17 March 2014

One Year

I just realized I haven't posted since January.


For the love, people. You all have to keep me on track!

A lot of things have happened since January.

High School baseball season started. Of course. That's why you haven't seen me and I haven't seen my husband.

And, per my last post, at the end of January, we did become the parents of our new husky, Kaia. She's not the missing-ear dog we thought we would get out of Orlando...that dog was more of a one-dog family (which, um, is definitely not us). Our new girl is a rescue from Tampa who had a pretty (and unfortunately, literally) beat-up life.

Now she has us, her bear, and her own spot on the sofa.

Heaven help you if you try to remove her from her spot on the sofa.

Or take her bear.

Seriously. This girl and her bear. It's an obsession.

I joined the local running club, my parents came to visit, my cousin spent spring break with us and Matt's parents will be here this weekend.
We finally saw Frozen, and now I'm the weird 33-year-old who runs to the soundtrack on her iPod.

Plus, it's still baseball season. Still.


You know what else is still going on? My job.

I know, right? I'm still employed! I still love what I do! And because I'm still employed, I hope that means they still love me!

Tomorrow is my official one-year anniversary with Treasure Coast Hospice. I know you wouldn't think you could use the words "happy" and "hospice" in the same sentence, but that's how I am right now.

Hospice has taught me so many things. How to deal with sadness and grief and end-of-life issues, sure. It's hospice, for crying out loud. Those things are part of the obvious package.

Here's the part where I get dramatic and melancholy, just to warn you.

I've learned to appreciate my days more. Sure, I might be stressed out to the point of crying and screaming and chocolate and multiple Diet Cokes, but you know what? I was able to get out of bed this morning - on my own. I was able to dress myself this morning -on my own. Granted, scrubs and a ponytail aren't that difficult to achieve, but hey. I'll take it. I was able to think and talk and make my own decisions and order pizza for dinner. When the same-old becomes the same-old day after day, it's ok. I'll take it.

I've learned that compassion and a positive attitude and a listening ear goes a lot further with my patients than just shoving them full of another pill. By going into their homes and saying "Hey! I'm your nurse! Where are you from - since I know you're not from Florida because no one is actually from Florida!!" you set the tone of your meetings. My patients are happily surprised that I'm not there to remind them that they're dying visit after visit. I'm there to make sure they're comfortable and still be able to have a great time living out the remainder of whatever time they have left. We don't focus on dying. We focus on the present moment - something they don't think of when they hear the scary word "hospice." As our work mantra goes, we treasure life.

I've learned that my fellow nurses and co-workers are fantastic sounding boards and stress-relievers. To be 100% honest, we all have a rather weird, warped sense of humor when we're not on the clock. And even maybe when we're on the clock. Maybe. Maybe it's because I brought my weird, warped sense of humor to the job that only comes with growing up in a funeral home. Whatever the case, we can be dark and sarcastic around each other one minutes, and we can laugh and vent and cry on each other's shoulders the next. My co-workers are fabulous sources of information...we call each other daily just to run ideas and theories by each other. I'm never alone. If I have a patient who is freaking out and won't stop throwing up and I've gotten mucus all over my scrubs and I have to get the urine sample to the lab by 3:00 when they close and it's 2:45 and I'm on the other side of town, never fear. I mean, yes. Fear and trembling and speeding across town to get to the lab, sure. But at the end of the day we sit and talk and I find out that yay! I'm not the only one going through this. It's awesome.

I've learned it's ok to cry for my patients, for people I might have known this entire year or only an entire day. Sure, not to cry so much that my patient's family has to comfort me, but to cry in empathy and sadness for their loss. To acknowledge their own sadness and not just sit there filling out funeral home paperwork or staring at the charting on my computer screen. To pay tribute to a life. A person. A fellow human being. I had a family member tell me last week that it meant so much to them to see me tear up when their father died - that they knew their father had made an impact on my life in just the short time I knew him. They were grateful to know I cared.

I think I also had to go to the bathroom since I hadn't gone in 12 hours, but still.



I love my patients. I love to find out who they were before they became bedbound. I love when they want to tell me about their kids and grandkids, their dogs, their jobs, the places they've traveled. I love when they open up and tell me things they are scared to tell their family, but by sharing their thoughts and fears they gain the courage to make things right with their mother or daughter or son or dad. They like to know they're not just a patient in a hospital bed, that their dreams and fears and thoughts and feelings still matter.

So here's what I plan to do as I celebrate my one year with hospice.

  • Look people in the eye more often. Be an active listener. Make them know that they matter.
  • Laugh more. Give more. Realize we're not promised tomorrow, so we better make the most of each breath today.
  • Let things go. As my husband likes to remind me, "It is what it is." No matter how much energy I spend complaining and griping and wanting to pull my hair out, my circumstances are dictated by how I react to a situation. I can actually choose to be happy or upset, relaxed or stressed. Positive or negative. It is what it is!
  • Appreciate the little things that I used to find so insignificant. If I get bored with my work-sleep-work-sleep routine day in and day out, guess what? At least I have a work-sleep routine. I'm not bedbound. I don't have to have someone else talk for me. I can feed myself (Diet Coke, mostly). Some days, these are major accomplishments.
So that's that. How do you celebrate the days you've been given?

Today I love: Warm, spring-like temps with a nice ocean breeze and sitting outside while I blog. And drink Diet Coke.

I also love my niece, who I'm currently molding to become part of the next great generation of nurses.

Exam gloves on the feet? Nailed it.