Friday, July 19, 2013

Teach a man to fish

This week, we had a new graduate in the clinic. I am absolutely positive, based upon how I have seen them treat others and how they treated me, that the days before I worked they treated him without accepting him. When he learned my proclivity for being able to teach, he decided to drag me all over the clinic and teach him everything he could find for me to show him. I told my co-worker today that I haven't seen a new graduate as enthusiastic as this one yet.

It was fun to help teach a new graduate the ropes. This kid showed up with raw talent and no confidence. He had had very little clinical time in nursing school, having completed a hybrid bachelor's to RN program where they focused heavily on the didactic and passing the examination board but came up terribly short on clinical time. Yet, despite having never started an IV before this week, and totally bombing his first two days, I was able to walk him through how to start an IV earlier this week and by the second time he was getting it the first time, every time. Today, eager to get every chance for practice he could before his week was up, he started almost every IV in the clinic. He also got them the first time, each time, even on a patient that is a terrible stick for us.

The kid has a bachelor's in biology before he altered and went to nursing school. It's not as if he doesn't have the head knowledge to be a nurse. He just lacks both experience and confidence. His first two days, he was basically left to sink or swim on his own. By midday on Wednesday, he was asking me to please show him every thing. Today, he was doing it all on his own. He kept going on and on about what a terrific teacher I am and how very grateful he is that our clinic was his first stop on his year of training.

The thing is, teaching people is what I am best at doing. I stop whatever I am doing anytime a patient wants me to give them knowledge and I give them as much as they can handle, in the format that they can understand. When students or new graduates into the clinic, I have the same response with them. I spent two decades homeschooling children, multiple of those children with learning struggles or language issues. I'm very good at deciphering when someone truly understands what I said and when they are completely lost. I know how to alter my words until I find a method of explanation that makes the confusion clear for someone.

I know that others can see this talent I possess, not because they all rave about how grateful they are to find a true teacher, but because I encounter it. I see the grateful look when someone finally gets something they hadn't gotten before. I hear it from my instructors in school and my manager on my annual review. I know that I enjoy this when it comes up, whether it is at home with my children or elsewhere.

What I don't know is what I'm supposed to do with this talent. I am moving forward with my intentions to become a nurse practitioner, and I know I can teach nursing. I also know that sometimes in my own coursework I take time to teach other students instead of merely be a student myself. This week was not the first time a professor asked permission to use my work to teach other students even after I complete a class.

We don't pay teachers peanuts in this country. So, if I went into strictly teaching, I would never made money. I can do a hybrid of practice and teaching, but there is only one of me and I'm not certain that I want to work two jobs per se, especially when each is complicated in their own right. For now, I teach whenever and whomever the opportunity arises. This week's student had already learned that nurses eat their young and was so grateful to find a nurse who nurtures and teaches instead. There will be more. Whether it is a patient getting a blood transfusion, or a new graduate who made it through nursing school without starting IVs. Until I can figure out how to merge both sides of my personality, I continue to pursue nursing and teach when the need arises.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Climbing the mountain

Last month, I got some nasty malware on my computer. II is supposed to have virus protection on my computer, but something got through the firewall, something very nasty. Ultimately, he had to scrub the harddrive and completely reformat it. He always saves my files when he does it, and it's happened a surprising number of times--I'm terribly at safe web surfing, it seems. However, when he restored my favorites links, he alphabetized them. It drives me insane because I organize them by priority and they come back in a way I cannot navigate them, including finding the link to my own blog. Life has always taken priority over anything online, but especially blogging, so the blog sits silent while I live my life. Probably best that way but I started this to record my thoughts and sometimes it is best that I write and let things out.

Busy is a good state of being for me. It's not that I cannot address the grief of the last year. It's that if I actually stop, if I let myself fall apart, there will be no one here to pick everyone else up again. I give myself moments, permission to weep, to wail, to scream at the universe and a god I'm not sure if I believe in or not anymore. I am only allowed moments. More than that and the family falls apart. The children need me, and while I truly believe they have been instrumental in my getting through this for their sakes, there are times I get frustrated that their needs mean I must keep my own under control so tightly. E's therapist asked me last week if I have people to talk to. She said I don't have to have a formal therapist, so long as I have a way and a support when I need to talk and vent. Thankfully, I do have that. I have a good support system, a long list of friends I can reach out to, and a massage therapist whose main job is not the massage he gives me weekly but the question he asks me first--how are you doing this week? Eddie keeps me honest about my grief and my processing, and his touch on my body relieves the physical struggles I battle from both the grief and the medical conditions which escalated in this grief.

I am 1/3 of the way through this second Bachelor's in nursing and rapidly remembering WHY nursing was the one type of course I made Cs in the first time. I don't enjoy nursing courses the way I enjoy other classes. Sadly, I enjoy practicing nursing, so I must tolerate the formalized nursing classes to get there. My nurse practitioner friends assure me that nursing at the graduate level is far more my level of investment. However, for now I've taken on two very complicated nursing courses with heavy workloads. One of them challenges me and I enjoy, the other is tedious clinical work. In the fall, I get to take cultural nursing which should be much more enjoyable, as well as a basic math course that I don't really need but exempting would force me to choose another unneeded class to meet the residency requirement for this degree.

More importantly, we faced the anniversary. I really feel we're still on shaky ground, but we all seem to be settling down somewhat with it behind us instead of right before us. We went on vacation, camping as a family. We had not gone camping for four years. Our last fateful camping trip involved a trip to the beach, Micah's one and only camping trip. We took the kids to Gulf Shores for the fourth of July. Micah was not impressed. Our memories of that trip have become family lore. Until we made camp and found the remnants of that trip. There was sand still inside the tents, reminding us that when the storms came we gave up trying to manage Micah's constant raging from the change in pattern and left quickly. The hole he made his first night camping, when he howled at the moon (literally) while he busted through all of his medications given to help him sleep, was still taped with the tent tape II ran to Walmart at midnight to repair. There were rocks he had collected in the tote of supplies. A diaper that was packed for J on that trip, so tiny compared to the big preschooler he is today.

Our tears were mingled with laughter this time. Camping was tremendous fun and it was heartbinding that we gave S his very first camping trip of his life. We wanted to take Micah camping often. We found a way to manage his medical needs while camping (a flutter device and a campsite with electricity were required). We never found a way to manage his autism while camping. I know now that camping was simply far too sensory stimulating for a little one who was so sensory avoidant. After that fateful camping trip with Micah, we contained traveling with him to hotel rooms. Remembering all of that always reminds me of his last vacation trip. Labor Day 2011, we went to the Atlanta Fire Cup, as we had done every year for A's soccer adventures. That year, Micah's behaviors had suddenly escalated. I knew already what I had not told any of the siblings. I knew his CF doctor was stymied and had sent us home so he could rethink all that he knew because Micah was not responding to the treatments he was giving him. I knew he was dying already. When A asked if we could leave Micah home with the nanny, I told him there was a strong possibility that this would be Micah's last soccer tournament and that he was always such a die-hard fan of his big brother and his soccer abilities. I told A he had to bring Micah. Micah was actually on decent behavior that weekend. Hotel rooms were much easier for Micah, and hotels with pools meant I could distract him if he did get overwhelmed. A's team won the tournament and Micah was SOOO proud of his big brother that weekend. I am so glad I made sure Micah had that tournament. It was Micah's last vacation. The move to New England was not vacation and he was so terribly fragile during that trip that I worried if we could get him moved in time.

This weekend, we reaffirmed as a family that we need to go camping again. We can carry Micah in spirit and memory even though he was not so good at camping when he was alive. We hiked a mountain, literally. We followed a waterfall up the mountain and then the trail went back down the other side. J and I struggled with our asthma so we took frequent breaks, but we did it just the same. It seemed to be the epitome of the weekend and the task faced by all of us in this grieving journey.

It's not that this gets better. It's just that time passes and we survive another milestone. I hate being able to say it's been a year now. I hate that every day that passes takes me further away from my baby. I just know I cannot stop time from passing. Getting past the 12th has made me less triggery. However, it now brings me into remembrances of the first month last year. That was the month that the crazy nanny decided to turn everyone's grieving into her own drama llama game. I would rather not have to remember her, but Micah loved her. It was one of the two reasons I let her stay so long even after I realized how crazy she was. The other was that we all feared what happened to her children if I sent her away. Once in awhile, I stop and remember her behaviors last year, how she was so desperate to control all of the attention, even to the point she forbad anyone from saying Micah's name around her. I only wonder if she had enough sanity and genuine feelings inside of her to stop and remember that a year ago Micah died. Did he actually mean anything to her at all, or was he just part of the scam she ran on this family to milk support from us as well as childrearing for her children? The only video I have of Micah's voice was when she was tickling him. She was a part of his life for the last year of his life. Did he matter to her, or did she take so much of his heart and his living and toss it away when she did her exit drama out of here? I would like to think that Micah did not love in vain. It was so hard for him to truly love people and I would like to think that his choice to love her made an impact on her soul just as it has ours. I just don't believe it did. I don't think she is capable of love in the way Micah loved her. So somehow I feel guilty that I let Micah give part of what little life he had to someone who squandered his gift. I also hope that with time the grieving Micah will not be mingled with the crazy that wasn't worthy of his life nor the attention she stole from all of us when he died.

It's all just so anti-climatic. We don't wake up with it gone, our memories scrubbed and our hearts strong. We just wake up again, having faced the mountain and scaled it. We simply know there will be other mountains in our path, other times to grieve. Micah's life was far too short, but his spirit was so very bright. I still hear him calling me sometimes. Sadly, I never find him actually there when I hear him. I would give so much to run my hands through his hair again, to listen to him breath and marvel at his long, piano player fingers. Man, he could himself into so much trouble with those long fingers!

I still miss my Micah-man. I guess I always will.