Yay Target!!! So proud of Target for stepping up and supporting breastfeeding women! Let me start by saying, as a baby nurse, I support a woman’s right to feed her baby however she can/wishes. I think it’s equally important that a breastfeeding mother have options while out and about. There is a stigma still associated with breastfeeding in public places. In the U.S., many women are faced with feeding in a toilet stall in a public restroom. It makes me cringe!! My sister and I were at Target today and her two week old woke up for a feeding. It was her first outing since Mollie was born, so she had planned to take her to the car for feedings. She had, however, heard that breastfeeding moms take precedence in the dressing rooms at Target and sure enough she was right. The women’s side was full, so she was given a fitting room on the men’s side, no questions asked!!!! Paula, a Target employee in Port Orange, Florida, went out of her way to provide my sister with the largest room. Thank you!!!
July 22, 2015
I never stepped foot inside a hospital until nursing school. No broken bones, no surgery, no severe illness. I’ve been one of the very few fortunate. Having health is one of the most important possessions in life.
Despite so little experience as a patient myself, I always try to be empathetic with my patients and their families. I have recently had the opportunity to see the hospital from the point of view of patient and family. My baby sister gave birth to a little girl.
My sister had her scheduled weekly OB check up with Dr. John Meyers at OB-GYN Health Center in Daytona Beach. He is one of a growing group of doctors in the area that supports VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I recommended him to my sister in large part because she wanted to try for a VBAC, but also because I had been to many of Dr. Meyers’ deliveries as a graduate nurse working at Halifax Medical Center. He was always calm, confident, and had the best bedside manner.
What we thought would be a routine check up quickly turned into high blood pressure, protein in the urine, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets resulted in a repeat C-section (caesarean). It is called preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome (for the nonmedical peeps), a dangerous myriad of symptoms that develop in some women under pregnancy where the only treatment is delivery of the baby.
This was sadly my sister’s second go around with preeclampsia and HELLP that unfortunately took precedence over having the natural birth she had wished for. Ultimately the most important thing was that the outcome for both her and her baby was positive.
From the moment we walked in the door to the labor and delivery unit, I knew my sister was safe and well cared for. Maybe it was in large part that I had walked these halls hundreds of times as a new nurse years ago. I knew their routines. I still recognized so many faces. This was my “home” hospital. The charge nurse (my first preceptor as a new grad), Nancy, was the first to come into the room. She was exactly as I remembered her, outgoing and funny, which brought light to a heavy feeling in the room. She identified herself, explained that Mandy’s nurse would be in shortly, and that she would help her get settled in the meantime. The little things.
Ilze, Mandy’s labor nurse, soon joined the birthday party. We were lucky to get two super nurses for the price of one as Ilze was orienting Cathy, an equally experienced nurse. They explained in detail what would happen with regard to preparation for the caesarean. They both had a calm demeanor that reflected years of experience. Calm was just what was needed as my sister anxiously contemplated her second C-section. The little things.
I often refer to “the little things” in my writing that I think matter most to a patient. They don’t remember if we gave their antibiotic on time, that we charted their daily progress. What they remember are the little things. Mandy, my sister, remembers that the anaesthesiologist in the O.R. (sensing she was nervous) encouraged my brother in law to take her hand as they started the C Section. My brother in law, Sean, remembers that Sheila (my super neonatal nurse friend) took the time to allow him to cut what remained of the umbilical cord. Sheila brought a bit of normalcy in the otherwise sterile, cold, frightening, and, unfamiliar environment that is an operating room. Mandy remembers that Sheila then placed her little girl directly skin to skin in the operating room while Dr. Meyers was still working on her. I remember receiving updates from Nancy and a respiratory therapist outside the O.R. while we (the family) paced the halls in anticipation. The little things.
As part of the treatment of preeclampsia, my sister was administered an intravenous drip of Magnesium Sulfate for approximately 20 hours after delivery. It is a life saving drug that prevents seizures in the preeclamptic patient, but has some terrible side effects of which my sister experienced flushing, confusion, visual disturbances, and a “strange twilight” feeling. She was restricted to her hospital bed for the duration of treatment (20 hours). Can you imagine the challenge of trying to care for, feed, and, nurture your newborn while heavily drugged and bed bound? It is no easy recovery! My sister is my hero ❤
Her recovery and postpartum nurses made her as comfortable as possible. Joy, the night shift nurse, checked Mandy’s reflexes hourly as required when a patient is being treated with Magnesium Sulfate. She made sure that Mandy was pain free, had plenty of clear liquids to her liking, and that she was beginning to regain feeling in her legs post spinal. I stayed the first two nights helping out and recall hearing Joy’s sweet, nurturing voice in the quiet of the night checking in on us. The little things.
It was with the help of this group of amazing nurses, Dr. Meyers, and the surgical team that my sister’s delivery and postpartum period in the hospital (though physically difficult) will be remembered positively. I am proud to say that I trained as a graduate nurse here and still carry with me some of the most fundamental and essential skills of nursing that I learned here. The little things. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart ❤
June 27, 2015
Hi everyone!! It’s been a little while. I caught a nasty virus in London and have spent my first 10 days in Florida getting over it. It’s nice in a sense because I have spent most of my time home with my dad. I just turned 40, but it’s amazing that he still manages to make me feel 12 as soon as I walk in the door. “I picked up your almond milk, honey,” or “I’ve been getting the house ready for you,” are his usual welcoming words.
My dad is an interesting fellow. Someone should write a book about him. He is a symbol of the Anerican dream, an idea I think rarely exists anymore. He has worked hard for everything he has. He was born a sharecropper’s son in the cotton fields of Mississippi (thus the green thumb). One of twelve children, he worked his father’s fields often missing school in the process. It was in those moments he yearned for education.
A run away at the age of 13 (too long a story), he worked with one goal in mind, to get his education. After four years of service in the Marines, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill and began studying . He studied at one of the most prestigious schools in the U.S., Columbia University.
To say he has lived the dream is an understatement. He came from nothing, educated himself, raised a family and became a successful businessman. I couldn’t be more proud of my dad. Happy Father’s Day ❤
Hello from London! I’ve been here for five days now. I tagged along with my boyfriend who has a work conference, so I have been spending most of my time exploring this amazing city alone.
I have always had a crippling fear of getting lost. I have no internal compass. Tackling and conquering a gigantic city like London is a huge accomplishment for me!! I may have taken the wrong turn here and there and had to turn around, but ultimately found my way. It’s a perfect analogy in life. Sometimes we feel lost, take the wrong turn, maybe go off the beaten path, but ultimately find our own way.
I just finished the first of my last three nights on contract here in Sweden. I am soon heading home to Florida where it is the temperature and humidity of an extremely premature infant’s incubator (that’s super hot and super humid). I am making a quick detour to England before heading home where I plan to dance at Covent Garden, eat nothing but scones and clotted cream, and pay a visit to The Florence Nightingale Museum.
Do you find that no matter where you travel, the faces may change and the names may change, but it’s the same? It’s no different overseas. The hospital hosts the same issues, same gripes, same jokes as any hospital in the U.S. It’s so interesting that it took traveling so far away for me to learn this. I can think of many examples, but last night was a super funny one.
The following is a translation of a picture I took in our break room at work. Even in Sweden coworkers leave nice notes for one another. It reads….
“Tupperware that is left in the sink will be thrown out directly even if it is clean or dirty. You are not at home so you better get it together and clean up after yourselves. We would like to keep this place clean!
The one cleaning up after your shit!”
I’m almost two days late in wishing all the moms the world over a Happy Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is not until the end of May in Sweden, so it is easy to sometimes forget. A very special Happy Mother’s Day to my own mother, Elaine. She, like most moms with their children, has supported me in my every endeavour. More importantly, however, she was the one I learned the importance of being kind, forgiving, and accepting. I’ve heard many times in my adult life that I am too soft, too kind, too nice. For a long time I accepted that there was somehow something wrong with being this way and that it made me weak. I even admittedly felt anger sometimes toward my mom that she had imposed these qualities on me. That was until I realized it was what I loved most about her. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I now know that it is what makes me a better daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, nurse, human being.
May 5, 2015
In a follow up to my previous post, I thought it would be nice to share a few ways to take care of you. I call it a guide to remembering self while remaining selfless.
We live in an ever growing, fast paced, and egocentric society. We are fed this idea of who we should be or how we should live and can easily become unbalanced in the process. I come from the “becomes easily unbalanced” camp.
I am of the profession of giving. My happiness comes from caring for the tiniest patients on the planet (premature infants) and their families, helping a friend or family member in need, or even a gesture as simple as holding the door for someone. I became a nurse out of the innate desire to care for people.
At the same time, it is important to have something left for oneself at the end of the day or we can be of no service to others. It is easy to forget to care for oneself and this is where life gets tricky. Here are just a few of my own personal routines that I use to stay balanced and can recommend to anyone that is in need of a little balancing themselves.
1. Regular massage
The benefits of massage are endless from improved sleep, pain relief, relief of anxiety, depression and headaches to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever and mood elevator. Even 30 minutes once a month helps. I consider it a reward at the end of a few tough shifts.
2. Epsom salts baths
Magnesium salts or epsom salts have many uses. You can find them in your local health food store or pharmacy. Magnesium is an essential element in the body that affects our heart, bones, nervous system, muscles. My favorite way to use them is in the form of a bath. Add 2 cups or about 5 Dl (for my European friends) Epsom Salts with a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a full, warm bath. Soak for at least 15 minutes and exit revived and refreshed. Try this after a massage and there you meet bliss.
3. A regular yoga practice (whatever your yoga is)
It can be an actual yoga practice, going for a walk, swim, or a run. I can always tell when I have not practiced enough. I have a trigger point between my shoulder blades that start screaming for a shoulder opener. Even if I only have 30 minutes that day to practice, I immediately recognize a difference in mood and energy level.
Friendship is a balance of give and take. Friends are there to listen when all we need sometimes is to vent and vice versa. They may not understand the depth of your despair after coming off a long night shift having said goodbye to a little soul that you know will have passed by the time you return. They don’t have to get it. It’s just about being there. Being present.
5 A moment of reflection
It can be anything from a 10 minute meditation, a cup of hot tea, or reading something inspiring. It is taking a time out. It’s stopping whatever you are doing for just a brief moment to pause from the craziness, business of life. I learned this after moving to Sweden. Their moment of reflection is called fika (coffee break) and it is sacred here.
Ok, maybe gardening is a bit of an exaggeration. I live in a city where your garden consists of the flowers that adorn your window sill in the winter and your balcony in the summer. While I claim to be no expert, there is truly something to be said for watching my orchids thrive in the five years since moving to Sweden. I bought them in the dead of winter because they brought some light to the long, dark days of Scandinavian winter and continue to do so today.
Unconditional, honest, faithful love. Some days it’s as simple as a video chat with my four year old nephew across the pond. In our last conversation he concluded that he would buy me a red bike when I come home so that we can bike ride together (warms this auntie’s heart). Other days it’s hearing my mom or dad’s voice on the other end of the phone. The conversations (for as far back as I can remember) always begin with my dad greeting me with , “hi sweetheart,” or my mom greeting me with, “hi honey.” Every day, it’s the sound of the keys at the door as the love and support of my life enters the door with a smile after another day’s work.
I think becoming a nurse was a natural path for me though it wasn’t something I planned early on. I care. Plain and simple. I care about my family, my friends, and my tiny patients. Often as nurses it is easy for us to get caught in the politics, the frustration of being understaffed, or being undermined by one another that we forget why we became nurses in the first place. I think this is something common to the human condition, not just nurses. Often I find myself in this place. It is the little things in life that bring me back when I feel unbalanced. Today I met a dear friend for fika (Swedish coffee break) and it seems this short brief meeting was all I needed to reset. It is important to take a moment to breathe, reflect, and let go in life. Some days are better than others, but we must all try to take the time needed to take care of ourselves, something we often forget in life.
Since moving to Sweden nearly five years ago, I’ve had many friends and family members urge me to start a blog. I was always reluctant because I thought that I was already active enough on social media. The fact is that I love to read, write, and breathe inspiration. I hope this blog gives those of us in need just a bit. I remember as far back as the age of 14 or 15 that I dreamed of one day traveling and or living in Europe and here I am!! It is through my nursing career (and a little love) that I made it here. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. My goal is to inspire you, share ideas with you, and in turn learn something myself. Thanks for reading and look forward to the journey!!!