Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wife, wife, who wants a work wife?

On that inauspicious day, Christmas Day, when I was first off of orientation and was floated to the MICU (medical ICU), I found my work wife. Of course, I didn't know it at the time. I didn't even know what a work wife was. This is, in retrospect, a kind of love story.

I think Christmas was on a Saturday that year. It was my very first day off of orientation to the Cardio-Vascular-Thoracic surgical unit. (read that, we take the bypass and heart valve replacement patients less than 24 hours after surgery. We also take all of the carotid surgeries and femoral bypass folks, to name a few) As non-ICU floors go, we are intense. In smaller hospitals, my floor would be the Unit. But we are a larger hospital, and so we take care of lots of folks who require many drips, many procedures, many drains, many chest tubes, and just many things. And so I, fresh off of absent-orientation, found myself floated to MICU. New hire, new off of orientation, new to the hospital, floating away. And this big, bombastic, wild-haired, loud-mouthed nurse made it known that SHE thought it was a travesty. Huh. Who the hell are you and why are you in my corner and please shut up because you're drawing attention to me. Huh.

Her name is Sheri. She is simply a wonderful nurse. There ain't no better praise than that. She was loud to my quiet. She was wide, wide open to my worried closed. She was a shield to my weakness. She was scared in the places where I was strong. We ended up work wives, and I can't really tell you how. She just seemed to be always there for me, and therefore, when I was actually able to be there for someone else, I was there for her.

For a year or so, in my new era, I worked weekends. Every weekend. And so Sheri and I worked weekends together. We had each other's back. All. The. Time. And laugh?? My word, we laughed. We laughed the gut-cramping, tears-down-your-face laugh. No matter how bad things were going, we had each other to depend on and had each other to share a way sick laugh. (Nurses have whacked out senses of humor) We didn't always work in close proximity, but that didn't much matter. It got to the point where WE were the cool folk to be paired with (which means respiratory folk, nursing assitants, physical therapy folk et al). And others were drawn into the fold. If someone went down for coffee, a cup would show up on your desk, just how you like it. You didn't always know who put it there, and it really didn't matter, because you would probably be buying coffee later on or tomorrow or next weekend. (For most nurses, coffee is a food group) Sometimes, when there was a moment to breathe, we would all gather for a 10 minute coffee break. Coffee, sweets, laughter....all to shake off the reality of nursing. Because sometimes my job is really hard. Because when I have a bad day, it means that my patients have had a bad day. Because sometimes we have to zip that bag over a face. Because we are always hard core. And because we are always hard core, we need a buddy to help us walk that path.

I had a work wife. Her name was Sheri. And I miss her.

First long run of the year

I ran 14 miles today, which is the farthest I have run in probably 3 years. Actually, I didn't run the whole way. Somewhere around 10 miles in, I had a crisis of confidence. It was cold, windy and raining. Pink Shuffle was having moisture issues and was living in my pocket. I stepped into an ankle-deep puddle and 2 cars splashed me as they passed. I was a little tired, frozen, soaked and generally miserable. My right hamstring was tight and twitchy, and top it all off, I had a zyrtec hangover. I was a long way from home with no fast way to get there. It was all I could do not to sit down on the curb and cry for my mommy. But I didn't do that. What I did do was take several healthy walk breaks until I could get my mind wrapped back around running. I managed to finish the distance in some semblance of a run, drove home and stood in a hot shower until the water turned cool. I think I can put a tally in the Successful column for today's run. 26.2 is going to be hard, and I only have 13 more weeks to get ready. At least I know that as of today, I can make it half way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Let's talk about going back to work.

When you're standing on a ledge in the abyss, let me tell you, there ain't no ladder up. Emergency exit? No, ma'am. Oh, and no mulligan, either. It is all here and now and oh-by-the-way, the kids have got to eat. Like, every day. And baby, who's asthma has kicked in because she is all of three and stressed and we have moved into a dusty home, needs her meds. And, of course, I have been a stay-home mom for the past 5 years with a husband who didn't permit friends or forays into the job market. Add in a divorce lawyer who prides himself on no compassion whatsoever. Place all of the above in a bowl, stir well, and what you get is: Sarah needs a job. Now. Good thing that I am a nurse. Or had been, years ago.

I started work 5 weeks after I decided to save us. Could I have picked a more difficult and more intense floor? Sure, but not by much. I got 3 job offers in one day. I decided to accept a position with the hospital because, truly, hospital nursing is where you get and hone your skills. My skills needed some work. I lie. My skills needed a lot of work. Unfortunately, I had the worst preceptorship ever -- as in, I didn't get one. No preceptor was available, so I was passed from nurse to nurse for orientation to the floor. And on my first day off of orientation, Christmas Day, I got sent to the Intensive Care Unit as a float nurse. Which is the equivalent of sending the proverbial lamb to slaughter. I am proud that I didn't kill anyone. Did I weep? Bien sur. But it was a start. I was still clinging to that ledge, knowing that if I let go there wouldn't be a recovery. I spent the next months, years, driven by fear alone. That's the thing about being a toe-hold away from the abyss. You know how bad things are. You know how bad things can be. The thought that things can be so very much worse can and will change who and how you are. Once you know fear, real fear, as in "he knows where we live. He owns a gun" or "its just am I going to pay this? and "baby, please, please stop wheezing so much, I can't afford the doctor right now" or, (and this is the worst) "God, please take me, I can't do this anymore. I can't live and be so tired. Please God. Take me" -- once you live through that you know that you can make it through anything.

The upside is that my kids know hard. True dat. They know hard. But they also know love. Great love. Granted, I have one who is lost and not talking to me, but I have another who is a complete Mama's boy, and not ashamed of it. And the small ones? Well, they know that Mama and God love them down to their stinky feet.

The way out of the abyss? Perseverance. Sounds trite. It isn't. It is the hardest thing in the world. But what the hell else do you do? You save the small people, and you save yourself.

That's the back-story. With it under my belt I am ready to blog about running, lack of running, and my failed or soon to be failed relationships. *yawn*

Prolouge to a blog

Where to start, where to start, how to start? Why start? I think that is the better question. So, why blog?

I am blogging simply for accountability. I have registered to run the Bayshore Marathon on Memorial Day weekend. Marathoning isn't a new endeavor for me, but it has been 4 years since I have attempted the distance. Four very hard and dark years. Four enlightening and sometimes joyous years. Four evolutionary years that are worth a little bit of acknowledgement, even if the only reader is me. This blog won't dwell on what has happened, but to fully go into my new era, I have to set the stage, and pay my respects to the recent past.

Late September, 2006.

There are moments in any life where reality shifts. The paradigm changes. A world is suddenly and dramatically different. Those moments that are outside the flow of life, love, marriage, babies; outside of divorce and death. That moment when time simply stops, and leaves you breathless and helpless. And when time begins again, everything has changed. That moment when your husband throws you to the tile floor with such force that you are blinded, and when you finally are able to see, your vision is distorted. Blurred. Starred. Your nose is bleeding from the head trauma. And worst of all, your baby girl has seen all of it. That is when the world shifts. When the light bulb implodes with that soft "pop" and life is now dark. Hideously and impenetrably dark. In an instant you are without light, without vision and without hope. Fear leaves a taste like pennies in your mouth. And still you are alive, and perhaps that is the worst part of all.

Three days later, I took my first step towards a new existence. That first step is so hard, so frightening -- the light has gone out and the darkness is overwhelming. You know that no matter which direction you choose, you will be walking barefoot over broken glass. Heels onto shards of light. All you can do is gather your children to you, carry those you can, and walk in front of the ones you cannot carry. You walk forward, because there is no choice anymore. Yet you know that the worst hasn't happened, that the abyss is still to come, although you can't see it. You know that you and your children will fall without warning and without knowing where you will land. And fall you do. And the hell of it is, you don't land at the very bottom. You land on a ledge, and from that time on part of moving forward is keeping everyone from sliding further away. So that is where I start this blog. From a ledge at the bottom of a very, very dark place.