Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rainy Days and Sundays

Joe has gone to Indianapolis to visit his newest granddaughter, Ms. Lucy Mae, who was born last weekend. I am wishing I could have gone with him. The relationship I am forming with his daughter is rich, deep and fulfilling and completely unexpected. I had no anticipation that we would ever be close. I wasn't opposed to it, I just felt it unfair to put that expectation on a child. It is one of those life nuggets, those precious blessings that come out of nowhere and hit you unawares with the sudden realization that bad things do not always happen. Sometimes good things do as well. I know she is going to be a wonderful mother, full of life and creativity and deep, abiding emotion. I yearn to hold the baby and to smell her little head.

The end of the semester is growing intense. I can't believe in two and a half weeks finals will be over and the first part of nursing school done, that I will have survived my first semester. The last couple of weeks have been somber and trying for me. I had the first skill test that I didn't do well on - everyone has at least one - and I am going to have to remediate. It hit me in the gut, the way my nerves took over, the way my hands shook, the fool I made of myself in front of others as I piece by piece fell apart. This whole pursuit of goals thing leaves you so exposed; I am so accustomed to having this tough exterior of capableness. I recognize no part of this experience means I am less than capable. It just was humbling to say the least, to fall apart that completely. It has punched me in the gut and made me face a few things about myself, about my ego and my expectations of myself...and...well, about my grief. I was tearful and upset far longer than I needed to be after it was over, with an internal sense of panic that made it hard to catch my breath and get back into the game. A pervasive sense of failure and, as I examined myself and my reaction, a sense of having failed Joseph. I have linked this journey so completely to his that apparently my success at it has come to mean to me some need to make up to him....things....??? I don't know what. For not being a perfect mother. For not being able to cure him. For not having him with me now. Who knows. All I know is that it became apparent to me that I need to both give myself a break and I need to restructure my motivations a little bit. It is fine for me to do this in his memory and to carry him with me through it, but it is not fine to hitch my entire ability to carry on after his death to it.

The two days following this fiasco were amazing, filled with opportunities that took me beyond my humdinger of a mood and into a knowledge base that I am excited to find is filling out now a little bit. I got to watch my first surgery and be present at a C-section, which was incredible. In simulation lab I got to put my budding nursing thought process to work and help "save" the life of our high tech, high fidelity mannequin patient, who is able to talk, blink, go into distress, arrest, etc. He has blood pressure and pulse and respiratory movement and was incredible. If you do the right things, he starts to stabilize and if you do the wrong things he goes downhill all the way to the point of death. It is the only lab of its kind in North Texas and we are lucky to have it at our school. I get very excited talking about it. It is a chance to practice skills in a very realistic setting and see what happens without actually hurting anyone. They have one that actually births a baby vaginally, completely with rupturing membranes, measurable, palpable contractions and a baby with its own vital signs at the end. They have pediatrics and adults and all different scenarios to go through, plus the room is video equiped so you can watch yourself afterward and have a conference to go over what happened and why. This was my first event in simulation lab and I gained a lot of confidence in myself back from doing it.

So today is rainy and I am alone and studying while Joe is up cuddling little Lucy. I looked forward to the time alone, as there seems to be so few quiet moments these days, but I find I miss him being here in the house with me. The dreary weather is making me brood a bit.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Games of Light and Shadow

There's been a niggling darkness with me today. School took a more complicated hop, anticipated and known, but now reality as we get to the threshhold of what some might call "the basics" and peer over the precipice that leads into the vast ocean of "real nursing". In other words, we are having our skills exam on medication administration next week. It makes my mouth go dry. I gave my first injection last week and it was no problem. I can work on and with a patient without breaking a sweat. But put me in front of an instructor, whose job it is to judge me, and my knees start to buckle. I am so freaking anxious inside, and it leads to that little forest always on the periphery of my mind, the one I can go into so easily if I don't keep my eyes firmly forward...the one of memories that are dark and hazy and full of guilt, of self esteem that took a beating growing up, literally and figuratively, and still whispers mean things in my ear. The one that flashes images that debilitate rather than motivate. It is a haunted forest and strangely hypnotic in its pull. I have to be so careful not to let myself go there, and I have danced all around the fringes of it today, flirting with tortured mental pictures of Joseph's suffering and of a girl who didn't think much of herself for many, many years, whispering seductively to me that this is someone else's life I am living, that all of these blessings and wonderful things are a fraud and who do I think I am, being so happy, feeling so competent, working so hard, so consistently. It is senseless really. I can pull myself back, give a good mental shake and feel it fall is so much easier now than it used to be to do that. But it leaves me a little breathless, this anxiety. Sometimes I think that sinking into depressive, dark thoughts is a bad habit, a broken way of coping, a listless means for making excuses because something in me is intimidated and worried. It is far easier to be overwhelmed and helpless than it is to move forward despite my fears and concerns. A good friend actually posted this today on her Facebook page, not even knowing what's going on in my world at the moment....that being overwhelmed is the psyche's way of letting you off the hook and keeping you stuck where you are comfortable. I can and I will push past it, but I am weary of it. Joe is on his way home....the world is warm and breezy and full of sunlight. I have so much to be grateful for. Stop flirting with the darkness Sheri. It will always be can go in any time you like. And right now, you don't. So don't.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Into the Mystic

The birds are singing this morning with raucous enthusiasm. It has been warm the last few days with gusty winds that whip and moan around the house and burst inside with the breath of spring, stirring the curtains and my spirit. The wind is something I never understand - why it is so gentle one day, so violent the next and what makes it move the way that it does. I am sure with a bit of study I could understand it better, but honestly it is more interesting to marvel at the wonder of it. Besides my brain is already quite full of science these days.

Easter is this Sunday, a holiday that we don't really celebrate with any kind of particular enthusiasm, at least not compared to how Mom did it up for us when we were young. I guess my doubts run too deep, or maybe I am just lazy, though I don't really think so. I was telling a friend earlier this morning that some part of me longs to go to church on Sunday simply for the choral music, to hear the songs we chose and played at Joseph's funeral, all of which had a theme of resurrection. But the other part of me loathes the crowds. The fashionable showing off. The once-per-year churchgoers, who show up on Easter Sunday just in case Jesus was in fact real. I find more communion with spiritual things away from that kind of production. I wish I could have a recording of the choir and then just go on a long nature walk. The best of all worlds. The music I cherish. The simplicity of my walking clothes. Blessed solitude. The honesty of my thoughts in communion with this vast, spiritual mystery that I will never, ever understand or even wholly trust, but that still somehow makes me wistful. I want God to be real, but in the same breath, if He is, I am so confused by and still somewhat angry with Him. I can testify only that there is much I do not comprehend. I try to live my life according to those things that I feel are representative of the God I would want there to be. I guess the realism of it isn't the question as much as the embodiment of it is the answer.

Stewart, the boys and I are going to color eggs tomorrow. Nick is 15 now and Alex is 12, but when asked, they both still definitely want to do it. It makes me smile. I am wondering if I still need to hide them. Part of me feels a little silly doing that for such grown up boys, but part of me is very sad to think yet another piece of their childhood is on its way out the door. Joe's oldest son, Andrew, is coming home for Easter and dinner is planned at Mom's on Sunday afternoon. The weather is balmy and spring-like and daffodils are in bloom everywhere. Time seems to have sped up since the wedding in December, and the semester is almost over. We have plans to celebrate my survival of the first portion of nursing school with a nice dinner at Bob's Steak House in Plano - a bit of decadence for our accomplishment. I am looking forward to that.