Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aging Gracefully? Ha!

Team Joseph is this weekend - a 5K that we do to honor his memory, for a charity that helped us more than once while he was ill. I look forward to it every year, but it seems lately like everything I do is a pathological exercise in guilt. I didn't give it a lot of attention this year and we didn't raise anywhere near what I hoped to. And I was hoping for more than 100 team members, but we managed only 42. I keep telling myself I will have REAL time to devote to the charities of my choice once I graduate from nursing school and until then, my job in earth is to be the best darn student I can be and get through this.

My love affair with nursing school is on hiatus right now I am afraid. All that honeymoon giddiness has tempered into a nice solid sense of unending fatigue and iron-clad determination. I am more afraid this semester, probably because the things we are doing are more important than taking blood pressure. Today we learned how to start IVs. I got it on the first try...on the rubber disembodied arm we practice on. I am dying to try it on live flesh. Which sounds kind of sick. But I miss the hospital. I miss the patients, the trepidation, the thinking on my feet. I miss the sense of what I am doing matters right now, today, in this person's life. That has become my therapy.

I am turing 40 on Sunday and just not dealing with that well. I am not sure what is up with that. It just keeps washing over me and I both start my day out silently weeping in solitude and ending it up that way. I guess the passing of a decade for me is drawing up a lot of sorrow. Entering my 40s is hard. I am not ready to be old yet feel so old inside. I am not ready to age physically - I just now figured out how to make myself look good. I just now lost all that weight. I am not ready to be dismissed as a person simply because I am getting old. But most of all, I just am not ready to move out of my 30s and pass another milestone, one that is actually taking me by surprise. I keep thinking about how I got pregnant with Joseph before I was really prepared to be a mother and how I told myself time for me would come when he graduates from high school, and how I would be a young mom with a son graduating when I am only 40 years old. Well, here I am, 40 years old. There's not going to be a graduation this year. And I miss my boy. A lot.

I feel him with me more though. I am praying a lot more. I am not going to preach to anyone via this blog. I hate it when people try to convince me of anything political or religious. I want the right to think for myself. I hate nothing more than evangelicalism, mainly because it seems to be served with a huge cup of hipocrisy on the side. So no preaching here. But I will put out there - I am finding once more for the first time as an adult a sensation of having God's presence very near to me. And that is new, different and very comforting.

Joe has been doing a lot of work on the house. I can't believe we have been here over a year already. The boys are well settled into their rooms and we are making steady progress on the things we want to get done here. I say we. I mean Joe. I am not doing anything except writing care plans and reading and going to class.

Joe bought and planted white and yellow roses out front for me. It is still very temperate here and they have just taken root and gone to town. I can't say how happy it makes me to look at them.

Nick is doing fantastic in school so far this year. He is struggling a bit in honors chemistry but heck, its honors chemistry. I am proud of him just for daring to take the course. He is also on rifle team with ROTC, playing with orchestra, participating in youth group at church, working toward confirmation and he is just a few requirements from Eagle Scout. Alex is in honors courses for almost every class and doing well. He got cast in the school play but is not happy that his role doesn't require him to talk in a gutteral voice. I suspect he will get over that. He is enjoying playing trombone in band and played for his first football game this week, which he very much enjoyed and was surprised that he did. I'd love to see him stick with band all the way through high school. I think the marching band has a great deal of fun together.

I hope the weather holds for the 5K. I have two good friends coming from out of town to walk it with me, which is nice. We will spend some girl time together and I think it will be a relaxing weekend. Sunday night is dinner at Mom's house for my birthday. She wants to know what I want her to make me, which makes me giggle. I am turning 40 and Mom still wants to make me a special birthday dinner, which is awesome. I am hanging up my books for a few days and letting myself just enjoy this time with family, friends and memories.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

fa-fa-fa fatigue

My head is pounding and my eyes are drooping, but I know that if I don't type tonight, I will be up again at the buttcrack of dawn trying to figure out why I am not sleeping well. Because I'm not. I fall asleep as if sleep were a drug and get about four hours, which is about what my poor mind apparently requires before it shifts back into high gear and bids me rise. Not a good pattern to be in right now. How am I supposed to learn to care for others or even actually do so on four hours of sleep or less?

We went to psych court today, which was a sad experience. I wept a bit while I was there, inwardly anyway. It was too crowded and populated to cry for real, but I wanted to. All those lives lost to a mind that does not function appropriately. I wish so much modern science could unlock the mysteries and if not cure things, then at least make the medications, which treat them very effectively, not have such bad side effects that the poor souls in need of them just can't stand to take them and contemplate feeling that way the rest of their lives. I actually stood there today watching a particularly heart-wrenching case and thinking "There IS something worse than cancer".

I am stumbling my way through so far. We had our exam on Monday, the first of the semester and I am waiting for grades to post. I suspect a nice, solid mediocrity is in wait for me on that one, which I also suspect I am going to be real okay with and yet feel guilty about. Nursing school is pretty tough. My standards change a bit.

Tomorrow we go to Terrell State Hospital, a state run mental hospital. I am more moved by these souls that I ever would have given credence to. Interestingly, they have lead me back to prayer on occasions, because the things I have seen wrong in the mental wards have been such that the lack of a cure is just pity inspiring. Beyond what I have seen in oncology and pediatrics. I do not know how to explain it. But it feels good to pray for them and to know God sees the real soul beneath the illness. This in turn comforts me, that perhaps in the darker moments of my life, the ones I have less pride in, perhaps God has the same sense.

I am so tired I can hardly type. I wanted to take a bath tonight but the idea of drawing it and waiting for it to fill and then sinking into it...and then having to get back out, dry off, hang up the towel and go to bed literally feels like far too much effort to accomplish. Yet I lay here in the dark and cannot shut my brian of enough to take advantage of the early bedtime. So maybe jotting this little note will do the trick. I am still loving school. I am in a phase where I am learning a LOT, about things I never even contemplated let alone acknowledged I did not now.

I am missing Joseph acutely. I am loving Nick and Alex with active mother-passion. And I am thankful for my large, sane, loving family. I would not trade a single thing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Semester That Smelled Like Roses

Which would not be this one. No rose scent here...I think the bush died in the summer heat. I think I am into the fertilizer phase of my plant-as-a-symbol-for-life-dream analogy here. Kinda stinks. Kinda smells like poo.

Not all THAT much. But I came to realize over the summer of increasing hospital experience that things like drug cards are a whole lot of busy work that actually seems to get more absorbed via conversation and experience than through little pieces of wanna-be cardboard. I am figuring out that yes, I can read stuff - but I am much more likely to remember it if I talk about it and utilize it. And with the huge volumes of information we are responsible for, that'd be a lot of gabbing for it not to be about something like shoes, chocolate or men.

In all seriousness, I am much more even so far this semester in terms of mood. In fact, I posted on Facebook just yesterday that my lack of anxiety is causing me anxiety. I feel though as if I am absorbing more easily than last term and am more able to filter out what is important and what is just academic noise that lets them make thousand page textbooks that sell for hundreds of dollars with new editions every other year.

We are doing our psych rotation now and I have spent the last two days observing on the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. I have seen things that cracked me up, delighted me, made me cheer the sturdiness of the human spirit, things that make me want to cry from the unfairness and waste that this kind of illness can represent and I have spent a few moments honestly afraid for my personal safety. What has thrown me a bit (besides the fact that I was very firmly recognized as being Grimace from McDonald's. Flattering. Does that mean these scrubs make my butt look big?) is that I am enjoying it.

Psych nursing isn't for just anyone. It is a different creature in and unto itself. Most people would rather not. It has me a bit thrown to discover that some things I thought I would respond to (such as the mother/baby unit), I would rather stick a fork in my eye and that other things which I had no affinity for or attraction to (geriatrics and psych units) I get fulfillment from and respond to emotionally. The psych thing has me a little thrown. I honestly didn't expect it to be anything I was drawn to, but I am. I don't think I want it more than oncology, but it is something I do not push out of my mind as a possibility for my life either. And that, I suppose, is good, given that every diagnosis comes with a need for knowledge on the human mind and that there is no medical facility on earth that is not full of drug addicts or people needing psychiatric support, either temporarily or permanently.

I think what this is all saying to me, as I evaluate myself, is that I need to be needed. I need to serve the underserved. I feel peace when I am called out of myself to be more than I saw myself to be. My drug is personal courage and internal fortitude. Some people go to the edge of an cliff with a giant rubber band tied around their ankles and say to themselves "Jump you Wuss!" and then do it. I go to the bedside of a patient who has soiled themselves and do the same thing; or the den of grieving family watching a loved one die, or the desolate, isolated cave of someone coping with a diagnosis that is going to change everything they came to define their lives by, whether psychiatric or physical and perhaps even challenge them against things that they have held as prejudices or just false beliefs.

I used to pray when I was young that God not give me an ordinary life. I have laughed at myself with a wry irony many times that could border on bitterness in my darker moments, dark humor in my lighter ones. I guess this is all part of that prayer being answerd, and that I would not have been desiring it if it were not really where I was meant to be after all. I mean yeah...I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to go to Hollywood. I wanted to perform and hear the applause and make money and see my picture (looking fabulous of course) in magazines. But I wanted that in a wistful and childish kind of way. This is a want that literally burns. It is fused to my bones. It is like a drug. I get into that situation and I am euphoric. Let me so do to the least of our brothers. Whether I do unto God thereby isn't really the point to me. My faith is a shifting target. The crux of the matter is that I do unto me. In other words, it is a conscience I would have put money on being trambled and dead by now, given the way my definitions of right, wrong and shades of gray have shifted in the light of my age and experience. It is a sense of right. It is right that I do right.

But drug cards? Not so much.

Some things we just have to survive until we get to the real work of our lives. We earn it.

"We could never learn to be brave or patient if there were only joy in the world. " Helen Keller

Helen's been speaking to me a lot these days.