Twelve Years Ago

I’m tired. My eyes are stinging from lack of sleep and the realization that I likely didn’t get enough sleep today, but whatever.

I just finished drafting and sending a long overdue email to my mom’s oncologist to thank him. Jesus, how do you thank someone for saving your mom’s life? All my words felt trite, silly, trivial, but I still felt compelled to send the email.

So, I did.

I can’t believe that this November will mark twelve years. Twelve years ago, my mom and I sat in a local coney island restaurant when she received her diagnosis.

Sarcoma.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. My mom’s biopsy had been days earlier and we were all anxiously awaiting the results. As we dined, her cell phone rang.

She answered. She dug around in her purse for a pen and began writing on her paper placemat. My heart sank. I had a feeling this wasn’t good news if it required written words on a cheap diner placemat. My mom began scribbling while she spoke.

“Sarcoma?”

Her scribbles continued. More words, most of which I cannot even remember now, but the one I remember the most was

sarcoma.

fuck.

As someone just entering nursing school, I knew that any word ending in -oma didn’t always hold great promise. Sarcoma is defined as a malignant tumor of connective or nonepithelial tissues.

I can look back and type all of this now without pausing to grab a fucking kleenex, wipe my eyes, cry angry tears, and wander through my days trying to muster up the strength to be strong for the one of the people I loved most in this entire world.

But, those feelings are still very raw and real. My mom and I comment often how we never really forget that time in her life, but as the time passes, we see it move further and further away in life’s rear view mirror.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard the word ‘sarcoma’ uttered very recently again. This time it’s affecting a peer.

fuck.

I really hoped I could go the rest of my life without hearing that word used in conjunction with anyone I know.

Cancer is insidious and evil and indiscriminate. It doesn’t give two shits about anyone or what good they bring to the table.

And after hearing this word again, I was immediately transported back to that coney island, sitting in that same booth across from my mother as she wrote the word

sarcoma.

So, the fight begins again. And yes, I can sit here and type words like ‘fight’ and ‘hope’ because my mother is living proof that there are badass researchers, doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical professionals that make all the difference. She is LIVING PROOF of such medical advancements.

So, you can just fuck right off, cancer.

You’re not welcome here.

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Whole30 Day 18

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Wow.

Here I am on the downward slope of the Whole30 program, and I gotta admit: I’m feeling pretty damn good.

The question on everyone’s mind is usually: have you cheated? The short answer:

Yes.

I never set out to quit alcohol completely, BUT, I have nearly eliminated it. We traveled out of town last week, and yes, I did have a couple of cocktails. I also did have a tiny bit of cheese on a croissant, as we were lunch guests, and I wasn’t going to decline a meal with family for my Whole30 endeavor. As it was, I didn’t crave more, and it was a pretty small portion.

So, fast forward to Day 18. I sit here this morning, watching the news with my trusty black coffee, and I’m not feeling deprived in the least bit. As the days pass, and I can feel the difference in how my clothes fit, in my increased energy levels, and my improved sleep, I know this shit is working. It feels good to be in charge of food, rather than feeling as if food has some sort of hold on me.

My food choices have been quite good, but I do find myself falling into the same routines when it comes to breakfast. I always eat eggs and some fruit. I never thought I would ever eat so many eggs, but dozens and dozens later, I’m still coming back for more. Fruit has never tasted so damn sweet, and I find that oftentimes I can eat fruit as a ‘dessert’, and it satisfies my sweet tooth just fine. I still LOVE Taco Tuesday at work, and find the ground beef, shredded chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, and green onions taste quite good without the chips, cheese, and sour cream. Who knew?

Our recent trip to Boston was punctuated by some delicious seafood as well, and come on, who doesn’t love lobster with drawn butter (both Whole30 approved!)

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Don’t get me wrong. I still have some cravings and wistful longings for a large, cold Diet Coke from the McDonald’s drive thru, along with some delicious hot, tasty french fries, but those cravings are far and fewer between. I don’t really find myself as fixated on food in general, and for that I am grateful.

In 43 days, we travel to Kauai, and I am toying with the idea of simply keeping up the Whole30 program, or at least some semblance of one until that time. What better incentive than palm trees, Mai Tais, and beautiful sunsets with my handsome husband?

Who knows? I might even need some new clothes…

 

Day Six

Six days down. Twenty four days to go.

I’m feeling strong. I’m feeling proud of myself. And quite possibly the biggest thing that Whole 30 has taught me thus far is that there are countless times I have likely eaten something when I wasn’t even hungry. I’ve eaten out of boredom, sadness, anxiety, peer pressure, but oftentimes, it’s not due to hunger.

I have found myself really paying attention to the times I had just inadvertently taken a few bites of my daughter’s mac and cheese, grabbed a handful of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, relied on something less than ideal for a snack. It’s actually quite sobering to see just how often this happened.

That said, while I have visions of martinis and french fries dancing in my head, I’m feeling so proud of myself. I have stayed the course for six days, and the cravings are waning. My waistline feels smaller, my ‘pooch’ is definitely less ‘poochy’, and I can only wonder what the next 24 days hold.

Next week, we travel out of town, and this will be the ultimate test. Traveling, restaurants, cocktails, but no. I’m going to take it one meal, one day at a time.

For now, I’m victorious.

But, I’m getting awfully tired of eggs.

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A new dog, a new day, a new outlook

Well, the time had come for the Fords to finally complete their family, and they did so with a bark. Not a bang. A bark. Yes, we got a dog. Not just any dog, but a kick-ass, fun-loving, 2-year old rescue from the Missouri Humane Society. Upon meeting him, his given name was Maury, and while I tried to remain neutral about said name, every time I heard it, I immediately conjured up images of paternity tests, screaming women, and mental images of Maury Povich saying, ‘You are NOT the father’. Yeah, that name had to go.

Meet Bernie/Bernardo/BernBern/TheBernerator/Bernardino/Bernasticator. He’s a sweet boy with quite the personality. We have had the pleasure of his company for over a month now, so I suppose it seems only fitting to mention him in this blog post.

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I think he’s sticking around for a while. Bernie is my homage to my failed Presidential nominee, but that’s where the similarities end. He’s a typical canine teen and needs some good obedience training and consistency with his humans, but we are up to the task, even if the toddler and cat of the household aren’t so certain.

Finished up a really nice vacation in Michigan, visiting my mom and son last week. Why is it that time just seems to literally FLY by? Ugh. I hate the end of vacations. Seriously. At least we have some guests coming for visits in September, a trip to Boston in October, and a return to paradise (Kauai) in late November. That should round out the year nicely.

One other interesting wrinkle in the recent vacation was the fact that in the hustle and bustle of planing, deplaning, toddler wrangling, and overhead compartment space, I managed to leave my beloved iPhone 6 Plus in the seat back pocket of the seat in front of me. I realized it once we arrived at the baggage claim area, and I was frantically searching for my gadget to check in on Swarm/update Facebook status/text someone.

I was actually quite calm about it once the initial shock wore off.

I mean, so what? I am literally surrounded by technology in the form of my husband’s cell phone, my mother’s iMac, cell phone, and a variety of other connected devices. Was I truly ‘unplugged’? Never. Did I tempt myself with those devices a handful of times during the course of the week?

Yes.

But, it never held my rapt attention as it had in the past. I was happy to be disconnected. I felt free. I felt unencumbered by some perverse desire to share mundane minutiae with ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’. It was deliciously liberating. As a result, I went to see a matinee movie with my son and walked in absolutely devoid of any sort of technology to silence, shut off, or otherwise disable for the duration of the film.

Wonderful.

I also enjoyed a relatively tech-free day at Cedar Point amusement park with said son and husband. The only evidence of our day was a short coaster video and a photo or two taken by my husband’s iPhone to chronicle a soaking wet, happy wife to mark my 48th birthday as I rode the wettest flume ride to appease the child that resides inside.

That. Was. It.

Did I glance at Facebook during the car ride? Yep. Did I update a status or two? Sure. Did I allow the phone to pull me into its whirling vortex of time sucking emptiness? Nope. I felt changed. I felt different somehow.

See, the thing is I’ve never been without my trusty cell phone for longer than it takes for me to close my eyes and sleep. It’s always with me. I admit, I even use it when I shower, as it doubles as a streaming audio device for purposes of listening to music or the occasional NPR news broadcast. I am nearly ashamed to admit it was the last thing I looked at before bed at night and the first vision I saw in the early morning before my eyes could even adjust to wakefulness. Such a damn shame.

I found myself waking up during vacation feeling relaxed, refreshed and actually looking forward to real interactions between my family, rather than spending time peering over the top of an iPhone screen, half-distracted between listening (not really) and nodding absentmindedly as my husband details a funny story that happened to him at work.

This just feels different this time. Perhaps it was meant to be, somehow. Eh, bullshit. I left my phone behind out of some absentminded parental lapse. What came after that, however, has left an indelible impression.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to my friends, family, husband, and children for living in a state of near-constant distractedness. I’m sorry that when you may think of me, you have a vision of a woman with short, colorful hair always with a phone clutched in her hand. I’m thankful that my son grew up in a time BEFORE the ubiquitous cell phone, yet I’m sad that my daughter already may have a memory of her mother staring down at one.

What did I miss most about my phone? The camera. I wanted to capture moments on this vacation, yet I didn’t feel compelled to necessarily SHARE those moments with social media. I shared an image or two, but NOTHING like I would have before. I was grateful to my family for snapping a few photos, and that satisfied my inner shutterbug.

It all feels so meaningless. In the greatest fucking way possible.

I just don’t care anymore. And I don’t care that I don’t care anymore. Ok,  you get the idea.

What do I care about? I care that I’ve managed to devour a REAL book in a matter of days. Oh, Stephen King, how I’ve missed our visits together. I care about the fact that I don’t have the Facebook tab open on my computer, as I complete a grad school assignment. I care that I’m actually LISTENING and having real and meaningful conversations with friends and family, and most of all, my husband. I am looking people in the eye, not darting back and forth between iPhone and face, iPhone and face, iPhone and face. I care that I’m not multitasking. I’m not trying to watch a television program WHILE updating Facebook/reading a post/replying to a comment. I care that I’m here, blogging about it, because damn it, this is important to me.

So, today, my iPhone is being returned to me in the form of a FedEx delivery vehicle. I have tracked it, but beyond that? I don’t feel the usual overwhelming excitement once reserved for that little piece of technology.

I almost feel a little sad.

I’m sad that this little experiment is being forced to an end, yet at the same time, I feel determined to make this feeling last. And one things is for certain:

You won’t find this blog post on social media.

 

 

Damn. Time Flies.

Well, there goes two weeks off. Just like that. In a blink of an eye, I have managed to piss away nearly two weeks. Now, granted, we had big plans. We intended on traveling to Boston for a long weekend in order for Julia to meet her paternal grandfather for the very first time. A vague and unknown viral infection put a stop to that, and, in turn, sickened daddy.

Ah, well. Reschedule, we must. Thankfully, Southwest Airlines will allow us to use the dollar amount on future travel until March 31, 2017. So, we’ve got that going for us…

I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I did manage to complete a paper and a handful of discussion posts for grad school, so that put me a couple of weeks ahead. I am feeling pretty fucking fantastic about having completed nearly a year of my first year in the MSN program. I should preface this by saying that I NEVER envisioned returning to school, so this alone is a major feat. I am also somehow managing to be 3/4 finished with this latest 10-week quarter, and scoring a perfect 100%.

Shit.

How does that happen? Whatever. I’ll take it. Bragging? Hell yes.

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Tomorrow begins a newER journey for me. I have once again put on my leadership cap. A cap I thought for certain I would NEVER wear again. A cap I threw out over a year ago after vowing I would NEVER do management again.

Never is indeed a strong word, and one I should really learn to NEVER use.

In any event, I have accepted an assistant nurse manager position in my current unit, and while I was, and continue to be, excited about the possibility, I did harbor some feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and unease. Just as before, I will move into a management position in my current unit, and, well hell, I don’t know. I guess I just wasn’t sure how it would be received. It’s nerve-wracking to think your peers would give you the side eye when just months ago you may have said, “I’ll NEVER do that job again.”

There’s that damn word again.

But, I’m happy to report that the news has been greeted with congratulations, messages of support, and words of encouragement. I can’t really ask for more, now can I?

I think what surprises me most is that I’m actually excited to give leadership another go. I have those familiar feelings of anticipation to learning new things, meeting new people, and easing into a new role. For that feeling alone, I’m grateful. I think the biggest difference this time around is that I find myself in a unit that truly speaks to me. I am home there. Med/Surg just wasn’t my cup-o-tea, and I knew it.

Anyway, tomorrow it begins. Again.

So, those two weeks literally FLEW by, and while I vowed to read more for pleasure, I didn’t. While I vowed to get out with Julia and do more, we didn’t. While I vowed to get more accomplished around the house, I didn’t.

Oh well.

I can tell you one thing, though. When you find yourself playing with Snapchat filters to kill some time, it’s time to get back to work.

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Three Little Birds

…Don’t worry, ’bout a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright…”

Really, Bob? Is it gonna be alright? I’m beginning to wonder.

I am sitting at my computer, catching up on emails, cruising Facebook, chatting with friends via iMessage, and this song begins:

I needed that.

Over the course of the past few days, I’ve been struggling with learning that a friend of mine has suffered a major heart attack and subsequent health setbacks. She’s married with two small children. She’s 39 years old.

What in the actual fuck?

I can’t even deal. I can’t even wrap my brain around this. I can’t even think of what I would do in a similar situation. So many things I can’t process.

Invariably, I’m transported back in time. College days. Those heady times of life being lived to the absolute fullest, memories made that seem to get more important over the years. This friend of mine was a part of a small group of people that I have now known for almost thirty years.

Wait. THIRTY YEARS? Jesus.

Anyway, without getting into specifics, I have drifted away from these friends over the past few years, and that, along with the current situation hit me really hard. These people with whom I have shared memories for more years than I can even accurately count are simply not part of my daily/monthly/yearly life anymore.

And that makes me sad. Incredibly sad.

While I am miles and miles away from the current situation, feeling helpless, there is one thing I can do. I can do my best to reach out to these friends of mine and let them know just how much I love them all. It’s not necessarily important for them to reciprocate, but if they do, so be it. I’m not even going to sit here and say, ‘life is too short…’ yeah, no shit. Whatever water has flowed under the bridge we have built between ourselves, I hope that you are all well, loved, happy, fulfilled, and content.

And Fire up, Chips……

Nervous Nellie

Confession time.

Leaving the bedside as a nurse for a management job was quite possibly one of the worst things I have ever done.

Now that I have returned to the bedside, I feel nervous, anxious, worried, and doubtful. And it sucks. Big time. Things as simple as an IV push medication have become anxiety-provoking. I am afraid I’ll forget something, forget everything, forget to chart a detail, forget to draw a lab, forget my brain at home.

Yes, it’s true. I have forgotten how it feels to be a confident floor nurse.

Sigh….

I have bit my tongue for quite some time about my stint in management, but when I look back upon that brief experience, I don’t have much to feel good about. I felt awful going to work almost every single shift. I never once felt that I was making a difference.

I felt like I was checking boxes.

I felt like I was patching the bursting dam with bandaids.

I felt isolated. As a matter of fact, so much so that only working weekends and nights meant I never once met my direct manager after she had been on the job for six months. Not. Once.

I felt like I was espousing ideals that were no more rooted in reality than a magical unicorn.

I felt like I was becoming increasingly alienated at the bedside, through no fault of anyone but the job itself.

The biggest regret I have about that position is that it’s two years of my life and nursing career I cannot get back. To those who manage, my hat is off to you. You are better than me.

Fast forward to today, and I sit here awaiting my shift tonight. I am filled with trepidation and anxiety. Why? Well, because the bedside is all new once again. I almost feel like a new grad in some respects. The time management, the education, the feeling of being new once again sits front and center in my brain.

Sometimes I just wanna be a secretary again….

I can only hope that as I wind down this orientation that I’ll have that epiphany, that moment of clarity where I realize that it’s all gonna be ok, and that I’ll muddle through these moments only to emerge on the other side a better, stronger, more confident floor nurse.

One day at a time.