I am a PREOP nurse. Four days per week between Monday-Friday, I rise at 0430, put on the scrubs and drive my jeep at warp speed so I can begin my 0600-1530 work day. I prepare patients for surgery.
Two weeks ago, my hospital opened up a surgical unit for Orthopedics. All of the Orthopedic surgeries now go through PREOP/OR/PACU on their own floor. Today I got pulled to the Orthopedic Surgical Unit. It was my first shift there. I had a wtf moment when I saw my assignment: 0830, 0840, 0850, 0910, 1140, 1250. These patients had multiple health problems, were on a ton of medications, could barely walk and a few were hard IV sticks. The surgeon I worked with often moves fast and runs ahead. The orthopedic OR staff is also a little impatient. I felt like I’d been hit by a train. On top of it, here I was getting used to a new unit for the first time. Different geography, newer equipment and a different unit flow. At one point one of my charts fell apart because I was so frazzled I forgot to close the three ring binder before I closed the chart. I felt like a new grad today. Somehow I managed to get through it all without being removed in a straight jacket. My patients went to surgery safely and on time. The surgeon didn’t yell at me and after my first four patients I could finally exhale. I did it because I am a nurse and that’s what I do.
My husband is not a nurse but today he had to report to work at 0600, two and a half hours earlier than usual because of an extremely busy day for his department. Today at 2;46PM my husband sent me a text stating that he needed a nap. I told him to welcome to my Monday-Friday weekly sleep deprived trance. He said he didn’t know how I managed to get up at 0430 every day. My answer is simple. I am a nurse and that’s that I do.
On July 20, in my Social Media post, I mentioned a dying coworker. Four days later on July 24, she passed away in the early evening. Less than 12 hours later, I was back at work at 0600. I went through the motions of my work day, double checking my work because it was difficult to concentrate. I took good care of my patients. I reassured them their surgeries would turn out fine. I smiled. Behind my smile though was a broken heart for the loss of a good nurse that I’d worked closely with when she and I worked together in the Emergency Room. I had less than 12 hours after her death to get to bed, have a terrible night’s sleep and get to work to take care of my patients without any free time to take a moment to reflect upon her life and the purpose she had in mine. Nurses don’t get the luxury of putting our work on pause. We get a grip and just keep moving. All the time. I am a nurse and that is what I do.
The Appalachian Trail is only something that has recently entered my subconscious mind. I’d heard people mention it but never really gave it another thought because I was unaware of it’s significance. One day while we hiking our favorite trail, my husband told me about this couple he knew of when we were in our 20’s (friends of a friend) who were going to take several months off to hike the Appalachian Trail right after they got married. They’d spent months planning, preparing, buying gear and taking practice hikes. Four months before their wedding, the groom dumped the bride and the hike was cancelled.
Curious about the significance of the Appalachian Trail I decided to look for a book. I downloaded a book onto my nook entitled “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on The Appalachian Trail” by Paul V. Stutzman. The author of this book tells the story of how he lost his wife to cancer. After his wife died he continued to work at the restaurant he’d spent his entire career at until he realized he couldn’t do it anymore. In just two months he planned his hike and headed to Georgia to do the Georgia to Maine 2176 mile 300 mountain hike on the Appalachian Trail. His reason for this hike was to work through his grief and find his purpose again.
The author openly discussed his wife’s illness, his childhood, past and his regrets. He’s a deeply religious man and his relationship with God was a strong influence throughout this experience. In the book he stated that hiking the AT “mirrored his spiritual journey” as he sought out the gift of hope and new life. His descriptions of nature, the people he encountered along the way, the culture of the AT, his struggles on the trail, what he learned and his conversations with God left me feeling fulfilled when he completed the AT hike. I read this book last week. I loved it and absolutely could.not.put.it.down. It made me feel good and gave me great admiration for those who have hiked through the AT.
Spiritual Journey? Physical Challenge? Long distance hike? Nature? Count me in! I’m putting this on my bucket list. I told my husband about this book and asked him if he’d be interested in hiking the AT. He quickly said yes. I don’t know how or when this will materialize for us but I do know the universe will present it to us at the appropriate time. Until then, it’s research and lots of practice hikes. I’ll be in the woods if anyone is looking for me.
I’ll admit it, I like Instagram. I joined Instagram two years ago initially to monitor my son’s activity. At first I thought it was a little silly to have a social media site that displays pictures only but then I started to like it. I follow a variety of sites of interest in addition to my friends.
This week I found myself in a dilemma. Apparently the week of August 1-7 every year is World Breastfeeding Week. Each day this week as I’ve logged onto Instagram and scrolled through the feed, I’ve found a picture of one of my hospital coworkers with her bare breast exposed, feeding her one year old child. I instantly cringed, scrolled through Instagram at a more rapid pace and logged off.
I have two children. My firstborn child, my son was born six weeks prematurely via emergency Caesarean Section because I was critically ill with Pre-Eclampsia. Once I was more stable, alert and open to patient teaching, the nurses advised me that the breast milk of a woman who delivered prematurely was far more nutritious than a woman who carried her baby to full term. Even though my son had no adverse effects from his premature birth, it would be more beneficial for him to be breast fed for nutrients and immunity. I agreed to breast feed him but I told them I didn’t feel comfortable feeding the child from my breast so they taught me how to use a breast pump. The lactation consultant was supportive of my feelings and I managed to pump milk and put it into the bottle for five months for my son and nine months for my daughter. It worked. Everyone was happy and I have two very healthy children.
There are thousands of books and websites out there that emphasize the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby. Most of them make sense to me from a medical and health standpoint but some I just don’t agree with. Breastfed babies are demanding. They are difficult to put on a schedule and take longer to get to sleep through the night. They cluster feed. Breast milk is thinner than formula and less satisfying. They use the breast as a pacifier and you really don’t know how much milk the child is consuming because it’s not in a bottle with ounces. Some woman just sit around and breastfeed their babies all day. I don’t want to hear that its better for bonding either. You bond with a new born while they look into your eyes during cuddling, bath time, diaper changes, feeding, dressing and their awake times. It doesn’t make you a better mother. When they are teenagers I can assure you they won’t care if you breastfed them and they won’t want to discuss it either.
I’m going to get a little women’s libbish here now. I should have been part of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the late 1960’s through 1970’s but instead I was born in 1970. Maybe I got this from my mom then. My brother and I and were not breast fed. On top of that, here’s the mother of the child who’s trying to recover from a childbirth and needs the sleep but wait no, she has to get up to breast feed the baby while Daddy gets to sleep. My brother in law once said my sister in law had to breast feed so he could sleep at night. I wanted to rack him in the nuts and secretly tell my sister in law to let the girls dry up. No, no, thank you for playing buddy. If daddy enjoyed conceiving the child, which I’m sure he did, then he can get up and help feed the child in the middle of the night.
There, I said it. Now getting back to this Instagram issue. Seeing my Instagram friend with her bare breast exposed feeding her baby made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I had considered unfollowing her but I decided that was too extreme so I’m just going to suck it off and be on Instagram less until World Breastfeeding Week is over with. I shouldn’t have to do that though. I’m passionate about a lot of things too but I guess I’m just not one to post things on social media that make others feel uncomfortable. I’m happy for you that you love breastfeeding so much but maybe the rest of the world doesn’t share your same opinions. I don’t want to see your breast. I really don’t. Please put it away.