August Nurse Feature: The Journey of a Lifetime

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This month’s feature is more a dedication or tribute to one of the best nurses I have ever worked with.  I think nurses can do a better job of lifting each other up and supporting one another, so here goes…..

Anders, a Swedish nurse I have had the pleasure to work with for the past two years, is the chupacabra of nurses-he is a rare gem of a nurse.  He has every quality a nurse should strive for.  He is experienced, knowledgeable, pedagogic, calm, kind, and always helpful.  He anticipates others’ needs sometimes before they anticipate them themselves.

He, his wife, and five children recently made the big move from Sweden to the U.S. where they will settle in Colorado and start a new life together.  Before he left, we had a few moments at the end of one of our last shifts together where I was able to pick his brain over fika, Sweden’s sacred coffee break.

Where are you from?

Sweden

In what area of nursing do you work?

I  specialized in pediatric nursing  and am currently working in a highly specialized Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

What inspired you to be a nurse?

I  worked in ambulance care as a nursing assistant for a total of 17 years.  I realized that with more knowledge I could do more for the patients and that always inspired me.  I enrolled in nursing school and got my license to work as a nurse 2003.  When I got my license, I quit working in ambulance care and took a job in a pediatric unit in a hospital.

What advice would you give to a new nurse?

 First of all “hang in there.”  It will get better when you have more experience and you know more what to do.  Second, and this goes for all nurses, don`t be afraid to ask someone else for advice if you are uncertain what to do (or think that you know enough not to).  In sweden we have a mentality that alows us to ask for a second opinion-either we want to ask for advice on some matter or we would like to confirm that we are doing the right thing, before we start doing it.
When I was new to the nursing profession, I was surprised that my fellow nurses that worked for many years asked me for advice or wanted me to check their med calculations. It was not until later that I realized that this was a good way of learning things. I had their trust to help them at the same time that they trained/educated me.
A few times when I practiced I would meet some “grumpy” nurse that would tell me that I should already know the answer.  In those cases I turned to another nurse and got an answer that made me certain I was doing the best for the patient (which is our mission).
What advice would you give to a tired nurse?
Don`t ever forget that it is not the core nursing (probably the reason why you became a nurse) that burned you out. It is most certainly external circumstances (lack of staff, high work load, etc.) that got you there. I have talked to some colleagues that were really tired of their work, but we all agreed that we love our profession, just not how we sometimes are supposed to perform it.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love working with my hands and with my head. When I was in high school, I took a vocational course in carpenty. I have never worked professional as one, but it has helped my during my life. I have a large family and during these years we have owned two houses that I renovated from top to bottom during my spare time. It is satisfying to create something with my hands that would last and that  I had to use my head figuring out how to do it and calculating what I would need.
Thanks for sharing, Anders!!  Wishing you and your family all the best in your new home!  To read more about his big move to the U.S. and get some tips if you are contemplating international travel, check out my interview with him for Mighty Nurse.  Be kind to one another ❤

A Crayfish Party in Sweden

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Happy Monday friends!  Today’s post comes from one of my favorite parts of Sweden, Skåne.  Last week I shared with you the splendors of Northern Sweden.  This past weekend we headed to Skåne, a region in the most southern part of Sweden, a short drive from Denmark.  It’s a three hour drive from where we live in Gothenburg.  Our good friends live there and this weekend invited us to a traditional Swedish crayfish party-kräftskiva in Swedish.

History

Although crayfish have been eaten since the 16th century in Sweden, then a delicacy savored by aristocrats, the crayfish celebration came later.  The history of crayfish parties in Sweden date back to the mid nineteenth century. Originally, parties were planned around the time of year fishermen were legally allowed to harvest crayfish from the sea, which was often the first week in August.  They were considered the last party of the summer.

Atmosphere

No kräftskiva party is complete without party hats, decorations, and bibs.  The hats are usually adorned with pictures of the guest of honor, the crayfish.  At the center of the brightly hung streamers and paper lanterns usually hangs a large and happy  paper lantern of the Man in the Moon.

Food

Crayfish is the highlight here-served cold with a delicious hint of dill.  The little crustaceans can be eaten alone, with a little aoli, or on fresh baked bread with aoli.  It is considered completely polite and actually a treat to suck the juice from the shell.  In addition, salad, delicious cheeses, and quiche of different varieties are served.

Drink

Traditional drink for a kräftskiva party is Schnaps of multi flavors, beer, and/or wine.  While I am not usually a fan of taking shots, I was all in for this party.  I tasted two different flavors-elderberry and cinnamon.  I loved the elderberry and according to our host, you have to let the Schnaps roll around in your mouth a bit to truly enjoy the flavor.

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Song

Swedes are known for their love of song, which usually preclude the drinking of Schnapps (snapsvisor).  There is a song for every occasion and a crayfish party is no exception.  While our party was a little reluctant, once the Schnapps started flowing and inhibitions dampened, we managed one song  to the melody of Popeye the Sailor Man.

A great time was had by all. Already looking forward to next year’s party.  Thanks to our friends Per and Malin for the invite!!  Thanks for taking the time to read!  Have a great week 😊

No Walk in the Park

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I have spent the last three days in the untouched forest of northern Sweden, just north of The Arctic Circle.  I always wanted to try hiking and finally convinced myself that there was no better time than now.  I followed my boyfriend, his sister, her husband, and children.  We borrowed nearly everything to do a test run before investing in any hiking equipment.  Lucky for us, we live in a country surrounded by hikers.  We packed everything we needed on our backs and biked/hiked 10 miles to a primitive camp called Aktse along Kungsleden, a 270 mile hiking trail in Sweden.  Day two, we spent ascending and descending Skierffe Mountain.

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I survived without electricity, running water, and toilet for three full days.  I would describe the trip in three words-amazing, exhausting, and challenging.  I knew it would be no leisure stroll in nature.  I prepared myself to be challenged and looked forward to it.  The older I get, the more I like to challenge myself a little.  I push myself to step outside of my comfort zone and I encourage others to do the same.  You may never know your true strength unless you test it.

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I loved every minute of the experience.  It is not to say that I did not have a couple moments where I sounded like a trucker fighting my way up a deceivingly beautiful and treacherous mountain with exhausted and unwilling legs.  I kept telling myself “mind over matter” until I broke through the toughest moments.

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It helped that we stopped to pluck blueberries  from bushes that surrounded the trail and drank ice cold water from the many creeks along the way.  I wish I could have bottled the water and taken it home.  I have never tasted such fresh, delicious water in my life.  And the views and wildlife!  It is truly impossible to capture all the moments in a photo.   How often can one say that they crossed paths with a reindeer in the wild?  They will remain forever in my mind and heart.

The trip inspired my latest post for Mighty Nurse.  I hope you all gain some inspiration from it as well ❤

Taking a Time Out