Sunday, January 09, 2011
I usually don't watch a lot of television. I average around three hours tops A WEEK and even then I'm busy getting into other things and miss half of the show. I have found that when I sit and watch the boob tube, I eat. A lethal combination for someone of my height and build. I'm the type of person, if I look at something, it's hanging off of my hips the next day.
Lately I've been using some visualization techniques that a SparkFriend told me about. She said that when there is something REALLY tempting me to visualize eating it in my mind, envision feeling the textures and the tastes in my mouth. Enjoy it, savor it, then tell my myself that I am full and I am finished. At first I thought, "Okay, this is a little WEIRD..." but it was working for me! Plus, when I want something really sinful, I will visualize myself in a little pink bikini or hiking up a mountain, not getting winded. I thought that I had found something that clicked with my warped little mind and I was becoming quite the master of my temptations until....
During the play-offs today, one of those nasty little restaurant commercials popped up. There, before me, was a beautiful chicken wrap. Ohhh, I could sooo go for that. But NO! I was going to envision myself in my bikini. Closing my eyes, I saw myself sitting on the beach in the Bahamas, not a sag or muffin top in sight. Then something odd happened. Suddenly the chicken wrap was in a bikini. Not good. Opening my eyes, clearing my head, I tried again. Bikini chicken wrap! WTH!??
Feeling quite disturbed, I flipped through the channels and watched some guy shake a "Shake Weight" for about sixty seconds, then flipped it back onto the game. All was well for about fifteen minutes then Dairy Queen decided to rear its ugly head. Again, closing my eyes, I envisioned a snow-capped mountain in the distance and the act of lacing up my hiking boots. Looking up, in my mind, I saw the mountain, snow tops glistening in the sunny sky...with a cherry on top.
Another thing, what is it with some guys, like guys named Brian, who insist on putting pizza on a plate and setting it in front of me?
"Aw, c'MON, honey, one piece won't hurt you!"
"There's four pieces on it."
"Just eat one."
"Just go away."
"Just eat it!"
"Just BITE ME!"
It didn't stop there. After my failed visualization techniques and the pizza fiasco, I heard Mr. Slim-n-Trim rummaging through the freezer.
"What are you doing?"
"Butter Pecan?? Ice cream??"
Two minutes later he sat a bowl of it in front of me.
I don't know what was going through his mind for doing that but I know what was going through mine. I was in a bikini, on top of a snow-capped mountain, strangling him.
But I'm proud. I didn't buckle and go to town for a chicken wrap. I didn't eat the pizza OR the ice cream. I sit here, Queen of my WillPower Domain and, most importantly, Brian is still alive and breathing.
I call that a good day.
(Photo courtesy of THEMIGHTYLEX!)
Friday, January 07, 2011
(This is my fifth blog which details an individual who touched my life....)
Patti loved to have her nails manicured. They were her pride and joy; long, exact, buffed to perfection. Sometimes she would have them painted scarlet red, but most times you would find them in baby pink with a touch of white at the tips. We often talked about her long beautiful fingers and I agreed that she could most definitely be a hand model for an upscale fashion magazine. She would smile a schoolgirl smile and hold her head a little higher when I spoke of this, so I said it to her quite often.
Patti also loved blouses in bright loud colors. You could see her coming a mile away, rolling her wheelchair down the long narrow corridor. Usually with some tidbit of gossip that she wanted to share with me, perhaps to tell me that Mr. Morrow had tried to climb into bed with her again; she would make a beeline to my nursing station to fill me in on each “juicy” detail. She would have ran if she could…her excitement usually bubbled over before she made it to my desk…but both of her legs were amputated just below the knee. They had been gone for 10+ years. Long black hair curled away naturally from her seamless face, make-up dead-on, and a push-up bra; that was Patti, who believed if one had it, one should flaunt it. She often told me the necklines to my scrubs were too high. She also gave me advice on how to wear false eyelashes that I wear to this day. I loved the day she applied my eye shadow and beamed with pride at the purple glittery landscape she created below my brows. I don’t know who got the biggest kick out of it; me, Patti or my co-workers who threatened to “pimp” me out.
Little did I know that this fashion-conscious diva was going to blow everything I had believed in out of the water when I answered her blinking call light one day. I was surprised to find her still lying in bed, hair a mess, face naked from foundation and her smile gone. I felt my heart lurch in my chest, remembering that the departing nurse had not mentioned anything wrong with her. Pushing aside my frustration at the lack of communication, I went to her side and asked her what was wrong. Looking up at me, she said these words:
“I never married. I never had children. When I am gone, what is going to be left of me? A couple of wheelchairs and two prosthetics that I never wore? The things in this little cubicle of a room are what I have in this entire world. My parents are gone, my sister is gone. This is IT. Why was I given this cross to bear?” Pulling her beautiful perfect hand to my chest, I tightly held it to my racing heart. I allowed her to speak freely, to shed her tears, to unburden her heavy heart. She needed to do that. I refrained from the usual, “It’s going to be alright.” because it wasn’t. Not for Patti. She knew this, I knew this and she needed to voice her soul. Finally, spent from emotion, she looked at me with tear-stained cheeks and made me promise to live my life with pride and ambition. She made me promise to never take anything for granted and to be grateful for the blessings that I have in my life. But the thing that stuck out the most was to love, dance, laugh all of the days of my life and if I could, to please do it for her sometimes.
It wasn’t long before Patti was back at it again and a few times I caught her goosing Mr. Morrow in the butt as he passed by. I would catch her sitting across the hall from Mamie talking about hiding the pudding in the flower pots in the lobby and cornering the night shift RN because he was so "hot." She started to deteriorate a few months later and wasn’t long before she could not find the strength to get out of bed. With a heavy heart, I would still do her nails. The best that I could do. Mr. Morrow came to sit with her quite often and I would find him in the middle of the night tenderly caressing the hair from her face. On my round one evening, I found him lying in the bed beside her. Although it was against company policy, I gently shut the door and pretended that I did not see. I instructed the nurse’s aides to pretend that they did not see either.
When Patti passed, I went to Mr. Morrow’s room where he sat in silence. I did not go to his room often as he was not a patient of mine. But there I found the pictures of Patti, tacked on his corkboard, pictures that she had in her room at one time or another. There were pictures of her throwing her head back as she “danced” with the Elvis impersonator at a community party. I cried when my eyes caught the one of her in the thick of things at the “slumber party” taken a year before. She was waving her blush brush and smiling with lips of scarlet red to match her nails, about to tackle a lady who looked as if she had been ambushed and kidnapped by Patti herself. The truth be known, she most likely had been.
“She was a beautiful woman, you know that?”
“Yes, Mr. Morrow, I know.”
Patti, your legacy lived on. You DID touch lives. I often find myself thinking of you, especially when I think I can’t put one foot in front of the other. So, I do it anyways, just so you will know that I heard you that day, just so I know that I heard you and that your words were not in vain. No more excuses. No excuses for me.
No more excuses for YOU guys either. Get UP. Love, dance and laugh all the days of your life from this day on.
Don't take your ability to do so for granted one more day.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
I was going through my house the other day looking for things that my daughter might have forgotten to pack for the trip back to campus last Saturday. In some small part of my mind, I figured, if it was important enough, I could take it to her this weekend; it would be an awesome excuse to get back up there to see how she is doing. So far, I've only ran across a comb and a pair of socks. Of all the wonderful things I can say about my daughter, I can now also add "thorough." I'm not going to lie and say that this transition has been easy. I've even done a few things I shouldn't have, like raid the refrigerator, curse out the treadmill and text her nonstop, but I'm getting better. Slowly. I think.
It didn't help matters when she called me at midnight the other night and said that her laptop quit working. I was trying to calm her down and guide her through some various exercises that might help it spring back to life. (Yes, Barb and G-ma, ME!) "Nothing!" she would say, getting increasingly agitated and worried. It was comforting for me to comfort her. I felt like me again, taking care of my baby girl. About 2 a.m., when the problem was still not resolved she said, "It's okay, Mom. I'm going to bed but we can work on it tomorrow." I asked her, "Do you want me to come up and look at it for myself??" Yawning, she replied, "No, my friend James is going to come by. But if he can't fix it, you can come up." Crossing my fingers, I went to bed with a smile on my face. It sounds twisted, but, hey, I was looking forward to seeing her.
The next day she texted one word. "Success!"
Apparently, James is quite the computer whiz. (The little snipe.) I texted her back and said, "Do you still want me to come up just to make sure??" Her reply, "Nope, it's okay. We got it. But thanks!"
You would think that by now my apron strings would be a little shorter. Or that I would be out doing what I wanted to do instead of hanging on every little word my daughter had to say. Brian asked me the other day why I don't "dote" on the other kids like I do Beanie and I said that Beanie is my baby. She is a mini-me. He said, "Well, don't be so sure. Apparently she's moving on. You aren't."
Okay, so maybe I AM a little annoyed at the thought that she is finding ways to be her own person. Wow...that's coming across as really selfish, isn't it? You know what? It is what it is. I admit it. I AM being selfish. I've taught my daughter from day one to be self-sufficient, to make decisions and be her own girl. Now that she's doing that, I feel lost. Plain and simple. Ohhh, don't get me wrong. You ALL know how proud I am of that young woman. You have read my blogs, seen my pictures of her, you KNOW that I am on cloud nine with this girl. I don't have a beef with her, ya know. I have it with ME.
Sooooo....since I'm not going up to see her this weekend, I'm going to take the first step to reclaiming MY life. Let's call it a little knock in the head with the Reality Hammer. It's not just the fact that I am not a full-time mom now that's bothering me. It's the fact that I have put limits on myself in so many other ways. It's the fact that I have allowed other things to dominate my thinking that have caused me to doubt who I am. It's even changed the way I do things. I have allowed the past, my grief in other areas, to dictate my heart, my head. It's time to start finding out who I am. Deep down. Believe me, there's a lot of muck and mire to sort through, so it's not going to happen overnight. I know there is a lot of CRUD to purge through so, frankly guys, it's now or never.
I do know one thing...God is beside me. Plus, I have some of the most incredible friends beside me, too. At least I'm not doing it alone. It's time to stand up and be held accountable, for myself.
You guys with me?
Monday, December 27, 2010
(This is my fourth blog which details an individual who touched my life....)
I was still green and a little wet behind the ears when I was placed on the Psych Wing. I had finished up my training period and was anxiously awaiting my permanent assignment when Carol informed me that they needed a nurse on the Psychiatric Unit on E Wing. Surely, she said, with my training in Pyschology, it would be the perfect fit for me. Stuttering and stammering, I nervously explained that someone of my "newness" couldn't POSSIBLY take on the responsibilities of such a heavy task so soon! Smiling her always-calm smile and placing her hand on my shoulder, she bent down and whispered in my ear, "Too bad. You got it anyways. You're going." With a slight push, she guided me toward the med room and handed me the med cart keys. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "We got a new resident just this morning! His name is Jeffrey. His info is in the report laying on your desk."
Pushing the med cart toward the doors which were double-paned security glass, I punched in my code to unlock them. Grumbling under my breath, I slowly made my way to the tiny office in the back while the nursing assistants sized me up and talked amongst themselves. I could tell that this not a match made in heaven by any stretch of the means. Glancing at the report on my desk, I suddenly noticed the nurse I was relieving sitting in the corner, hair unkempt, eyes dark and ready to jump ship. "You got all the information you need there. I'm outta here! Our new one, Jeffrey, well, he won't eat. He hasn't eaten anything according to the last facility for almost FIVE days. Says he wants to die. Have a great day...poor girl."
What was wrong with these people?? I was starting to think that there were doubts among others that I could do my job. Poor girl?? No, I don't think so...poor Jeffrey. HE was the one in trouble here, not me. Placing my hands in my scrub pockets, I made my way to Jeffrey's room. He was 135 pounds on a 6"1' frame, a beard that looked like it could house a couple of squirrels and hair that fell to his shoulders. Walking up to the side of his bed, I noticed the breakfast tray untouched on the nightstand beside him.
"Good morning, Jeffrey. I'm Michelle. I'll be your nurse for the day."
"What's wrong with your breakfast? Do you want me to bring you a warm tray?"
"No, you can take it and shove it up your a##, that's what you can do with it."
"Or how about this? You can talk to me with respect like I have chosen to do with you and, possibly, your stay here, especially while I'M on duty, can be much easier."
"Well, YOU'VE got quite the attitude."
"Takes one to know one, doesn't it, sir?"
Grabbing his tray from his stand, I announced that lunch would be served at 11:30 a.m. and I expected him out of the bed, hair combed and waiting for its arrival. Obviously, he did not get out of bed at lunch time, and there was, yet again, another power struggle. I spent the morning and much of the afternoon reading up on Jeffrey's history and learned that he was once a college professor, very intelligent, and had lost his wife to cancer. He had given up on his will to live over time and had developed traits of OCD and manic depression. Over the next few days, watching Jeffrey become weaker, I brought him magazines, books, anything that he could wrap his mind around. Most of the time they laid on the stand untouched, unopened.
A few days later I had had enough. Perhaps it wasn't the most professional thing to do, but, in my mind, this was ending one way or the other. Taking his lunch tray to him I sat it on the table and swung it directly in front of him. Removing the cover, I said, "Okay. You're eating today."
"Go to he##."
"Nope! You're eating or I'm getting an order from the doctor to insert a feeding tube. And I will do it myself! I've had enough of this crap, Jeff. You're not dying. Not on my watch. Now get busy! Time to get with it and GROW UP! EAT!" Slamming the lid to the tray on the bathroom sink, I huffed from the room and started crying in the hallway. I was going to be fired for sure. I had acted unprofessionally, the nurse's assistant was going to narc and my job was now up for grabs. Two weeks in and I was going to be terminated.
"I swear, you stinkin' people!" Jeffrey screamed, "Bring me some $%#@! ketchup if you expect me to eat these eggs! You expect me to eat rubber?? And you call these hash browns?? Gimme some salt! ALOT OF IT! I'll eat for you! But you're not killing me with this garbage! I'll do it MY way!" Peeking in, he was sitting up and making an honest attempt at his food. I think I ran over two residents and a fellow nurse on my way to the kitchen to fetch his condiments. I may have also gave a patient in a wheelchair a push that sent him flying a few feet down the wrong hallway....but Jeffrey got his ketchup. Jeffrey got his salt.
And Jeffrey ate.
Every day after that. Months passed and his eyes started to light up every time I came into the room. He started to laugh. He started opening up to the psychologist who came to speak with him. He started opening up to me. The day he asked for a haircut was the day that I really knew things had turned around. I was delirious with joy...until they came to tell me that I had been given the position on A Wing, Ventilation Unit. I promised Jeffrey that I would visit everyday. A few days into my job as I was getting prepared to insert a trach, I felt a hand slightly, playfully pull the back of my hair. Looking around, there stood Jeffrey smiling. I said, "What are you doing?? What are you doing HERE??"
"I've been transferred to the Rehab Unit over there. I can come see YOU everyday. That way YOU don't have to make the trip." Smiling proudly, he smoothed back his styled hair, fixed the sleeves on his blazer and held his head high. He was thirty pounds heavier, his skin was pink and hydrated and his air of confidence was so thick you could cut it with a knife. A few months later, Jeffrey was released into the care of an aunt. Before he left, he stood in front of me and said, "You scared the s%&%$ out of me me that day, ya know? I thought you were going to throw the lid at ME that day." Shaking his head, he took my hand and said, "Oh well. It made me eat. And by the way, the eggs still suck. And pretty much everything else does, too. But I knew if I didn't eat to build up my strength, there was no way I was going to get well enough to get away from you." Grinning mischeviously, he walked toward the exit and left, his aftershave still lingering in the air.
It's pretty amazing how not giving up on someone can give them the strength to do what they need to do for themselves. I'm not taking credit for his change of mind. It was all within HIS heart and HIS soul to do it HIMself. Sometimes we just need to know that there is someone who cares enough to get "mad" at the detrimental decisions that we are making against ourselves so that we can make a change. Sometimes we just need to know that someone CARES PERIOD.
So who is YOUR Jeffrey? Who is the person that needs you most today?
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