Wednesday, 20 September 2017
My Mother's Hands
Things I'm thankful for today.
It's my birthday today. I'm fifty-five. Many of my patients never get to see fifty-five. I am thankful.
I have a home. There are so many in the world who have had to flee their homes. I am thankful.
I have a husband who loves me, just as I am. I am thankful.
I have a job which allowed me to support myself and my son when I was young and we were alone. I am thankful.
I have friends whom I love and who love me. I am thankful.
My children are healthy. I am thankful.
I am healthy. I am thankful.
I am flying to England on Saturday to visit my dying aunt. My mother's last sister. I will remember my mother. I am thankful.
What are you thankful for today?
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Lessons I Never Learned
I didn't have Mrs. Nelson in fourth grade to teach me. Fourth grade was the year I learned about bullies. I learned that I was different. That I didn't fit in. I learned that a friend could laugh at your public humiliation. I learned that life is not fair. I learned that school could become a living hell.
I never learned to stand up for myself. Never thought I was worth standing up for. I didn't understand the unwritten rules of childhood. Didn't know that people lie.
I never learned how to trust love. It always came with caveats. Do this, don't do that. Never unconditional, always conditional on my behavior.
I never learned how to be honest. I only learned how to please others, even at my own expense. Never learned to speak up and be heard over the shouting of others.
I never learned to be kind to myself. Never learned how to love myself.
I never learned how to let go and enjoy the moment or how to stop being afraid.
I never learned to be.
Thank you to Elizabeth for introducing me to the poet Brad Aaron Modlin.
Sunday, 10 September 2017
I've had the week from hell. Family problems which I prefer not to write about here right now. But I righted my own boat which I'm proud of.
I saw the doctor on Thursday for a variety of strange symptoms. Her diagnosis, stress. I told her about my son and she said that he's a grown man, I need to let go. And of course she's right. So on the way back to work I stopped at a book store and a book jumped off the shelf at me. "Maybe It's You" by Lauren Zander. It's basically cognitive behavior therapy which has helped me in the past. So I bought the book and I'm doing the work. And I'm hopeful. Even in the face of overwhelming grief, I'm hopeful. That's something.
My son gets out of jail in two weeks, the same day I land in England. He will be staying with the big guy for a week while I visit my sick aunt. We talk on the phone quite a bit these days. He's still using talking to obfuscate but I call him on it now. I told him that he can stay with us for a few months but he needs to stop the lying and the drinking. When I asked him why he drank he said because he was bored. I called bullshit on that. I told him that he drinks to avoid dealing with things, and he said yeah. He's not really keen on looking at himself in the mirror to see how he is making his life worse. It's so much easier to look outwards and blame others. But all the shit in his life, he has been there for all of it. He is responsible for it, not "others".
I left my son's father when my son was ten months old. I was his father for four years. He was a chronic liar and an alcoholic, although at the time I didn't realize he was an alcoholic. We were young. We all drank too much. I was angry a lot of the time and blamed him for all of my problems until I realized that if I wanted to make my life better, I could. I left because I didn't want my son being lied to his whole life. I thought I could protect my son from his father and his lies. What I didn't count on was genetics.
I need to confront my son's lies instead of avoiding them. It's not okay to lie to me. I don't care if he fucks up, we all fuck up. That's part of life. Come clean about it. Apologize. Do things differently next time. Move forward.
Sunday, 3 September 2017
We just got back from holidays. Too much driving this time, although we did get to see some lovely, remote places. It's good to be back home. I love my bed and it was nice to have a home cooked meal.
The break from work has been a boon for my soul. I read a very good article the other day about caregiver burnout. A quote from the article, Practising compassion in an uncompassionate health system.
"The truth is, our health system rarely encourages or rewards compassionate care, or spending enough time with our patients. On the contrary, we work in a system that systematically bullies, brutalises and burns-out health professionals."
A part of me dreads going back to work and coping once again with the amount of work and a part of me is hopeful that I can make a positive difference in my workplace.
My son remains in jail. He calls often which is difficult. I'm still hurt by his abusive words last year. And I don't trust him at all. He turned out like his father after all which is ironic. I left his father when my son was only ten months old to shield my son from his father. His biological father is an alcoholic, a liar and generally an asshole. He would lie about anything and everything which is what my son does. I wonder if there is a genetic component to lying.
Fall is coming. The days are getting shorter. The shadows are longer. The nights are cooler and the leaves are starting to turn. It's my favorite time of year. But it always makes me sad this time of year too. Summer is over. The long winter lies ahead.
Things I'm thankful for today.
It's my wedding anniversary.
My relationship with my daughter is good.
I'll get a hug from Miss Katie shortly.
Putting my garden to bed.
My home is clean, the floors washed, the laundry is done.
Homemade bumble berry coulis and cheesecake.
What are you thankful for today?
Sunday, 6 August 2017
I haven't been writing because I've been feeling overwhelmed. We are still, always, short staffed at work. That never seems to end. I'm not one to give my patients less just because there is less time which makes me both mentally and physically exhausted. Which leads to a melt down and crying. Which leads to calling in sick, which makes work even more short staffed. Which leads to guilt, which leads to crying. You can see where this is going. Even though I can see it, it's difficult to change direction once I'm going down that road. I am working on it though.
My son is in jail. The same son who told me to fuck off and that he never wanted to see me again. Yes, him. He called about a month ago to let me know that he was in jail. He and his girlfriend had been drinking and fighting. The police were called and he was charged with assault and given a no contact order. Twice. So now he is in jail with two assault charges and four breech of no contact orders. He doesn't get it. He doesn't seem to have any remorse. Doesn't seem to have any deep understanding of his own part in this fucked up play he calls his life. He is a pathological liar but the worst lies he tells are the ones he tells himself. I love him but I don't trust him which is difficult.
And my dog Lucy has been sick which sounds like a country song but it is horrible watching an animal in pain. She is a rescue dog and before she came to us she was used as a hunting dog. I imagine she was run hard and pretty much ignored. Half her teeth are missing. She was skin and bones when we got her. And now she has something called spondylosis which is not fatal, just painful. She also has an enlarged heart. The hardest part though is the space she takes up in our own hearts. She is a sweet, good natured, funny dog that has taken up residence in my heart. To watch her suffer was painful. She is on medication now though for the pain and is feeling much better. She lays curled in a patch of sunshine by my feet as I write this.
My son called again last night. He calls a lot now because well, he's in jail and has nothing better to do. He called last night, only caring about himself and his own life, oblivious to the needs of those around him. After I hung up the phone I felt raw, like my skin had been scraped away, leaving me open to the world. I took the dog for a walk and wanted to cry. I realized that crying won't change anything. Me talking to him won't change anything. This is not my circus. It is his path and I let it go. And then something wonderful happened. Lucy and I went for a long walk and I didn't even think about my son. I relaxed. I enjoyed the trees, the evening, the birds. It was peaceful and I remembered that the world is inside my head and I can decide how I want to feel about it. That it's up to me, not others.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
I assisted on a liver biopsy this morning. An elderly man whose liver was full of tumors, his belly hard and bloated, fluid starting to accumulate around his organs. When we were done he asked when we were going to start fixing him. He broke my heart a little.
There is no fix for him. I'm a nurse and I can't tell him but I hope and pray that the next doctor who sees him tells him how bad his cancer is, how little time he has left. He's a lovely old man who I imagine has worked hard his whole life for his family. He was a miner which can't be an easy job. He came to Canada forty-seven years ago, he had to learn a whole new language at thirty-eight. It can't have been easy for him. He had no complaints, other than feeling tired all the time. He doesn't like feeling tired.
New patients arrive daily. Old patients disappear, never to be seen again, only faintly remembered. Some patients come for many years before they succumb to this horrid disease, others only last weeks. Some are very young, a two and a half year old girl this past month and an eighty-five year old gentleman today. Some have nobody with them, others have their whole family with them. Some are convinced they will beat this disease, others look worn out and tired of treatments that make them feel worse rather than better.
Today I only had maybe ten patients because I worked in ultrasound, assisting with biopsies. It was easier in some ways because there was less grief to deal with. All of my patients carry grief with them and I think it leaks into me at times. There are days when I can manage to witness and honor their grief and there are days when I am too rushed and tired to deal with more grief.
I carry my own grief as well, we all do. Regrets, loved ones we've lost, mistakes we've made. It adds up over a lifetime. Katie's diagnosis was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. The grief was overwhelming. It almost killed me but I survived. Perhaps it is the grief in my building that is getting to me. I can feel it around me and I can't turn away from it. It's too important but I need to find a way to witness my patient's grief without carrying it around with me.