I don't want to go on and on here about working conditions, or bore you with a continuing litany of associated aches and pains, but my recent try on the locked Alzheimer unit clarified a lot of things going on in my life.
Sitting here, searching for words to tell you what I struggle with, and have for too long a time, I see more of the bigger picture of it, and am more clear about what I've done to myself by working so hard for so long, and even more clear is that it's way past time I changed this.
I think back to last winter, when the driver's side door lock on my car somehow broke, and in correlating the mechanic's schedule, and mine, I had to crawl in and out of the car on the other side, and after a few weeks of that, wasn't surprised that new aches and pains especially in one leg had made their way into my life. For a while it seemed to be less of a problem, but never completely stopped. Because I'm so healthy, I don't pay much attention to things like this, unless they become extreme, and lately the hurting is much worse.
I've been doing some yard work, Weeding flower beds, and figuring out stuff that needs trimming, and thinning, and where to plant what. I was so eager and happy about planting a beautiful rose bush, but the digging the hole to plant it in, and all the other steps of it, and then puting tools and things away, bothered my leg a lot.
When I managed to get it all done, and got to the kitchen, to figure out supper, I had just turned some music on that had such a good beat, I couldn't resist a few whirls around the room all by myself, until I realized my leg wasn't cooperating with my mood. I was so upset that my leg was that much of a problem, I sadly turned the music off.
My daughters, Barb, and Bev will be happy that a few weeks ago I made a check-up appointment, to meet with whoever will be my new doctor. That's the earliest I can get checked out. So, even though I look longingly at rose bushes and other beautiful plants, I won't be dealing with any of them, except my killer tomato ones that have soaked up lots of rays in the sun room. I'm sure a son will help me set them out.
The waiting for appointments, and a few weeks of physical therapy after, if this unruly leg needs a new brake pad, will give me about a two month much needed break. I've read in Proverbs or somewhere, that he who tries to be his own physician has a fool for a doctor.
Millions of people in the world have problems much worse than I've ever known. But when I can't dig a hole in the ground to plant a rosebush or dance to the beat in the kitchen if I please, or get through the airport for boarding, and claiming luggage, and maybe changing planes at O'Hare, to visit Bev, then we must solve this problem that I started to say, is interfering with living. On the other hand, perhaps all of this is part of God's plan. How else would He slow me down long enough to show me where to plant more roses in my life, or to dance.
While at work, I'd think how relaxing enjoying a morning paper, with extra coffee would be. But with time the papers stacked up, until they went out with other garbage. Friends would ask me to social things, but telling myself I was too tired to be good company anyway, I'd find reasons not to go, and hurry home to my comfy sweats, and after a while the invitations pretty much stopped.
So when I awoke the other morning, and lay there drinking in being able to, I realized perhaps Mr. Eliot meant more with his wise old words, than only about where one starts from. I slid myself out from under the covers, and started coffee, so it could catch up with me.
I opened the door of my pretty house, and drank in the yard where some beauty-loving person had planted huge beds of iris, all the same color. Stately they stood as if in harmony, banking each side of me, as morning sun softly reached for my tired old shoulders.
After a few uninterrupted cups of coffee, I drank before it cooled, I headed to a store where I'd seen more flowers, and chose a different kind of bouquet, to mark the moment, a lovely rose bush that's already in bloom. It's described as Electric deep pink hybrid tea, with sweet rosy perfume fragrance. I don't yet know the proper way to plant it, but soon I will learn.
In time I may even make lists of all I want to do, but not for awhile. I have a lot of remembering to do. Things I've set aside, or let slip away. I may even surprise old friends who haven't given up on me, and call them for lunch sometime soon. I don't know if even all these words are enough to tell all of you how wonderful it is be reminded, not only of where I started from, but coming back to the me I used to be.
But even if it is, at some time it must be dealt with. Make some sense of it. And not keep churning it around in my head, and expect those who love me to keep hearing the uncomfortable details.
Barb did point out, (and she's so right) that I've been struggling with this very same thing for years, and like she's tried several times, she pointed out things about my working conditions that are very bad. So I decided to try to see the whole mess of it from her viewpoint.
It is awful that cats are allowed on the nursing unit. Big furry ones who have been there so long, the area where paperwork is done is their private territory. I am not the only staff who are bothered by them. Another nurse is so allergic, she bought some kind of expensive air purifier she brings to work and plugs in. I think it would be fine if some animals were brought in so the patients could enjoy them.
It is kind of difficult to concentrate on medical charting, and phone calls from doctors and other related details about patients' care, when you're sneezing your head off. Management is well aware of this problem with the cats, and it doesn't seem to be a big problem to them. But I've been thinking much about this. And I'm not real crazy about how the unit's scheduled.
It includes my working three twelve hour shifts in a row. What could I sensibly have been thinking when I agreed to that? Why is it even necessary for nurses to work like that?
In another daughter's post she titled "Deciding To Grow up" Bev, from "Scratchin' The Surface" pointed out a quote about personal growth she found in "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" by Peter Scazzero. He wrote: "Most of us will not go forward until the pain of staying where we are is unbearable".
I found this out when I was foolish enough to work those three twelve hour shifts. I got through the first one alright, and was getting by on the second day of it, until a new admission became part of it, and the twelve hours turned into almost fourteen. As I write this I am not looking for sympathy, nothing like that. At home that night I crawled into bed wishing for more hours to rest, and when morning came much too soon, it took some real determination to get myself to work.
When that pitiful shift finally ended, all I needed was another nurse to count the narcotics with me, and I could leave. The one who usually counts with me was working extra, and not familiar with that unit, so I told her it was O.K., that I'd find someone else to do the count.
All I needed was about five minutes time. But the first nurse I asked quickly turned me down. I proceeded to another, and she also declined, not because of being in some rush about her work, She just didn't want to. I kept going down the long meandering halls, and by the time I was nearing the night supervisor, I had asked, and been turned down four times. I thought surely the supervisor would count with me. She didn't and quickly got on the phone, and in very brusk tones insisted that the first nurse do it.I could not believe the night was becoming like this, but I did what she said, and we got the counting over, I clocked out, and headed for my car.
Two days later at home I still felt drained, not just from being tired, but a hurting heartsick feeling, that people in this caring profession we're in, so clearly did not care. But some times good things come from bad. It was then that I recalled the quote about the pain of staying where you are, and realized I need to change a lot of things about my work.
Tomorrow I will go to the shift scheduler's office, and change over to being on-call, which means I won't work a regular schedule, but can choose my shifts. I won't have to deal with the cats on the Alzheimer unit any more.
It's almost a floodtide I'm feeling. Not that we function only by emotions. But with the misery of how it's been at work gone, I am freed to think farther now. I'm thinking of starting a business I know I'd do well. I would never succeed at making all the things daughter, Barb does. If anybody could ruin a poor sock monkey, I would surely wreck it to pieces. And I couldn't do all the home improvements daughter Bev makes her home so beautiful.
I think it's just as important to know what you're not good at, as what you are. My skill is dealing with people. I've been doing this with patients and their families for years. I think I will begin caring for elderly or homebound people, not so much medical care, but just being with them. I will go to where they are, so they don't have to bother with getting to and from cars. I've just begun thinking on this, and will let you know how it goes. I really think the ones who care for these people at home could use a break now and then.
I am so thankful now that those cats were driving me crazy, and that even nurses sometimes aren't very nice to their co-workers. And I hope that something I've written in this somehow helps you. I will let you know how my business idea grows.
About when I wanted to tell him what I thought of being awakened on my day off, I looked at the clocks, and realized how late it was. I dived back under the cover long enough to begin the day with my Lord, and stretch tired legs and arms, before getting out of that cozy bed. About when my feet touched floor, the phone rang, crowding my morning more. Do I start the coffee, hurry to the bathroom, or pick up the phone first? Why does life feel so much like it's an unfinished dance?
On this wonderful day the Lord gives, I could so enjoy it more if I didn't go so fast, a habit I think I acquired while raising my children. Every day there was much to do, but they've been grown for years. So why do I still do things so fast? I think it can only be habit, and getting caught up in the emotions of whatever's coming our way.
For days I've struggled with this wild (pardon the pun) situation about the fox. Spent time on the phone getting information, and trying to decide what's best to do about it. Most of the animal removal places won't deal with it. Another wanted what I thought was expensive, for them to only set up a scent that would make the fox go away. It does make sense, if you want something to leave to not feed or water it. So I was careful with that, but to eat my supper in the car, so the fox doesn't smell food, well,I mean, even I can see that's a bit reactory.
I was sitting here using the computer, and began hearing loud moving about, and then heard loud chewing. I couldn't decide if it might be chewing a hole in the foundation of the house, or did it find some fourlegged fast food somewhere, and decided to eat it here. I thought it was loud, and got scared, and turned off the computer, and grabbed my purse and shoes, and something to sleep in, and hurried to my son's house, where I had to be around his cats. But it was be afraid of the fox, or whatever it is, or take a chance on sneezing into the night. I quickly swallowed an allergy pill, and drove right over there.
Since then I've talked with some neighbors who have told me fox and skunks have hung out here. One said a previous owner put out lots of melon rinds and fruits, that the skunks soon came around for. But I've not seen those blck and white critters since once last year. I think the fox may have something to do with that.
I realize even dealing with wild ones like that can wear thin when we talk of it. Eventually it isn't the best conversational fare. Being allergic was making the work scene so bad. It's a challenge, making some sense of doctor's telephone orders they reel off too quickly, about when you feel like you could scratch your own eyes out.
Another nurse who works on the Alzheimer unit is also allergic to cats. She got an electrical plug-in machine, and brings it to work to use. This weekend she let me try it, and it does makea a big difference.
Today my son soaked rags with ammonia, like the wildlife person said to, and put it in the place the animal goes in and out of. Tonight I've not heard noises, no chewing, none of that. Will check it again in the morning. Perhaps there's still a chance I can learn to deal with whatever God sends without feeling I need to do a Saint Vitus's dance.
While we don't know that it's a fox, two people say they've seen it, and are convinced it is. One thing is certain, it is very smart. Each time we found where something's been digging, the holes look the same, and so far it's dug at different sides of the house.
When we found the third mound of freshly dug earth, I knew I needed help, and called a local government office. Someone there referred me to a friend of his named Dave, at "Varmint Control" who said he would "take care of this problem". He talked very fast, and the tone of his voice kind of rubbed. I felt like I was talking to a an overeager Hit man.
I tried asking him where He'd take the fox to release it back into the wild, but he gruffly insisted "We don't need to do that." "When a varmint is on your property, all you have to do is get rid of it", He almost yelled, and then seemed more interested in telling me how much it would cost.
So I put down the phone, and looked for another number to call. Several calls later I realized something else must be done because none of the animal control companies in this whole big town deal with removing foxes.
I may not be as smart as it is, but before trusting someone as impatient as that Dave, who wouldn't listen, and didn't even tell me his last name, I'll take my chances with a wild animal. over him.
The federal wildlife office referred me to the State one, and verified laws that protect the little critter. I'm beginning to feel sorry for him.(Perhaps we need laws to protect us from the Daves of the world). The nice person on the phone suggested I soak rags with ammonia, and stuff them in the hole it dug, and every day or two, resoak the rags. I'm also to not leave food or water out. So I'm being very careful about that.
For a few days I haven't heard the critter here at all. It isn't trying to chew through my front door. So for now it is peaceful coexistence here. Except for using the ammonia to make it go away, like the wildlife person said, I'm not messing with Mother Nature. But if you come across someone like that creature who calls himself Dave, I'd be careful with him.
I'd think how nice calling my time my own would be, then I'd work another nursing shift,and hardly note how easily I traded another day of life for a paycheck. Not that we don't need some support. Years ago I'd read things like "Man doesn't live by bread alone", or "A loaf of bread, and wine, and thee" and thought I knew what it meant, but I only glossed over some interesting words that may as well still be new to me.
Recently I wrote about changes made at work to fill empty beds on the nursing units, and how I chose to work on the Alzheimer one because I didn't want to work in the more intensive care areas.
The first few days I was on the Alzheimer unit I was so busy learning the patients' names and their usual routines, and giving them medications, that I paid little attention to other things there.
My eyes started running, and itching and sometimes would burn a little. Thinking it was a springtime allergy, I would use eyedrops. When I was home a day or two, the redness and itching and burning would ease up some, until I went back to work, and walked past the big locked doors that kept the unit closed up. I couldn't figure out what was causing the misery, until I almost stepped in the food and water that's set out in the nurses' stationfor the three cats that have been on the unit so long, they're considered part of it.
A little aside from this story is that it probably has daughter, Barb a " Chelsea Morning" almost rolling on her floor. Years ago when I went to her house to go to her daughter, Krissy's, college graduation, soon after getting there, I started coughing andsneezing like crazy, and Barb said "Mom, I think you're allergic to my cats". I didn't believe her, and made my opinion quite clear, to which I remember Barb gave up trying to convince me, but the determined look remained in her eyes. So I owe her about this one.
Not only do the Alzheimer unit cats eat and drink their fill in the tiny corner that's our nursing station, (I'm getting a little territoral here) Up higher than a grownup's shoulders, for confidential privacy of the patients' records, is a thick wooden kind of railing that's the cats' favorite place to rest, and if they care to, take naps. How they hang there, with all four paws dangling down, and so relaxed, while I'm dying from their dander, or whatever's killing me, is just not fair.
Aside from an attempt to lighten this with some humor, it really is a serious situation.The last shift I worked on the unit, my eyes were so irritated that on the way home, the edges of the road or painted boundary lines seemed to wax and wane with a ribbon flowing motion, and that was very scary.
A few days ago I wrote about a book, titled "Success Is A Journey" by Brian Tracy, that offers much help about reaching goals, and dealing with our lives. On page 62, the author writes that whenever God wants to send us a gift, He wraps it up in a problem. ...... and that we should look into our greatest difficulty for the gift it contains.
After that very scary drive home, I thought a lot about this entire situation; how I've wanted to live free of a work schedule; have the energy that time can give, for thinking of wonderful books to write. Delighting myself in growing killer tomatoes, and lovely plants all over the house. Not having to just hope I can be home on holidays. Spending time with my family, celebrating occasions with them. I might have to give them less expensive gifts, but they'd be getting more of me.
When the alarm clocks' screeching (I set two of them) un-nerved my spinal column, it was so easy to hop out of bed. Before I poured my first cup of coffee, I picked up the phone, and called my boss, and let her know I can't keep working on this unit with the cats.
They couldn't find a replacement for my next scheduled shift, so I agreed to work it. Knowing it would be the last one there, I could do that, runny eyes, sneezing, and all. Lunch time sometimes gets lost in whatever's going on there, and it did. An extra tray had been setting out too long to eat, some attempt at serving patients an oriental meal, so I passed on it, but took the dried looking fortune cookie, and crushed it in my hand, and I couldn't be more serious when I tell you what it said. It read: "You will soon make an important decision". As I remember this now, I'm reminded of my own words earlier here, about how God uses unusual things to help us look at ourselves.
It was suppose to to be a twelve hour shift but lab reports that should have been dealt with, but weren't, and other patient related problems, and more paper work, kept me there until the twelve stretched into fifteen hours since I began the shift.
I had to find a supervisor to help me with some of the care. When I returned to the nurse's station, one of the cats was stretched out on a stack of patients' charts and papers, and another needed me to get out of its way so he could enjoy a very late snack. I tried to not breathe in much while they were so close around, but it is their home, and a lady always knows how to make a proper exit, or when she's reached her limit, or both, so I can give them that. But I still don't understand how they can sleep on nothing but a rail, and not fall off.
Lately this is the difficult part. I have to walk past the front yard flower beds, and everything in them including even the weeds, invite me to stay.
Every day the Iris there seem taller, and today they're showing some color. Sometimes, just for the pleasure, I count their regal stems, and wonder how many more there may be.
Smaller flowers beneath them have already blossomed, but a few tulips seem no more eager than me to leave. I get in the car and start the engine, and as it warms, look at the beds again. Somebody planned them well, spaced between them for effect, and for color, and left areas altogether empty to walk on, or pull water hoses out.
Before I back the car onto the street, I scan the yard again. Besides the flower beds are trees of only a few years' growth. One was covered with tiny white blossoms that all blew away. Another's pink ones are mostly still around, while a third tree put out only leaves. I would love to dig in some rich potting soil, and stay as long as I wanted in a library, learning gardening, and finding books that teach me what kinds of trees I have.
Driving to work is an ever changing scene. Today it is easy to see winter's being replaced with various shades of green. As I pull into the nursing home parking lot, I notice more cars than usual already there, and wonder if an inservice I forgot about is going on without me. But when I reach the entrance door, an official looking notice there beads right down on me. State is here for their annual inspection. We may even do well on it. It's the getting through it that's so dreaded.
I breathe a long slow sigh of quiet dread, and not a small amount of relief. It's a little like our starting labor. Now we can look forward to the ending. I would much prefer choosing what to plant where in the yard, or picking out my next good book to read.
Two I connected with recently seem just made for me. I think I was suppose to find them. While struggling with whether to retire sometime soon, or to work a few more years, "Success Is A Journey" by Brian Tracy, and "My Twice - Lived life, A Memoir", by Donald M. Murray, answered many questions.
The first book is about having a goal, and how to persevere so you can reach it. The second book deals with the passions and challenges that aging brings. I would so love to write as well as Mr. Murray, but more than that, to be even nearly as honest as he about who and what he is, and how he got that way.
Someone said it's not the starting of your life that is to guide you through it, nor the accomplishments, or accolades you garnered along the way. It's not even the challenges, or why they happened to you. It's the journey, only the journey.
Not a lot exciting is in mine today. We did do well on the State inspection, and my son is over his last surgery enough that he's doing more repairs and upkeep for me. Today he checked the house cooling system, and discovered it is fairly new, and seems in good condition. He also worked on whatever's causing leaks in the sun room, and we'll either fix it, or put a new roof over that room. but now we have something else to contemplate.
Remember the neighbor's little boy telling me when I moved in he'd seen a fox around here, and how I pretty much ignored it. Turns out the kid was probably right, for there's some kind of critter down beneath the house. We see signs of where he's digging outside, and I'm getting information from federal and state. If it is a fox, (Federal tells me they're a protected species) I'll need to have it relocated to a certain area properly.
I had planned ending this a little poetically, with something like "I haven't read enough books in my life, or considered enough of the lilies". But somehow that doesn't fit anymore. Today I'm just glad we're only dealing with a fox, hopefully a small one.
Earlier today Barb wrote on moms and daughters, and about being Nanas. She began and ended her post with a picture of her hand, and great grand daughter Avery's tiny new one. A picture that says more than words ever could. What a great Mother's Day gift it would make.
Barb talked about family generational relationships, how they are, and how they'll never end. Directions her brothers' lives took were influenced by male role models, and Tonka toy trucks. But Barb's calling began quietly, and without much notice. I needed her to fold her little brothers' mounds of cloth diapers, every laundry day. Things that impose themselves on us, whether we notice it at the time, or even like them, sometimes leave the biggest imprint on us. Barb learned other household skills; making school lunches for her brothers and her sister, and probably helped me with the ironing. Being the oldest of six kids is not easy.
In Middle school, Barb was so in the habit of doing household stuff, it was almost second nature that she learn how to sew and her younger sister did, too. It took a huge leap of faith in them, and I was not totally without dread, to let the two of them practice on my prized Singer. But I did. Pretty soon both of them were sewing better than I still can.
Barb also learned cooking in school. If she or her sister had had to learn from me, their poor husbands might have given up hope for good meals. All I knew about sewing or cooking, I taught myself, picking up pointers where I could. I'd have something good in a cafeteria, or notice other dishes while going through the line, and try to make them at home, but had more failed attempts than successes. But this story is not about me. It's about a fine heart and soul you could not NOT fall in love with.
In an email to me about my surprising her with the sewing machine, she said she couldn't imagine why I decided to do that. This is so like Barb, to not expect anything. But she deserves this, and more. You might think of it as a pay back for folding all those diapers.
At the risk of sounding motherly, I do believe Barb's burp cloth beginning "Chelsea Morning little shoppe" will be a wonderful success. And if I had any doubt about her needing a new machine, those Sock monkey legs and arms and bodies, piled up so high in her Wordless Wednesday pictures convinced me. Please tell her I mailed the machine in its original box Thursday. I can't wait to see what her next Little Shoppe creation will be.