Never to be Forgotten

I first wrote this post on the 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  I’m reposting it today on the 10th anniversary.

I think every decade or two has an event occur in history that is so momentous that virtually anyone who was alive during that time can tell you exactly where they were when they heard that news. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were that event in history for the current decade.

I was at work at approximately 6:30 that morning PST in a hospital in Spokane, Washington. I was walking down the hall and glanced into a patient’s room and noticed our charge nurse standing there staring at the television with a stunned expression on her face. This is a nurse who has 30 plus years of experience dealing with life and death situations every day. The fact that whatever was unfolding was stunning her scared me before I even knew what was unfolding. I glanced up at the tv in time to see the second tower of the World Trade Center crash to the ground. As I heard that this was the second tower to fall the charge nurse and I glanced at each other and almost at the same time said “This was no accident.” The patient grabbed my hand and all three of us in the room had tears either in our eyes or streaming down our cheeks. The last hour of that shift until I got off work at 7:30 was the quietest and most somber I’d ever seen the floor I worked on. Staff were concerned about a co-worker of ours who was due to fly back from Boston that morning. Some patients had family and friends in the NYC area and were frantically trying unsuccessfully to reach them. As the day shift staff came in it was apparent right away many of them had been crying recently. At least one staff member was crying as she said she’d tried to reach our co-worker stuck in Boston for the past hour and not been able to reach her cellular phone. All of us expressed feelings of shock and sadness. More that one of us used the word surreal to describe how the whole situation felt. As I left work that morning the news announcer on the radio was announcing it was just becoming clear just how many people were presumed to be dead. I drove home with tears streaming down my face.

Later that morning my mother and I drove to Airway Heights, Washington near Fairchild Air Force Base. The base was locked down, of course. We were approximately three or four miles from the base entrance and within a five minute span saw no less than six local police patrol cars. The fact that the perimeter of the base was being patrolled so closely really made it seem more real to me because that hit so close to home. I went home and cried myself to sleep. I can’t think of a single day in my life when I have shed so many tears in one day. Each year on September 11 I can’t help but remember exactly where I was and how I felt when I heard the tragic news. I imagine that I, like many, many others, will continue to remember that for a very long time.

Assumptions and Conclusions

Several years ago when I was in nursing school I had an experience with an Emergency Room doctor that was less than positive. In fact, it was downright hurtful because of a just plain wrong assumption he made. It was the operating room rotation of school and I was spending half of the term observing in an operating room. I had been watching a surgery standing on a small stool so that I could see over the surgeon’s shoulder. I was fascinated by what I was watching and standing very still… unfortunately, with my knees locked. I stood too still for too long and the circulation to my legs decreased and my blood pressure dropped. Any guesses what came next? Yes, I fainted. I landed flat on the floor and the next thing I knew one of the OR staff members was waking me from my nap. My instructor arrived and I was taken to the ER to have a doctor make sure I was alright. The doctor who came in the exam room to see me wasted no time in jumping to the conclusion that because I was 20 to 30 pounds overweight I must have skipped breakfast and that was what lead to me fainting. And he told me this conclusion he came to not terribly politely at all. I insisted that yes, I know I am overweight and yes, I am attempting to lose weight but I did not skip breakfast. I had, in fact, had a snack of peanutbutter and crackers just before going into the OR to watch the surgery. My instructor and one of the OR staff tried to explain to him that I had been standing with my knees locked on that stool for at least an hour. He chose to completely ignore the perfectly valid physiological reason for my blood pressure to drop. Instead he continued to harp on the issue of my weight. I remember being very angry, hurt, and offended. I shed a few tears of anger, hurt, and humiliation later that day. But now I’ll share the humorous part of this story. Before our OR rotation the instructor had told all of the students that if we were going to faint, do not fall into the sterile field. Very sage advice. Well, my first words to her after I was awakened was “I didn’t fall into the sterile field!” She got a grin on her face and began to chuckle at that.

Effective Teacher

I’ve recently started taking piano lessons.  How I came to start them is a story in itself.  I was just having a casual conversation with a friend who is a musician.  I mentioned that one instrument I’ve always wanted to learn to play is the piano.  I said maybe someday I’ll treat myself to lessons.  The friend responded with the questions “Why someday?  What are you waiting for?”  I didn’t have a good answer, so…  Here I am taking lessons!  But what I really meant to discuss in this post is my piano tutor.  He’s a very effective teacher for two key reasons.  First of all, he’s very patient.  But the other reason is that he gives a very good blend of positive reinforcement and specific constructive criticism.  He gives a very even mix of the two.  For every compliment, I get told a very clear area to work on improving.  It is just such a pleasure to learn from someone who is so effective at teaching.  Given the fact I found this tutor by answering an ad on craigslist, I really lucked out.

Can You Imagine?

Multiple news agencies are reporting that Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant.  As a woman, I can’t imagine what she’s feeling right now.  This should be a very joyful time for her, celebrating this wonderful news.  Instead, she must be horribly confused and conflicted as her husband is being accused of having inappropriate relationships with other women.  How far those inappropriate relationships went is up for debate.  But at the very least, the man has proven himself to be a liar.  He first adamantly  denied sending lewd photos to women via twitter private messages and insisted his twitter account was hacked into.  He later reversed his stance and admitted he had indeed sent the photos himself.  That alone is proof he’s a liar.  And if he’s being dishonest about that, what else is he being dishonest about?  I’m certainly not presuming to know what his wife is thinking.  But if that thought crossed my mind and I’m a completely objective bystander, it’s a very good guess the thought has also crossed her mind.  I feel empathy for the conflicting emotions she must be feeling at what should be only a positive and happy time in her life.  This is just another example of how being dishonest hurts those people closest to you.

Blessing in Disguise

So, it’s been 7 months now since my diagnosis.  And boy, has my life changed.  But for the better.  Absolutely for the better.  I’m healthier and stronger feeling than I’ve been in years.  I’m down to a weight I haven’t been in eight years, at least.  I can’t seem to stop bragging to my friends and family about my weight loss.  I’ve lost 40 lbs and am only 2 lbs away from my BMI going down from the “obese” category to the “overweight” category.  I do still have about 30 to 35 more lbs to lose, but since I’m already over halfway there the rest is all downhill from here.  That does not mean I’m getting complacent at all.  I’m eating better than ever and doing great with my regular exercise.  In fact, this week I increased my number of workouts from 4 days to 5.  I whine a bit (ok, a lot) and drag my feet about working out, but I’m always so glad when I do it… It just feels so good afterwards!  Sure, my main reason for doing it is to make those insulin receptors more sensitive and help control my blood sugar.  But the fact I’m losing a decent amount of weight while I’m at it is certainly a nice bonus.  My blood sugars have been in great control and at my last doctor’s appointment she even let me cut back my oral diabetic med from twice a day to once.  I’m feeling pretty confident right now about my health, my body, and my ability to stay on top of this disease.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to get lazy about it.  I know I need to work hard every minute of every day to stay on top of it.  But I’m feeling like it is doable.  I can do this!  I may not want to, but I can.  And it turns out that this nasty disease has actually been a blessing in disguise.  Without it, who knows when I would have found the motivation I needed to make the lifestyle changes I needed to.

A perfect day

If it’s possible to have a perfect day, today has been one.  In so many ways and on so many levels.  Where to start?  I went hiking this morning up a butte near my house.  It’s about 2,500 feet high and really beautiful.  A year .. and 35 lbs… ago I attempted this butte and made it halfway up before I had turn around and come back down because I was too short of breath to continue.  Today I went 3/4 of the way up before I chickened out and turned around and came back down because the trail was too muddy.  It’s a very steep trail.  But 3/4 of the way up I wasn’t short of breath at all!  What an improvement over a year ago.  And then the sun continued to shine instead of the rain starting which had been forecasted.  And I found some new sweats that are ridiculously soft and comfortable.  And I’ve been eating good food choices all day … which has kept my blood sugar absolutely perfect all day long.  This evening I’m going to hang out with my oldest niece.  That should be a fabulous way to end a perfect day.  I’m just feeling so happy and healthy today that I wanted to share that.  :)

Up and down and back and forth

Diabetes sucks.  That is a fact.  I have diabetes.  Also a fact.  And lately that’s really been bothering me… frustrating me… making me mourn the days I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without having to give a single thought to my food consumption.  Those days are gone… and ain’t never coming back.  What is also a fact is that it is in my power how I choose to deal with this.  I can choose to be in denial, eat poor food choices, and eventually (probably sooner rather than later) have to pay the price for that.  But as a nurse, I’ve seen up close the price that not controlling your blood sugar costs.  And that is one high price.  I’m not willing to pay it.  So, that only leaves doing the best I can to control my blood sugar.  That is what I am choosing to do.  It’s helping me to think of it in terms of it being my choice rather than something I’m being forced to do.  Just ask my mom… I don’t particularly like being told what to do.  :)  Speaking of my mom, I had an interesting conversation with her the other morning that was probably more helpful than she realized.  I was venting about not being able to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.  She said “So, do it.”  I replied something to the effect that that’s just not an option if I want to stay healthy.  So she pointed out the only option left is to accept it.  My mom really does have a way of getting to point.  She wasn’t being cruel or unkind.  She was helping me see I do have a choice.  So I’m feeling a renewed motivation to make good food choices.  This morning my fasting blood sugar was 95 (and that was after only 2 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours) and after I ate my healthy breakfast my blood sugar was only 101.  So I was pleased about that.  I’m back to feeling like I really can get the hang of this.  It’s also helped to think of terms of nothing being completely verboten.  I can still eat any thing I want.  It’s the portion I need to change.  I just need to fit it into my total carbs for the day.  That’s helped me not feel so restricted.  And I realized I need to give myself time.  It’s been 5 months since my diagnosis.  This is a lifelong disease.  It’s ok to have up and down days… as long as I move on from the down days and learn from them.  So that’s what I’m trying to do.  Today is Easter and it’s fitting that I’m feeling this way today.  Easter, to me, has always meant a time of renewal and fresh starts.  I wish you all a blessed and Happy Easter and thank you for listening to my rambling, as always.

Seeing Real Progress

So, several people at work who see me frequently have mentioned I really look like I’ve lost a lot of weight.  Always nice to hear, of course.  And a few weeks ago I did go buy some new scrubs for work in 2 sizes smaller than I was wearing.  That felt amazing.  I called my mom as I was walking out of the store and I was giggling in delight as I told her about it.  The last time I weighed myself a few days ago I’m down 33 pounds since my initial diagnosis of diabetes on November 3rd… so in not quite 5 months.  I’m only 4′ 10″ so that 33 pounds really does make a difference.  I went through my closet this evening and realized that practically none of my clothes fit me anymore!  Except for the scrubs I bought for work recently, all of my clothes are TOO BIG!  It feels absolutely wonderful to see the weight loss in real terms.  Since I see myself in the mirror every day, it’s hard to see it come off slowly.  But now that it’s enough to notice and to have my clothes not fit, it feels terrific!  I’m even considering having my picture re-taken for my name badge at work… I have about another 30 pounds to lose so I don’t want to go spend a lot of money on clothes that aren’t going to fit me in another 5 months or so.  So I’m thinking over the next few days off work I will go make the rounds of second-hand stores in town.  I expect to have to dig through a lot of stuff I would never wear but I should be able to find some great deals, too.  This is fun!  And it’s amazing how good I feel.  My energy level is better than ever and I feel healthy and am sleeping well and just feel good. I like this feeling and plan to keep doing the right things to keep feeling this way.  I’m feeling very motivated at the moment.  :)

No. Just… no.

I came across this news article this evening that at first I was sure had to be hoax.  So I did some quick searching and it only took me a moment to find it on a reputable news site (MSNBC).  Here is the link to it.

In a nutshell, a 24 yr old Dutch nurse was asked to provide services of a sexual nature for her 42 yr old male disabled patient.  She refused, and the patient had the woman fired from his care.  The nurses union got involved and has started a nationwide campaign against the practice of patients demanding sexual favors from nurses.  There are apparently a number of these patients who claim it is within the standard of care for nurses to provide these services.  Oh, but I’m quite sure it is NOT part of the standard of care, and that is just the stance that the nurses union is taking.  We, nurses, are NOT prostitutes.  What we ARE is professional, educated health care team members.  And I can’t believe in this day and age, the public needs to be reminded of that fact… no matter what country you live in.  To think that we as nurses are responsible for providing sexual services to our patients is demeaning and insulting.  It essentially says we are nothing but prostitutes, who provide those services for pay.  I don’t know a single fellow nurse who would at all be ok with being seen this way or treated this way.  It’s absurd to me that this topic even needs to be discussed.  Helping a patient gain sexual satisfaction is so far across any line of professionalism that it shouldn’t need to even be discussed.  It is so incredibly inappropriate that I’m astounded it goes on.  But according to the young lady who was fired from this particular patient’s care, it does happen.  The news article states that she witnessed “some” of the patients other nurses providing these services to him.  I don’t know how many others she witnessed or in what manner they were doing this, but neither of those things are important.  What’s important is that this inappropriate, unprofessional and flat out wrong behavior happened.  Wow.  Apparently, according to the nurses union, the police are now investigating.  I’m happy to hear that.  So… feel free to add your thoughts and comments.  Always happy to hear from my fellow bloggers.