Baby It's Cold Inside
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
It's raining outside. Still. And it's absolutely freezing. Right now I am sitting with many layers of clothing, and surrounded in my electric blanket in a feeble attempt to stay warm. Normally when you come out of the rain after a long hard day, you donâ€™t expect the inside of your house to be colder than the outside. Right now, in our house it is 580Fâ€¦
I was complaining earlier (okay, still complaining) and stated that my room was definitely the coldest in the house. Nicki and I decided to measure with this meat thermometer and it turns out my room is the same temperature as the rest of the house. (Iâ€™m sticking to my guns and want a re-measurement, due to the fact that the thermometer is meant for pot roast and not my bedroom)
I donâ€™t like the cold. The only thing I like about the winter is that I get to wear my super cool hat collection. This year, after my Ikea hat holder fell from the roof (again) due to the sheer weight of hats, I put my hat collection downstairs for all the Pearl Girls to enjoy. Itâ€™s so fun to wake up and wonder what hat Kristen is wearing today and to hear that Nicki actually got a compliment on one she was wearing. Just because it was a compliment from a Grandma, doesnâ€™t make the hat less cool. I think the cold brings our house together. We donâ€™t just watch TV, we cuddle and watch TV, we make each other hot chocolate/tea, we wear hats, and we spend more time together.
Sometimes I am accused of being a nerd, okay, not sometimes, a lot of times. I admit I do like school and if that makes me a nerd, so be it. I canâ€™t hide from who I am now can I? My room is slightly separated from the rest of the girls and so during the stressful weeks of school I can easily turn into a hermit. Throughout midterm week, itâ€™s been freezing. This for me has been a great thing, despite my complaints. Yes, Iâ€™m physically cold a lot of the time, but spending a few extra hours with my Pearl Girls warms my heart. (How mushy is that? - Erin, youâ€™re loving that arenâ€™t you, I can see you smile from here). The cold forbids me from hibernating! And while weâ€™re just not turning on the heat to save money, Iâ€™m glad we didnâ€™t for so many other reasons. I can tough out the heat, if it means I get to spend it in the company of the three most amazing girls I will ever meet. (Unintentional rhyme)
If I Had A Million Dollars
Saturday, October 22, 2005
When I was a little girl, I loved to play with Tupperware bowls on my head, eat jell-o, live in a cardboard box fort and I desperately wanted to grow up to be a stegosaurus. While I still like to eat jell-o and wish I had time to play in a fort, Iâ€™ve been reconciled to the fact that I will never grow up and become a stegosaurus. Most of the things we love to do during childhood seem to slip away as we get older, but one thing that I still remember is dancing around the kitchen to â€˜If I Had a Million Dollarsâ€™ with my dad. My sister and I both had favourite songs for awhile that we shared with our dad. I was definitely the cooler daughter, because my sisterâ€™s song was Chasinâ€™ that Neon Rainbow by Alan Jackson.
I sang the song for my dad on a CD for his Christmas present and changed the words to match our family inside jokes. (Instead of K car, I sang Volvoâ€¦hahaha, oh the Pede family Volvo(s) - yes, Volvos plural). I love the song for obvious sentimental reasons but because I always imagine what I would do with the money. Today on the news they were talking about a man who just cashed in on the largest lottery winnings in the US, I think it was something like $340 million dollars. Insane amount of money for one person and even after the government takes half of it away in taxes, heâ€™ll still be loaded.
I thought about all the things I would do with the money. Pay for school, pay rent, pay for a car so I can get to the hospitals more easilyâ€¦selfish things mostly. Iâ€™ve always said to myself that I donâ€™t want to live in Canada all my life because Iâ€™m tired of the materialistic culture that surrounds me daily. When I was in Costa Rica, I lived with a family there for two weeks. I witnessed many acts of kindness that still make my heart smile and even bring tears to my eyes to this day. The first day we were there we were showing pictures of our home to help them understand what life is like in Canada. I had brought a small photo album with a picture of my house. I didnâ€™t even realize that we had two cars in our driveway. My â€˜papaâ€™ commented in Spanish about the two cars and once I realized what he was saying I got embarrassed about the fact that we had two ugly Volvos. Halfway through my explanation of how losery my family is, I remembered that they didnâ€™t even have a car and actually paid for us to get to their home in a taxi. What a lesson that was for me. I was embarrassed of our Pede family Volvo and they didnâ€™t even have a car, and to boot they used what little money they did have to make my life easier so I didnâ€™t have to carry my suitcase a few blocks.
Although I know in my heart that things donâ€™t make me happy, I have so many things itâ€™s ridiculous. I like things, but I know I could live without them. So while itâ€™s nice to think about what I would do with a million or $340 dollars, the fact is, Iâ€™m happy I donâ€™t have that much money. Money canâ€™t buy happiness. Itâ€™s such a clichÃ© but one that I believe with my whole heart. I donâ€™t want a huge houseâ€¦ or expensive Volvos. And while I say this now, if you asked me to give away my computer or hat collection, Iâ€™d probably cringe. Money doesnâ€™t make me happy and yet I am consumed with materialism at times. Iâ€™m thankful for what I do have, but I honestly look forward to the day where I can prove that Iâ€™m still happy without all my stuff. I canâ€™t wait to be stuff-less.
Live Like You Were Dying
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Nursing is obviously a huge part of my life right now. Every Thursday I wake up at 5:30am and after scowling at my alarm clock for a few minutes, I drag myself out of bed to get ready for my 12 hour shift at the hospital. The floor that I work on is an Oncology ward where the patients are quite sick with cancer and many are palliative. It's a strange reality, cancer...I mean, the patients don't look any different and it's easy to forget they have an illness thatâ€™s threatening their very life.
The last two clinical weeks have been eventful to say the least. The patients I had the previous weeks both passed away. At first, death isn't something you think about when you go into health care. In my idealistic state, I guess I pictured myself saving the world one patient at a time, like a nursing superhero. I've quickly come to realize that when curative treatment isn't an option, comfortable care is just as, if not more important.
My one friend built quite a relationship with a patient who ended up passing away last week. In an attempt to deal with the situation, she cut off all her hair. It's a beautiful gesture, one of empathy and compassion. But I think if I tried to cope like her, Iâ€™d be bald by next week. My particular patient was palliative and just wanted to die comfortably. There was no specific care for me to do, so instead of IVâ€™s/medications/vital signs, I played scrabble. I think that when I spelled out J-A-C-K-S for a triple word score it was more therapeutic than anything medically I could have done that day.
My housemate Nicki likes to listen to country music. And although it mostly makes me want to kill myself, one song she belts out at the top of her lungs really made me think. So much that Iâ€™m actually ashamed to admit that downloaded it! Itâ€™s the one by Tim McGraw, â€œLive Like You Were Dying.â€� I think that I need to start living each day like it was my last (spoken with sexy country twang). With a passion for life that is contagious. To stop saying I want to do things, and just do them! So often I get caught up in the little things that donâ€™t really matter in life. I worry about marks on a test, complain about the bus ride to school, forget to call my dadâ€¦I lose sight of whatâ€™s important.
One patient this week was told that he had hours-days left to live. It got me thinking. What would I do in my last few hours of life if I was told I was dying? Would I go skydiving? Write letters to friends? Hug my family? Kiss my boyfriend? Steal a car? What would you do?
A thankful heart is a happy heart
Monday, October 10, 2005
My family is one of those families that eats dinner together each and every night, without the TV on. It's actually forbidden. Sometimes my sister or my dad tries to sneak the Simpsons on mute, but my mom always catches us and turns it off. My mom then makes us tell her our favourite moment from the day, one interesting thing we learned, or something like that...Usually at Thanksgiving time, we have to go around the table and say one thing we're really thankful for. Normally we all just say we're thankful for the person on our right so that we can eat the delicious dinner my mom made. After we get in trouble for not being serious, we proceed to all get mushy and tell each other exactly why we're thankful. I'm normally thankful for typical cheesy things that make my mom happy, like family, friends, Jesus, my sister etc.
This Thanksgiving I was reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. My friend Erin came home with me for the holiday and it was wonderful. The whole weekend I got to experience my family thanksgiving through Erin's eyes...apple picking, karaoke, turkey dinner etc. I know she is the world's biggest exaggerater, but she taught me a big lesson.
During our main thanksgiving dinner, the table was set with every delicious Thanksgiving food imaginable, and Erin turned to me just after grace and said, do you guys really do this every holiday? It made me think. I take so much for granted. How often do I just expect my Grandma to make my favourite sweet potatoes, and forget to say thankyou. How often do I forget to be truly thankful? Alot. Thanksgiving almost lost its meaning this year. It became more about a break from school, great food for a starving student, time with friends from home, but it lost its true purpose.
It was such a blessing to have someone there to remind me just how much I have to be grateful for. How lucky I am. So, I'm thankful for Erin, who is a reminder for me to be thankful each and every day!
You know you're a Nurse when...
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
You would like to meet the inventor of the call light some night in a dark alley. Your sense of humor gets more warped each year. Almost everything can seem humorous....eventually. You know the smell of different diarrhea to identify it. You can tell the pharmacist more about the medication they are dispensing than they know. You check the caller id on your day off to see if anyone from the hospital is trying to call and ask you to work. You've been telling stories in a restaurant and made someone at another table throw up. You notice that you are using more 4 letter words than you did before you started nursing. Every time someone asks you for a pen you can find at least 4 of them on you. You live by the motto "to be right is only half the battle, to convince the doctor is more difficult" You've told a confused patient that your name was that of your co-worker and to holler if they need help. Your finger has gone places you never thought possible. Your bladder can expand to the size of a Winnebago's water tank. You find yourself checking out other customers veins in grocery waiting lines.You avoid unhealthy looking shoppers in the mall for fear that they will drop near you and you'll have to do CPR on your day off. You have seen more penises than any prostitute
My nursing friend Maggie sent me this email. I thought it was hilarious and I can't even begin to tell you how true most of it is...but some of it: well, I'm sure I'll get there, eventually.
Wake me up when October ends...
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Answer-Stressed out! Question-How're ya doin' Rach?
I was finishing up filling in all the important days in the month of October today. Assignment due dates, midterms, seminar proposals, volunteering etc. Needless to say there is alot of marker on my calendar.
I think the Nursing program secretly tries to get us to apply Lazarus and Folkman's coping strategies to everyday life in order to make it through the month of October. Stupid practical application of knowledge.
And yet with all the marker on my calendar, I've probably taken as many 'study breaks' as essay writing shifts today. And now here I am complaining about stress, life, my heavy workload and what am I doing? Blogging! Procrastination at its finest.
I started to wonder about stress. The stress response is initiated when a stressor is present in the body or perceived in the mind. This stress response activates a cascade of stress hormones that affect organ systems. (ie. sympathetic response-quickened breathing, rapid heart rate, blood diverted to muscles...etc) Long periods of anxiety or stress are damaging to the body and influence health. Research has even strengthened the association of stress with a potential for illness. One study examined healthy medical students (they'll do anything for extra credit, won't they) who were innoculated with the flu virus. Individuals reporting more stress had an increased incidence of clinical cold and respiratory symptoms. Okay, enough health promotion. No more nursing stuff, I promise.
Stress, I even hate the word. It's probably because I have a tendency to get really stressed out. I remember in first year I had 4 midterms in 3 days and I got so incredibly overwhelmed that my parents drove all the way to Hamilton just to give me a hug and a pineapple. Although I've come a long way in those two years, I still have quite a ways to go. Things always seem to get done no matter how little time I have, and yet I still stress out. And, not only do I stress about school, but I like to make sure I am a well rounded stresser-outer...so I stress about boys, money, the future, family, friends, the works.
I think everyone has different ways of handling stress. I usually eat ice cream, but that is a bad coping mechanism according to Lazarus and Folkman. Bubble baths are probably next in line. Then if I'm really stressed out, I cry. (I'm such a girl)
None of these really help! They are just stress band-aids. Temporary relief. I started to think about how often I tend to stray toward the temporary. Quick fixes. Eating an entire litre of ice cream isn't going to get my essay written faster or solve my boy problems.
Rather than turning to some self-help book, latest ice cream flavour or even Oprah, I should spend some time remembering that God promises rest when I'm burdened. (Matthew 11: 28-29) Sometimes I just need to be still and know that God is God. Forget about the stress of everyday life, and just live. There will always be stress, but God is in control, not me. Thank goodness for that. So, during the next few stressful weeks of October, I hope to learn more about God. I won't sleep through it all, but I'll take each day one step at a time. Step one.