Rotations continue

I have one more week and then this rotation will be in the books. As these past several weeks have gone by I’ve found myself discouraged. I know that hospitals are necessary, I know that many medicines are necessary as well. I know people get sick and people die. But. But how can I help? What difference can I make? Any at all?? I wonder how these became so sick? What happened? Some of them seem like they just don’t care anymore. When did they give up? When did they lose hope?

And then… am I being overly critical? Am I really any better? Sure, I’m healthy, for now. Sure, I think I have my act together. But really? Three years ago? Four or Five? Did I have my act together then? Not really. I had some who would ask me why I put up with so much? Why did I stay for so long? Why didn’t I leave when things went bad? I’ve been asked why didn’t I change things back then? Why?? Why did I stay 25 years with a man who couldn’t love me?… these questions are kind of like asking someone why do you bother breathing? Why do you bother eating? There’s no real answer except it seemed the right thing to do at the time… (Please don’t stop breathing or eating, by the way.)

So, an outsider, someone who hadn’t lived in my shoes, who hadn’t any way to compare her life to mine, would probably wonder why I didn’t change for so long. I wish I had an answer. I wish I did. If I did then maybe I could help another lady find the answer too. I know, in part, some of the reasons. For one, I loved him despite everything. For two, I had hope for things to get better. (It wasn’t until I gave up hope that things started to change.) Three, I felt like it was wrong to leave… no… matter… what. The church is very vocal about leaving a marriage. (And because of that, many, many women are still in abusive marriages, with no hope for a way out, thinking that somehow they can pray their husbands to treat them well… But that’s another post.)

And so I think of the patients I have met these past two months… Did they decide to quit? Or give up? Is it too hard to dream of better things again? Does it hurt too much and they just want it all to end? I see the man or woman who is my own age and at the same time I see them as they may have been as a healthy child… or if not a healthy child, as a child with hopes and dreams, none the less.  I guess, the hardest thing, is seeing each individual as a person, a creation of God, who, for some reason or another finds himself or herself in a lonely hospital bed staring at the ceiling with wires and tubes attached everywhere wondering what on earth to do next. I wish I could show them a picture of themselves when life was good and full of possibilities and dreams, so that I could remind them that they don’t have to give up. I want to remind them that they are worth the effort of getting well. I want to be able to sit with them and listen to them and to give them hope again.

How? As a student I have no power, and I have no permission to just talk to them. So, with determination, I move on, and I continue to dream. Partly to dream of the day when I am no longer the pee-on that I am and am able to do exactly that. Until then, I offer them a smile, a soft touch, or a gentle ear when I can.

thank you for reading,

me

 

Sunshine and Rotations

I’ve been busy these past couple of weeks. It’s like I barely have time to breathe. As a Student Pharmacist I am required to do rotations, and the last year of school is all rotations. I’m not complaining. I love it! I love actually having a chance to use all of the things I’ve learned. I love being able to work with real patients, real people, real lives. It’s hard work. This rotation is in the hospital environment and so my patients are sick, really sick. If I can do something that helps them to get better or to feel better so that they can go home then I have done well.

Each person, each patient, is so very individual. There is no one who is treated exactly the same because no one is exactly the same. Pharmacy is intricate. I love it. This week I’ve already been touched by the lives of dozens of people. Elderly mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers… in their 80s and 90s. Men who are forced to the hospital by their wives. People who suffer chronically from pain. And people who have lived such lives that it’s not a surprise they show up in the emergency room.

I look on and I wonder how they got there. I wonder what went wrong, what could make them better. It’s not all about the medicine. There’s a man who is an alcoholic and now has nowhere to go, another who is recovering from cancer, a lady who doesn’t qualify for a transplant. There are many who go home well, and there are others. These others who now have to face the end of their time here. Who now have to face the reality of death. Life is 100% fatal and there’s no way around it.

I’m reminded to be grateful for my health and yet I am also reminded that my health is not a mistake. I work hard for it. I eat healthy food, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I drink a lot of water. I take the stairs frequently. I exercise. I sleep… I try to balance my life in a way that keeps me healthy. It’s not an accident. Health is only maintained on purpose. Sure, there are things we cannot control, but those in the hospital? Most of them had more control than they knew. Most of them could have prevented themselves from needing to be there. The smoker could have quit, the obese woman could have gotten help sooner, the alcoholic as well.

So, I wonder, as I go there each day, how did things go wrong? What happened? Why did these people quit taking care of themselves? Or why did no one ever tell them they had a choice? Please don’t bash me. It’s true. Absolutely true, there are things that can not be avoided. But, trust me here, you (and I) have a lot more control of how we end up than we believe. Even the smallest of positive changes can be celebrated for every little change can be built upon and then, then, our lives can be full and healthy.

thank you for reading,

me

The Next 30 Days

It’s “crunch” time. It’s almost the end of the semester. Four plus exams, a case study, and two Practicals left in less than 20 days… only 8 days of actual classes. Four finals followed immediately by mediation with the ex, then starting rotations, then my daughter gets married… less than 30 days from today. My friend, Time, must feel the need to push me forward because this Time is coming so quickly now that I keep thinking I’m forgetting to do something. From one minute to the next I have no idea what I am doing. I’m OK for a bit if I just sit and ignore everything and concentrate on only one thing, but then I get sidetracked because of something I forgot.

I have choices still, I have to remind myself that I do still get to choose. I get to choose whether I will “freak out” and yell at my kids while they run around like wild animals in the house while I study. Or I could take a deep breath, send them outside, and refocus. I have the choice whether I let myself feel the overwhelm that is trying to set in or I can notice that it’s there and stop and plan a way to go forward. Everything I do is a choice.

Problem is is that some of these choices were made earlier when I felt like I had more time. Habits are hard to change. I fill my calendar from morning to night, from Sunday to Saturday and fail to schedule time for me in. This habit has got to change. Sure, I know I’ll be able to make it through the next 30 days. I know I will still be breathing when it’s done, aside from an act of God, these next 30 days will pass. At the end I will have passed my classes, successfully mediated with my ex, married off my daughter to a great guy and be in the midst of my rotations. This will all happen. I believe it. I have faith that these next days will pass and I will survive it. I might even be better for it.

In the meantime, though, how do I go through these days with grace. How do I keep a loving tone in my voice and a caring look on my face? How do I be the person I want to be while I travel through this stressful season? These are real questions. I am definitely open for suggestions.

I know I will force myself to sit and write so I don’t forget this part of my life, and so I can vent. I know I will put myself to bed with things left undone. I know I will continue to rise in the morning. What do I need to do to keep myself sane? More of what I already do but I have to be deliberate. I have to deliberately get up and drink a cup of tea and read before I start my day. I have to deliberately take myself outside and exercise in the fresh air. I have to deliberately make myself go out with friends despite my exams. I have to remember to live my life around and through the next 30 days.

There are three things I know that help me a lot. Writing, reading and eating on time. Sleep is also a huge factor on the way I feel. If I am sleep deprived I tend toward being depressed. If I am hungry, I tend toward overwhelm. Writing helps me do brain dumps and reading helps me think on different things.

Maybe I’ll learn not to schedule everything at once someday. That would be nice, free Time.

So here’s to the next 30 days!

thanks for reading,

me

Stressing

What is stress?  How can I beat it?  Or can I make it work for me?  No one in their right mind would argue with me on whether I live a stressful life or not.  My life is full of the top reasons for stress out there.  Recent divorce – check, recent death in the family – check, doctorate level classes – check, upcoming wedding (my daughter, not me) – check, financial issues – check, and numerous others.

So why am I still standing?  Still smiling?  Still out there trying to help others?  Sometimes I don’t know.  I know I get statements frequently such as “I could never do what you do.” Or “I don’t have the time to do that.”  Or “You are so much better at that than I am.”…

Too often I do make it look easy.  I keep my worries to myself.  I say “I’m fine.”  I offer to help them.  But when I do these things they don’t know my heart.  They don’t understand that given the choices, I refuse to go any way but forward.  Yes, I could have stayed with my ex.  Yes, I could have given up.  Yes, I could have quit.  Yes I could have decided to not change my life.

I did not do that though.  For me, I’ve had this extraordinary hunger to live.  I thank God every evening for all the things that I have: my kids, my health, my house… I thank Him that my roof doesn’t leak anymore.  I thank Him for giving me shelter from the cold, and from the storms.  I thank Him that I have shoes that fit and clothes that keep me warm.  I even thanked Him for giving my daughter lice… she laughed when I did that. She didn’t understand why.  Why be thankful for lice?  Several reasons, now I understand what it’s like to use the chemicals, to clean everything, to pick through every piece of hair on every child’s head.  I have an amazing understanding of something I only barely knew about before.  I told her how Corrrie Ten Boom, in “The Hiding Place”, thanked God for giving her lice while she was in the concentration camps.  Because of her lice and of those others in her sleeping area, they were no longer targeted for being raped and beaten.  The guards wanted nothing to do with them for fear of contracting it themselves.  In addition, as I am soon to be finishing my doctorate in pharmacy, I’ll be much better at helping others who need it.

I guess “my secret” to loving my life, regardless of the stress that is in it, is that I can ALWAYS find something to be thankful for.  But, make no mistake, it is NOT easy.  I may have made these last few years look easy but they were not.  I had two choices 1- go forward, or 2 – quit in some way.  Quitting did not give me power and so I always chose to move forward.  Sometimes, actually often, it meant walking through the fire to get to the other side… or remembering “the boulder is the path”.  Every moment of the day I have a choice.  I can choose to let things bring me down or I can choose to keep on smiling and keep on trucking.  Moving forward sometimes brings me to a place where I have to stop and feel my feelings.  I have to let myself sit and sob and rest.  These moments happen but they let me be authentic with myself.  Much of this time has been learning to be with me again, learning to love myself.

I hope that you are in a place where you can also be just you and love who you are,

thanks for reading,

me

Third year pharmacy

School starts tomorrow.  What can I do to keep ahead of the game and pass my classes without stressing out too much? Every year I start out with the intention of doing my best in all of my classes and the imagined ability to do just as well in all parts of my life.  I think it’s time to face reality.  My life is full and it’s not just school.  I have four amazing kids,  2 of which are adults.  I’m a single mom. I have a part time job. I’m in pharmacy school full time.  I’m the last stop for all of the responsibilities of the house,  the bills,  the kids’ school,  the appointments etc.  My life is full.  I go to church,  volunteer with scouts,  do in home parties and study.  Yup.  It’s crazy to think I can be my best in all that surrounds me.  Yet for some reason I thought that that was what I was supposed to be and anything less meant that I was a failure.  I kind of took it all personal.  I’ve been holding myself to an impossible standard that no one can achieve.

So?  What could I do differently this school year to live the amazing life I have in front of me?  I’m thinking I could start with giving myself a break.  Write myself into my own calendar so that I really do take time for myself.  I could learn that I don’t need perfection.  I could accept things as good enough.

I have measured myself by my grades and at the same time known that grades are only a small indicator of knowledge.  I have expected my relationships with my kids to go unharmed, by magic.  It doesn’t work that way.

So how do I find the right balance for me? For my family? For school? Work? Church? Scouts? Exercising?  What is my reason,  my why for what I do?  My kids,  always my kids; the creatures that God saw me sufficient to grow and to care for, even knowing my imperfections perfectly.  He created children in my own womb.  I am humbled by the tasks he has given me.

If my why is based on my children then why have I misplaced my measurement on my grades?  Grades are an important part of my graduating, for sure, but they are not the only thing required for my living.  Life,  my life?  I am building an amazing life for myself and my kids.  If I fail to fill myself up,  to rejuvenate myself, then I am merely trying to pour water from a dry cup.  I am no use to anyone, especially my kids. I’ve lived so long putting myself last only to find myself completely spent,  tired,  grouchy,  and depressed.  I’m learning that taking care of myself is required for taking care of my kids.  I’m also learning that I am worth taking care of just because I am,  kids or no kids.  I am worth it.  I deserve to take a break,  every single day.  I deserve to be treated well and I deserve to be loved.  If God sees me fit enough for Him to love then I am definitely worth it.

And so are you.  Thanks for reading.

me