Embrace the suck

As the ball falls and the darkness of December fades into the light of January, a new year is born. With that comes a new found clarity, a rebirth and the opportunity to wipe the slate clean to start again. After 2020 isn’t that what we all want? Hope for better times ahead.

2020 began like any other year for me. When Covid-19 pulled the rug out from under us and excreted its venom upon the world, like everyone else, I found myself swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Would I get Covid? Would I lose someone to Covid? What is going to happen to my world as I know it?

I can’t look at 2020 as the year of suck. Instead, I choose to embrace it. There were plenty of things that sucked in 2020. 2020 taught me how to accept what is, let go of what isn’t and be grateful for what’s in front of me. On the home front, my husband and I quickly adopted that mantra as a coping mechanism, means of survival and a way to keep our young adult children physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. With each new issue or disappointment that arose in our daily lives, we were diligent with that mantra. The social isolation, the frustration, the hopelessness, the beginning of virtual high school and university education, my daughter’s lost senior prom, senior track season and high school commencement, my son’s lost December college commencement. The things that were not meant to be for us in 2020 only made us a stronger family unit and more grateful.

On the work front, I am an RN of twenty six years. For the past eight, I’ve been working in the pre-op unit of my hospital, preparing patients for surgery. Before that, I spent thirteen years as an emergency room RN. When the world shut down and my state’s governor cancelled elective surgeries, even though the only necessary surgeries were being done, the preoperative units were left scampering to find work so their employees didn’t have to go on unemployment or use all of their paid time off. They sent us to screen people as they entered the hospital and satellite locations. They sent us to classes. My boss told us if we had skills in other areas we could expect to be called to use them. Former ICU RNs were sent to the ICU. I was one of several veteran emergency nurses selected to be activated in the emergency department if the surge reached our hospital. On Nurses’s Day in May my father posted a picture on social media of me in my PPE, stating that I was on the front lines, “fighting Covid”. I was so embarrassed. From my Dad’s perspective, he was telling the world how proud he was of me. Deep down inside, it irked me for about six weeks that I didn’t feel like I was doing my part because I wasn’t on the front lines in the Emergency Room. Each of us in the group of ER RN veterans only worked one shift in the ER because our hospital didn’t get the surge some of the others in our city did. During my day in the ER, I took care of symptomatic Covid patients. I transported Covid patients to the ICU. The hospital was like Sombertown. The ICU looked like a war zone. I was as terrified as I was as a young nurse in the early 1990’s, taking care of full blown AIDS patients.

As time went on, my fears were replaced with caution and a new level of awareness. When elective surgeries returned and my department busted our asses everyday to get these patients into the OR, I realized that I am doing my part. All of us who work in healthcare are doing our part regardless if we are on the front lines or not. The custodial staff who clean and sanitize the hospital. The food service who feed us. The people who stock our supplies and take care of the equipment. The command center who direct us. The chaplains who pray for us.

I enjoy listening to XM Sirius Radio on my way in to work in the morning. One morning before Thanksgiving, there was a little greeting blurb from Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. He started out with some humor about how he was learning the ukulele and how he wasn’t very good at it. He said he missed making music with his friends. He wished the listeners a Happy Thanksgiving and not in so many words stated that now was the time to be grateful, to learn, to go within. I wish I could hear the blurb again because it did resonate with me.

It has been over a year since I have posted anything in this blog. In the midst of life I have somehow lost my writing voice. The words are swarming around in my head from time to time but can’t seem to make it to the tip of my fingers, the keyboard and this page. I am hoping to find my writing voice again this year.

Happy New Year

My sick pup

I’ve been away from this blog a really long time. I just haven’t felt inspired to write anything. I’m confused and uncertain about the direction this blog is going in. I’m not sure if I like it. During my absence, I’ve tried to follow other people’s posts, admiring their clarity and direction  and in return have asked myself the same question, “who am in in this blog?”

Today I return though.  I return brokenhearted and devastated. The world that my husband, our son and daughter live in has been turned upside down and shattered. Our dog, a nine year old male mini poodle is in the hospital with a new diagnosis of Intervertebral Degenerative Disc Disease. The vertebrae in his neck are compressing his spinal cord and he’s paralyzed.

My daughter noticed Tuesday evening that he was acting like he was in pain. I left work three hours into my shift yesterday morning to bring him to the animal hospital. His condition has deteriorated significantly since his arrival there. While I was getting him into the car yesterday to bring him, he looked like he was doing a little better. He seemed to be moving around easier and I thought he’d get some doggie ibuprofen and he’d be good to go a few days later like he was three years ago when he appeared to have back pain.

They started steroids at 0300. The night veterinarian called at 0630 to tell us he’s paralyzed and that we should come in. Surgery would cost 11K. Would he ever be the same though? Do we want him to suffer? Hell.to.the.no! The tears came, I gathered my family and off we went to the vet. It was like a death march in a parade of darkness, despair and impending doom. When we arrived they wheeled him in. He was covered up and on his side. He picked up his head when we saw us. Once again, as he has for the past 6 years and 10 months, he filled our hearts with his love. It felt so so good to see him, to pet him, to kiss him, to hold his hand, to talk to him, to bring him his favorite toys, to feed him, to touch him and to reminisce about him in our lives. We have thousands of pictures of him of simple everyday moments of life that he has shared with us. He has taught each of us to love in a way that we were unfamiliar with and he has amazed us everyday with the gifts that God has given him. He is our everything.

The morning veterinarian came in to see us after a little while. She  doesn’t want to give us false hope yet she doesn’t want to give up on him just yet though. He’s on pain meds, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxers and steroids in hopes that the steroids will take effect in 24-48 hours. We were relieved. We thought the night vet was inviting us to come put him to sleep.

The rug has been pulled out from underneath me and I’ve been hit by a train. Our happy little world with our dog is shattering and we are holding on for dear life.  I haven’t cried this much in a day in probable 10 years. I’ve seen so many people experience what I am experiencing right now with their pets. Every time I see someone go through it I always always say a prayer of thanks for my dog. This sucks. I’m a nurse. I see this all the time with humans. I hurt for patients and families when they get a shit diagnosis. I am realistic too. I know there’s no guarantee those steroids are going to work and but am I being selfish for wanting them to? The vet said IF the steroids are effective, he’ll need weeks to months of pain meds, steroids and muscle relaxers. We as a family commit to that. I just want him home. I want to nurse him. I want to love him more. We all do.

After we left the vet went for lunch, dropped my son back at school and after we got home I took a nap. I stopped by the church. It was locked so I sat in front of the statue of Mary and asked for a Divine Intervention. God has granted them to before. Now I need another one.

The paw I am holding is his right front. In September of 2016 he snagged it on the carpet, ripped it and it bled. We took him to the same animal emergency hospital where they fixed it. From then on we called it boo boo paw.

Below are the lyrics to Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”. Although sad, I like it because it’s asking for one last chance. That’s all I want.

Lyrics
Pray God you can cope
I’ll stand outside
This woman’s work
This woman’s world
Ooooh it’s hard on a man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the Father
I know you’ve got a little life in you left
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left
I know you’ve got a little life in you yet
I know you’ve got a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can’t let it show
I should be hoping but I can’t stop thinking
All the things we should’ve said that I never said
All the things we should have done that we never did
All the things we should have given but I didn’t
Oh darling make it go
Make it go away
Give me these moments
Give them back to me
Give me that little kiss
Give me your talking hands
Give me your hand baby
(I know you have a lot of strength left)
Give me your pretty hand
(I know you have a little life in you yet)
Ooh you have a lot of strength
(I know you have a lot of strength left)
My loved child
(I know you have a little life in you yet)
Whatever you need baby
(I know you have a lot of strength left)
Give me your hand
(I know you have a little life in you yet)
Give me your hand
(I know you have a lot of strength left)
Oh I should be crying but I just can’t let it go
I should be hoping but I can’t stop
Thinking and thinking and thinking
Of all the things we should’ve said that we never said
And all the things we should have done that we never did
All the things that you wanted from me
All the things that you needed from me
All the things I should have given but I didn’t
Oh darling make it go
Just make it go away
Psalm 34:17-18 The Lord hears his people when they call to him. 
                            He rescues them from all their troubles.
                            The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he rescues those who are crushed.

img_3986

Worries and Matthew 7:7-8

Do you believe in signs? I do. They are everywhere and in many different forms. You just have to open your mind and your heart to them and they will appear. When they do, say thank you.

I subscribe to multiple spirituality and religious pages on WordPress and Instagram. It is cheesy probably but I do go to Mass too. Every now and then I’ll see a post on one of my favorite sites and it speaks to me as if it’s telling me whatever is on my mind at the time is going to be ok. It could be biblical passage, a quote, a video, a poem. For example, this spring I was first introduced to Matthew 7:7-8. 7″Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door ill be opened.” I loved it immediately because it’s so simple and powerful and appears exactly when I need it; when I am feeling discouraged and alone and in need of a little voice to reassure me that God is working behind the scenes for me. It’s a reminder for me that God is indeed listening, to continue to pray, to believe in what I’m doing and to never give up.

Of course people pray for various reasons. One reason is worry. Sometimes our mind gets rolling on a certain concern and takes you on an upside down roller coaster of anxiety, fear, negative self talk and tries with all its might to drive you insane as you worry if the outcome of your worries doesn’t turn out in your favor.

That was me yesterday. In addition to the challenging group of patients I was assigned, my mind got started on something and wouldn’t quit, leaving me with a tension headache from hell. Throbbing pain that radiates from the back of your neck, over your scalp and makes your face and nose throb. Hours later after I’d calmed down I went on WordPress. What did I find? A sign in the form of a wonderful post by The Boring Bug entitled “Stop worry and start worrying”  . It was exactly what I needed at that time to help me let go of the nonsense chatter in my head.

Be sure to click and check it out. It’s well written and worth your time. Stop worrying!!