We’ve Got Your Back, Alex

Aw, geez. Here we go again. So, if you will, allow me to step up on my soapbox and get settled in, because I believe I’ll have to hang out here for a while with this one.

If you don’t know the name Alex Wubbels by now, let me tell you what I know about her. Even though I don’t personally know her at all and have never met her, I know a good bit about who she is and what makes her tick because, like myself, she is a nurse. Alex is a nurse who went to work one day this past July in the role of Charge Nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s Emergency Department. Before she even got her car parked in the lot that morning, she already knew there would be roughly 10,000 duties to complete in the span of 12 hours, if she was lucky. 12 hour shifts can morph into 14 or 16 hour shifts in the blink of an eye in our line of work. She knows she’s on the front lines of the healthcare world. And just like every other nurse in every ER in every hospital all over the planet 24/7/365, she constantly stands at the ready because no one ever knows what’s coming at you through those double doors. There’s always a little bit of underlying fear partnered with adrenaline that makes you hyper-alert at all times. You learn to routinely expect the unexpected. She knows every day she will see horrible things, families torn apart, people leaving this world far too young, far too soon. There might be hilarious misadventures that bring people in and cause the staff to snicker behind their computer screens or burst out into full-blown laughter in the break room. There will be patients who will steal a piece of your heart from the first moment your eyes meet and there will be those who will curse you or become violent. The one thing that was NOT on her mind that morning was that the person she needed to fear most would be wearing a police officer’s uniform.

Alex, like myself, and every single other nurse I know,  knows that she works in many varied roles. The Number One role for every nurse everywhere is to be a Patient Advocate. Alex had an unconscious patient that morning that was NOT under arrest, yet Det. Jeff Payne insisted that he be allowed to draw blood from him. Alex went through all the proper channels. She printed off the Hospital’s Policy and showed it to the Detective. Policy stated that in order for the officer to obtain the blood sample the patient either A) had to give consent (he was unconscious) B) he had to be formally under arrest (he was not) or C) the police needed to have a search warrant (they did not). None of the 3 requirements were in place, so Alex simply said, No. She protected her patient and his rights. The officer threatened her with arrest if she didn’t comply. So Alex, doing as she has been trained to do, contacted the Nursing Supervisor of the hospital, put him on speaker phone so the officer could hear, and her superior confirmed her decision. According to hospital policy, which is how we ALL function as a team to provide the best patient care that we can, Alex didn’t do one thing wrong. The officer was warned by the Nursing Supervisor, “you don’t want to do this” at which time Det Payne went (for lack of a better term) ballistic, behaved like a bratty child that hadn’t gotten his way, forcefully grabbed Alex, put her in handcuffs and dragged her out of the ER, while she screamed for help, pleaded, sobbed and begged him not to do this.

The video is absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. But I watched it in its 20 minute entirety with tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. I could not believe what I was seeing. I was heartbroken for her.

And then I got angry. Furious, actually.

So I watched it again. Fast -forwarded to the part where she’s in the police cruiser and Det Payne and another officer are lecturing her. I assume the other officer is Det Payne’s superior, I am unclear about that.  I really “like” the part where they lecture her about”civil liberties”. (Insert sarcasm font. ) My eyes rolled so far back in my head, I’m surprised they didn’t get stuck there. She repeatedly says “I’m just doing  my job. I’m just doing my job.” The officer then goes on to say, while standing above her, arms crossed, legs spread, in that intimidating stance while she cries sitting there in her scrubs, “This place has a bad habit of contravening with MY law.”

Umm, YOUR law? I don’t think so, bucko. Since when did you acquire ownership of the law? I believe YOUR JOB is to enforce the law, serve and PROTECT, and FOLLOW the law just like everyone else is expected to do. Obviously, Det Payne and his officer pal still have some learning left to do.

This incident has raised many questions. Social media is abuzz with petitions in support of Alex, and questions galore. Why did the other officers and hospital security stand idly by and allow this to happen? Why didn’t the officer with the body cam intervene? Why was Det Payne allowed to still be working, wearing a badge and carrying a gun, when he has a history of disciplinary actions against him? And why, everyone wants to know, is he STILL allowed to be working and getting paid after this incident?! (Apparently the only thing they’ve done thus far, at time of this writing, is take away his little blood drawing kit.) Is he one of those people that because he had a class or two on drawing blood that he thinks he knows as much or more than a degreed nurse? I, myself, can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with his fragile male ego getting bruised from being told No by a woman. If that’s the case, here’s a newsflash for Det Payne, just in case he didn’t get the memo: NO MEANS NO, in ALL circumstances. Period. End of discussion.

It’s clear to me, and to anyone else with eyeballs and a functioning brain, that Det Payne has some pretty evident and disturbing anger issues, needs a Psych eval, STAT, and maybe even an extended stay in a Behavioral Health Unit somewhere. His body language throughout the incident clearly portrays it. He stands there, arms folded,  jaw clenched, much like my two year old grandson does when he’s reached his allowed limit of popsicles and hears the word no. The main concern and outrage among all of Alex’s millions of colleagues in the nursing profession is, as she repeated many times over, SHE WAS JUST DOING HER JOB. For God’s sake, with everything else nurses deal with on a daily basis, NOW we may have to worry about being arrested for advocating for our patients any time there is police involvement?! I certainly hope not. I cannot fathom any of the LEOs I’ve come into contact with in my career behaving in the manner in which Det Payne behaved.

It’s obvious there was a disconnect in communication and understanding about just exactly what her job was that day. It’s really quite simple. To any nurse, a patient is a patient…another human being for whom we assume full responsibility the moment they appear before us. What they’ve done or might’ve done to break a law is secondary to us. We are there to protect them, take care of them, and speak for them when they are unable to speak for themselves. And will do so at all costs. And, also follow hospital policy and procedure to the letter while we’re doing it. The officers kept referring to the policy as “your policy” when lecturing Alex in the cruiser. She kept responding, “It’s not MY policy. It’s hospital policy.” (Much like the law the law is not YOUR law, Officer, I daresay.)

Alex, if this blog post somehow makes it to you, I want you to know two things. You did the exact same thing, without question, that every nurse in your situation would’ve done…and you just keep right on doing it, girlfriend. The second thing I want you to know is this is not only your battle to fight. I understand that this happened to you and it had to be traumatizing, and for that I am so very sorry. I can assure you when those cuffs closed around your wrists and you were manhandled out of your workplace, 6 million other nurses felt the fear and horror right along with you. We’ve got your back, Alex.

And to Detective Jeff Payne, I have only this to say. Even after your uncalled for mistreatment  and degradation of her, had circumstances changed and you had landed in the ER, in front of Alex on a stretcher, she would have stepped up, saved your life, cared for you and advocated for you as well. Nurses are just like that. That’s what we like to call just doing our jobs.

 

 

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Memories and Milestones

Three decades ago, (can it really be that long ago?) I had THE most important conversation with another human being of my life. It was about 3 am, October 1, 1986. I had just undergone a long and arduous labor that resulted in an emergency C-section, and a tough recovery period. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, settled in my room, sore and aching, a nurse brought the most perfect little boy into the room and handed him to me. I had been waiting for this moment. As I looked him over, every square inch of perfection from his coal black hair and chubby cheeks to his 10 tiny toes, I thought my heart would literally burst from the amount of love that swelled within me. Then in the next second I was completely terrified. I was 19…he was 3 hours old.

The conversation went something like this: “Hi, my sweet boy. I’m your Mommy. I’ll be honest with you. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m glad I was picked to be your Mama. I’ll promise you two things. I’ll always do the best I can and nobody else in your lifetime can ever possibly love you as much as I do.” He fluttered his eyelids and looked at me out of the corners of his eyes and I completely melted. (Consequently, 30 years later, that same sideways look still gets me every time and I must admit, kept me from killing him on several occasions during his teenage years.)

And boom, just like that I became a Mom. I have been a Mom all of my adult life. That chubby baby boy didn’t stay little longer than 10 minutes, it seemed. In many ways, I guess we grew up together. When he was toddling and learning to walk, I learned to hold down my first real grown up job. When he was learning the ABC song and counting, I was learning how to juggle going to college and working simultaneously. When I sent him off to his first school dance, I was figuring out how to establish myself in a nursing career and raise his little sister too. And finally when he was learning to drive a car, I was learning to deal with the sad realities of Alzheimer’s and watching my own mother slip away before my eyes.  We loved, we screamed, we learned, we laughed, we grew…together. Many times, if felt like it was he and I, against the whole world.

Through the years of watching him grow, there hasn’t been a single milestone that hasn’t brought me to tears. Every new school year left me misty-eyed as I watched, helpless to somehow make him slow down. I believe I cried at least once a week, every week, throughout his entire senior year. And before I was ready, there he stood before me, looking so handsome in a cap and gown. I spent a good 90 minutes crying in the bathroom before we left for graduation. He always hated it when I got “sappy”.

And today has been no exception. He’s 30 years old today, and yes, I’ve shed a few tears. Three decades has flown by in the blink of an eye. And in the place of that perfect chubby baby boy stands a man that has grown up to be the kind of son every Mom hopes for. Kind, intelligent, articulate, thoughtful. Amazing work ethic and wonderful provider. The best big brother any little sister could ever ask for. And most of all the most wonderful father to my grandson. To watch them together makes my heart swell to epic proportions. I watch them and at times, find myself unable to speak for the giant lump in my throat.

He was the very first one to make me a Mom. He was the very first one to make me a Grandmother (the greatest job, EVER.) and he was the very first one to teach me the meaning of love, so all-encompassing that mere words cannot begin to do it justice.

Happy Birthday to the most important man in my life, my sweet boy. Josh, let me tell you this: I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what I was doing, but I will forever be so glad I was picked to be your Mama. I kept my promises. I truly always did the very best I could and I know for absolute certain that nobody else in your lifetime will ever possibly love you as much as I do.

 

 

 

 

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If I Was Ryan Lochte’s Mom

Oh, Ryan Lochte. Ya big dufus. Look at the monumental mess you’ve gotten yourself in by behaving like a total idiot. Oh yes, Of course he did that so-called “apology” interview with Matt Lauer that sounded neither apologetic or sincere. Since Ryan chose to behave like a rebellious boneheaded teenager, if I was his Mother I would treat him as such. Here’s how I imagine the conversation would have gone:

( Disclaimer: Very similar conversations may or may not have taken place in my own home when my son was a teenager. He never did anything so bad as to garner international attention, but I’m sure if he had been given the chance, he would’ve. There is no creature more infinitely frustrating than a teenage boy….or a boneheaded adult son, as Lochte has proven.)

Bonehead: “Mom, me and some of the guys went out in Rio and we weren’t doing anything wrong, and then we got robbed, and then somebody held a gun to my head…and we weren’t doing ANYTHING, I swear….and then the police were mean to us….and everybody is picking on us…and Mom, I swear we didn’t do anything bad.”

Me: “Mmmhmm, sure. Very interesting. Now cut the crap and tell me what really happened, Mister. And don’t be lying to me if you don’t want to be picking up your teeth off the floor.”

Bonehead: “Well, we had some drinks and…”

Me: “So you were drunk.”

Bonehead: “Well, maybe a little bit and…”

Me: “And stupid.”

Bonehead: “Yeah, I guess. We tore a sign down off the side of a gas station and kicked in the bathroom door….but I swear, we were just having fun. We didn’t hurt anybody.”

Me: “You didn’t hurt anybody? You made a false report to the police…IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY….where you were supposed to be representing YOUR OWN COUNTRY…and vandalized property…and WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!”

Bonehead: “But, but….I don’t know-”

Me: “You don’t know? What don’t you know? Did you leave your brain in the room before you went out? I swear to God, I’m gonna knock you into next week if you don’t get that look off your face right this minute!”

Bonehead: “I know, Mom, it seemed like a good idea at the time-”

Me: “Did you fall on your head at some point today? Good idea…I’ll tell you what a good idea is, your gonna march your happy ass to the airport and get on a plane and go figure out a way to get on Brazilian TV and APOLOGIZE to an ENTIRE country for being such an idiot. Do you TRY to be an idiot? Is this something you STRIVE for? You answer me when I’m talking to you, little boy.”

Bonehead: “But, Mom–”

Me: “Don’t you “mom” me…do you think I was put on this earth to be driven crazy by you every minute of my life? Is that what you think? I swear to god, I guess I’ll quit my job and go with you everywhere you go, holding your hand because you can’t function as a normal human being! Is that what you want, Mister? Because if you don’t think I’ll do it, just try me. Oh won’t all the girls think you’re a big cool guy then, with your Mommy by your side 24 hours a damn day ”

Bonehead: “But—”

Me: “And another thing, when you go back over there …you make damn sure you tell the ENTIRE country of Brazil that your mother certainly did NOT raise you to be an idiot. Do you hear me? Am I making myself clear?”

Bonehead: “Yes, but-”

Me: ” What is WRONG with you? Do you HAVE a death wish.? Because I could seriously kill you right now with my bare hands. You might think you’re a big tough guy Olympian with your 12 gold medals, but I’m here to tell you…..Matter of fact, little man, go get those medals right now. I’m gonna put ’em all in a bag and beat you in the head with it.”

Bonehead: “Mom, you need to calm-”

Me: “If you finish that sentence it’ll be the last words you ever utter…don’t push me, boy. I’m so furious with you right now…I could shake you ’til your eyes rattle.”

Bonehead: “Mom, I just-”

Me: “Running around South America acting like a street thug. Acting like you were raised by wolves. For gods’ sake…will you tell me what is wrong with you? Was it a big metal sign you tore off the wall? I hope so, because I’m gonna go get it and beat you with it. And what the hell do you mean you kicked in a door? And the lying…just lie to the whole world and too dumb to think anybody can figure it out. 32 years old, acting like an idiot child. I swear I don’t think I can stand to look at you another minute! Get out of my sight!”

Bonehead turns to go…

Me: “Don’t you dare walk away from me when I’m talking to you. You really have lost your damn mind, haven’t you?!”

In my best estimation, if this were MY son, the lecture would continue into the wee hours of the morning, sending me into such a frenzied psychotic state, that I at some point would actually speak in tongues. I don’t know who Ryan Lochte’s mother is, but if she doesn’t have the strength to lay it on him, I would be happy to step in for her. Haven’t given a good middle-of-the-night screaming lecture in quite a few years now…I’d be curious to know if I’ve still got it. Something tells me, I probably do.

 

 

 

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The Grand Weirdness of Nurses

Let’s face it, Nurses are animals of a different breed. We all know it. We might not want to admit it, but deep down, we all know that we’re made differently than all those other non-medical “normal” people with which we share the planet. As a group we are about as diverse as they come, but we share many common qualities and traits. Some of those qualities are not always embraced by those who love us most. Our families and friends learn to tolerate them, they learn to overlook them, but if truth be told, I’m quite  certain, they often wish they had some sort of magical remote control to turn the “nurse-ness” in us off and on at their choosing. But alas, the nurse inside us, is never “off” even though sometimes, we would very much like for it to be.

Just forget about watching any kind of medical drama TV show or movie with us, am I right? What do we do within seconds of seeing anyone wearing scrubs enter the screen? We immediately begin picking it apart, actually tearing it to shreds is a more accurate description. “Oh right, like you’d hang NS at 100…how about some LR wide open, buddy?”…”This is dumb, Docs ambulating patients, redressing wounds? Gimme a break, if that ever happened in real life, the nurses would pass out from the shock.” (Not picking on Doctors, but come on, in my own personal experience, I have never seen that actually happen.) ” Hey people, your patient is in Vfib, shock him….I said SHOCK HIM, what are ya waitin’ for! Hello?”…then comes the eye rolling and long sigh. My favorite is when they show an intubated patient that is able to whisper their last dying words dramatically around the ET tube. (Geez…no wonder he’s dying.) I have to restrain myself from throwing my shoe at the TV. Ridiculous. My family hates it. HATES it. They’ve completely given up watching medical shows with me.

And let us not forget the distinct pleasure (or horror) of having a nurse for a parent. Our poor children, God bless ’em. Every boo-boo and accident produces one of two basic reactions from Nurse-mom or Nurse-dad. We either look at it nonchalantly and blow it off OR our minds kick into super-overdrive and we immediately conjure up the worst possible scenario. There is no gray area. It went something like this around my house when my kids were young: My son would come limping in the house with a pair of skinned up knees…”Oh for heaven’s sake I think you’ll live…a kid came into the ER last week that had chopped 4 of his toes off in a lawn mower. Do you think it hurts that much?” My daughter complained of a stomach ache (which happened to coincide with Algebra test day)…”Well let me see, I don’t think it’s appendicitis or a bowel obstruction, but if it’s that terrible, I could call my friend the surgeon, to check you out.” (Stomach ache miraculously went away. Go figure. And if memory serves, she did great on the test.) I wasn’t always so callous with every boo-boo or complaint, I doted on them most of the time, but every nurse out there has those moments of I-swear-if-anyone-else-needs-me-to-take-care-of-them-I’m-going-to-spontaneously-combust. Come on, admit it, you know you do.

Conversely, also as nurses, we all too often have those times when a child or family member has an injury or illness and we immediately begin preparing ourselves for the absolute worst. And how can we NOT? We’ve seen the absolute worst play out before our eyes hundreds of times before. We’ve held patient’s family members in our arms after the bad news is delivered. We know exactly what could happen. The might bes, the I-hope-it’s-nots, the frantic, desperate prayers fly from our lips “Please don’t let it be that. Please let them be okay.” Against our will, we begin making diagnoses and adding up all the possibilities, complications, and outcomes. The best example I can give from my own personal experience is when my healthy, bright, beautiful 17 year old daughter unexpectedly required brain surgery. Talk about a ton of bricks falling on my head. My world crumbled around me in the blink of an eye.

Long story short, she had an  enormous arachnoid cyst, larger than a large cantaloupe, that had been growing in the left hemisphere of her skull since birth, unbeknownst to anyone. She had exhibited no symptoms whatsoever. She had only one hemisphere of brain matter…but the right side had adapted to function as a whole brain, in the absence of the left side. (Nothing short of miraculous!) The day I signed her operative consent was crushing for me. My nurse brain knew far too much…too many possibilities of complications that might occur during or after such a long surgery. I was inconsolable. In true nurse form, I snuck off by myself to utterly fall into a million pieces. I couldn’t help but wonder if I had just signed my child’s death warrant. I had had craniotomy patients, I had seen the could-happens with my own eyes. I have never felt more alone and afraid in my life. Thankfully, the surgery went much better than expected, and OR time was even shortened by 3 or 4 hours. As I hugged the Neurosurgeon afterwards and sobbed from sheer relief, I’ll never forget the words he said to me, “Don’t thank me, there have been Divine Hands at work in that brain long before I ever entered the picture.” Indeed, Doc, indeed.

Just a short Public Service Announcement to any “normal”, non-medical folks reading this: when you ask for a nurse’s advice about a pain, an illness, whatever the case may be, any and all advice given to you by said nurse falls under the “Do as I say, not as I do” category. This is true for the vast majority of nurses I know, including yours truly. Just wanted to clear that up.

There’s a nasty rumor that’s been going around for the past hundred years or so that nurses (and Docs) make the worst patients. It is most assuredly not a myth. It is completely true. The first thing us weird medical people do when we don’t feel well or find ourselves with aches and pains, is to promptly diagnose ourselves, suck it up and move on. The last thing we do is actually show up to have it checked out by a physician and treated. My family doctor, I’m pretty certain, starts rolling his eyes the second he sees my name on his office schedule. (An infrequent occurrence that only happens when I am staring death in the face.) There have been a couple of times I (okay, okay, stupidly, I admit) waited so long to finally go to the Doctor that I had no choice but to lie on the exam table while waiting because I was so incredibly ill. Once it was pneumonia in both lungs. On another occasion, it was a bout of pyelonephritis that left me weak, writhing in pain, with a raging fever and begging to just be put out of my misery. Both times my doctor said the words “I’d like to admit you to the hospital” and both times I looked at him as if he had lobsters crawling out of his ears and vehemently disagreed. I felt much too poorly to be bothered by people at the hospital. He obviously had taken leave of his senses. I was one of those people who worked at the hospital, so I knew the insane amount of bothering I would have to endure. No way that was happening. I have no earthly idea why people say I’m stubborn. At any rate, he conceded, probably because he was a busy man and didn’t have time to launch into an argument with his bull-headed patient. I ended up returning to the office daily for injections (my hips have never been so sore before or since), re-assessments and what I considered to be an inordinate amount of lecturing from my Doc.

It would take an entire blog post alone to try to explain nurses’ sense of humor to a normal person. It’s so very dark… and at times, oh so very twisted. It’s a defense mechanism…sort of  “if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry” kinda thing. I can tell you without a doubt, I have never laughed harder…tears streaming, sides aching, gasping for air to the point of snorting…than I have with other nurses and medical staff usually at what would be deemed inappropriate times or situations by an outsider. It’s the nature of the beast that is healthcare. Some of the side-splitting funniest people I know wear scrubs to work every day. That’s a fact. It is our protection…that little boost we need to lighten our loads for a moment so we can face the next heartbreaking situation we may find ourselves in at any given moment during the course of our shifts. Our humor often does not translate well. Again, we really are a different breed of animal.

So for every quirky (and admittedly crazy) attribute that every nurse seems to possess, there are a thousand more wonderful and amazing qualities that define us, as well. It’s no surprise to me that time and time again (14 years now, I believe?) the Nursing Profession ranks #1 as society’s most trusted profession.  And that, my friends, speaks volumes. We must be doing something right. So keep right on being your quirky selves. The world needs more of our special brand of crazy. Don’t you agree?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RJ Rudd, Unplugged

I’m sure everyone out there has had an electronic gadget (usually for me, my outwardly defiant and ancient printer)  that keeps acting wonky and finally, in exasperation, you reach down and just pull the plug. After standing there looking at it with disdain for a few minutes, you decide to plug it back in, and Voila’! It works again! It is in those few moments of being completely disconnected that the old clunker somehow repairs and recharges itself in order to return to its full functionality. Hmmm…there’s a lesson to be learned in that.

Humans have become addicted to being “connected”, haven’t we? I can only speak for myself when I say that the troubling habit of checking my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter has insidiously inserted itself into my morning routine. And for what purpose? Because I need my daily dose of negativity? Ick, hardly. It’s difficult enough trying to maintain a positive attitude in today’s world. Because I can’t start my day without seeing my friends’ political opinions, pictures of the food they ate for dinner last night and all those ridiculous share if you love Jesus memes? (DON’T get me started….) How did this happen? But the bigger, more obvious question is how “connected” are we, really?

Has social media become the new form of communication to keep us “in touch” or is it just a wolf in sheep’s clothing to truly keep us out of touch?  Are we truly living our best lives and working on becoming the absolute best versions of ourselves while we’re scrolling through our newsfeeds? I think not. Where is the personal interaction? Has it gone out of style to make the effort to visit with our friends face to face with no electronics involved? It’s made us lazy. It has sadly made us a society of people more concerned with “likes” and less concerned with Love.

I logged out of my Facebook and Twitter accounts today and plan to stay logged out for a long while. I removed both accounts from my phone. I’m determined to rewind myself back to the time when a friend crossed my mind, and I carved out time in my schedule and made the conscious effort to either see them or call them and have a real conversation. I’m going back to the days of joyously NOT being able to see or know what food people are eating. I’m going to enjoy a life where I will pick up a book and read inspirational quotes that (thankfully) will come without a goofy selfie attached to them. I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and be completely clueless about who tweeted this or that about whatever societal problem. I cut the mainstream media/news out of my life years ago, it will be wonderful to not have it shoved in my face through social media.

My blog is still linked to both Facebook and Twitter, but I will pick and choose which posts appear on those sites, as I always have. I do have readers and followers whom have requested that I keep the link intact. I know it sounds more than a bit hypocritical that my writing will still pop up on those feeds when I won’t personally be posting status updates. However, I no longer have to worry about a particular piece being well-received, hated, “liked”, “shared” or even given a single glance. That in and of itself is liberating. I’ve made the mistake of writing for and to a particular and quite limited audience in my head (FB friends) and in doing so, have somewhat censored myself. Those days are over. Yeah, I know… just imagine me UN-censored. (Oh boy, get ready.)

I was curious, so I logged the time I spent on social media over a period of three days and wowza, was I shocked! It is a terrible thief. I allowed it to steal far too much of my time. How often have you said to yourself, “I’m just gonna check Twitter (FB, Instagram, whatever) for a minute.”, only to look up an hour later and realize you burned that much time without being aware of it? While I was tuned in to social media, I was tuned out from my life. Unacceptable.

So today I yanked the plug on all of it. I have officially exited the cyber-world of likes and shares and kitty cat memes…and tweets and retweets and Twitter wars. I’m  perfectly okay with being blissfully unaware of what everyone else is doing and thinking around the clock.  I have disconnected to reconnect with the people who matter most to me, to have time for the activities I enjoy most that don’t need to be broadcasted for anyone’s approval. I have meditating to do. I have grandbabies to spoil. I have work to get done. I always have a giant stack of books to read. I have books to write. I have a life to live. And it’s much too short to watch my time dwindling away while scrolling through snippets of other people’s lives. I’m pretty certain Zuckerberg can survive without me.

Free at last, free at last…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Always Look for the Helpers

In light of the recent tragedies throughout the world  resulting in fatalities and massive injuries, I have seen a recurring Fred Rogers quote throughout social media: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Mr. Rogers’ mother and my own must have been cut from the same cloth. It is a sound piece of advice that urges us to always look for the positive within a negative, something I strive to do in every facet of my life, and is at times, incredibly difficult. My heart goes out to all the people affected by the senseless violence in Paris, Lebanon and Baghdad, the victims of the earthquake in Japan and victims of the recent hurricane and earthquake in Mexico. With so much devastation and loss of life, it sometimes becomes all too easy to give in to the idea that we live in a world that is hopeless and cruel and humanity is indeed doomed, a thought echoed by millions. But I refuse to believe that. As long as there are human beings willing to reach out to their fellow man to help, console, support and love one another, then I believe in my heart that the world is still a beautiful place. Love is still the most powerful force on earth. Hope is still alive and, therefore, Peace is still a possibility.

When I first learned of this chain of tragedies that had struck in different parts of the world, my first thought, as usual, was of my sister and brother nurses and comrades in the medical community… the first responders,  physicians, nurses…the helpers…who put their own fear, grief and anger aside to help others. It is with cool heads and warm hearts that these people go in to face unthinkable circumstances to witness unimaginable horror, yet they still go, rarely giving a second thought to their own safety in order to save another’s life. To know that I share the same profession with these brave souls is humbling.

I’ve often thought, having personally not been put in that particular position of being in the middle of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, would I react the same? I’d like to think that I would.  For all nurses, it is second nature to help whenever and wherever help is needed. I don’t think twice about stopping to aid at car accidents. I once performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a stranger who was choking while I was standing in line at a restaurant. And in the safe and controlled environment of the hospital, I have responded to cardiac arrests too many times to count, knowing how to carry out the algorithms of the code without even thinking. But, if God forbid, there was a bombing in my little town, or a mass shooting, would I be able to swallow my own fear and trauma to render aid to the injured? I pray I never have to find out, but I hope that my call to action would be stronger than any fear I may feel at that moment.

The closest thing I have to compare to is once years ago, while working in an ICU during a severe thunderstorm, the hospital was put under Code Black, which meant a tornado had been confirmed on the ground in close proximity to the hospital and staff was to perform their set duties to ensure the safety of our patients. As I glanced fearfully around at all the large panes of glass surrounding me, and the ominous skies outside, my mind kicked into overdrive…my kids are at the babysitter’s, I hope they’re okay…I wonder if my house is still standing…and then I knew I had to focus on my patients. I had 2 patients that night, both very critical, and neither stable enough to move to a safer area. I knew I was just going to have to ride the storm out with the two of them in the unit, and pray for the best but prepare for the worst. I turned their beds facing away from the outside windows, lines and tubes rearranged to accommodate the new position of the bed, covered them with as many blankets and pillows as I could get my hands on, and decided that if needed, I could probably dive under the desk in the nurse’s station if I had to. Then I just prayed. As it turned out, the tornado turned and went in another direction, the hospital was untouched and all ended well. Driving home the next morning, I mulled it over in my  mind…the what ifs, the could-haves…though it doesn’t come close to being even a tiny fraction as terrifying as 9/11 or a horrible earthquake, I knew in a half of a millisecond I had resolutely  made up my mind that I would absolutely not leave those patients. They were both completely helpless…intubated, medicated and on ventilators. I could not leave them to fare for themselves should the tornado have hit. Every single nurse I know would have made the exact same decision.

Always, always look for the helpers when tragedy strikes. And you won’t even have to look that hard. They will be there… saving lives, rendering aid, comforting the injured, consoling the grieving…helping, always helping.

To all of my fellow comrades and colleagues in the medical community as a whole across the globe who have had to face unconscionable tragedies and horrifying situations, I give you my utmost respect and admiration on a job well done. I pray that I never have to find out if I can be as courageous as you, but I hope that if the need ever arises, I can somehow reach inside myself and find the strength to perform with such dignity and grace under pressure as you all have demonstrated.

There is too much sadness, too much intolerance, too much violence in our world today, but let us all focus on the positives instead of the negatives. There is still Hope. There is still Love for our fellow man. And thank goodness there will always be those helpers. Let’s all make it a priority to say thank you to all the millions of women and men who choose every single day to dedicate their lives, (whatever position or title they may hold) to the most noble act of providing service to others before self.

And lastly, please, I beg of you, let’s all just be kind to each other. Blessings to all.

 

 

 

 

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The Shortest Blog Post I Will Probably Ever Write

I am stunned.

The unbelievable response to my last blog post, An Open Letter to Whoopi Goldberg…We most certainly WERE Listening, has been truly overwhelming.

The post, at last count, has gotten around 400, ooo hits and still counting. That is inconceivable to me.

Currently I have 3800 emails directly connected to my blog that are unread…but I’m trying. I have as many, if not more, comments directly on my blog site that are yet unread and unanswered…but I’m trying. I was unfortunately out of my office and away from my computer all day Friday and things are to say the least, a bit backlogged. I want each and every single one of you who took time to comment to know that I will respond to you. This may take a while…quite a while. But I promise you, you will hear from me.

To those who may not be familiar with WordPress, when you comment, it is invisible to everyone but myself until I “approve” the comment at which time it appears on the page beneath my post. I hope that clears up the confusion of the whole “your comment is waiting for moderation”, or whatever it says. To my fellow writers, and bloggers, thank you so much for reblogging this post. I will eventually make it to your pages to return the love.

My heart and undying gratitude goes out to each of you but especially the many, many thousands of patients worldwide who have taken time to share their stories and stand in support of nurses. You are the reason we do what we do and love what we do.

From the bottom of my heart, I  sincerely apologize (hmm…see how easy that was? I know a couple of ladies that could practice that…wink, wink) for taking so long to respond to you and I thank you so very much. I am truly grateful to each of you.

Much love to all and as always, let’s just all be kind to each other.

Becky

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