Ramblings from the Psych Ward

I’m finishing up my second week working on a psych ward. Before I began I had spoken with my therapist and asked him if he had any recommendations. He asked me only to do one thing, “look at them as if they are real people with real issues. Remember that how they act makes sense, at least to them..” I’ve tried to do just that and in the process I’ve learned a few things about myself.

I’ve learned that it’s a very thin line between ‘normal’ and ‘crazy’. I’ve met people who still have dreams but life has thrown a bunch of garbage at them.

I’ve met a young man who, for no fault of his own, cannot stop moving his mouth. He has tardive dyskenesia along with some catelepsy. It’s not fair that he can’t use one of the drugs we’d like him to have because he’d have no way to pay for it out of the hospital.

There’s a lady who rather than embracing her upcoming retirement has decided that life just isn’t worth living, or at least bothering with. She barely eats, barely sleeps, and just lies in bed all day, despite being on several medicines that should be helping her by now. We keep hoping she’ll try ECT but so far she refuses. She doesn’t believe she is depressed, just that she’s a realist.

Another lady, who is so similar to myself that it scares me, is manic. She doesn’t remember the difficulty the police had bringing her in, nor the way she behaved in the ED. She doesn’t understand why she’s still being held ‘hostage’. When asked about it she has changed the story so much that it makes me wonder why she’s still there. The reality, though, is quite a bit different when you talk to those who met her that first day. Still, some of her story is true. She really has lived several places, really has suffered tragedy, really has had life turn upside down on her. I look at her and I see just how close I came to being there as a patient with her. Instead, though, I discovered ways to handle my stress, ways to grow my way out, and continue to grow. I have to remind myself that she is not me and does not have the skills I’ve learned, despite our similar circumstances.

The truth is all of these people could be you, or me, or someone we walk by. They are no different than we are, not special, not broken. They have just become overwhelmed and need someone to help guide them out of their own caves. Today, I nearly broke down in tears listening to a man who had to move back in with his mother because of an unexplained seizure that then turned his life upside down. He’s my age. I think how my parents would be if I lost my ability to take care of myself, and I think of how I would be if my own children found themselves in a similar place. I feel for them all.

And then, there is a man, who if he could only control his anger could provide such beauty to the world. He’s an artist who has covered his walls with drawings he’s done while waiting. He is also a gifted musician and can provide so much more to this world. Smart, well-kept, handsome, young, and strong… all the qualities a man his age would love to have. He’s there trying to explain to us that his problem is that he can’t sleep, that is the reason, he says, that he sees so many strange things. Visions when he closes his eyes, radio waves in the air, dots on our bodies… He believes there are aliens and he is worried there will be war because of them. He may be right, he might not; it’s not my place to say. There’s a lot of perfectly ‘normal’ people walking around who believe in aliens so that isn’t something worth arguing about.

So what do I say to myself? What do I think? I think it’d be best if when we talk to those who are in the ward that despite how crazy they sound, despite how far-fetched their stories may be, that we should give them the benefit of the doubt. So, yes, I choose to believe my patient when she says she swallowed a bunch of flexeril as well as oxycodone, mobic, and citalopram with vodka. I believe her when she says she doesn’t know why she started feeling suicidal, that it doesn’t make sense to her. I believe her when she says she really wants to live, despite being alive only because someone else found her. I believe her. And? If my patient says he believes in telepathy, why not? Who are we to say what another has experienced? We aren’t them. If they say they lived in Europe, or DC, or wherever, then who are we to say they didn’t?

These are good people, not liars, nor embellishers. They are telling us exactly what they think to be true. They are only being honest with no filters…. if everyone was as honest as these, we’d all be in the psych ward…

thank you for reading,

me

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Geriatrics Rotation… A much better fit

I have to say, being in Pharmacy school is hard. Doing the studying, the exams, the science, the math… all of that is part of it. But the hardest part? All of the exams, math, and science are useless during rotations. When you see a new drug that came out you think it’s great! You’re like, it’s about time, let’s get some people well. And then, then you realize that your guy wouldn’t have qualified for the trial. He’s too old, too fat, too young, too sick… they only use mostly healthy individuals for trials… people who only have the one disease they are trying to fix, or no disease because they’re trying to prevent it.  This is true for all of the trials and has an effect on all patients differently.

Geriatrics… I’ve been working with a population of men (because they’re veterans) who are between the ages of 74 and 95. 95?! Wow. Do you expect to be able to live to 95? What a ride that will be! But, back to my patients. When they aren’t in their youthful ages anymore, when they are just trying to stay alive another day but still loving their lives… then the rules of the medicines doesn’t really apply. There are almost no trials in elderly people. No one has any idea how the medicines will act in their bodies. AND! every single one of them act differently. In one man, if he takes a statin he won’t be able to walk. In another, it has no effect on him. Another can’t take anything like aspirin or ibuprofen, but can take Tylenol. Another only needs 15 micrograms per week of warfarin and the one next to him uses 30 micrograms per week…

For these, and really for all of us, age is just a number and has no bearing on the amount of medicine a person needs. The most important factor on whether you live to 95 or 102 is how old you feel, not how old you are. Over the last few months I’ve met people who are older than me but technically a lesser age. And I’ve met those who are 95 and look, act and feel, like they’re just in their 50s and 60s.

I ask them what they do? What they did to get to where they are? One man told me, age 95, that I had to go to war. He said it doesn’t work unless I go to WWII and then Korea, and learn to jump out of airplanes for 30 years. I could have listened to him for hours. I had to ask him if his birthday was right, I just couldn’t believe he was 95.

So, yeah, I love geriatrics. Here I deal with people who have lived full lives, who have had their chance already to make mistakes and to make dreams come true, or not. I love listening to them and getting to know them. They are a treasure trove of information and advice. This community is growing exponentially and needs people who specialize in their medicines. The wrong drug could destroy an otherwise healthy individual, but the right one can help. I look forward to being done with school… only three more months!

thanks for reading,

me

2018 Here I Come

How is this year going to be different from all the previous ones so far?

I will make debt repayment automatic and concentrate on abundance instead. I have the capability to earn plenty of money and I can afford the things I need and want. My bills will be easily paid and my income will increase quickly.

I will be publishing my book and others will find happiness because of what I’ve written. Because of what I have already written, others will learn how they too can attain their freedom.

My children and I will be closer. We will have time together that will be precious and fun. They will love their learning and love their new home. I will be there for them and, now that I am graduated and working, I also provide well for them. Together we are learning how to make money grow and work for us more. Now money comes easily and frequently and we begin to wonder at the benefits of having time and money to play.

I can afford it. I have abundance. I have the ability now to share my income with others in need. Finally, I am able to pay forward what others have done for me.

We all remain healthy and happy. Our lifestyle now reflects the abundance of energy that we all have. We are active and helpful in our community and because of this we are developing incredible friendships. All of us are experiencing a life we never dreamed possible a short five years ago.

These are just some of the things this year will bring me. My house will be repaired, my boat will be improved. My body will gain strength and my heart will stay strong. I am writing this now so that the world may know that I am here. I am ready for this time, I am ready to excel, to have increase. I am ready to show love and abundance to all around me. I am ready.

thank you for reading,

me

 

Living MY Life

I woke up early this morning having remembered another dream. I try to write them down before I forget them. I find it interesting how my subconscious works and whenever I get to see a picture of it after a dream I grasp at it in order to learn more about myself. It seems I’ve been on this long trail of discovering who I am since I am no longer being held back by my past… The weirdest thing of all is that when I put my past behind me is that my future became a giant possibility. I literally could become anything or anyone I want to become and it’s weird. I like the word weird… not quite scary, not quite fun… different, weird.

The part of my dream that I was able to capture was like being in a 3D movie as if I was flying a plane off of a cliff and then dipping down and finally leveling off safely ahead. My first impression when I woke up was that I was scared of my future. But I don’t worry about being scared anymore. Fear is healthy, it helps me plan and tests me. Fear is something I follow now so that I can understand me. I’ve discovered that as I follow my fears that I am able to grow and that life on the other side can be amazing.

Last night was the first night I spoke to another person about my intentions of moving, the first time I verbally said that I am going to relocate after I graduate. Up until now I’d say I was thinking about it, not that I actually am going to do it. Words have power. When I said I am moving it became real for me and so fear set in. It’s like jumping off of a cliff and then learning to fly and finally soar.

I’m excited, I’m scared. I’m beginning to create my life as I would have it look and it’s an amazing feeling. Now that I’ve said “I am moving,” I will take action, real action. Whenever I make a final decision followed by action, my results are guaranteed. I sometimes take forever to come to a decision, but once made, things move quickly. And I’m certain things will move quickly now… I graduate in May, pharmacy boards after, and job… I’m less than 6 months from when I plan on moving. Wow! scary… exciting.

Do something scary today, let yourself grow.

thanks for reading,

me

Another Week in my Pediatric Rotation

This past week has been hard. We’ve lost two little ones (ages 2 and 8), told bad news to another set of parents, and tried hard to prove nothing was wrong with yet another. Every time I see these kids I see my own and wonder if I am being helpful or just in the way. My heart breaks seeing their parents’ hearts being torn in two. I hate sickness and death. I want to take away their pain and take it on myself. But I can’t, I’m not strong enough. When I see them hurt or crying it’s as if I am the one hurt or crying. The emotions I feel are so intense. I’m trying to learn how to protect myself. I asked another pharmacist how she does it every day. “I learn to compartmentalize.” I understand it, but I’m not very good at it. I can feel all of the emotions all at once and it’s overwhelming! How can I even think clearly when I care so much? How do I be the best pharmacist I can possibly be? How can I continue on my path without giving up?

Yesterday I was allowed to be present at a delivery. This one gave me hope. The baby was delivered via cesarean and was a healthy 8 pounds 1 ounce (about 4 kg), screaming, gorgeous baby girl. I wanted to cry for joy along with the parents. When I left the operating room I went directly back to my team to find them in a room with a baby born at 23 weeks and only now weighing 0.7 kg. So tiny! All the other babies I saw on my shift were premies or high risk infants. I was in the neonatal ICU all day. One baby was discharged home and the mother broke down in tears, a great day for one mother. And yet another was still wondering if her’s was ever going to go home.

I have the heart for these children. I am a fantastic, caring person, but in order to survive these emotions I have to get away. I’m grateful that I bought the boat I bought. My timing may be a little off, money-wise, but exactly when I need it time-wise. I come home every day and hug my kids tight. I’m more aware of them and how much they mean to me than I’ve ever been. Life is too short for pettiness.

Life is short, don’t let it slide by unnoticed.

thank you for reading,

me

Pediatric Rotations

Many think that pharmacy isn’t like the rest. We, as pharmacists, are often thought of as lesser, unnecessary individuals, at least until they need us. When they need us though, they love the knowledge that we have. I’m in the midst of one of my rotations and this one is with pediatrics at a large hospital. Yes, pharmacists are necessary and needed here. Below is what I wrote after the first day there.

“Day one of peds rotation and its after 10 at night and I’m crying already. The patients I have today are sick, really sick. I was assured earlier that most of our patients aren’t like these because these are in a special ward. But these are still these. I’ve never known DiGeorge syndrome and I’m grateful that I haven’t. Three of the 8 kids on my list are DNAR and they’re just babies. DNAR means “do not attempt resuscitation”. How do people do this day in and day out? How can I? So many medicines! Such little bodies! The slightest error on a med could cause serious damage, permanent damage or even cause them to die. And yet, many of these will die early anyway. I don’t question God, not tonight, but I feel for the parents and the kids who have never known not getting poked or prodded. Who’ve never had a chance to fly. But I am not one to know that they don’t fly somehow. Each person has their place, even these. Life is short but for them? So much shorter and yet it feels so long when they suffer.

I’m going to get my boat tomorrow night. I’ll drive up there and spend the night and then we will set sail on Friday morning, early. I’m excited, scared, and wanting to wait but I NEED this now. I NEED to get out there and recharge for next week. I’ve gotta take care of me or I’m not going to make this. Time for bed.”

I did go and get my boat. I love it. I stayed on it for three nights and three days as I learned from the previous owner how to sail. We sailed it down a little closer than it was, yet it’s not yet to its home… I have to take care of myself when life gets hard and I’m glad to have the boat to do that. I’ll be writing more about her later.

Today, though, was another hard day on rotation. Today we learned that one of the babies, really she’s two, will be removed from her life supporting ventilator in the near future. She has no hope for recovery and her parents have been holding on for a glimpse, a sign, anything they can. They’ve decided it’s time and despite what you think, they may be right. It’s not my place to judge them. I have not lived in their shoes and God am I grateful! I nearly cried when I heard the news but I held it in. Then when it was time to go home the tears began to flow on my drive. Even now they threaten to fall.

All of these children! It’s different when you get to grow old and die after having lived a long and fruitful life. That’s different, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But when you’ve just barely had a chance and that chance was never one out of the hospital? What is life for? What is their purpose for being here? What can we learn? What can they show us?

There’s really a lot we can learn. We can be reminded that life is indeed short, whether you die at two or at 102. Life races by. We can learn to live our lives to the best of our abilities. We can learn to be grateful for our own problems. I’ve heard that if we were given a chance to trade problems with another we’d beg to have our old ones back.

We can also learn that when we have a chance to make a decision that many of our decisions don’t affect only ourselves. We might, and often are, affecting others. Some of these children wouldn’t be in the hospital if their parents had taken charge of their health. Some of the children are recovering from addictions that their parents have. Some of them are suffering from malnutrition and abuse. Some of them are there because of a genetic malfunction. There are so many things to learn!

Even our genetics are things we have some control over. Have you heard of epigenetics? What you do, whether you exercise or not, what you eat, what your mother ate, whether your father smoked? These all change how OUR genes are expressed. So even some of these can be better controlled and prevented. We are barely learning the tip of the iceberg.

Do me a favor. Go love on your babies, your mothers and fathers. Go hug your friends and kiss your spouses. Life is what we make of it. I vote we make it good!

thanks for reading,

me

Underwhelmed?

Underwhelmed… I’m up but I’m not feeling it today. I have a list of things I need to accomplish but I don’t want to do any of them. I want to go back to sleep but I’m not tired. I even went back to bed and put a pillow over my head; didn’t work. It’s a fine hour to be awake, not even early at almost 8. I did get up, and I decided to come and sit and write. I’m sipping on my coffee and hopefully that will help.

Things on my list today include: running to the post office, studying, working on my business, making a call to insurance for my son, going to the park with a girlfriend, and selling a dog igloo. I don’t go back on rotation until next week.

Things I ought to consider working on: my bees (they need winterizing), my house needs cleaning, my lawn needs mowing, my bed needs changing. I ought to think of cooking and showering and calling the internet guys. Sweeping would be useful as well.

What I really want? This is the problem… not a problem, but at a standstill momentarily… I want to go sailing. I want to go up and get my boat (yes I’m buying it!) and sail it down. I want to feel the breeze in my hair (even if it is short), listen to the waves, watch the sails, and just feel the peace which comes when I’m on the ocean waters. I want to smell the salty scents of the water and feel the spray from the splashes. I want to stand proud and calm, knowing that I am living a life that I love and knowing that when I do so I give others permission to do so as well. That’s what I want.

I want to be done with my school so I can move forward with my consulting. I want to help others be healthy and help them to take control of their lives. I want to be able to jump-start their lives, their dreams, so they can begin to live again. That’s what I want too. I want others to see their own spark and to help them to grow it into a burning flame, a raging fire. I want others to see their worth and know that a life they love is possible.

Am I asking too much? Nope. Not at all. I’m likely not asking enough. This is a great big amazing world we live in. Anything we dream is possible. If you can think it, it can happen. What do you want?

thanks for reading,

me