nurse

24 Weeks and Counting, an update

Well, it has been a rough couple of weeks for me.  As it turns out, I am REALLY bad about taking it easy without constantly giving myself reminders.  My husband has become a professional at telling me not to do things I am not supposed to do, and reminding me to stop and take breaks.  I have become crabby, which is not a usual thing for me and I don’t like it.  The kids, well, they have really taken to the encouraged independence.  Liam and The Bean now put themselves to bed at nap and bedtime.  I am trying to not miss the snuggles I use to steal when carrying them upstairs too much.

For Catriona things are going well, or at least as good as we can hope for!  We had a very positive checkup at 23 weeks where she measured exactly on target (which is amazing for a little girl who is most likely going to be tiny!) and her heart rate was a lovely 145.  Her kick counts have been perfect.  The only concerning thing that has come up recently have been frequent Braxton Hicks contractions.  Thankfully they are not following any pattern at this point and have only been over the 6 an hour allowed at this stage of pregnancy a handful of times.  At the 23 week appointment they found an infection so I am hopeful that after a week of antibiotics things will calm down in the contraction department.  Our next ultrasound is at 27 weeks and I am still hoping for a miracle!  At this point, however, I am simply thankful to have made it this far.

At 23-24 weeks babies begin making a substance called surfactant.  This is used by the body to help stabilize the alveoli in the lungs (The alveoli help oxygen get from the air to the bloodstream, but in order to do this they need to be nice and plump like a grape, surfactants help keep them from collapsing when you exhale).  With the production of surfactant comes the chance for survival with pre-term births, so if something were to happen tonight Catriona would have a fighting chance, especially with the awesome hospitals in this area.  24 weeks was a big milestone for us.  I celebrated with a braided chicken pot pie bread with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for dessert 🙂

On a personal note, because I am carrying so low this time (thanks to the less than stable environment my body created for Catriona) life is becoming uncomfortable.  There are definitely times where it already feels like the last (everlasting) month of pregnancy.  clothing is also becoming uncomfortable.  Maternity pants with the cloth panel fall off of me because my belly isn’t quite large enough for them, but the ones with the low band are too tight for me to wear and do essential things like breathe, or not walk like a penguin.  My go to pants of choice for this pregnancy are becoming yoga pants.  I could sing a song for how much I love them lately.  I see a lot of dresses coming up in my future as well.  The plus side? My maternity scrubs are the most comfortable articles of clothing ever (even if one pocket does oddly fall right on the center of my expanding stomach).

No, Thank You.

Over the last decade (plus) of working as a geriatric nurse I have, on occasion, become close to not only the patients I care for but also their families.  In any long-term care and skilled nursing facility you get to know family members, especially the ones that visit often.  You build a professional relationship with them that can so easily become personal as you share some of the most emotionally challenging times of their lives as they watch their mother, father, beloved aunt or uncle, or that special grandparent go through the stages of chronic illness and eventually move on.   The majority of the time I work exceptionally hard to keep that relationship professional.  I do this not because I do not care, I do… deeply.  I create that boundary to protect my emotional well-being.  This serves a double purpose of being able to more easily compartmentalize my emotions so that I can comfort a grieving family member while continuing to provide quality care to my other patients.

This weekend we had a death.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it was a death that hit harder than others have for multiple reasons.  The patient was special.  You know how some people just light up a room?  This patient was able to do that even when battling severe pain from the cancer that would eventually take away life.  There was a sparkle in this patient’s eye that nothing could extinguish.  This patient’s smile was catching and made your heart lighter and was a gift that was shared with everyone.  This patient’s family loved him deeply.

I went in to work on Friday knowing I had to work a double shift and that I was going to be working on the long-term care unit rather than the skilled unit I typically work on.  I was a little excited to go into work because I was going to be able to spend some extra time with residents that I no longer get to see as much since switching to the skilled floor a month ago.  I was feeling refreshed coming in after 3 days off.  My nurse-partner and I work so well as a team, and Friday started our weekend together.  The family of the dying patient was in sitting with him, socializing with each other, doing everything they could to lift each other’s spirits.  They had been in non-stop for 4 days at that point since the patient had taken a turn for the worst Monday night holding vigils and celebrating a life lived well and full of love.  Immediately after they all went home for the night the patient took his last breath and went to sleep.  I made what is always the hardest phone call in the world to make to his family.  They came back to say goodbye one more time and upon entering the building thanked me.  The words they said were beautiful and appreciated, but I have some of mine own to say back to them.

 

Thank you.

Thank you for showing me that there are still families that will drop everything to be with a loved one in their time of need.

Thank you for openly sharing your love with each other.

Thank you for including not only the family of blood, but also this patient’s family of choice.

Thank you for dropping any problems you may have with one another and supporting one another through this time.

Thank you for bringing laughter in what can be a dark time.

Thank you for sharing your stories with myself and all of the other staff.

Thank you for supporting this patient’s end of life choices, giving him the support he wanted and needed, and allowing us to provide him with as much comfort as possible.

Thank you for openly appreciating not only my work, but also the work of every single staff member in the facility.  You don’t know how very rare that is.

Thank you for cherishing and learning from your elders.

 

I see a lot of death because of the age group I choose to work with.  I wish I could say that I see the open love in every family that I saw in this one, but sadly that just isn’t true.  So I will leave everyone with this thought.  Family is the most important thing you can create in this world.  It does not matter if the “family” you create is related to you by blood or if they are a family of choice… if you are lucky you will have both.

Cherish them.  Love them.  Support them in their times of need.  It will pay you back ten fold.

 

Day 18

Day 18 of the selfie challenge

Today was another day of IV class for me. Liam got to hang out with his babysitter and play with his water table outside… I am slightly jealous, it was hot out today!
I do love the snuggles and sharing I got from Liam after arriving home after a long day away.

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Day 16

Day 16 of the selfie challenge

Wow! The last two days were crazy at work, and the selfie challenge was certainly placed on the back burner. This morning I finally arrived home from work, exhausted, at a little after 8 am. The awesome hubs let me crash for a bit before dropping Liam off at Grammy’s house and going to play a round of Father’s Day golf with my da and brother. Afterwards I met up with everyone for dinner… We snapped this selfie as we were getting ready to head back home.

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And now I am cuddling up with the puppy brothers thinking about going back to bed. Those double shifts are just not as easy to recover from as they use to be in my twenties.

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Day 13

So here I am… At day 2 of my IV course… Exhausted. Math makes me tired. Actually, let me rephrase that; I love math, but repetitive math because sometimes people have trouble learning it makes me tired.
I get math, I have a hard time waiting for other people to get it too. So today I decided to take my heavy eyes to Dunkin Donuts for lunch.

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I am really not sure this is going to help the situation. It just might make me fidgety and exhausted at the same time, which is always bad news.

Did you know that statistically people perform better in mathematics in the morning? This afternoon will certainly be… Interesting. Wish me lots of luck.

The Power of Hugs

I am not a hugger by nature, but I am one by design and these are a few reasons why:

  • Hugs or other tactile contact between individuals has been proven to be essential to a person’s well being from the moment they are born.  A simple hug that lasts at least 3 seconds can change the course of someone’s day by providing them with comfort and a short mental recharge.
  • There are multiple studies out there showing that elderly individuals can benefit significantly from “touch therapy” including: hugs, massage, hand holding, shoulder holding, and pet therapy.  The multitude of benefits from a simple touch in the elderly include everything from a decrease in rates of depression and pain, to increases in functional ability (especially in arthritic patients), and overall increases in life satisfaction.
  • Hugs help build relationships and promotes healing.  Used in the clinical setting they can provide patients with additional mental resources to use in combating their illnesses.  The absence of touch has actually been shown to negatively influence a person’s mental status over time causing them to be withdrawn and less likely to heal.
  • Hugging is a two way street.  Sure the person you are hugging is reaping tons of benefits from the hug, but you are getting your own little mental boost as well.
The best part of my day

The best part of my day

So go out and hug someone who is receptive to a hug…. especially your Grandparents.  If they aren’t huggers try a shoulder pat or a hand hold.  The power of touch is immense and it will not only benefit the person being touched but also the person doing the touching 🙂

Interested in reading more, in depth research on the importance and power of a hug?  Check out these awesome journal articles:

Providing Wholistic Health Care for the Elderly; by: Pamela A Shuler, Roxana Huebscher, and Judith Hallock; in the Journal of The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

and

The Touch That Heals; by: Drew Leder, and Mitchell W Krucoff; in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine

A Long Journey In Nursing Part 2, The Love/Hate Relationship

So as I mentioned before I currently have a love/hate relationship with my job. I think this is something that every mom who chooses to go back to work can relate to. I love going to work. I love my job. Practicing the art of nursing is vital to my overall happiness and well being. I hate leaving my son….
I know! I can’t have it both ways, and it really doesn’t make any sense to love going to work but hate leaving my son, but that is how it is. Every day that I pack up my lunch and head out the door I do so with a sense of anticipation regarding what that evening will bring at work. One of the joys of nursing is that no two nights are ever the same. Nursing is certainly not a dull career; it’s a career for those with a sense of adventure. There I also a little part of me that is just happy to be heading out the door to spend some time with adults.
Now don’t get me wrong, I cherish every little moment Liam and I have together. Every dance party, music party, play time party (we like to party), and snuggle-fest are part of those little moments I like to try and capture to carry with me. I fully realize that he is only going to be 9 months old once, and I don’t want to miss anything. I hate to leave him for fear that I will miss that “first” that I so desperately want to be there for.
I also know that if I need to go to work to take on the challenges it provides: advocating for my patients, catching that patient’s start of urosepsis before it gets too bad, educating my staff, building relationships within the nursing team, and a million other little things that help make life better for those that are entrusted to my care. If I didn’t my personal view of myself would change in a negative way. I don’t feel like I could be as good of a mom to Liam and wife to my husband without meeting the challenge of balancing a career and a family.
So what does that say about me that part of my sense of self worth is based on a title that I hold and a job that I perform?
Honestly , I am really not sure. Part of me feels like it’s ok, I have worked really hard (and paid a lot of money) to earn these degrees with the intention that I would use them. I continue to work hard to further my education and career because my parents taught me the value of hard work, and to enjoy the satisfaction that performing a difficult task provides. I firmly believe that the harder you have to work for something the more enjoyment it will bring in the long run (and the more appreciative you will be for it). I hope that the example I set for my son as a working mom by choice will be a good one and will encourage him to have similar ambitions and drive. At the same time I worry that by not staying at home to satisfy my need to work I will somehow miss something that he needs to grow into a productive and responsible adult.
Only time will tell…

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