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.

No comments: