Blissfully Unattached

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Stolen from pinterest

As I scroll through my Facebook news feed, I am inundated with happy couples.

“She said Yes!”

“Happy Anniversary to the love of my life…”

“I have the best boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife…”

“I love you Baby.”

Blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s not that I am unhappy for these adorably sickenly sweet couples, I just don’t get it. I am not there. I am not feeling all those cotton candy rainbows and butterflies.

I am the single friend. The perpetual third, fifth or sometimes even seventh wheel on any adventure. My friends are all fantastic about including me and I have to be honest, their husbands are exceedingly kind and never treat me like they wish I were not there. They are my friends!

Most of the time I am not even bothered by my singledom. Believe me, I would rather be single than be in a relationship that does not work. No, thank you very much. Then there are those moments that sneak up on you and catch you completely off guard. You find yourself wondering what on earth you are doing wrong.

Maybe I should try Tinder again. Maybe I should start texting all those people I used to “date.” (We use that term loosely in these parts.) I can’t believe so-and-so is getting married. WHAT?!? Look at that! He went back to her? 

These thoughts are fleeting. Once I get through the initial barrage of disbelief I am happy for the couple. Well, unless I am thinking less than generous thoughts. “I bet they get divorced in six months.” or “She is only marrying him because she wants a baby.” These thoughts leave me feeling mean and I don’t like them. I try to suppress those thoughts and stop thinking about it all so negatively.

Why, if I am so happy for these people, do I find myself a little angsty, defensive, and judgmental?

Perhaps it is related to the feelings of inadequacy I experience when I evaluate my life. I have been told by society I should want to be married, have 2.4 children, a dog, and a house in the suburbs by this time in my life. When I evaluate my life on these terms I am failing miserably.

Who says I have to use this yardstick to grade my choices?

When I take a step back and honestly evaluate where I am in my life, I am doing pretty good.

I am reasonably successful professionally. My relationship with my family and friends is strong. I pretty much have the ability to go and see anything I want to experience. I have a great relationship with my only child. New opportunities are pouring out of the woodwork in both my professional and personal life. I get to go on adventures whenever I want to. I have phenomenal mentors who continue to support me as I grow and experience new things.

The only piece of the puzzle missing is a significant other. I forgot to fall in love somewhere along the way. Oops. My bad. At this point in my life, I am not even sure how a relationship would fit in. I am busy traveling and planning my next move. I am not interested in having an external influence to my choices at the present time. (Obviously, aside from my family.) I am going out and seeing what I like and essentially deciding who I want to be. What kind of life do I want to live?

Yes, sometimes I get a little lonely. We are programmed to want someone warm to cuddle with sometimes. (Euphemisms abound. Remember, my granddaddy reads this blog.) Seriously though, I am happy. I am not Desperately Seeking Anyone. At this point in my life, he would have to be amazing. I cannot even fathom what this man would be like. I try to envision what I think would make me happy, and I fail.

So, despite my snarky feelings about *your happiness, I am perfectly blissfully unattached.

*Obviously, not you, this was intended for people other than you. I love you and only want the best for you.

 

If you want to see more emo heart pics… I stole this one from Pinterest.

Queen Latifah , Freddie Mercury, and a surprise sex talk.

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Let me set the scene for you:

My son and I are driving down the street listening to a morning radio show. Queen Latifah is the guest. He is about nine years old.

The BoyHuh. I thought Queen was a guy.

MeWhat? Queen? Oh! Do you mean the rock band Queen?

The BoyYeah, We Are The Champions.

MeThat’s a rock band. The lead singer is Freddie Mercury. (Secretly relieved I know this bit of trivia.)

The BoyOh, yeah. What’s he doing now?

MeHe died a long time ago.

The BoyWhat did he die from?

MeAIDS.

*At this point The Boy lets out an exasperated sigh. He gives me the look I have grown much too accustomed to. You know the one, the look that says “my mom is the stupidest person to ever live.”

The BoyMom! (all annoyed and incredulous voice here.) To AID someone is to help them. (insert eye roll)

*Really? He is nine. How am I already stupid? This is decidedly unfair.

MeOh, AIDS is an illness some people get.

The BoyOkay. How do you get it?

MeIt develops after you catch a virus called HIV. It makes your body unable to fight off infections.

The Boy(eyes are a little wide now) How do you get HIV?

*Oh, shit. Remember age appropriate. What do you say about this? You don’t want him to be needlessly afraid. My mind is racing a thousand miles a minute. DON’T screw this up. You don’t want to break your kid.

MeUmmm. You used to get it from blood transfusions, but now they screen blood so you don’t have anything to worry about.

The BoyWhy did Freddie Mercury have to have a blood transfusion?

*Oh, crap. Seriously kid? Now, remember this is not a civics lesson. You do not have to go into Gay rights or how we don’t judge people who are different.Get it together. 

MeWell, you can get it from exchanging bodily fluid. Moms who have HIV can pass it on in breast milk, some people get it from doing drugs, and you can get it from unprotected sex.

The BoyOh. Okay.

*Wait a minute! Why is he not asking what that is? Hmmmm. I wonder if he knows what protection is. I kinda hope not.

MeDo you know what I mean when I say unprotected sex? Do you know what protection is?

The BoyYes, I sure do. You always wear your cup!

Me: (After breathing a huge sigh of relief) Yes, you do. Never take it off.

This short exchange was a turning point for me as a mother. I managed to have a somewhat informative conversation with my son and even managed to say “sex” to him without nearly vomiting. I find him endlessly clever and I was quite impressed by his insightful questions. I probably could have done without his assumptions about my inherent stupidity… but, you take what you can get.

Do you have any funny stories like this? How did you handle these questions about adult topics with your kids?

Photo of Freddie Mercury borrowed from this website.

I am Lucky and Working Holidays

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Hospitals do not close for the holidays. This means healthcare providers have to spend time away from their families and go to work. I have never minded working holidays. To be completely honest, I consider it a privilege.

When patients are in the hospital on a holiday, it is the last place in the world they want to be. We do not typically schedule elective procedures during those times. The people who have to be admitted usually have no other option.

I do not see any point in refusing to work on a holiday when we celebrate locally. I can go spend a couple of hours with my family or even celebrate another day, it is not a big deal to me. My family will fix me a plate, or even send a huge spread of food for me to share with my coworkers.

Christmas Eve of 2013 I was at work in the MICU. The unit was full and we were slammed when I get a phone call from my mother saying my brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews were in a bad car accident outside a small town about two and half hours away. They had been traveling to visit her family. We were not able to get much information about their condition over the phone and my sister-in-law had already been transferred to a larger hospital.

I dropped everything and went to go take care of my family. That drive was so long and I have never been more desperate to get more miles between me and Lubbock, Texas. I had to get to my brother and my nephews. When I finally arrived to the hospital, my nephews were in a hospital room filled with toys. They had been doted on and loved by so many people. Someone had gone and bought them some clothes to change into because theirs were dirty. DPS had brought them teddy bears. I believe it was a nurse’s aide who went and bought them cars and trucks from somewhere. I have never been more grateful. My boys were okay.

Christmas that year was terrible. My brother could barely move and could not see due to his injuries. His wife was in the hospital preparing to have the first of many surgeries. The boys were very stressed out, although physically they were okay. I would have much rather have been able to work that holiday.

My family is okay if I am working. There are no big personal tragedies or crises. I can focus on my work because my family is safe and healthy. If I have to leave work because someone is hurt or sick I am a mess. Work is so much easier. Once the day is over I get to go home and escape whatever nightmares transpired at the hospital.

I can devote a few hours to another person who is having a bad holiday due to their medical condition. I can spend time with a family who is saying goodbye to their loved one on that day. It is the least I can do. I did not lose my family when they had an accident on Christmas Eve. We were lucky.

My role as a healthcare provider is important to me. It is humbling and I am proud of the career I chose. I have worked hard to be able to help people. I sacrifice a lot of time with my family and friends. I work long days and some days it is so hard.

However, I will keep working holidays. I will do my best to provide care to my patients and their families when they really just want to be at home celebrating. It is my way of showing my gratitude for my good fortune.

If you find yourself or your family in the hospital on a holiday, I imagine there are more people who do not resent caring for you. If their family is like mine they will be gracious and understanding of the service we provide in our professional lives. We adapt and adjust our plans so we can be of use. Don’t worry, we are not being left out of the festivities. If we are lucky, we are good friends with our coworkers and they have become extended family anyway. It is the least we can do.

Packing up my life

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  Adventures require light travel. This means you either part ways permanently with all your spoils, or you enlist the help of your awesome family to pack them away in cardboard and tape while you rush off to work. 

Yes, it is emotional. It is probably one of the best things I have done. I am stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to stand on my own two feet. I am making decisions with the future in mind, instead of letting fear root me in place. 

How do we acquire so much crap? I may need that someday! Don’t throw that away! Of course I know what it is! I really have no idea… But, it looks important. 

Thanks guys. I threw away some more stuff. Like 4 things. Lol. I love you- and I owe you one. 

Is it too much to ask?

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I am so tired of all the fighting. I do not understand any of the things happening around the world. I do not understand the things happening in my country either. There is too much hate in the world.

I want to live in a world where people:

  • are tolerant
  • build each other up instead of tearing each other down
  • celebrate unique differences instead of spreading hate
  • look after one another
  • care for their communities
  • are curious about the world around them
  • strive to be better than they were yesterday
  • encourage love and understanding
  • forge relationships instead of waging wars
  • help each other
  • encourage others to be self sufficient
  • forgive others for their mistakes
  • build teams instead of armies
  • work together for the common good
  • celebrate each other’s successes
  • promote honest and open communication
  • care about whether or not others have food and shelter

I am sickened by the actions of humanity right now. We are so busy judging and hating we are unable to see how we are all the same. It breaks my heart. What good is going to come of all this terror and turmoil? I do not know what the answer is, however it seems rather simple… just stop being assholes. Don’t blow people up. Stop committing genocide. Stop promoting fear and distrust of others.

I feel guilty for being safe and happy. I feel guilty for feeling gratitude for my son’s safety. He has a warm bed and plenty of food to eat. I do not know the answer. I do not know how to help the world be a different place. Why are there people who prefer hatred and violence over love and peace? Seriously, it makes no sense.

We are fighting over ideals and imaginary laws. Somehow we have been blinded to the most important truth; we are all human beings. You would think this would be a firm enough foundation for forming new relationships. We should be working toward a common goal.

Maybe I am naive, but I really just want things to be better. I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want anyone to be afraid. I just want everyone to meet their potential and to be safe from violence.

The Conversation

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I know this is a difficult conversation for you. It is hard for me too. While I was walking down the hall to this room, I was secretly hoping for a miracle, a sign that we had made a mistake and everything was going to be okay.

I have been taking care of your loved one for a while now. We have used every tool we have available to heal him. Unfortunately, it does not appear that he will ever be the person he was before. No, he is not going to wake up and be okay. I understand you believe this is all in God’s hands, but it is time to make some decisions about where to go from here.

His body cannot survive without the machines that are supporting him. I know he has made some progress. His blood pressure and heart rate are normal. However, he is now dependent on dialysis because his kidneys have stopped functioning. He is not going to be able to breathe without the ventilator.

Where do we go from here?

Have you ever had the discussion with him about his wishes?

There is are no further medical interventions left to try. This is the new reality. There are few resources available for people in this condition. What quality of life can one expect in this condition?

I know you had hoped for a different result. Yes, he is a fighter.

This conversation never gets easier. It always hurts and I always wish I could be anywhere else. I often wonder how I would feel if it were my family member, and I try to remember the fear I would feel. I try to imagine what my concerns would be.

I do everything in my power to be able to answer the questions the family has. I make sure I have time to listen. I make sure I am completely honest. I try to keep my personal feelings out of the conversation. This is about this patient. Sometimes acknowledging the reality of the situation is the most important act I can do.

The conversation about goals of care is difficult for many healthcare providers. For some of us, especially early in our careers, it can feel like a personal failure when our patients do not survive. The crux of the situation is that everyone will die someday. Perhaps the best thing we can do is offer dignity and peace when death is looming. Comfort measures does not mean giving up. Dying is a natural part of life. We should feel lucky we have the tools to help ease suffering.

Changes, Scars, and Progress

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Time heals all wounds. I have heard this saying my entire life. I don’t actually think this is the case. The benefit time affords us is distraction. The healing is an active process. It may not be a conscious or purposeful act, but under the surface scar tissue is being formed.

I have been experiencing  dramatic changes over the past year or so, most of them beyond my volition. In fact, I have fought against them with grit and desperation. I have had important relationships changed and sometimes dissolve, I have left my steady career, and I have started living the life of a traveller. I have struggled through attempts at regaining personal health and wellness. My entire life has turned upside down and inside out. Nothing is the same as it used to be.

Isn’t that what life is though? If we had to wake up and live the same day over and over again the monotony would be maddening. Change is a wonderful byproduct of experience. I want to believe I have been growing as a person, and the person I am becoming is a better version of me. I am not sure I can compare this me to the old me. I can say beyond question I am DIFFERENT. I have changed.

I am a little quieter. I have more empathy. I try harder to be diplomatic. I am branching out and learning about new things. I actively seek adventure. These improvements don’t underscore the fact that change is hard. It hurts. Sometimes it is debilitating.

I do not regret any of the choices I have made. Yes, I am scared of the unknown. I get nervous when I think about driving across the country to spend six months working in a specialty that has always been a bit of a mystery to me. The thought of snow (lots of snow) makes me wonder if I can handle driving in the winter wonderland of the Northeast. I am afraid I will look foolish and not know what I am doing.

It has taken me months to heal some of the heartache that came with leaving my job. I do still get to work there sometimes when I am at home, and that does help. Healing has not been easy. Some days the wounds were angry, red, oozing welts of bitterness and regret. Now, I can look at the wounds and remember they are there, but healed over nicely. Most of the time I don’t even notice the scars.

The changes in relationships have been a bit harder. These were deeply personal and painful breaks. Then I took a step back. Perhaps it was just change. Long distance friendships are hard to maintain under the best circumstances. Now, throw both people into their own private turmoil. Neither one has the ability to tell the other what they need, much less provide for those needs. Unfortunately, this could spell the end of an era. Maybe it will all work out in the end. I like to think so.

So, I guess the point is change is inevitable. It may leave you with wounds that need to be healed, but in the end it is all just progress. Today, I am content with where I am. I know I am on a grand adventure. I need to remember to enjoy the ride.

A Single Girl and The Imaginary Guy

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I do not wake up every morning pining for a special guy to come and make my life worth living. I do not sit around and wonder when the man of my dreams will come and rescue me from the drudgery of my life.

This does not mean I am completely opposed to the idea of sharing my life with one other human being, I just have not found one other human being I want to come along on the ride. Instead, I have been learning how to lead a more fulfilling and interesting life on my own. I am branching out and finding new adventures. I am doing all the things that have terrified me most.

Despite all of this, I often wonder what kind of person could put up with my particular assortment of quirks. He would have to be exceptionally patient. He would have to be brave and kind. The ability to cleverly keep me entertained and challenge me would be paramount. Laughter would be required. He would need to possess a true love of words and puns.

I imagine this man would find my idiosyncrasies charming and cute. He would let me ramble on and prattle about my day. He would tolerate the times I just can’t speak out loud anymore. He would have subtle ways to let me know when I am getting louder and louder without meaning to. There would be knowing glances and looks filled with inside jokes.

He would appreciate my terrible taste in movies, music, and books. He would understand I need lots of time to prepare to face the world every day. My anxiety about new places and people would not irritate him. He would encourage my wandering thoughts and let me follow them to their conclusion.

This imaginary man would think my terrible singing and obligatory car concerts are amusing. He would join in the fun. He would understand the way I ruminate and over think every decision. He would appreciate my persistence and tenacity, even when the best option would be to let the situation die down on its own.

This man would view me as a whole person who is sharing her life with his whole person. We would have separate interests and would not have to be glued together as if we were conjoined at the hip. We would appreciate the time apart and would welcome the tales of each other’s separate experiences. We would take great pleasure in finding little odd reminders of each other.

We would respect each other as people. He would have his bad habits and I would find his quirks charming and exasperating. I would love the things about him that make him unique. He would have my full support in whatever endeavors he found worth his time.

Now, until I meet that guy, I have every intention of living my life for every day. I will not sit around and wait for him. I will continue to find things to challenge me. I will continue to build new relationships. I will keep on looking for my next adventure.

I am just a single girl. I am not waiting for a hero. I do not need to be rescued. If I never meet this guy, I will be just fine. However, if he is out there I hope he is patient and will allow me to figure out he could be the imaginary guy for me. IMG_5747

Paris on my mind

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I wish I had the words to say something really profound and original about the attacks on Paris. I don’t though. I must admit I am pretty much ignorant about the history of the middle east and how these groups got started. I am not here to put forth an opinion on those issues. I just want to talk about how I feel about all of this.

I do not understand how people can MURDER innocent victims in the name of a god and the afterlife. I do not understand how parents of daughters can want their children to grow up to be subservient. I am unable to fathom how people teach their children to hate in the name of God.

I am confounded by all of this.

Terrorism… just sucks. I don’t understand it. I guess I am rather sheltered here. My thoughts are with all the victims of violence, especially those in Paris. I cannot imagine how scary that must have been. I really wish this would just stop. Is Peace too much to ask for?

You’re So Vain

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You probably should prepare yourself. This post is not about you. Unless it is. I’m not telling.

You know what really pisses me off? People misrepresenting themselves. Grown men who cannot take responsibility and act like adults. People who lie. Weasels who try to sabotage other’s lives. Old meddlesome people who take it upon themselves to cast judgment on others without knowing the real story. Middle aged women who take offense when you don’t go along with their plans. People who have the audacity to ignore common sense and to say “We have always done it that way.” Young men who take advantage of people and use them, with absolutely no regard or appreciation.

Why do people lose all sense of rationality when dealing with others? When exactly did it become okay to be an asshat? I get it, you are probably thinking “But Nyki you are an asshat sometimes.” Perhaps. It is rarely on purpose and I have been working on it for a while now. I spend a lot of time just trying to be quiet and to remember to act, not react.

I am fiercely protective of my family, friends, and patients. Don’t mess with them. Don’t tell people things you do not mean. If you cannot be man enough to be honest you need to stay away from the people I love. I have zero tolerance for abuse and cruelty. More importantly, I hate drama. I want people in my life who are not afraid to say it like it is.

It is probably a good thing I am single. I am notoriously bad at relationships. I tend to need a lot of alone time. I like to ponder random things. I can’t do that if someone is constantly jabbering in my ear. I don’t know how to relax in the company of other people. It takes vigilance for me. Which is counterproductive in the whole relaxing department. Oh, damn. I got distracted. More on this later.

Just know. This post is not about you. Unless it is. If you are so vain to think it is about you, it would probably be a good idea to just go. We don’t want you around anyway.