Minutes and a Million Things

Preface:

As I have not blogged in awhile, the writing challenge seemed like a good way to get back into it.

Here is something republished, an attempt to re-spark my inspiration. 

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I stand in front of you

With a million other things on my mind

You hold the pill in your hand

I wait for you to lift it up

And please, please swallow it.

I hear down the hall an IV alarm sounding

Going off again

I know that the patient across the hall

Soon will be wanting pain medicine.

I’m sure the patient two doors down

Has died

Did I see her today?

I look at the clock

And panic.

Your hand is shaking as you lift it up

I think hurry, hurry, hurry

Please.

(I care, you understand, but I have those million things)

You lift it up and into your mouth

I hold the cup and you swallow

Slowly.

My name is paged

I have a call

(and oh, I  think, I hope the other one didn’t fall)

Then I realize

You are looking at me

“Thank you so much”

you say

“You have been so good to me”

And then I remember

I hope,

Ashamed

What it is all about

So I sit

(On the edge of the bed like I’m not supposed to do)

Hold your hand

And say

“Oh, no,

Thank YOU.”

Please-Just Let Me Go Home Part II

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~Continued~

When I called the Dr.-he again prescribed an even higher dose of the same medication. I gave it, hoping that this time, it would be enough.

My shift was almost over, and as I was giving report to the oncoming nurse, Virginia was again trying to climb out of bed. Together, we both put her in a chair and brought her to the nurses’ station, attempting to calm her down as well as put her in a safe area where they could keep an eye on her throughout the night.

She was getting increasingly more agitated, and kept saying “Why is this happening? Why can’t I go home?”

I left feeling devastated that she had to be in such an emotional state.

The next day I heard what had happened after I left for the night.

Virginia did not get better. She continued to get more and more agitated throughout the night.  Even ANOTHER dose of the medication was given to her without any results whatsoever.

Finally, sometime before morning, one of the nurses was going through Virginia’ chart and realized that a medication she had been on at home had not been prescribed to her. A medication that a person could experience withdrawal from.

Surprised at finding this, the nurse notified the physician, who ordered the medication.

And by around noon the next day, Virginia was completely back to her normal mental state.

And she told me later that the night before had been “The worst night of her life, and she had lived a nightmare.”

I tell this story because I think of how I assumed. I assumed that Virginia, because she was elderly, was demented. How that once the night was over with some medication, she would be fine. That she was ‘sun downing’ and probably just had some ‘memory issues.’

I assumed that how I have treated dementia patients in the past was how I could treat Virginia.

When in fact, she did not have dementia at all, but was suffering from medication withdrawal!

Just because someone is elderly does not mean that they must or will be confused.

Just because one medication works in one situation, does not always mean it will work in another.

When giving care, never assume.

You could change a person’s life for the better.

Or for the worse.

You never know.

 

 

 

 

 

Words, Sentences and Headaches

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I love words. I love needless, excessive words and sentences full of fluffy adjectives and flowing adverbs. For example, I could have written the above sentence as:

 “I love words and sentences with adjectives and adverbs”

 instead of how I wrote it.

But it was so much more exhilarating to add the words needless, excessive, fluffy and flowing to my sentence.

If I was to go back and analyze all of my blog posts, I know that I could strip and cut until my sentences were stark, cold and bare. But I love my words.

However, my writing always needs improvement, so I took the challenge and dug into my blog post Practical Advice for the New Nurse.  Pulling out section #16, I noted it to be full of extra and possibly needless words written by a zealous word hoarder.

The chopping of the words and the clarifying of the section proved liberating.

No, wait.

 How about:

The stripping of the section was liberating.

At least, the finished product appeared liberated. I am not so sure if that same could be said for the process. Or for the writer!

I am going to show you my process of how I stripped section #16. If the stripping was a success- the answer is for the reader.

Section #16 originally read as follows:

You will get a headache during orientation. Possibly multiple headaches. You get a lot of information thrown at you at once. Bring your appropriate headache solution, such as over the counter drugs or caffeine. Write a lot of things down and don’t worry about not knowing or retaining everything right away. You will not remember it all. That is ok.

Taking the first two sentences, a headache is a headache. Once you get one, who cares about more? Multiple headaches at one time? Absurd!

Cut. Cut. Cut.

Down to.

You will get a headache during orientation.

 

True, and to the point.

Next:

You get a lot of information thrown at you at once. Bring your appropriate headache solution, such as over the counter drugs or caffeine.

 

Were all those words really necessary? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I just say:

You get a lot of information thrown at you. Bring drugs.

 

Then again, what if someone thinks I am advocating illegal substances? I can’t have that?!  So I fix the sentence again.

Bring something for the headache.

 

 I leave the sentence at that.

I then come up to another lengthy sentence:

Write a lot of things down and don’t worry about not knowing or retaining everything right away.

Now, with my newly acquired cutting power, I strip this sentence down. Ruthlessly. I make it two sentences.

Write everything down. Don’t worry about retaining it all.

Then I breathe a sigh of relief when I see my last two sentences.

At least here I was simple and concise.

Until I see two words I could convert into one.

You will not remember it all everything.

That is ok.

I survey the finished project. Section #16 now reads:

You will get a headache during orientation.

You get a lot of information thrown at you. Bring something for the headache. Write everything down. Don’t worry about retaining it all. You will not remember everything. That is ok.

 

And it is complete. Advice #16 stares back at me; concise, precise and stark in its adornment free state.

And I am fine with that satisfied.

Until I  bring myself to do it again.

And when I do it again, I’d better have drugs.

No, wait.

And when I do it again, I’d better have drugs something for the headache.

 

 

“Most of the sentences you make will need to be killed. The rest will need to be fixed. This will be true for a long time.”

~Verlyn Klinkenborg from Several Short Sentences about Writing

Cheap Thread

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Cheap Thread Acts like Cheap Thread

I heard this sentence yesterday when a person I know said it.

She was referring most definitely to thread and to nothing else.

She was using cheap thread and the thread was breaking and snapping. It really wasn’t very useful for her purpose. “A real seamstress wouldn’t use this thread” she lamented.

I thought that her observation was fascinating and I began to think of other areas of life where her cheap thread analogy could apply.

Please don’t misunderstand me.

I love cheap. I love thrift stores. I love good deals. Cheap is good. If such a thing as cheap didn’t exist, I wouldn’t exist. If everything I bought was at the original price, I would be standing on the street corner with a metal cup.

So all of you DIY’ers out there can simmer down, because I am not here to put my nose up in the air and say that everything that is cheap doesn’t have value.

But we all have that memory in our heads of when we bought something cheap and it didn’t last. That $2 shirt that exploded in your washer. Those $0.50 pens you bought that lasted two sentences into your first great novel outline. How about that on sale day old bread that really did have something growing in it when you got it home? Or don’t forget the cheap paint that didn’t seem to get brighter no matter how many coats you put on your wall.

What I am trying to say in a nice way is: Not everything that is cheap is useful. Sometimes, if it was cheap, it acts cheap. It came easy. It wasn’t hard to get. But then it doesn’t last. It begins to wear down. It starts to snap and break under pressure. It doesn’t hold up. It turns out to not be what we thought it was. Then we get mad and frustrated because it’s just not surviving and it turns out the problem was that it came into our hands cheap. Why did we expect it to act any different?

I see many people on a daily basis. Many of these people seem to treat a lot of thing in their life as if they are cheap. They treat their bodies and their health cheap. They treat their families cheap. They don’t visit them. They get in fights with them. They don’t talk to them for years. As if they had obtained all of these things at the local dollar store at half off. I am not pointing fingers; I am guilty of this as well.

But it makes me wonder:

How many times do I treat my life as if it were cheap thread purchased at the dollar store?

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Life isn’t cheap thread. It’s like the most expensive silk thread that the best seamstress in the world would use. It’s valuable. It’s worth something. 

And it one minute it can all be over.

Trust me, I know.

There is nothing like listening to a heartbeat with a stethoscope and hearing the lub-dub of a human heart. It’s amazing. The heartbeat of a human life.

Then listening again and hearing absolute silence. A heart that has stopped beating.

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I will not live on earth forever.

But I will live somewhere forever.  

My life and your life is worth more than cheap thread.

In fact, Someone paid a very large price so that I could have life that lasts forever. And not only me, but anyone who believes in Him.

Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

I will not die forever, I will live forever.

My eternal life was not purchased cheap. It was at the cost of another Life.

“He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on Him.” John 3:36

If cheap thread acts like cheap thread, I hope that my expensive life acts like an expensive life.

Don’t treat your life like it is cheap. Trust in Christ who paid for your life today.

 And if you have trusted Him, don’t forget how valuable your eternal life is.

It’s not cheap thread.

 

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A Muse about Hands

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I was standing in line at the store the other day,
Waiting for the person in front of me who was buying Valentines candy that
was half off
(what on earth was she going to do with all of that chocolate for the next year?)
I was sick of looking at the tabloid covers
So I started to notice hands.
I have always been fascinated by people’s hands. Maybe because I am a nurse, I notice hands more than the average person.
I remember in nursing school one of my instructors saying that we would start noticing people’s hands in line at the grocery store.
She was right.
Looking at hands gives me clues into a person’s life. I don’t know if I am always right, but I enjoy imagining what a person does in their everyday life when I look at their hands.
The woman buying all of that candy had capable looking hands with what looked like
green paint speckles on the backs of her knuckles.
No rings on her fingers.
Maybe she paints.

The woman who was checking out the Valentine candy shopper had somewhat
stocky hands.
Her fingers were short and round.
Her nails were different shades of color.
The colors on her right hand did not match the colors on her left.
They were polished in bright colors, and no two colors were the same.
I imagine that those different colors tell of a need to try new things, be brave and be bold. So she painted them different colors.
I can tell that the paint is not a professional job, so I imagine that she is frugal and feels that she can certainly do her nails herself without paying someone else to do it.
She also has about five different rings on various fingers. I think she likes to feel glamorous. In keeping with her assumed frugality it appears that those rings are cheap imitations of real rings. There might be one real ring in the bunch, probably a significant gift at one time or another.
My mind began to wander about other hands that I have seen.

The guy at the cell phone store has long thin fingers on his hands.
His nails are very well kept.
His hands are almost ladylike in their delicacy.
I imagine that he spends a lot of time on his computer.
Maybe he even plays the piano.
He’s probably very concerned about hygiene and neatness, since his nails are so clean.
And he probably spends very little time doing manual labor.
I have seen thick and calloused hands on men in line at the store.
They are usually holding a carton of milk and a dozen eggs.
They have dirt around their nails.
Their hands are clean, like they have scrubbed them, but some dirt remains.
Their fingers are cracked and stained.

Those types of hands tell me of a hard working manual laborer.
Someone who is concerned about not appearing dirty, yet lots of soap and water cannot wash out years of hard work.

Those kinds of hands are on men like badges of honor, for all they have done their whole life was with those hands.
I imagine that those hands can chop wood, milk cows, build homes and fix cars.
And can only scramble eggs.

When I am in the hospital I see all kinds of hands.
I see diabetic hands, with discolored yellow fingernails.
I see heart failure hands, with clubbed fingernails and swollen fingers.
I see bruised hands where IVs and bloods draws were attempted and failed.
I see bandaged hands, where fingers were broken or hurt.
I see deformed hands and fingers, from arthritis, old age, and accidents.
I see beautiful, perfect baby hands, with little fingernails and tiny fingers.
I see shaking hands, from Parkinson’s or other tremor causing conditions.
I see hands clenched in anger at a situation.
I see hands swinging and agitated due to delirium or confusion.
I see (and feel) cold hands.
I see (and feel) warm hands.
I see people with one hand.
I see people missing fingers on their hands.
I see hands with good veins, and hands with bad veins.
I see hands outstretched just wanting someone to hold them for a little while.
I also see nurses’ hands.
And I know that I am biased, but I think that nurses have some of the most caring and capable hands in the world.
But every hand has a story.
And every hand has done something amazing.
And every hand is so unique it takes my breath away
(think of those individual fingerprints on each hand)
And when I look at my own hands I am reminded of this quote:

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”  Martin Luther

And of the most Amazing Hands I have ever known:

 Then said He [Jesus to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands… and be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27

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And I am thankful for the reminder of hands.

So next time you see someone, take a look at their hands. You don’t even have to be a nurse to observe hands.
And have fun imagining what they do every day.
What else are you going to do while waiting in line?

That’s One Way To Look At It

Yelling Quietly

That's One Way To Look At It

This caught me off guard when I saw this today. It was one of those ah ha moments. I was like you know what, you’re right Mr. Picture full of wisdom. It’s a beautiful illustration of the highs and lows that we each go through. Without them what is there?

 

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