be finishing right around the 4 hour mark." One of the bloggers I follow was just a 1/2 mile from the finish line when the bombs went off. 

Luckily, everyone I know is okay. All of our marathon maniacs accounted for and all of my running friends are still here and safe. Still, I can't shake this sadness deep in my being today. The running world is a strange group... a tight knit family where people from all walks of life come together in support and solidarity for the love of this sport and ultimately a love for each other. I am proud to be apart of it and I am so thankful for all of the people who have been apart of my journey as a runner over the years. 

My heart goes out to those that were lost and those that are critically injured. I know for so many that their lives will never be the same. My prayers are with you all. Tonight I will run and I will pray for safety and peace and comfort for all of us impacted by the events in Boston today.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Black Hawk Down

I have been a nurse at a Veterans Hospital for almost four years now. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. I haven't hesitated to say, especially lately, that this job of mine is not an easy one. Most of the time the difficult moments seem to out weigh the rewards. Still, every time I think about leaving this place I hesitate, and there is this scared, sinking, feeling in my stomach that tells me not to go. This overwhelming sense that this is where I am supposed to be right now. 

Last night, Chris and I watched Black Hawk Down and there was this moment at the end where Eric Bana's character says,

"When I get home and people ask me,'Hey, Hoot, why do you do it, man? What are you? Some kind of war junkie? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you. And that's it. That's all it is."

That hit home for me. I have said that so many times when I talk about our vets. The patients that I take care of are often a messed up lot. They have substance abuse problems, estranged families and multiple diseases as a result of self neglect and risky behavior. Of course some don't, there are some who are amazingly healthy and well adjusted, but sadly those are rare occurrences. Especially now that we are heading into the Vietnam war era of patients. PTSD is a given and many of these guys have some horrible experiences that no one else would understand but the guy in the room next to them. 

One patient told me a while back that he didn't even know what the Vietnam war was really about until a few years ago. His job was to retrieve dead soldiers out of the brush after major battles had occurred. That same guy also had newly diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia that was so bad he later threatened me and told me I was trying to kill him by inserting poison into the air filtration system. 

That was a relatively good day on the job ...just to give you an idea of what I mean by difficult. 

My job is exhausting ...and it wears you down ...and makes you feel powerless a lot.

But when I see movies like Black Hawk Down ...and when I see the 25 year old with half of his skull removed from an IED blast ...that is when I remember why I do this job. I don't always love it but I am always proud of it ...I am proud to fight for the soldier who fought so bravely for the guy next to him. 
I sacrifice a lot of sanity and a lot of myself for this job but I wouldn't have it any other way right now. 
Right now, I am proud to be a VA nurse.