Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Letter

The other day I was cleaning out the boxes in my office closet that had been with me since I was 15 years old. Years of moving, transferred from house to house and box to box. I had over a decade worth of letters and cards that had chronicled my life through the eyes of those around me. As I sifted through and tossed the generic "Happy Birthday! Love, Aunt Sue" cards into the trash I came across an open envelope. 

It had unfamiliar writing all over it and it wasn't a letter I had remembered even owning let alone reading. It was from my dad and it was addressed from jail, dated in 1991... I was 6 years old.  There was this moment as I opened the letter where everything else went blank. Almost as if I forgot what I had been doing up until that second. The wind had left my lungs and I felt that clenching in my chest. I slowly sat down on the floor and began reading the words on the pages. The apologies and the desperate pleas to not be afraid. The six places he told me I love you and the three where he said not be afraid. I counted each one... soaking it in just as desperately as he had written the words.  The few memories I had were all there... even the swans he had taught me to draw as a little girl. 
 There I was.... just a few days before my 29th birthday as I sat on the floor of my office, sobbing over the words. Tear drops staining the page, blurring the ink into incomprehensible puddles. The questions that had always been in the deepest parts of my being were right there in a box, on a shelf... in my office... all along. Did my dad love me... or more poignantly 

Am I lovable?

Most of my life has been lived with the desperate desire to be captivating, pursued and longed for. A hope that one day the void of not having my father's love would be filled. The wound of being abandoned somehow healed over. It never ceases to amaze me just how much that father wound has managed to impact every part of my identity. Just when I think I have overcome the breath of it... there it is. I know I have come so far and I know I am not alone in this struggle. It doesn't take a broken home to struggle with issues of worth but a broken home and an abusive father only magnifies the hurt. 

“We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.” 
― Stasi EldredgeCaptivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

So today, I am reflecting on that desire, that hurt, that loss, that wound. I am praying that somehow it will heal enough to not sting so much. I am praying for the strength to believe in my own worth... and I mourn the ways in which I have not loved myself enough. 

And maybe along the way... in sharing the journey... others can be healed too. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Life Lately in Photos

yummy smoothies :)

First time my hand was free from the cast after surgery!

Crocheted blanket for the little bundle of love below

Trip to a cabin in the Sierra's with my favorite people and husband

My favorite beach with my awesome sister in law

 A trip down memory lane... I was a funny kid
 Best Birthday Breakfast ever
Best Birthday Cupcakes ever 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The other day my friend sent me a link to one of the best nursing related posts I have read in a while... "Just a Nurse" written by Kateri. It is a concept I know all too well. I am often compared to physicians and nursing is ranked below the practice of medicine too often. The tasks I do on a daily basis are drastically misunderstood by the average person. I think if any one of my friends or family were to shadow me on a typical day in the ICU they would be shocked and amazed to see just what my job entailed.

I don't just pass out medicine and give bed baths... I help maintain the hemodynamic status of my patients. I take care of patients who are on multiple vasoactive drips, ventilators and highly complex machines to keep their heart, kidneys, and lungs functioning properly. I collaborate with the physicians and surgeons of all services and I have a valued opinion in the healthcare team and knowledgeable input into the lives of my patients. There are even times when I am the one teaching residents about the management of ICU patients. It's a shame that the few nursing roles people identify with are the ones on shows like Grey's Anatomy and such... and more importantly the roles for physicians on those shows are grossly exaggerated. Not saying that physicians aren't obviously vital members of the health care field but lets get real... most doctors I know aren't in the room long enough to learn how to operate the IV pump. (In my unit they aren't even allowed to touch our IV pumps!) Nurses are the ones at the bedside minute by minute.

I have been the last comforting voice to numerous patients... the last person they see as they transition out of this life. I have held so many hands through panic attacks and given CPR to coding patients who were on the brink of death. I have come home with blood and vomit and urine on my clothes. I have been kicked, hit, spit on, pinched and cussed at too many times to count. I have been apologized to for those same things but not often enough. I have had some wonderful conversations about life in the military and life on the war front. History through the eyes of a veteran is an interesting, inspiring, and heartbreaking thing to see.

I have sat through slow shifts and had the opportunity to connect with my patients on a much deeper level than just their health. I have connected with the daughter of an alcoholic who had to grow up way too fast. A man who lost his entire family to freak accidents and murders. I have had insane shifts where I was so over it at the end that I went home and had wine for breakfast.  I have been angry, frustrated, and am always exhausted at the end of the day.

I have had more than one friend and family member ask me why I stay. Why do I stay in such a difficult profession? Why do I stay in a hospital that pays the lowest salary in the area? Why do I stay in a hospital that has patients who suffer from PTSD and are combative and sometimes ungrateful.

Before I became a nurse I was planning on being a missionary in the middle east... specifically Afghanistan. Other than my family... everyone I knew thought it was incredibly noble and special. A calling so particular that despite the dangers and the difficulties of the task... it was a risk that was worth the sacrifice. A sacrifice that could have cost me my life.

But because I get paid to be a nurse I guess there is this sense that the sacrifice should not be so great? I consider this job my calling and in particular right now I consider veteran's to be the people I need to serve. I just wish people understood that just because my job is incredibly hard... doesn't mean I shouldn't be doing it. Cause seriously... if not me than who? If every singe nurse left because it was too hard or the sacrifice was too great we wouldn't have any left. Well... we might have the ones who only care about the paycheck left but what good does that do? No one really wins. This is why I chose to be a nurse and not a doctor or a missionary.

As a nurse I have this unique window into the lives of people who are incredibly vulnerable. I not only get to help save their lives by doing my job but I also get to be their comforter, healer, teacher, cheerleader, helper, advocate and voice. I love my job despite its constant sacrifice. The rewards are not always obvious but they are always great. And honestly... if you had a loved one in the hospital wouldn't you be glad to have a nurse who felt the same?

That is why I stay.