Fight the Tears and Win!

Last week of work before Switzerland. . . .

Call me a totally sissy, but I had to hide in the bathroom on three different occasions on Tuesday to let out a few tears - as not to expose myself to the mass of people crammed into my unit. Why did I keep crying? Not exactly sure. However, the moment I stepped onto the floor, I felt a ton of weight upon my shoulders. Not an empty bed on my unit. My knees practically buckling below me.

It wasn't necessarily the patients that made it particularly challenging (no doubt they kept me busy). What I couldn't escape was the feeling of confinement in a world of chaos, the loud ringing of call lights, the sound of IV pumps shouting at me, the cackling of my co-workers, the fluorescent lights, the TVs turned loudly *malfunctioning hearing aids "I don't want to miss The View!", and the realization that this was my life. All I wanted was to run off the floor and possibly change my name and join the circus. That's an obvious exaggeration, I had to keep reminding myself. It's a job, just a job - it does not encompass the whole of me. Unless I let it. All day, amongst the insanity, I tried my very best not to get run over by the nomadic herd of residents and frantic nurses - but there was something biting at my heels.

One patient died, a patient who I had taken care of the last time I worked - and post mortem care was challenging. This is what they don't talk about in nursing school - they say "here's a 300$ text book on how to take care of sick (but living) patients" but the flip side is taking care of those without a pulse. It was my second post-mortem and although I haven't quite grown insensitive to lifelessness - I will say it gets easier. Maybe it shouldn't matter, but both of my post-mortem were older. . . so the internal rationalization is that they have had their time here. If someone dies at old age, celebrate their time - that is certainly an achievement. What is an unspeakable tragedy is those have not been granted the same opportunity to explore themselves and the world. Which is what makes the death of infants and children significantly more challenging because there is no internal rationalization present. It makes no sense and it is unfair. That is why pediatrics is absolutely not in my cards.

Somedays are better than others : )


Break It Down

An update on the reading materials; I'm almost finished with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and I'm at a point where I'm dreading the end. She's such a fantastic writer, clever, witty and passionate. Every time I turn a page the longing to get my hands in the earth is almost unbearable. The way she describes gardening, farming and cooking makes me melt. After I part ways with Barbara, I'm on to "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollen. Becoming more painfully aware of my dining experience at every turn of the page....

I worked another long day shift today, by the end of which I found myself in a hypoglycemic stupor. Despite my efforts to prepare a delicious and "I'm really looking forward to my lunch break" lunches -- and as truly exceptional as they may be *hate to brag*, there's nothing like a good ole diaper change to ruin your appetite. Or maybe it was the general smell and sight of sterility in combination with the scent of hospital food. Today, I actually clocked out for break and went back to work - until ushered off the floor by the charge nurse. Then I meandered around the hospital returning phone calls until my 30 minute time-out was up. Absolutely bonkers considering what yummy treats awaited me in the break room, but food was of no appeal.

I have recently discovered "LIBERTE" yogurts made in Quebec *another reason to love Canada -- some are low-fat yogurt cups with grains such as barley (the pear is fantastic), and then there's the ones that taste like heaven in your mouth. I prefer the latter -- "LIBERTE Mediterranean " with plums and walnuts. This reminds me of my beloved yogurt that I practically sustained myself on during my trip to Switzerland called "Yogos" (*or something to that effect). Delicious, rich, creamy, with fig pulp at the bottom; oh my! --- I was absolutely taken aback by the similarity. I highly recommend LIBERTE if you don't have the time or resources to fly to Zurich for a greek yogurt--- the plum walnut is a wonderful way to end a meal - because it is so rich, sweet and deliciously creamy. LIBERTE is now competing with Yo-Baby for a spot in my lunch box.... and I can tell you now; LIBERTE is in the lead.....

Not only was a LIBERTE yogurt, and some fresh fruit and vegetables awaiting me -- but a quinoa concoction I call "Fiesta Confetti"; in honor of my favorite and sorely missed holiday. Quinoa is my grain du jour, healthy, filling, and packed with protein-- I've been cooking with it all semester and have never been disappointed. Here's the quinoa recipe *first of many:

Cook Quinoa:
-1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups water * Combine and bring to boil. Let simmer till quinoa has fully absorbed the water and is fluffy and dry. I recommend cooking it till almost done, turning off the heat and leaving the lid on the pot to further steam the grains. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl...
- juice of zest of two limes
- two tablespoons of canola oil
- 3 Tbs. of melted *cooled butter
- tsp of honey
- 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder and/or cayenne *optional

When quinoa is cooled and dressing assembled, combine both with:
- 1/2 of orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 - 2 jalepanos diced (seeds removed) *adjust spice to preference
- 4-5 green onions, diced
- 1/3 cup of corn (if frozen - thawed, if canned - drained/washed)
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro *adjust to taste
- 2 ripe and delicious tomatoes, diced
- 1 can of black beans rinsed and drained

-- > This is much tastier the next day when all flavors have melded, eat cold or at room temperature! Garnish with a lime wedge if serving to guests! Add a spoonful of your favorite salsa or diced avocado, sprinkle a couple of crushed organic blue corn tortilla chips - the combination of flavors and textures will knock your socks off. Not to mention the visual appeal of sitting down to a plate of food containing every color of the rainbow. Enjoy : )


First Post!

First post, ever!

I've only been working at the hospital since May, and despite the ups and downs - the experience has been great *sans sarcasm. I've relished the time spent with patients, even if I'm doing some seemingly insignificant chore. . . I could be changing a bed pan or wiping a butt for pete's sake, and you'd think I was adorning them with jewels! Obviously this is not a reference to the patients who sock me in the jaw, who press their call buttons every two minutes, or who simply relish in their role as "patient" - "my pillow needs propping!" More so I refer to the individuals who are often times the sickest and most chronically ill, and despite the hand they've been dealt, are the most gracious and kind. It humbles me. When suffering is a part of their every day life, you wonder what makes this paradox possible?

The patients and their families are easy as pie compared to some of the fellow "team members" who take pleasure in making my job less than ideal. It took me a couple of weeks and several experiences in which I was feasted upon by seasoned nurses, to realize that I was fresh meat, and new material for round table discussion at the nurses station. "I can't believe it took her that long to document vitals, it wouldn't take that long for my dog to get vitals." Well it shouldn't be that hard for them to believe, really. Their refusal as "RN" to even lay a hand on their patients results in twice as much work for me. It's a linear equation, you can do the math, nurse ratched.

When I say the experience has been great -- I am not excluding the negative ones! They have served me well! I went into this saying "Co-workers and patients will most certainly like me! I'm always smiling, always willing to help lighten their load. I'm enthusiastic and happy; inquisitive and willing to learn! I will not let their apathy and cynicism swallow me whole!" (What can I say? I watched a lot of Disney movies in my youth. Confession. I still do.)

But thanks to the nurse ratched's out there - I've learned an important lesson; mean, miserable people do not like happy and optimistic people. And the more you smile at them, the less they like you. But mark my words, my optimism will persevere! I'm here to learn the craft of healing, not to win a seat at the cool kids lunch table.

Along with a cup of delicious coffee in the morning, my ritual before heading to work is drinking a delicious smoothie. It's filling (which makes skipping break easier because I'm not hungry yet). It's a way to start to the day right - and I can slurp it down in the car (no crumbs!) On days when my alarm has gone off late (or not at all) or I simply can't kick myself into 2nd gear - I have to sacrifice this ritual. Those are the days when I find most every task daunting, because I'm not in that "I can do it!" frame of mind.

If a trying day lay ahead, or you just need to start the day off right -- this smoothie can (practically) guarantee success.

Recipe for success/survival of a 12 hour shift:
-1 cup of mixed berries (fresh or frozen) *mind you it's July so I've been enjoying blueberries, raspberries and cherries from the farmers market! Hooray!
-1 cup of plain organic yogurt (or soy)
-1 1/2 cups low-fat organic milk or soy or almond
-1 tbs ground flaxseed (fresher the better!)
-1 tbs of honey *only for those who need added sweetness

Enjoy : ) Will post again soon!