Sunday, October 10, 2010

"I realized I didn't know anything"

About 4am this morning, my 'problem' patient walked out of his room. He came up to the nursing station and just started chatting with me. This was not a norm for him. He had been pretty uncooperative and not very friendly, but something changed this morning and he decided he wanted to talk. So we talked. He explained his history of medical problems and how he has let his health get so bad. He said after his wife died earlier this year it just went down hill from there. "This fall we would have been celebrating 47 years of marriage" he said. He looked so sad when he said that, so trying to lighten the mood a bit i asked "so what was the secret to a 47 year marriage?"

He said, "she had me covered." I didn't really understand what that meant and i'm sure my puzzled facial expression gave me away, so he went on to explain. He started by telling he me that he would ask her to do something and she would just smile and say "yes dear" and he said as soon as he turned his back she was doing whatever she wanted. As he told me this, he started to laugh. He went on to tell me that she woke up everyday at 5:00am, made his breakfast, set out his clothes, made his lunch, had a thermos of hot coffee ready for him when he was leaving for work, and walked him out to his car to say goodbye. She did this everyday...what a saint! He started to laugh again and said, "after about 35 years of her doing this, i started to wonder why she did that for me everyday. Was it because she just loved me that much or was she just making sure i was really going off to work everyday? Well, whatever it was, i sure did appreciate it. She was amazing." This made me smile. He was this big gruff man, who still wore his wedding band, and in front of my eyes he turned into a big softy, and only thoughts of the love of his life could do that.

He talked about how in the last 6 months of her life she was in the hospital for almost 6 months straight, and he was there everyday. "It was hard" he said because his health was also not the best at the time and it was hard to see her suffer, "but i couldn't not be there for her." Because his health was deteriorating so quickly since her death, I tried to encourage him to start living a healthier life and eating better, and try to impress his wife while she's looking down on his with his new found cooking skills. He said he would give it a shot.

He looked up at me at the end of our conversation and said, "the day she died was the saddest day of my life, but not just for the obvious reason. After she died, I realized I didn't know anything. I had never written a check, paid a bill, gone grocery shopping or to the bank. I really didn't know anything and I realized that she did everything. I would never be able to tell her how thankful I was for everything she did for me and for us. I gained so much more respect for her after she was gone and wish I could have just told her."
Im sure she knew.

I don't know what bit of advice I can offer from this. It was just a great story and I wanted to share it. Maybe what you can take from it is to step back and look at everything the people in your life do for you without expecting a thank you or anything else in return. Recognize it, thank them anyway, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Good luck in love.

If you have asked the question recently, "so what's the secret?" Please feel free to share.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Best Friends

"So whats the secret?" I've asked this to plenty of patients, and probably 75% of the people I've asked said, "I married my best friend." Is that where people go wrong now? They don't develop a great friendship before entering into a committed relationship?

I have been lucky, and although I can only count my best friends on one hand, they are amazing friends...all girls but oh well. In the last 6.5 years, I have lived with three out of my five best friends and there is NO way I could have done (and am still doing) that if they weren't truly my best friends. I lived with Nicole for four years, Arin (current roommate) for over 5 years, and Kacy (also current roommate) for almost two years. People say be careful because living with friends can ruin your friendship. This is probably true for people who aren't best friends. People who know everything about each other and love them despite all their flaws are best friends. That's what makes a successful friendship and one that will last a lifetime. We may drive each other crazy sometimes but at the end of the day we still love each other. The hreason I'm explaining this is because it applies in relationships as well...or at least i think so.

Think about it. Apply your experiences living with friends to living with your partner. Those people who were just kinda friends probably didn't work out so well, but those you truly loved worked out well. I can come home after a bad day and know i have two pairs of ears that would sit down and listen. This is what i want from my partner. The same friendship I share with my best friends, but not in a female form haha. You have to be able to support, listen, trust, and encourage each other to be the best possible version of yourselves or it just doesn't seem like it would work.

People say that after their kids have grown up and moved away they have nothing in common with their spouse anymore. What happened? Why don't you have anything left to talk about? Is it because you let the friendship go? You both started working towards one common goal, that is the raising of your children, you forgot about the couple.

You have to put work into any friendship to make it work, so why do people give up so easily on their most important friendship? What is going on? The saying 'bros before hoes' and 'chicks before dicks' may have applied in middle school or high school but when it comes to your partner, the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with, there is no one else who should come before them. I find it ridiculous that I actually hear those sayings come out of a grown adult's mouth. I'm serious. Yes your friendships are important, but don't dismiss your friendship with your partner because your guy or girl friends are putting pressure on you. In the end, yor partner is your family and your number one. There is no should chose your partner everytime.

Again, its all about balance. Balancing your relationship with your spouse with other friendships, work and school is difficult, but I'm seeing from these people I'm talking to that it's worth it. It seems to me that where people are going wrong now-a-days is they have their life and their spouse has his or her own life and they are trying to kinda join the two without them totally overlapping. When you get married, it goes from his life and her life to OUR life. You have to consider that person if everything you do.

As i'm going through this analysis of marriage and trying to understand it, it seems to be moving further and further away from something that is actually possible. Hmmm...i don't know. Is this making sense to anyone? Am i totally off track here?

Good luck in love.

"More Time"

I had one of the most heart breaking things happen to me a while back. I met someone who was actively dying of cancer. I asked her if I could do anything for her or if I could get her anything. All she said was "time" as she drifted back to sleep. That's all she wanted. Time. I wish I could give her time. I wish I had a magical wand to wave that would allow her to do all the things she wanted to do, so she would be more accepting of death.

This story reminds me of another person I met recently. She was an older lady who was confused most of the time. She had a moment of lucidity and told me how scared she was to be alone and how terrified she was of dying. What could I tell her? I wonder if she wished she had more time to do something. If she could rewind the clock a bit, would she do anything differently? If she did would she be more accepting of death?

We only have one life on this earth (well that's my belief anyway). Why do we waste so much time doing things we hate? If she looked back at her life, I wonder what she wishes she'd done less of. What would she have done instead? Would she wish she hadn't worked so many hours in a job she didn't love and spent more time with her family instead?

I think this is something everyone can improve on. Time management and prioritization. What do you love to do that you should spend a little more time doing?

I just recently turned 25 and that is a bit terrifying (I know to some of you that will sound stupid, but its how I feel). How am I 25? I could never envision myself as anything older than 20. on earth did I make it to 25? Will I look back at age 50 and think the same thing? Where did the last 25 years go? Did I make those years count? Did I spend the majority of my time doing things I loved? I hope I will be able to say yes to the last two questions. I hope I learn to manage my time better than I have been in the last few years. Whether its traveling, doing a hobby I love, experiencing new things and people, and/or having a family, I hope I'm happy doing it.

"Get married already"

One of my patients once told me to, "get married already and start a family." He was a gentleman dying of cancer and was one of those people who was very unhappy and pissed off at everything. After spending a little time talking to this gentleman, I realized he was just upset about lack of time. He explained to me he has had a great life and had great kids. His wife died, his children were in different states and he was alone. He was dying and he was alone. When people are lonely all they really want is to talk to someone and for that person to actually HEAR them. The reason they get angry and bitter is because they realize no one is willing to talk and no one really cares. So I decided to talk. All it took was a few questions and he was totally opening up to me and all his walls came down. It was a great thing. He asked me how old I was and after telling him he told me, "to start a family soon...when you're 71 and dying you are going to wish you had started sooner and had a few more years with your family." He explained those early years with his wife and his kids growing up were the happiest times in his life, and he wished the same happiness for me.

As I've made perfectly clear through previous blogs, marriage is a little scary. How am I supposed to hurry up and start a family already if I don't quite believe in marriage yet? frustrating right?! I posted something similar to this on facebook after he had said this to me, and someone responded with, "nah...traveling is way better." Traveling is amazing. I love traveling. But my response to him was something along the lines of, "I'm sure my Great Wall of China souvenir will offer me great support when i'm on my death bed." If all I do is travel for the rest of my life and don't settle down, what will I have in the end? Just a shelf full of souvenirs and some great memories with people who aren't there. I'm sure in my travels I would meet great people, but those people would be dispersed all through out the world and where would they be if I really needed someone? Everyone in my life seems to think its one or the other. Travel or get married. Why can't you just find someone to travel with? Not just to be my husband, but my travel buddy. What a perfect combination. Marriage does not equal death. Find someone who loves doing the things you do (or at least is open to doing them with you) and someone who will inspire you to branch out and try new things as well. Then "get married and start a family already." I don't want to be sitting there later in life thinking I wish I didn't wait until 35 to settle down and start a family. I guess you just have to make sure its right, do what makes you happy, and hope for the best.

To some of the nurses reading this (this doesn't pertain to every nurse obviously...just a few and maybe just a reminder for others)...
I realize nursing may have been your backup plan or a means to gain some stability in your life, but understand you are taking care of PEOPLE. I LOVE what I do and because I love it I pay attention. I pay attention to all of those nurses who complain about their patients being "annoying" or "needy" or whatever. They are patients. They are freaking out. Thats why we have a make them more comfortable. If you have a difficult patient, take some time with them. Its amazing what taking 10 extra minutes with someone upon the initial assessment will do for the rest of your day/night. I had a patient the other day who was constantly on her call light, anxious as anything, and annoying the crap out of the day nurse. I recognized it was just anxiety, went into her room, spent a little extra time with her, EXPLAINED everything to her (which the day nurse had failed to do, even after hanging a new IV medication), and she calmed right down. Her whole demeanor changed, just as my patient mentioned above. She stopped hyperventilating, her blurred vision went away, and her "neediness" level went down to a 1/10. Her hospital stay went from an awful one, to one that was a little more tolerable. Her level of commitment to her healing process went from virtually nothing and feeling like she couldn't do anything, to feeling so much better about herself and getting motivated to get out of there.
Sorry about my little rant...but its just something i've noticed that has been a source of frustration for me and i wanted to share.

Thanks for joining me in my journey to figure this part of life out.

Good luck in love.